As national director of USMB, one of my goals is to champion our enhanced USMB Youth program. Most of us realize, but sometimes neglect to support with our actions, that our youth are the future of our conference.
USMB Youth is led by volunteers who give their time and energy to help MB youth workers all across the U.S. be better leaders and provide resourcing that makes a difference among our teens as they seek to follow Jesus.
The networking goal of our USMB Youth program is “to connect, develop and resource youth workers—full time, part time and volunteer—(to be) a community of passionate youth workers who share one another’s burdens and inspire each other to keep going.” That is a worthwhile pursuit.
April 3-7, 2019, MB youth from across America will gather at Glorieta, New Mexico, for several days of learning, growing, worshipping, networking and fellowship—planned and provided by USMB Youth. This big event that occurs every four years is a tremendous time for creating community and for sharpening the discipleship of our youth and youth workers. Please make sure the youth from your church get in on this great opportunity!
So much of today’s thinking in youth ministry is different than it was 10 to 20 years ago. As youth ministry has matured, eating goldfish, smearing whipped topping on one another’s faces and over-using fog machines are being reconsidered. What’s most important these days? That our youth are growing and maturing in becoming dedicated followers of Jesus. It’s no longer about how much pizza and soda teens can consume in one evening—and that’s encouraging to me.
Today, perhaps more than at any other time in history, young adults (and their parents) need spiritual help and direction. The church plays a crucial part in this. It would be suicidal for USMB to abandon this new generation of believers.
In its current state, the church, as a whole, resists change. Youth pastors trying to make changes meet resistance from local church leaders far too often. As newer practices in youth ministry are driving efforts to cultivate spiritual maturity, USMB is striving to help our local MB church leaders see the benefit of youth ministries that make strong disciples. Let’s do all we can to support our youth and make it easier for our youth leaders to lead.
Jesus modeled one of the best practices for the church. His discipleship didn’t depend on the latest book, the newest game or the best icebreaker. Instead, his model relied on the spiritual health of the leader and his/her willingness to spend time investing in a relationship of discipleship with Jesus. That’s what USMB Youth is helping to foster.
Kyle Goings, youth pastor at First MB Church in Wichita, Kansas, and the chair of USMB Youth, said recently, “We (USMB Youth) want to build a deeper community and identity as Mennonite Brethren among youth workers in our national MB family.” That’s a very encouraging statement to me. That’s something I can support wholeheartedly.
For some time now, as youth pastors have come from other denominations to serve in our MB churches, it’s been difficult to incorporate them into our MB family. We now have a much improved USMB Youth program that I believe will make a huge difference in creating enhanced community and involvement among divergent MB youth workers. This will mean that these workers are resourced well and that they have a solid place to connect with others doing the same kind of kingdom work—for iron to sharpen iron. That’s a blessing. That’s something to celebrate. It’s all for greater impact: together.
Don Morris is the USMB national director. He and his wife, Janna, live in Edmond, Oklahoma, where they attend Cross Timbers Church.