the next move: a vision for scm
By Danny Conn, director, Student and Children's Ministries
Find out more about Randall House Publications and the National Youth Conference, visit www.randallhouse.com.
From the seeds of FWB League and the Church Training Service, the Student and Children’s Ministry continues to grow as it endeavors to train young people for Christian ministry. Faithful men and women of our denomination established the foundation and built a solid structure that supports numerous dynamic programs. The opportunity to carry the SCM banner is both humbling and inspiring.
I have been privileged to participate in youth competition in various capacities, on all levels: as contestant, coach, director, judge, and conference coordinator. The program is dear to my heart, not only for sentimental reasons, but for its tremendous impact in teaching young people to discover and develop their talents for God’s service. The National Youth Conference has the highest attendance of any event sponsored by Free Will Baptists. Still, there is potential for growth.
Iron Sharpens Iron
There is value in wholesome competition. The biblical concept of “iron sharpening iron” can be demonstrated through such contests. A Christian model of competition can exist when the goal is to strengthen and improve for the glory of God, rather than to defeat an opponent for personal glory.
Study of the Bible is a key component in the competition program. Currently, Tic-Tac-Toe and Bible Bowl cover 85% of the Bible in intensive study of the Scriptures over a six-year span. The 2008 Guidelines will increase this amount to over 95%. The Bible Memorization program offers students an opportunity to commit to memory 72 passages of Scripture totaling more than 600 verses over 12 years of study. The TruthQuest game challenges junior high and high school students to learn Free Will Baptist history, doctrine, practice, and polity, while becoming familiar with Free Will Baptist missionaries around the world. A new team event for upper elementary students will offer another fun way to learn the Bible. Competitive activities are a gem of Free Will Baptist training that should be encouraged in every church.
Competition is only one aspect of the National Youth Conference. Some youth groups attend the conference to participate in Reach That Guy service projects. For others, the highlight of the week is the inspiring worship services. Youth and youth workers gain valuable instruction and encouragement through the teaching seminars. Truth & Peace Leadership Conference culminates with the NYC. All of these elements work in harmony to challenge students to pursue a closer relationship with God and be more effective in Christian service.
There are 51 other weeks in the year for SCM to meet needs in the local church. Free Will Baptists are blessed with talented and dedicated youth workers. Often a great idea or program is developed in one church, but there is no effective way to share it with other youth workers. Many churches have willing volunteers who may not have the time or creativity to produce a dynamic program for their youth. SCM can allow creative youth workers to expand their ministries beyond the local church and provide much needed help for churches with limited resources.
Drawing from the strengths of gifted youth leaders, we can develop dynamic youth ministry and children’s church programs complete with Bible lessons, music, fundraising, ministry ideas, outreach activities, and service projects. Think of it as a youth ministry kit. Youth workers and youth will be invited to submit lessons, original music, ideas, artwork, etc., for possible incorporation into the program.
One group of students has no program geared to its particular needs: college students. Young Christians who attend secular colleges and universities do not have a good track record of staying in church. The need to keep these students connected with their faith is urgent. This is another task suited for the SCM. When young adults move away from home, they need to know God is there. We must connect these students with churches where they attend college.
These goals will take time to develop. But small steps can make great strides in achieving these objectives. A database of youth ministers and youth workers is being compiled. Email offers the opportunity for direct access and immediate feedback. Needs can be shared. Questions can be answered. Contact can be made with hundreds of people with the same effort that it takes to contact one person. This network of youth workers will supply a ready resource of ideas and personnel to share in the other projects.
Many youth workers long for opportunities to reach beyond their local church ministry. The programs of SCM provide the ideal outlet for a volunteer children’s church teacher to share his or her ideas with teachers across the country. An experienced youth pastor can lend wisdom to the part-time youth director…and neither of them has to leave home.
Many questions and challenges face youth and youth workers. SCM exists to help them find answers and solutions. This is my vision for SCM: to organize the existing base of knowledge and experience to enable youth workers from all segments of our denomination to be better equipped and better connected to better fulfill their ministry; to develop programs that help youth workers teach and train the youth in their churches; to strengthen the faith and reinforce the training of youth to prepare them for effective Christian service.
About the Writer: Danny Conn is the director of Student and Children’s Ministries at Randall House Publications in Nashville, TN. Contact Danny at email@example.com