40 IAD In Inter America church leaders challenged to retain engage and empower youth
Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, IAD

S ometimes we don’t like the shoes or the crazy hair our young people wear, but they are the future leaders of our church,” said Josney Rodríguez, who oversees thousands of pastors and church elders under the ministerial association for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America. “You must train them so they can be our leaders soon.”

Rodriguez was among dozens of speakers who took part in a special online youth ministry certification training program geared for youth directors, church pastors, church elders, administrators and active church members. The training aims to equip church leaders to better serve, retain, minister, mentor and prepare young people for the ministry. The two-day training was organized by the youth ministries department and was held May 22-23, 2019, in Miami, Florida.

“As leaders understand better how to connect, train, redirect and mentor the church’s most potential human agents, our young people, then more opportunities will be accessible to empower the youth to finish the work,” said Al Powell, youth ministries director for the church in Inter-America and main organizer of the event.

It’s about helping young people discover their gifts, allowing them to lead, and recognizing and affirming them, explained Powell. In order to do that, Powell reminded church leaders to put God first, pray and support young people along the way so they can impact others to join in the task of preparing a people for Jesus’ Second Coming.

“Put young people first too,” said Powell. “Be good leaders and allow them to move ahead.”

President of the Adventist Church in Inter-America (IAD), Elie Henry also reminded church administrators and leaders to understand their purpose, role and calling in carrying out God’s vision in their lives and the future of the church as he quoted the life of Jeremiah.

“God is giving you a big vision because He wants to use you to be a channel for others, to show the redemption God has for you and those around you,” said Henry.

Keeping the vision in sight means moving forward and making room to focus on the needs of the young people in the church to further impact the community around them, emphasized Henry.

Young people ages 15-30 represent 37 percent of the church membership in the IAD territory. That percentage translates into more than 1.4 million young people who must be retained, catered to, and engaged in the action plans for church growth, explained Filiberto Verduzco, treasurer of the church in Inter-America.

Verduzco encouraged church administrators to include young people at every level of the church. 

“Allocate resources to support young people so they can be a part and feel crucial to the fulfillment of the mission,” he said.

Pako Mokgwane, associate youth ministries director for the Adventist world church, spoke on the alarming rates at which many young people are leaving the church around the world. Statistics are revealing that 50 percent of members leave the church every year.

“We know most are not leaving because doctrinal issues but relational issues,” said Mokgwane. “We need leaders and we need them now.”

“If you want to be relevant leaders, you need to not only listen but understand.”

With the needs of more youth leadership involvement, Mokgwane spoke about the new Senior Youth Leader training program that was launched online last year.

Mokgwane congratulated church leaders in the Dominican Union for certifying the first Senior Youth Leaders in the world church during a visit to the island earlier this month.

Three-hundred-forty-seven youth leaders were trained in the SYL program throughout the Dominican Republic, May 2-10, reported David Uribe, youth ministries director of the church in the Dominican Republic. “When our youth are leading our churches, we have seen that the church grows for the most part,” said Uribe.

Equipping the youth is not about one event, or a particular youth Sabbath day, but about always letting the youth be up front. “Our church must allow young people to be more engaged in leadership and support them as part of the overall vision and mission of the church,” he added

Uribe said plans are for over 1,000 young people to begin the SYL curriculum training in the coming months. Back home Uribe said hundreds of youth directors and leaders across the island were tuning in to the online training event.

Experts and speakers from around the world church provided insight and tools to help leaders become successful in working with the youth through dozens of seminars and presentations on successfully leading the youth, the role of the pastor and elder in youth ministry, keeping AY and youth engaged in the contemporary age, strengthening Pathfinder and Adventurer clubs, understanding history, philosophy and the vision of youth ministries, how to detect depression, its signs and treatment, and more.

Daniel Torreblanca, youth ministries for the church in Chiapas, Mexico, who attended the live program, said that more than 200 youth leaders were gathered at the different conference and mission offices across the union. With more than 94,500 young people spread across eight conferences and missions, the training program, along with all the youth leadership initiatives and resources the church is providing, is crucial in ensuring that the church fosters a culture of empowering them.

“Being reminded to ensure daily time is spent with God first, that time must be spent empathizing and becoming friends with the young people, and that youth ministries is not just about organizing programs and events but about motivating them to seek others for salvation,” Torreblanca said.

“For the thousands of young people across Inter-America, we know that they have a great disposition to be involved, to reach and satisfy the needs in the community, so as leaders we must empower them today,” said Pastor Powell.

To view a list of the seminar presenters during the two-day training sessions, Click HERE
To watch Inter-America’s Youth Ministry Certification Training, Click HERE
For Inter-America’s youth ministries initiatives and resources, go HERE

This article was originally posted on Inter-American division’s news site