April 29, 2021
The NextGen Conversations podcast seeks to empower NextGen leaders to create dynamic, Christ-centered ministries. In its debut season, we spoke with several Missouri ministry leaders about concepts and ideas that are working in their context. Consider how these five might translate to your local church.
1. MAKE THE CAR A MISSION FIELD
Investing in your students is at the heart of NextGen ministry. Leaders can amplify their Sunday-morning investment by equipping parents to disciple their kids. Curriculum and Sunday School are helpful tools but aren’t your ministry; They’re a part of your strategy. Sarah DeClue, children’s ministry director at La Croix Church in Cape Girardeau, urges NextGen leaders to consider how they can teach families to spiritually lead their children in all aspects of life – be it during homework or on the way to basketball practice. Dive deep into this topic with Sarah in Episode One.
2. ENCOURAGE FAMILY-DIRECTED ENGAGEMENT
With a full plate of extracurricular activities and school, parents already pick and choose which elements of NextGen ministry their child can add to their schedule. Local church NextGen leader Mona Candea offers ideas to empower families to decide how they’ll engage, so no one feels pressured to do it all. Using content related to that week’s sermon topic, Candea sends out the same ideas repackaged in different ways: A kids video lesson, parent guide, conversation starts, activities and more. Parents get to pick and choose what options will be most engaging and effective in their family context. Candea reminds that this method hinges on asking the questions, “What do our families need?” and “How would they like to receive it?” Learn more about this idea in Episode Two with Mona.
3. EMPOWER STUDENTS TO MENTOR STUDENTS
At Good Shepherd in Kansas City, Becca Boren, director of youth and young adult ministries, created a system of accountability and growth in her program that has allowed youth to take on meaningful leadership roles while making their faith their own. Older youth mentor younger youth. As students age up, they’re offered the opportunity to get trained and mentor a younger student of their own. Boren’s program emphasizes friendship before mentorship and teaches students about spiritual disciplines as tools to draw closer to God. She finds that mentorship relationships with students close in age allows mentors to relate deeply to the struggles and challenges their mentee faces. Whether its serving as a mentor or growing as a mentee, this idea equips students to continually find their way back to God during the transition and tumults of early adulthood. Get into the nitty gritty and learn how you can lay the groundwork for a mentoring program of your own in Episode Five.
4. OFFER STILLNESS IN COLLEGE-LIFE CHAOS
We live in a fast, loud and anxious world. Young people experience this, too. The Awakened Life, a curriculum written by Rev. Angie Olsen and Sarah Bollinger, offers an invitation to peace and silence amid the chaos of life. Olsen says the awakened life means we are centered on the present and awake to the grace and love of God in the moment. The eight-week series emphasizes the importance of silence and meditation. These ideas are reinforced by the spiritual practices of Jesus. We can use quiet time to grow in our own relationships with him. Learn more about this idea with Angie in Episode Six.
5. LEND AN EAR THROUGH HOLY LISTENING
At Trinity UMC in Piedmont, Rev. Tadd Kruithoff and his team lean into the relational aspect of discipleship through Holy Listening. This method allows kids to lead the conversation and share about their own lives in their own words while volunteers simply guide the conversation, teaching children to see God in everyday life. Holy Listening isn’t about introducing children to God for the first time; it’s about revealing to them a God who loves them and is already active in their life. Holy Listening doesn’t rely sharing the right facts; it focuses on having a conversation and actively listening. Dig deeper into this concept with Tadd in Episode Seven. Find Season One of the NextGen Conversations podcast and all related resources at www.nextgenumc.org/ngconversations.