I went to college to study youth ministry and theology, mostly because at the time it made sense. It was an available course at Nazarene Theological College, and I was interested in working with youth. Little did I know how it would grow and develop me as a person, and help me to influence those young people and leaders whose journeys I have been part of over the years.
In my youth ministry training, I was exposed to subjects such as understanding others, pedagogy (or, as it is also known, informal education), advocacy, youth work in the community, pastoral care for youth, etc. All those subjects formed my journey in youth ministry.
The story in Luke 24: 13-35 of the road to Emmaus is one that resonates with my style of youth ministry. In this story, the resurrected Jesus met a couple of his followers on their journey to Emmaus. He did not impose Himself or reveal who He was or any particular agenda. But along the way, He listened and accompanied them as they explored their concerns. As a result of His presence and conversation, they invited Him into their house because they felt at home and comfortable around Jesus. His time with them helped open their hearts to what the Holy Spirit was saying to them.
Likewise, youth ministry is a journey. It is a two-way road. Young people have as much to teach us as we have to give to them.
We, as leaders, tend to start from the perspective that we know it all. We can often disregard what the youth know and what God is already doing in their lives. We should look at our relationship as walking the journey with them.
To journey with youth, we need to find points of connection with them – maybe a common interest or a hobby or sport. Perhaps we can draw them in through their technological expertise, or understanding of the world. Youth always have something to contribute.
When I was given the opportunity to coordinate the youth ministry in Eurasia, in consultation with leaders across the region, we made youth ministry training a priority. The purpose of regional NYI coordinator is to equip youth leaders at the local grassroots level to more effectively minister to youth. Every international training should make a local difference for young people in their church.
Nazarene Theological College in Manchester has helped us develop our training by allowing Rev Louise Kenyon to design and tailor a training tool called Nexūs to meet our current needs. Nexūs is an intensive course over a minimum of two-weekends in which people are invited to prepare themselves better for youth leadership.
Over the past two years, we have delivered Nexūs training in eight locations across Eurasia, with 132 students participating from 22 different districts. The training is delivered in two segments of one, two or three days long. The material has been translated into seven languages. It is our goal to reach all 52 districts of Eurasia in the next three years.
Our most recent Nexūs was held in Manchester. Alexandra Marinescu, from the Bucharest Church of the Nazarene in Romania (Biserica Nazarineanului Binescuvantarea, Bucarest) took part. She says that this training opened her eyes to God’s calling to youth ministry, while also providing her with the tools to answer His call.
Read her story.
Thank you to all of those who have supported us and opened the doors of your churches to deliver Nexūs.
Please pray for more resources and doors to be open so that we can continue equipping youth leaders across our region and beyond.
— Written by Diego Lopez who is the Eurasia Region youth leader. Learn more about Nazarene Youth International in Eurasia: www.eurasianyi.org.
This article was published in the May edition of Where Worlds Meet.