By Jefferson Furtado, Amanda Westmoreland, and Jordan Litrell
In the middle of the prologue of Psalm 119, the psalmist asks a truly wonderful question, “How can young people keep their paths pure?” As one may imagine, the psalmist offers an answer focusing on closeness to God and attentiveness to (or the internalization of) God’s word. The question asked by the psalmist is not trivial by any means. Much to the contrary, this is a type of inquiry that must be pursued by all who serve young people.
Since November 2019, youth and adult volunteers representing Conference Youth Ministry in the legacy Memphis and Tennessee Conferences have been in active conversations about how to help our ministries with young people thrive in the future Tennessee Western-Kentucky Conference. This work has sought to address the question asked by the psalmist so we may create a reality where youth will see the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference Youth Ministry as a partner in their growth as disciples and leaders. The question asked by the psalmists inspires a future where youth will be equipped by their local church ministries, which will be supported by the Conference Youth Ministry team, and young people become creators of ministry rather than primarily consumers of ministry products.
The new reality God invites us into requires boldness, creativity, adaptability, and the humility to know that we cannot do it alone—we need wise partners for this journey. To that end, we have entered into a collaborative partnership with Ministry Architects of Nashville, TN. Ministry Architects will work with our new Conference over the next two years, helping us to build capacity and reach the beautiful dreams God has placed in our hearts.
The work of this team started with listening sessions, involving conference youth ministry professionals, volunteers, youth who feel called into leadership, pastors and parents with a keen interest in youth ministry, laity with a dream for conference youth ministry, and others with a heart for young people. The product of this work is the report you are about to read. This report reflects back to us what the Ministry Architects team has heard our people say about the youth ministry. This report contains rich information about the assets we possess, things we are to protect and keep, and also possible roadblocks that may prevent our ministry from moving strategically forward. This report also contains a blueprint for how we can strategically move our ministries with youth from where we are to where God dreams for us to be. These recommendations include a detailed timeline laying out the process month by month.
It is our prayer that you will receive this report with an open mind, a warm heart, and an eager spirit so we may continue the work of helping young people grow in their faith.
Watch for upcoming feedback/Q&A meetings to be scheduled with youth who are leaders in our current youth ministries and then also with any interested persons who simply want to ask questions or offer feedback.