Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” 1 Tim. 4:12 describes the heart of Central States Conference Youth Ministries.
“We believe our youths should never settle for being Christian spectators when God has called them to be leaders,” says Pastor Darriel Hoy, youth director for the Central States Conference. Adopting a ministry model called LEAD, Central States Youth Ministries is inspiring and equipping a new generation of servant leaders through Life Skills, Entertainment, Agape Love, and Discipleship.
Central States Conference is shaping leaders who shape today and tomorrow. Through life skills ministry, we’re equipping teens in our churches and the communities with tools to become productive adults. From money management to time management, entrepreneurship to relationships, car care to healthcare, and communication to cooking, teens are learning life skills that lead them on the road to success. “We’ve had great community partners,” says Pastor Hoy. “Store chains such as Dillard’s and Firestone welcomed us with open arms, and we utilized their professional staff to teach valuable life skills. Learning from community members at their community locations gave teens a different perspective and helped us win friends for Christ.”
Youth and fun go hand in hand. But much of today’s entertainment promotes values inconsistent with God’s Word. Central States Youth Ministries is working to revive its sports league including basketball, soccer and volleyball, as well as to launch a drama ministry that produces plays and shows to broadcast on the Internet.
I often ask teens, “If you could be a superhero, what would you do with your super powers?” shares Pastor Hoy. “And the amazing thing is every single teen responds with a desire to solve world problems. Our youth have been labeled ‘Generation Selfie’ but I find them to be kind, generous, and concerned for others. They’re young heroes, and I want them to know that they already have the power to change the world.”
As a part of the Black Adventist Youth Director Association’s (BAYDA) national iServe Movement, Central States teens are impacting their local communities and our world through community service. From feeding the hungry to making blankets for children in foster care, our teens are addressing world issues that concern them.
Every fourth Sabbath has been designated as iServe Day in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Youth from churches in Kansas City, Atchison, Leavenworth, St. Joseph and Topeka worship together, enjoy a sack lunch, and then serve together in the community for three hours. Examples of service projects include sorting and packaging food at Harvester’s Food Bank, honoring and praying for nurses at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, and making meals for families at the Ronald McDonald House. The goal is to have a monthly iServe Day to impact every major city in the conference.
Disciple making doesn’t always take place at church. In fact, youth leaders in Central States Conference are using creative ways to help teens develop deeper relationships with Christ outside of church. Through outdoor adventure education retreats, community worship cafés, and drama ministries, church and federation youth leaders are helping teens explore and embrace fundamental beliefs such as identity in Christ, forgiveness, Bible study, faith and spiritual gifts.