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2022 Youth Ministry Leaders Network

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    Youth Ministry
Equipping leaders who are seeking to influence the next generation of believers

Sometimes youth ministry is viewed as a non-essential “add on,” a place to serve when one is too young to do anything else or too inexperienced to move into “real ministry.”  However, the data would tell us that just the opposite should be true.  Ninety percent of believers put their trust in Christ before their 21st birthday.  Strong youth ministry is essential if we want to reach Europe again for Christ.

A high percentage of Christian workers receive their call into ministry while they are still young.  Young people are more teachable, more easily motivated and mobilised, and still have most of their key life decisions before them.  Teaching them to reach their peers and make disciples can prepare a new generation of leaders for the church.

In spite of this, most youth leaders have no specific training on how to effectively lead their local youth ministry.  Learning a philosophy of ministry based on the life of Christ and drawing from the experiences of others who are effective in a European context can powerfully increase their effectiveness.  Quality preparation can also keep them from becoming discouraged or burned out.

The aim of the Youth Ministry Leaders Network is to lay a strong base in youth ministry philosophy from the life of Christ, as well as teach strategies that are bearing significant fruit in a European context.  The participant will walk away with a deeper understanding of what makes a disciple-making youth ministry, as well as have specific tools that can be immediately applied to their setting.  

This year's programme will include lecture options for the whole group and 6 small cohort sessions divided by ministry stage.  The small cohorts will use "Walk 2/6”, a special course designed to equip youth leaders to build disciple-making youth ministries following the model of Jesus.  Participants from previous years are encouraged to return and choose a different ministry stage as well as different seminars to keep deepening their youth ministry skills. 

Prior preparation will be set for all applicants.

Applicants should be currently involved in youth ministry and seeking to develop their gifts to better reach and disciple the young generation.

Network Leadership

Terry English is the Vice President of strategy and training for Josiah Venture. As such he oversees the creation and rollout of ministry team and disciple making resources throughout Central and Eastern Europe, and also oversees evangelistic ministries and tools currently being used by over 400 churches. Prior to moving to the Czech Republic 20 years ago, he also worked with youth and student outreach ministries in the USA, UK, and Norway. While his focus is now on training local churches, he also continues to work with a local youth ministry in the Czech Republic so that he can keep his finger on the pulse of current trends in youth culture, and has recently helped his local church plant a new expression of church in Ostrava.

Network Speakers

Paul Bowman has over 20 years of experience in full-time youth ministry in the local church. He has served in a variety of settings throughout Ireland – both urban and rural – working with churched and unchurched young people. He is passionate about developing youth ministries that are rooted in the life of Christ, making disciples, and focusing on development of the whole person. He has been leading teams of young people on short-term mission trips to the Czech Republic for 15 years. He is committed to training and equipping the next generation of youth leaders. He lives with his wife Val and their three children in Saintfield, Northern Ireland. He holds a BSc Hons in Community Youth Work and recently completed a Masters in Transformational Leadership.

Zala Cempre was born and raised in Slovenia, where she now serves as an overseer of youth and young adults ministry in her local church in Ljubljana. There, she disciples, leads, and trains a group of volunteers. On a national level, she leads a 2-year discipleship program for college students and serves as a director of evangelical camps. Zala loves to take students on short-term trips to former Yugoslavian countries where they serve the needs of the local churches. Zala holds a bachelor’s degree in management and master’s degree in international business.

Rob Chestnut is the director of training for Josiah Venture, a youth ministry organization serving Central and Eastern Europe. He studied organizational communications at Cedarville University before moving to the Czech Republic in 2003 where he found a passion for working with young people both in Europe and America. He and his wife, Audrey, joined Josiah Venture in 2010 and served in their English camp ministry for 6 years before moving back to America to serve in their home church. He returned to Josiah Venture in 2019 settling in Ostrava, Czech Republic with Audrey and their two young girls. He loves to train up young people to know Jesus more, discuss great stories that unite us, and bring history alive for others to experience. 

Tom Chilton is the Director for Awana Europe and North Asia. He provides leadership and support to 30 full-time and part-time staff and thousands of volunteers across Europe and parts of Asia. These leaders partner with approximately 1,250 churches evangelizing and discipling more than 52,000 children and youth in weekly club programs. Tom has served with the global ministry of Awana for 21 years in a variety of roles, including curriculum, training, and advocacy. He is a graduate of Wheaton College and has a Master’s degree in Intercultural Studies. Tom and his wife and three children are based in the U.S. in a suburb of Chicago. He is passionate about equipping leaders to reach more children and youth for Christ!

