Baptist World Alliance, BWA News Release

BWA hosts American youth leaders

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BWA hosts American youth leadersYouth leaders from within the United States at a meeting at the BWA international offices

The Baptist Worled Alliance hosted a diverse group of 17 youth leaders from the Mid Atlantic area of the United States at its international offices in November to participate in wide ranging discussions on issues affecting Baptist youth ministry in the US.

Participants, some of whom are youth pastors in their congregations, agreed that youth ministry in Baptist churches could be more effective. Ministry initiatives, it was observed, are often not broad-based enough, sometimes restricted to ways of protecting teenagers from drugs, alcohol and sex.  Too many youth ministries are built on assumptions and values and methods that are outdated. Many churches do not take into account that youth now have global access through the Internet and mobile technology, as exemplified by the widespread use of social media.

Youth participation in worship is insufficient, often restricted to a “youth Sunday” once a year, which sends the wrong message to youth as to how much they are valued in the Christian community. The youth leaders felt that youth should be engaged in the planning of the church’s ministry programs and activities.

For youth ministry to be effective, it needs to be incarnational, based on the identity of the local congregation and the current realities of youth. Youth ministry needs to be intentional, adapted to the needs and the overly committed schedule of North American youth that churches seek to disciple, and seeking to understand the language used by youth. It should be collaborative, developing partnerships with parents, homes and schools where possible and appropriate.

It is therefore important for churches to engage youth beyond the four walls of the church. “Be aware of and prepare to address the issues affecting youth,” BWA Youth Director Emmett Dunn said. “Get to know the other significant individuals in the lives of youth: teachers, coaches and close friends. School sporting activities should not be considered as competing with the church but as an extension of the church’s ministry as it relates to the individual’s physical development.”

Greater emphasis needs to be placed on training as “a significant number of youth ministers and leaders are not adequately trained.” Awareness and sensitivity to diversity issues is important in contexts where churches minister among immigrant populations.

Participants at the meeting on November 21 included persons from the Latino, Caribbean, African American and Anglo communities in the US.

Baptist World Alliance®
© December 12, 2013

The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 266 conventions and unions in 134 countries and territories comprising 51 million baptized believers in 178,000 churches. For more than 100 years, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.