Q & A
Conferencing and connecting opportunities for youth remain a priority for the Indiana Conference. The Youth Ministry Team is examining how we can best support youth ministry in our local churches and future connectional opportunities for youth and youth ministry leaders will be part of their conversation.
In the interim, several other connectional events and opportunities are set for youth. Check out our Events page.
"What advice can you give us for reaching out to young people?"
We asked Indiana Conference Associate Director of Leadership Development Brian Durand the above question and here is his response:
This is where short answers must come to an end. All ministry is specific to the place where it happens and ministry with young people particularly so. Effective youth and young adult ministry in Bloomfield will look different from a fruitful ministry in South Whitley. What generates passion in New Castle may create a different energy in Battle Ground. (A little Indiana geography lesson if you’re inclined to check a map.) To lead fruitful ministry with young people, you have to first understand the needs of your community (your congregation, your area of the state, youth in schools near you, etc.).
With that said, I believe there are three keys to ministry with young people for every church:
- Ask the youth (in your church and, perhaps more importantly, outside the church) what the needs of young people are in your community – both spiritual and physical. Then work as a congregation and meet those needs.
- Make ministry with young people, or raising young church leaders, a major priority for your whole congregation – not just those working with your youth ministry program, but everyone! This includes the trustees, the finance committee, the mission committee, the worship committee – you get the idea.
- Recruit, train, equip and encourage young leaders in your congregation. Get them involved in worship, planning church events, making important decisions, teaching younger children, missions – leading throughout the life of your congregation.
I share these ideas because they worked for me. When I was in high school, I was an extraordinarily reserved young man who was scared to death of public speaking. Then my pastor invited me to be the liturgist for a week, and then a month, and then to preach on Youth Sunday. Supported by a community of faith, I found my voice, and while I wouldn’t enter ordained ministry for another 15 years, the invitation to leadership in my local church fostered not only my later call to ordained ministry but my passion for God and my commitment to Christ and the church.
I hope my story will be the norm for The United Methodist Church in Indiana – that every young person who encounters a UMC congregation in this state feels welcomed, accepted, surrounded by God’s love and empowered to transform the church, the community and the world. Come be part of that movement. Reach out in the love of Christ to a young person in your community, and voice the need for supporting and equipping young leaders in your congregation.