Ministry Quest hosts college students/graduates at national events
More than one pastor at the Pastors’ Conference admitted to being jealous of Cam Priebe’s assignment during the four-day U.S. Conference gatherings in Kansas. Prieb, who is the director of MB Biblical Seminary’s Ministry Quest program, and MBBS student dean Rick Barlett spent their time with the 17 men and women who participated in the inaugural run of the Young Leader’s Track, a leadership training event held simultaneously with the Pastors’ Conference and National Convention.
Spending time with this group of young people “brings a lot of hope and excitement,” said Priebe in an interview after the event. “Pastors told me they were jealous of me being with the kids.”
Priebe came to the new event with five goals and says, “We accomplished all of them. The students were geared up to be engaged.”
One benefit Priebe did not expect was the encouragement the young people were to the pastors who attended the Pastors’ Conference. Pastors stopped by the room the group used for it’s debrief and teaching times to express their appreciation for the young people’s presence. “They brought life to others,” says Priebe.
The encouragement of these pastors no doubt contributed to the overall reaction Priebe sensed in the young people. “There was a deep sense of feeling like they belong all the more now,” he says. “They felt invited in.”
The pastors might not have been so envious of Priebe and Bartlett if they had kept the hours the two men set for the Track participants. The group spent time together Wednesday afternoon before the Pastors’ Conference opening dinner and met for a late-night session. While pastors and their families enjoyed a free afternoon Thursday, the group had additional sessions and had another late-night session. They met for several hours at the end of the Pastor’s Conference. Young Leaders Track participants attended all of the National Convention; no additional sessions were scheduled Friday evening or Saturday.
"Others like me"
Priebe and Ed Boschman, U.S. Conference executive director, developed the goals for the Track. Boschman wanted Track participants to give feedback on the two U.S. Conference events they attended, so the young people completed a written evaluation and also had informal debrief times.
Networking was another goal and Priebe definitely saw this happen. As the participants shared with one another, Priebe says he could see the encouragement the young adults experienced in finding “others like me for whom serving God is important.” The Track was designed to give participants opportunities to connect with other young adults and with denominational leaders and to observe the relationships others in the U.S. Conference have with one another. Meal and break times proved important times for this interaction.
Priebe also wanted the Track participants to become aware of the ways in which God calls people and what leadership involves. In addition to looking at biblical “call stories,” the Track participants played a leadership experiential game. During the debrief time after the game, the leadership applications became clear.
Hearing the reports at the National Convention on Saturday was a great experience for the group, he says. “They heard stories of God at work and the different ways God is at work. I wanted them to catch a bigger picture and they caught a glimpse of that.”
The final goal was to help the young people think about their future after college. While several in the group are beginning their first pastoral assignments, most of the group is returning to college this fall. “Our times together were designed to intentionally help them transition from college to what’s next,” says Priebe. Priebe and Bartlett encouraged the young people to think about what might be a “good next step” for them.
“Ministry Quest made a huge investment in me and was a pivotal point of transformation during my high school years,” says Tyler Prieb, a student at Azusa Pacific University in California in an August e-mail interview. “To reconnect with some of these same mentors as I am facing more complex issues in college was a complete breath of fresh air. I really felt God giving me new life through this track and really hope to see the conference continue to find ways to invest in college students who are in such a concentrated, formative stage of life.
"They care deeply…"
Asked what his impression was of the group, Priebe says, “They really care deeply about their peers. They care deeply about the church. It is important to them that other people are taken care of.”
One examples of this last point was the group’s discussion about worship styles. While the group members had different opinions, they placed “incredible value in understanding people and respecting and valuing other people,” says Priebe. “I have incredible hope for our future leaders. They love their neighbors and they love Jesus. Their hope is in serving God and what he will be in their lives.”
They appreciated the dialogue time feature speaker Dan Southerland had with pastors following his presentations, but Track participants would have liked to hear Mennonite Brethren pastors talk together—maybe in a panel format—about the issues Southerland’s presentations raised and some Track participants would have liked to participate on such a panel discussion.
As the Ministry Quest director, Priebe would like to see the seminary’s leadership training program extend beyond its current focus on high school students. Ministry Quest has begun weekend leadership retreats at Mennonite Brethren colleges and the Young Leaders Track at both the U.S. and Canadian Conference conventions are another step in this direction.
“We’d love to continue serving this way,” says Priebe, noting that national and district conventions may want to consider similar tracks in the future. “We want to continue seeing national conferences, churches and school build intothe lives of young leaders,” says Priebe.
“The ‘best’ aspect of the Young Leaders track for me was the encouragement and hope I felt for the future of the American Mennonite Brethren denomination,” says Trent Voth of Hillsboro, Kan. “I noticed immediately that the next generation of church leaders have a deep love for Christ and love for others. It was an amazing experience to connect so early in life with the next heroes and sheroes of faith in our denomination and I was honored to be apart of it and start our friendships and networking early.”
Prior to the national events, Priebe contacted the district ministers, explaining the Young Leaders Track and asking for names of young adults who would benefit from the experience. All of the participants, says Priebe, are "involved in leadership." Several served in summer internships at local churches, have experience in short-term mission work with MBMS International or are recent college graduates starting their first pastoral assignment.
Young Leader Tract participants included Michelle Hood, of Community Bible Church, Olathe, Kan.; Jacob and Michelle Baccus and Ben Friesen, all of Memorial Road MB Church, Edmond, Okla.; Trent Voth, of Ebenfeld MB Church, Hillsboro, Kan.; Jarod Richardson and Lee Waldron, both of Parkview Church, Hillsboro, Kan.; Kayla Vix, of First MB Church, Wichita, Kan.; Caleb Creed, of Bible MB Church, Cordell, Okla.; Elisabeth Shaum of College Community Church MB, Clovis, Calif.; Jon Walker, Deborah Wall and Stephanie Wall, all of Neighborhood Church,Visalia, Calif.; Heidi Glanzer, a Tabor College student from Abilene, Kan.; and three alumni of the Ministry Question high school program—Tyler Prieb, of Topeka, Kan., Jeremy Lind of Birch Bay (Wash.) Bible Community Church and Jessica Berg, of Bethany Church, Fresno, Calif.
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