(Photo: Screenshot from Dejan Stojkovic)

General Conference

Transforming Young Lives Worldwide: Inside the GC’s 2023 Youth Advisory Meeting

Youth leaders from around the world meet to discuss strategies for connecting with young people.

United States | Andrea Lavy, ANN

The Seventh-day Adventist Church held a two-day General Conference (GC) Youth Advisory meeting at Mt. Aetna Camp in Hagerstown, Maryland, in March 2023. The event brought together youth directors from the 13 divisions and other leaders involved with Adventist Youth Ministries (AYM), with some joining via Zoom. The purpose of the meetings was to discuss strategies for connecting with young people, particularly in a post-pandemic world.

Reviewing AYM’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan

The 2023 Youth Advisory meetings aimed to achieve spiritual revival, conduct the business of AYM, gather reports from the world field, and discover the best way forward. The meetings were also an opportunity to review AYM’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and discuss ways to continue achieving its objectives. 

The strategic plan is based on Psalms 127:4; “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” The AYM plan focuses on five components: Arrows, Archers, Bow, Target, and Arrowhead, with seven objectives and their respective Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

The first component sees young people as arrows to be sent across borders, with three feathers of redemption, revival, and training guiding them. The second component is the success of archers (youth leaders) in sending the arrows into the harvest. The third component is equipping youth leaders with the best "bow," through online training, a quarterly digital magazine, and yearly global leadership congresses. 

Busi Khumalo, director of AYM shared, “We are challenging our pastors to also attend youth ministry related training programs because pastors are the bosses in the local Church. If they don't know what is being said in those training sessions, they will not be able to support the young people when they come back enthused and excited about what they've learned in youth congresses and youth events.” 

The fourth component envisions a target with three rings being local churches, campuses, cities, and a bullseye being countries. The arrowhead is the Three Angels' Messages delivered by young people.

AYM has five ministries: Ambassadors, Adventurers, Pathfinders, Young Adults, and Public Campus Ministries (PCM). Additionally, it has seven global initiatives: Adventist Youth Society (YAS), Give Him 20, Global Youth Day (GYD), Mission Caleb, One Year in Mission (OYiM), Voice of Youth (VoY), and Senior Youth Leadership (SYL)/Master Guide (MG). Each of these ministries and global initiatives are key to AYM’s strategic plan and were points of discussion throughout this year’s meetings. 

Dr. Nick Kross, director of Youth Ministries for the South Pacific Division, provides insight on one of these ministries, “Ambassadors play a really important role for young people who've left school but are unemployed. So in countries like Papua New Guinea, the Solomon [Islands], Vanuatu, Fiji, joining a club of some kind where you have an identity, you have a uniform, you're learning skills like vocational honors, that’s very valuable to a young person.”

Motions and Decisions Made During the Youth Advisory Meeting

During the Youth Advisory meeting, each division director reported on their department and shared future plans. The meeting minutes recorded several motions made which included revising the Pathfinder curriculum, prioritizing training for Adventurer Leaders, and allowing divisions to make adaptations in their logos for evangelism purposes with GC approval. 

Equipping Young People to Become Missionaries for Jesus

The discussions during the Youth Advisory meetings reflect the Church's commitment to equipping young people to become missionaries for Jesus. Abner de Los Santos, vice president of the GC, maintains, “We need to not just train our adults to relate to young people but to help them to give our young people a role in the Church. We adults in the Church should try to find ministries that our children and our young people can do, and then work together.”

The Church sees young people as arrows to be sent across the world, and AYM aims to equip them with the necessary skills to achieve that goal. By investing in them, the Church hopes to take the gospel to every corner of the world and transform the lives of young people worldwide.

To learn more about AYM, its ministries and global initiatives, visit https://www.gcyouthministries.org/. To stay connected to what is happening with AYM, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.