The 2017 school year is underway! Whether we are a parent, grandparent or have been a child ourselves, we can appreciate the important role that teachers and the school system play in shaping our next generation. Together these build many wonderful things into our children, including ‘Australian values’ that often line up well with the teachings of Jesus. While every school is unique, there are many schools in our state where Jesus is never mentioned in the classroom. At the risk of offending anyone, this is discouraged – to the point that last Christmas a number of children were unfamiliar with even the nativity story as we shared it in the local school. While this is a shame and something we’ve had to accept to some extent, it also highlights that there is a role here left to play. A role that involves not only our Christian parents and children’s ministry leaders, but also every one of us. You may have heard the statistics before – that by the age of 13, two thirds of us have already established our core beliefs that will remain for life; that 19 out of 20 people respond to the Gospel under the age of 25; that in the 2011 Census, only 61% of the Australian population identified themselves with Christianity while 22% specifically stated ‘No Religion’. More than ever, our young people need role models – men and women, old and young – who are followers of Jesus. People who are willing not only to teach the faith as they have come to understand it, but to model it and lead by example. We need people willing to get alongside our children and youth, to take a genuine interest in their lives, and to paint them a picture of a God worth devoting every aspect of life to. Consider for a moment the young people you come in contact with on a regular basis, beyond your own family. Who will you intentionally invest time into this year, for the glory of God? If you struggle to think of someone, you might like to consider connecting with some through our children’s or youth programs. Together, may we continue to build our rich heritage into the next generation in 2017.