This past September I sat down with nine people involved in student ministries across Canada to talk about about young people and the Free Methodist Church in Canada. I wanted to start a conversation about student ministry and how to develop Godly competent leaders for the church. It was quite a day.
There were all kinds of ideas. Updating the website. Considering value added opportunities for students and youth leaders at events like Regional Gatherings, Fall Pastors Conferences and General Conference. Forming networks and partnerships among local church ministries and maybe even among students as they responded to God’s call on their lives.
Now, it was the very beginning of a very large conversation. And we are going to try some stuff. For example, I have a meeting at Tyndale in November with some students to talk about how we can come alongside them as a movement. Also, someone approached me with ideas for Children’s and Family ministry leaders at Fall Pastors Conference. So the ball is rolling. Stay tuned. We are going to keep thinking and praying. We can’t start everything at once. But we can start something. And here is where we need your help church.
One of our first steps will be to ask churches to identify a youth advocate in their congregation. For some churches this will be the youth pastor or the volunteer youth leader. For some, this advocate may have to be the parent of two of the only five students in the church. And at some churches it may have to be the person who regularly prays for students and hopes they show up some day. Don’t let having a small or non-existent student group stop you from identifying an advocate. (A more complete definition of an advocate will be provided soon).
Our next step will be to put the advocates together in groups. We know we don’t want to call the groups networks as that name is taken in FMCIC world. But we haven’t landed on a formal name yet – cohort and clump were both tossed around. The point will be to connect youth advocates together for prayer, resourcing and training through guided conversations. Most likely this will be via Skype or something similar. But it would be great if these groups found a way to talk face to face at least once a year. We want these “meetings” to help local youth leaders/ advocates as they minister.
It’s not everything, but it’s a start. More will happen as we keep talking. A healthy church that has a future takes seriously the development and discipleship of students now. We want to help that happen.
For now, you can pray. And you can work with your church’s leadership to identify your youth advocate. We will be in touch. And if you have any questions, concerns or thoughts you can email me at [email protected]
Director of Church Health, the Free Methodist Church in Canada