With the territory’s Mission Imperative “More people, more like Jesus” at the forefront, two divisions look to the future and focus on investing in leadership training.
Engaging the next generation
“Every kid needs someone to see them like Jesus sees them.” With these words author, film maker and leadership coach Ryan Leak challenged 125 Eastern Michigan Division (EMI) youth leaders to refocus their ministry on building relationships rather than on programming in order to make the greatest difference in the lives of children and youth.
According to Ryan, it doesn’t take a lot of money, a large new facility or even the most recent technology to engage in meaningful ministry. Open communication, genuine encouragement, mutual respect, redemptive trust and empowering opportunity, however, make a difference, and they all have one thing in common—they are personal.
At their recent youth leader weekend, current and prospective leaders were energized and equipped to engage the next generation. With biblical teaching, they rediscovered the truth that programs and ministries are vehicles to present the gospel and engage young people in the process of discipleship.
“The youth focus of the Territorial Mission Imperative was clear to us,” said Captain Jonathan Cooper, divisional youth and candidates’ secretary. “We are excited for the future of the Army and know our best days are ahead of us if we can continue to focus on Jesus, who showed us the true nature of ministry —personal, discipling relationship.”
Training youth as leaders
A track specifically designed for youth leading youth was the highlight of Indiana Division’s recent youth leader training. Focused on encouraging and inspiring young leaders, the track was led by Captain AJ Zimmerman, assistant territorial youth secretary.
“This track was intentionally planned to bring about a positive leadership experience, impact corps programing and inspire more youth to take on leadership roles,” said Captain Brianne Bowers, divisional youth secretary.
Corps throughout the division are developing youth as leaders and want to equip them for success. Many of these youth are active in programs such as corps cadets, character-building and soldiership classes. The training showed them how to take what they have learned through their participation in these programs and use it to reinforce their leadership abilities.
Throughout the day youth were seen strengthening relationships, developing new skills and learning practical concepts they can put intopractice in their leadership roles at their corps.
Training for adult youth leaders took a different approach, focusing on big topics that youth are facing today and how youth leaders can be prepared to talk about sexual identity, intercultural ministry, technology and mental health. These conversations opened doors to begin discovering how corps youth ministries can be more effective in each corps and community.