I have a new position here at Beulah Alliance Church. I am now the Next Gen Team Leader. Recently, we have been using my new title in communications documents and in my weekend announcements etc. so that people can start to become used to the new title but…
I was asked this weekend by one of our students if I was still his youth pastor. That question kind of stung me because I didn’t realize that my new job title might be confusing for some of our students so I thought I should take a moment to try to clarify my new position here at Beulah.
I am officially the Next Gen Team Leader. This new position was created to bring Children, youth and Young adult ministries together. Ultimately, the point of Next Gen is to build bridges. As we look at the trends present in churches across North America there are clearly some places where our churches are suffering when it comes to bridges from one age based ministry to the next.
One of the places we definitely need to build a bridge is between Youth Ministry and Young adults ministry. According to a Canadian study called Hemorrhaging Faith, “only one in three young people, who attended church as children, still do so today.” Books like Goodbye Generation are pointing to a drop off between Grade 12 and University age students. Clearly, we need a bridge.
The Next Gen team is working on that bridge by building a more focused Young Adults ministry. We limited the span of Young Adults ministry from 18-24 years of age. This way we can target our message and ministry to a very specific age group. Furthermore, we are building a program that has easy entry points and a weekly ministry so that students can join at any time in the year. As we move forward we will also look for ways to allow grade 11 and 12 students to join the young adults ministry periodically so that when it comes time to make the transition there will not be any hesitation because of a lack of knowledge or familiarity with the program.
Another disturbing quote from Hemorrhaging faith says that, “More young people leave the church between childhood and adolescence than between adolescence and young adult years.” This means more and more students are leaving the church before they even step into our youth ministry. There are probably a number of factors involved in this process but as the Next Gen Team analyzes this situation we are considering some new strategies for the future of Beulah. One thing we have seen is that our older elementary kids “feel” too old for our elementary programming but are clearly not ready to participate fully in our weekend services. Going forward we will be building a more targeted older elementary program for our grades 4 – 6 students. We are also building a specific grade 6 track that allows our students to have both feet in children’s ministry while testing the waters of our Jr Hi youth ministry periodically throughout the year.
The Next Gen Team is all about building bridges. Back to the original question, Yes, I am still a youth pastor here at Beulah Alliance Church and we will still be building a strong youth ministry with Denise Lang, Shari Letts and our incredible staff of volunteer leaders who truly make this ministry what it is today.