2023 Youth Ministry Leaders Network
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.
Paul Bowman has almost 30 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… Read more
Robert 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… Read more
Tom Chilton is the Global Vice President for Awana Europe and Middle East. He provides leadership and support to 50 full-time and part-time staff and thousands of volunteers across Europe and the Middle East. These leaders partner with approximately 1,900 churches evangelizing and discipling… Read more
Terry English is the Director of Learning and Development for Josiah Venture. Prior to moving to the Czech Republic 22 years ago, he also worked with youth and student outreach ministries in the USA, UK, and Norway. While his focus is now on equipping local churches, he also continues to work… Read more
Kristy Williams has 16 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… Read more
Sunday, 21 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?
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".
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 disciple-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".
Monday, 22 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.
Cohorts will continue to discuss Walk 2/6.
Tuesday, 23 May
Young people today have been described as "the most physically safe but emotionally fragile generation in history.” Many young people struggle to cope with the demands of modern life, including social media, school, exams, and global issues. We want to help our young people live well when life shakes them! This session will explore the areas in a young person's life where discipleship is needed and provide insight on the qualities that we as leaders need to demonstrate if we are to effectively provide loving care.
Leaders across Europe are experiencing a new phenomena—people do not want to experience leadership as being done “to” them, but rather, “alongside” them. Leadership should not only further the organisations goals, but also seek to include and develop the people being led. The world’s longest-running and largest leadership research project has identified 5 leadership practices which enable leaders to successfully overcome this “challenge”, leading their people in a way which is not only inspirational, but which has proven benefits for the organisations which adopt these practices. This session will examine what these practices are, and explore how Jesus exemplified the use of these practices as he equipped his disciples to follow the Great commission and lead the early church.
The storms of life come to all people everywhere. When loving, caring adults in the Church guide children to build their lives on the Word of God and a relationship with Jesus, they are preparing them for victory in these storms. From the rejection of a father to a cancer diagnosis to losing a loved one in war, come hear how working with pre-teens builds resilient disciples who are leading like the Joseph of Genesis in the Church today!
Cohorts will continue to discuss Walk 2/6.
Wednesday, 24 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
Cohorts will continue to discuss Walk 2/6.