Matt Henderson, Hobart
Associate Pastor Matt Henderson was inducted at Hobart Baptist Church in February 2022, so it’s high time to find out about him. Read on to discover where he came from, and what his ride has been like over the last year.
I was born in Fairfield, Sydney but I’ve lived in Tasmania since I was very young. My family moved around a lot and we lived in many homes right across Hobart. I also spent a lot of my childhood on my grandparent’s farm in Geeveston. Tasmania was a wonderful place to grow up, and although I considered moving interstate as a young adult, I’m now very glad that I stayed here.
I love the ‘smallness’ of Tasmania. Our community here in Tasmania is still small enough that it is possible to build and maintain strong and close-knit communities. We are so blessed to live on an island with so much natural beauty, and because Tasmania is so small, all of that natural beauty is accessible in a way you can’t find in many places in Australia, or anywhere else. Kylie and I believe that Tasmania is the best place in the world to raise children.
I grew up in a very loving family. My older sister has a disability, and because of this I grew up with a different perspective about diversity, inclusion and people with special needs. My wife, Kylie, and I met at a young people’s Bible study, eventually marrying in December 2006. Kylie and I have two boys, Daniel (15) and David (10). Both of our sons are on the Autism Spectrum. I also have an older son, Isaac (23). Kylie and I recently became grandparents. Our granddaughter’s name is Dawn.
Kylie works as Citywide’s Accounts Manager, and does similar work for HBC as a volunteer. Kylie feels led to serve churches in the area of finance, and she also assists a couple of other churches in the Baptist Union in this area.
I was raised in a Christian family and became a Christian when I was nine, on a children’s camp at the Blue Lagoon Christian Campsite. Unfortunately, I had negative experiences of churches as a child, and did not attend a church for a long time. I became serious and committed about my faith and working for Jesus in my mid-twenties when I became involved with a community of Christian young adults and families and got involved with children’s ministry and camps.
Growing up, my family attended very traditional Brethren churches. I was attending Eastern Shore Brethren Assembly when I met Kylie, who was a new Christian attending there because her mum attended there. After we got married, we attended another Brethren church in Hobart, where I worked for a year as the Sunday School coordinator. However, we became increasingly uncomfortable with the teaching around the role of women in these churches. Then, after Daniel was born and began exhibiting early signs of being on the Autism Spectrum, we felt increasingly excluded from that community.
We spent a lot of time un-churched, as we didn’t know how to navigate fitting into a church community as a special needs family.
Finding a Church Home
We really struggled to find a church that was accepting of a special needs family. However, when we visited Citywide’s Lenah Valley campus in 2015, we were immediately blown away by how welcoming and accepting the people there were. We became part of a church family there for the first time. When Matt Garvin arrived in 2017, he showed both myself and Kylie a way of following Jesus that lit a fire for both of us to become more active in serving.
At Citywide I discovered, developed and built my skills, stepping into areas of service and leadership I had previously shied away from. While there, we experienced Christian community in a very different, and much more fulfilling way, than I had ever experienced before. We became more open as individuals, more open as a family, and more willing to share with others.
As a result of encouragement at Citywide, I got some theological training. This challenged me to develop and practice leadership skills While there, I learned a lot about being part of a community of Jesus followers. I learned that I had leadership skills and I learned a lot about teamwork and church governance.
Our time at Citywide was a pivotal time of personal growth for both myself and for Kylie. We grew up spiritually there, and some very special people mentored us. Citywide is a place and community we will always have tremendous love for.
What Matt does now
Now, I am the Associate Pastor at Hobart Baptist Church. I wear many hats, and it’s both challenging and a lot of fun. My first job is to learn. This is my first time serving in pastoral ministry, and there are a lot of mistakes to be made, and a lot of learning to do. I see my most important task as building relationships within the church community.
Our senior pastor, Stephen Baxter, has a lot of big picture stuff to do with Tas Baptists, so I try to handle as many of the small picture, but just as important, details at Hobart Baptist Church (HBC). Much of my work involves liaising between different teams.
I oversee HBC church service planning, including our livestreaming, and a lot of our social media interactions. As well, I work with Stephen on our vision and direction for HBC, and our teaching plan and roster. I also do fairly regular preaching at HBC.
Leaving a church community like Citywide where we had built up deep roots over seven years was a very costly and difficult change for us. However, we have found the community at HBC to be welcoming, accepting and full of wonderful people. The culture is very different and adjusting has taken a little while for us.
I am still adjusting to working in pastoral ministry. Thankfully, I love the challenge and it is a blessing to have a great mentor to work with in Stephen. I am quite introverted, so there are many aspects of my work I find challenging, but also rewarding.
From a family standpoint, working pastorally with special needs children is a different kind of challenge. It would be fair to say that even after a full year here, we are still adjusting – but its been largely positive.
It’s all about P-E-O-P-L-E
What’s the best piece of advice I’ve been given? Building a strong church community is not about structures or programs, it’s about the people and what Jesus is doing in their lives.
Kylie and I would both appreciate prayer for managing the balance between our ministry work, and the needs of our family.
Short ‘n’ Sweet
I am looking forward to . . . seeing people grow in their relationship with Jesus.
I am worried about . . . how negative the public voice of Christianity often is.
I am confident that . . . as I learn, I will make a lot of mistakes.
I am joyful about . . . the rich diversity at Hobart Baptist Church.
I would like to change . . . how we think about disability and inclusion in the church.
I am at my best when . . . I’m part of a team.
Matt Henderson Hobart
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