Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The 9 Month Mission Trip begins...

The 4th annual Unleashed conference was this past Saturday in Irwin. Our Norwin Youth Network and other local youth pastors equipped 30 students from 7 local high schools to share their faith, defend their faith, and to lead campus ministries/outreaches in their schools. The day included workshops, strategic planning time, great resources, and lunch of course! As we said to the students at the end of the day, this was the beginning of a 9 Month Mission Trip for them - to a place where they already have to go, it's already paid for, they have to eat strange food, and there are tons of lost people who need to hear about Jesus. Our goal is to help Christian students see the coming school year as a calling to serve God by loving their friends in Jesus' name. I want to thank Bo Pratt and the other youth leaders who helped plan this event as well as the youth pastors who taught the workshops - James Llewellyn (Murrysville Alliance), Frank Audia (Community United Methodist), Wayne Heckman (Calvary Assembly), and Paul Peternel (Jeannette Assembly of God). I pray that at the end of this school year we will have some amazing stories to tell of the great things that God has done through these students.

The Ebb and Flow of Youth Ministry Networking

Depending on the year we have a varying number of Youth Pastor networks with which we meet. From 2000-2005 we had a great youth ministry network in Fayette County. Then three key youth pastors left and we had no network until this past March when, seemingly from out of nowhere(!), a group of youth pastors came together and now we have a big school year kick off happening in September in Uniontown. It happened without us doing anything - it must've been God.
On the other hand, we have had a great network of youth pastors in Greensburg for a few years now and within the past six months three key youth pastors have left and that network is, for the moment, gone! In some ways, the body of Christ is ever flowing, ebbing, the tide going in and out. Sometimes nothing is happening, sometimes we can't keep up with it all! This September we have three school year kick off events taking place - for Westmoreland County, Fayette County, and the Mon Valley. It is just fascinating to watch how God works.
Unfortunately, I know that some of the changes we see in youth ministry in our area is not the result of the will of God, but the poor value people place on youth ministry and youth pastors. Nevertheless, God uses it all for good. I am happy for my youth pastors friends who have left and found better youth ministry situations and are happier in them. It was hard to see them suffering. May God bless you guys.
We never know what it's going to look like from year to year, but we always enjoy making new friends and, inevitably, we know we will have to say good-bye to some old ones. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away - blessed be the Name of the Lord!