Hearts Ignite

By Tasha Crumpler

This story was first published in New Times, the Synod of SA publication. 

When Laura, Adam and Dave spoke to each other about what God was pressing on their hearts four years ago at SAYCO, (an annual camp for high school students to explore faith) they didn’t realise how quickly things were going to change. Only a few months later, they started Ignite Ministries with their good friend, Jared.  Ignite Ministries is an ecumenical organisation providing worship events aimed at young people.

Without the contribution and support of Ignite Ministries other Core Team members – Andy Story, Nathan Story and Simon Story, Douglas Burne, Lauren Andris, and Josh Baldwin – Ignite Ministries would have been considerably harder to actualise. Dave Shepherd, Spiritual Overseer, says, “the team have all played significant roles in helping make Ignite happen in different ways. We each play our role and God does what he wants with our best.”

In February 2016, they held their first Worship Night at an apple orchard in Verdun, South Australia.

“We set up a few pallets and festoon lights, we grabbed a bunch of our local worship friends from different churches and God just rocked up in a massive way. 300 people ended up coming. We thought, if we got something like 50 we’d be happy.” says Adam Williams, Worship Logistics Manager.

Since Verdun, Ignite Ministries has only continued to grow. Their latest event at Woodville Town Hall on 2 June 2018, attracted a crowd just shy of 1000 people and they’re now seeking venues to hold even more.

“I think young people are hungry for the presence of God,” says Dave.

“People are having genuine experiences with God at our worship nights, and they’re going off to tell people about that encounter,” explains Laura Williams, Ignite’s Operations Manager, on the success and the momentum Ignite has built since Verdun.

“We can do the best we can with the set-up, marketing, spreading the word and making it look appealing, but at the end of the day it’s that genuine real-life transformation that’s going to draw people to come.”

Freedom of worship style is a topic regularly discussed by Ignite’s Core Team members. They have a deep desire and need to allow worship night attendees the freedom to worship in their own ways.

“Worship freedom looks very different for different people. For someone it might be waving a flag and running around in circles but for someone else it’s lighting a candle, or sitting in a posture of reverence,” says Dave, “It’s a very hard tension to hold, but that’s our heart: to provide that tension and provide a space for all of that.”

Jared Hunter, the Marketing Director for Ignite, says that they started Ignite Ministries to bridge the gap between denominations.

“We found that worship is the key that brings all congregations together, regardless of preferences or style.”

“If there’s one thing that unifies Christianity, then it’s the cross,” says Dave.

“What’s so unique about Ignite is that very tension it tries to hold. Our three key statements are Encounter God, Edify the Church, and Engage in the Community. There aren’t many places where Pentecostals, Lutherans, Catholics, and Anglicans alike can worship together.”

By centring Ignite Ministries as a parachurch organisation Laura, Adam, Dave and Jared have the unique ability to connect with more young people than they would have by identifying solely with a singular denomination.

“It gives people the permission to join the team and feel as though they have ownership over the service,” says Adam.

“Anyone can come on board and know they are not just helping out; they are able to bring their unique gifts and add who they are to the ministry because it’s for the whole church, not just one denomination.”

“God desires an intimate relationship with us, and the church goes beyond four walls,” Laura adds.

Dave continues, “The church wasn’t created to be in silos… people should come to things like ecumenical events because it does remind you that you’re part of a greater whole. If your heart’s fixed on Jesus then you have brothers and sisters all over this state.”

Even though Jared is a member of Encounter Church Adelaide, the first church launched as part of the Uniting Church SA’s Generate 2021 project, he expressed his love and appreciation for the opportunity to worship with people who aren’t a part of the Uniting Church.

“Our individual churches and denominations seem to be so separate from each other. We are often so focused on what we are doing, and what the mega-churches are doing, but not what our neighbour is doing!” he says.

“We hope that people who come [to Ignite’s worship nights] are inspired, encouraged and get a chance to meet other people their own age who love God.”

Ecumenical cooperation and worship is not the only interest of Ignite Ministries – they also want to support the revival that’s awakening in Adelaide.

“We want to see people come and have an encounter with God: just to see them have a revelation of how much he loves them and what they mean to him. I’d like people ignited to take that revelation back to their local churches and see those local churches carry that flame,” says Dave.

“We want Adelaide to be known as the City of the Church, not the city of churches.”

The Next Ignite Ministries event is scheduled for 1 December, 2018 at a venue to be advised. Follow Ignite on facebook.com/IgniteAdelaide or visit their website, igniteministries.org.au

READ about another exciting ecumenical initiative bringing young people together on the Sunshine Coast to connect with their faith through music and exciting guest speakers. Journey reports on Activate Sunshine Coast