Terry English is the Vice President of strategy and training for Josiah Venture. As such he oversees the creation and rollout of ministry team and disciple making resources throughout Central and Eastern Europe, and also oversees evangelistic ministries and tools currently being used by over 400 churches. Prior to moving to the Czech Republic 20 years ago, he also worked with youth and student outreach ministries in the USA, UK, and Norway. While his focus is now on training local churches, he also continues to work with a local youth ministry in the Czech Republic so that he can keep his finger on the pulse of current trends in youth culture, and has recently helped his local church plant a new expression of church in Ostrava.

Kristy Williams has 14 years of experience as a full-time missionary in the context of youth ministry and leadership training. She has been serving primarily in Ukraine, though her love for training youth leaders leads her to different opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe with her missionary organisation, Josiah Venture. Kristy is passionate about disciple-making and teaching leadership principles to youth leaders. She also develops materials that help local churches build relationships with the teenagers and teachers in their neighborhood schools. Kristy and her husband, Ben, live in Lviv, Ukraine with their two school-aged children. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Finance, a Master’s of Business Administration, an MA in Global Leadership, and is currently working on a PhD in Organisational Leadership.

Network Programme

Sunday, 22 May

Since youth culture is a constantly moving target, those who work with young people are often looking for something “new”.  What are the latest trends, how do we capture young people’s attention, what will make our programmes attractive and contemporary?  While there is nothing wrong with being trendy, the most profound insights about youth ministry are actually very “old”.  We forget that Christianity began as a youth movement. Many of Jesus’ disciples were teenagers when he called them.  How did his youth group launch a movement that changed the world?  If Jesus were to teach us how to lead an effective youth ministry today, what would he say? 

This moderated discussion will provide an opportunity for participants to share their experiences implementing into their ministries lessons learned during the previous ELF. This session will help participants learn from, guide, and strengthen each other as we seek to create discisple-making youth ministries. 

Please note that this session is designed for returning attendees at the Youth Ministry Leaders Network. First-time attendees will attend "What God You Here Won't Get You There". 

What it takes to start a youth ministry is very different from what it takes to grow one or what is needed to expand its impact after it is healthy.  Youth ministries follow certain patterns of development, and require a shift in focus from the leader at each stage.  Not understanding these stages can create barriers to growth, since a youth leader will often not naturally concentrate on the right things.  Looking at the development of Christ’s ministry, how do we understand these stages, and how do we lead our youth group through them?

Please note that this session is designed for first-time attendees at the Youth Ministry Leaders Network. Returning attendees will attend "Lessons Learned in the Last Year". 

Monday, 23 May

On Day 2, participants will be divided into six groups depending on the stage each participant is at in the development of his or her ministry. Each group will do a different session of “Walk 2/6”, a special course designed to equip youth leaders to build disciple-making youth ministries following the model of Jesus. In these smaller units, participants will look deeper into the life of Christ and directly apply what they see to their youth ministry, evaluating their current situation and discovering their next steps. This will happen under the leadership of one of the teaching team, all of whom are experienced youth ministry coaches. Returning participants will be placed in a different track than they were previously in, so they can continue to grow and stretch in their leadership skills.

At the beginning of each track time, there will be a short 10-minute “TED-talk" on a key youth topic that participants can teach in their youth ministry.

Tuesday, 24 May

COVID has had a big impact on the mental health of young people, which many youth ministry leaders are unequipped to respond to. This session will explore the areas in a young person's life where pastoral care is needed and provide insight on the qualities that we as leaders need to demonstrate if we are to effectively provide pastoral care.

Please note that this session will be held at the same time as "Leading for the Long Haul". Participants can choose to attend one or the other.

Youth ministry can be a joyful, inspiring vocation - but it can also be hard and draining. In this session we will explore how to stay healthy in long term youth ministry, enabling you to keep your passion for young people, and remain relevant in their lives. 

Please note that this session will be held at the same time as "Pastoral Care for Young People". Participants can choose to attend one or the other.

Wednesday, 25 May

In the session, participants can choose from one of the following moderated breakout discussions and group brainstorms:

  • Leading youth ministry through different life stages - how your role and focus change as you grow older
  • Caring for your team - developing concrete next steps
  • Bridging the gap between pre-teen and youth ministry
  • Equipping young people to share the Gospel with their peers