In the landscape of children's and youth ministry, a significant conversation is unfolding, centered around the imperative of nurturing the faith of the next generation.
“We’re finding, both in conversations and in research, there are four key gaps where young people are making critical faith decisions,” said David Yeagley, Washington Conference young adult ministries director.
These gaps include the 4–14 age range window where 85% of decisions are made for Jesus, the shift between high school and college where one out of every two young people drift from faith, the transition period between college and adulthood determining participation in local churches, and the early choices made by young parents for integrating faith at home.
To better address the four gaps in discipling young people, Washington Conference is adopting a “One Team” approach that specifically encompasses children’s ministry, youth ministry, young adult ministry and family ministry.
“The beauty of a team: we can rally around needs,” said Yeagley, who will be leading One Team. “No one stands alone. We pray together. We vision together. We move forward together. We have a purpose to help the next generation.”
One Team consists of several new team members:
- Jennifer Bullion is representing children’s ministry, along with women’s ministry responsibilities.
- Gretel Dupertuis is representing Adventurer Clubs.
- Nestor Osman is representing Pathfinder clubs, youth, summer camp and young adult ministries.
- John Leis is representing public campus ministry.
- David Yeagley is adding family ministries to his year-around responsibilities at Sunset Lake Camp and serving as the coordinator for the team.
"We can't have a conversation about youth discipleship without including Adventist education. It plays a vital role in shaping the spiritual formation of young people,” Yeagley said. “We need to bridge the gap between what happens at church, in our schools and at home, creating a holistic approach to discipleship."
As the team at Washington Conference begins their collaborative journey, Yeagley is planning regular team meetings, strategic planning and engagement of volunteers and leaders to foster a cohesive understanding of the mission and nurturing young people's faith.
The goal is to ensure everyone is aligned with the larger vision and has the necessary support. Additionally, efforts will be made to gather all the key stakeholders — including volunteers, Pathfinder and Adventurer club leaders, and local youth leaders — to engage them in youth ministry initiatives.
"The goal is to create a cohesive understanding of the mission and engage all key stakeholders in our youth ministry's initiatives," Yeagley said. "We want to empower volunteers, Pathfinder leaders and local youth leaders to actively participate in nurturing the faith of the next generation. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of young people and bridge the gaps that hinder their spiritual growth."