Simmo (Youthworks College, 2012) completed the switch from building homes to seeing young people built up in Christ by taking on the role of Youth Minister at Eagle Vale Anglican Church in Campbelltown, where he has served with his wife, Angela, and daughter, Grace, since graduation.
Having moved from a large and well-resourced church in southern Sydney, Simmo found he needed to adjust his expectations of ministry at Eagle Vale and take the time to get to know the church’s young people and the different sub-cultures in their community before developing ministries around them.
Simmo says his training at Youthworks College helped him recognise he needed to re-evaluate many of the ministry structures he was familiar with in order to effectively engage with young people who were often in difficult circumstances, like broken homes and poor physical or mental health. Despite their personal challenges, Simmo says he’s found Eagle Vale’s youth open to talking about spiritual things. “Many are open to hearing about God and a small handful have made commitments to Christ”.
In the six years Simmo has been at Eagle Vale he has seen many positive changes. As a high school Scripture teacher in two local schools, Simmo has welcomed many young people to youth group and as a result has also been able to make many positive connections with their families.
“When I first arrived, we had little contact with youth from Claymore [a suburb that’s mainly owned by Housing NSW]. But now, thanks to partnerships that have been established with local high schools, about half our youth are from this suburb. This has presented a wide range of challenges, but it’s been encouraging seeing how our church loves these kids by providing transport and dinners on Friday nights, as well as subsidies for camps and other events,” says Simmo.
Another big encouragement for Simmo has been seeing how important youth group is to the young people who attend. “For some, it is the highlight of their week. Home’s not fun, school’s not fun. But on Friday nights, these kids know they have somewhere to go—a family, a community they belong to.”
Simmo says his biggest challenge remains teaching young people about appropriate boundaries while also showing them grace. “I don’t ever want them to confuse the gospel with good behaviour,” he says. His constant prayer is that he sees young people's lives changed by coming to know Jesus personally.
The youth and children’s ministry at Eagle Vale has been further strengthened by current Youthworks College student Georgia Clements. “Georgia has been a real blessing to the kids, and also a great help to me.” Georgia joined Eagle Vale’s staff team from a better-resourced church on the North Shore in order to specifically undertake a Youthworks MTS Apprenticeship in a less-resourced church.
Over the last two years, Simmo says he’s seen Georgia grow in her skill in handling the Bible as she builds upon the practical ministry skills she already learned through Youthworks’ Year 13 gap year program.
If you would like help to find a Youthworks MTS apprentice, like Georgia, visit the Trainers Seeking Apprentices section of the MST website.
Pray for Simmo
- Pray Eagle Vale’s youth will place their trust in Jesus and call him Lord and Saviour.
- Pray Simmo will be able to think strategically about long-term ministry goals, particularly how to connect youth with the wider church family, and how to partner with the men’s and women’s ministry.
- Pray Simmo and Eagle Vale’s youth leaders will live godly lives and be good role models to the youth.