Gary Hill, the Executive Director for The Crusader Union of Australia, told Christian Today Australia that although there has been a decline in church attendance overall but 'vast opportunities' still exist in the schools to 'be seized.'
The Crusader Union of Australia, a Christian youth ministry, has a particular focus on independent schools in NSW. It is now established in around 130 out of 395 independent schools in NSW. The ministry's sole focus on school students has a good justification to it explained Mr. Hill.
Reaching school students when they are young is critical, said Mr. Hill. He uses statistic to indicate that 70-80% of Christian adults from across Australia, the United State of America and the United Kingdom became Christians before they turned at the age of 18.
Mr. Hill laid out Crusader's strategy to evangelise and nurture school age students namely in schools. This is done through the lunch-time discipleship groups, school camps and holiday camps to reach students with the Gospel.
"These provide great opportunities for evangelism and nurture, especially when lunch time CRU groups reach students whose parents don't allow them to regularly attend church on the weekend," said Mr. Hill. "We seek to contact churches with names of students who have indicated a faith commitment on one of our holiday camps, and are always excited when we learn that they are being followed up by the church and joining a youth group or congregation."
Unfortunately some time these follows up are not carried through by the church, said Mr. Hill. However he is very thankful for the volunteer leaders and supporters who help organise these camps.
"We are very thankful that our volunteer leaders actually pay to help keep the cost of camps down, and that generous supporters help us to offer some great discounts to children who otherwise may not be able to afford to go on camp," said Mr. Hill.
This is one way in which the Crusader Union is playing a part to reverse the trend of church attendance declining, where the attendance at these camps are 'steadily rising.'
"This has meant, opposite to the church attendance trend, the number of youth and children attending camp has steadily risen over the last 15 years," said Mr. Hill
For information about CRU School Groups or Holiday Camps please visit www.crusaders.edu.au or call 9874 8933.