January 01, 2016

By Kim Parker

Now more than ever teen culture is constantly changing. What may be culturally relevant for today may not be the reality tomorrow. What may have been effective for youth and college age ministry yesterday may not resonate today. Often, what we may feel that we are doing well in the church in relating to teenagers and college age students may not bear fruit tomorrow. 
Recent studies say that 40-50 percent of students from good youth groups and families will drift from God and the church after high school. Every good parent, pastor and youth worker pray that when their student leaves home, they are equipped and prepared to face life on their own with a deep faith that not only keeps them grounded but gives them courage and strength to continue growing every step of the way. We all want to develop students that have faith that sticks.
On November 7 at Stephens College in Columbia, the Missouri Conference had Steve Argue, the co-author of the book Sticky Faith join us for a Next Gen training day. Through Steve’s leadership and teaching he shared from his extensive work in ministry and his cultural understanding ways that we can help create a faith that sticks with the next generation. Steve helped us explore some foundational elements necessary for leading an effective student ministry. He also shared some creative ways to help students learn the foundations of faith along with ways to tell the story of faith. 
Many churches have seasoned leaders that sense that a need a re-boot in their ministries. This is courageous! The Sticky Faith event explored some foundational elements necessary for leading a ministry and add creative visioning to that foundation.
Whether someone was starting at the beginning of ministry or they are considered seasoned there was something for everyone. Some of the most gifted people from the Missouri Annual Conference led breakout sessions.         Those breakout sessions covered areas and topics such as discipleship, to how to minister to students with special needs, how to lead a mission trip, connection over curriculum, leading excellent worship, living a life of faith in the real world. Throughout the day each participant was able to connect and dialogue about practical ways to minister to students. 
Rev. Brett Cheek also shared a general session entitled: Developing Pathways for the Next Generation. Here he encouraged and helped share new ways student leaders to understand and organization discipleship from Birth to Adulthood in the life of the church. Worship was led by Paul Leammli. About 145 people participated in the event. 
For more about what’s going on with Next Generation Ministries in the Missouri Conference, go to http://www.nextgenumc.org.