From Graduation to Incorporation:
Doing Youth Ministry
by Rev. BJ Barlow
This year I celebrate 20 years of youth ministry leadership. I taught my first youth bible study group at Oak Forest Baptist Church in Chesterfield, VA when I was 18 years old. I can remember how special an experience it was at that age to share leadership among my peers and older adult mentors. Although I was no longer officially a part of the youth group (having just graduated high school), I appreciated the opportunity to transition out of what our church called "youth group" into full blown adulthood. Without the inclusive culture at OFBC, I may not have ended up in ministry today. Read more
Global Service Projects
The PSWR Youth and Young Adult Ministries are excited to be sending young people for service projects to three locations this summer: Hawaii (FCC Honolulu), Mexico (Iglesia de Todas las Naciones), and Washington D.C./Virginia. During these trips we will learn about cultural contexts for ministry, leadership within those contexts, and provide practical assistance to the communities we visit. Each year the PSWR Youth and Young Adult Ministries provides opportunities for young leaders to experience traditions different than their own so that they may grow in their abilities to impact the world with God’s love for all people. By partnering with DOC Communities all over the world, we build and strengthen the spiritual practices of HOSPITALITY, MENTORSHIP, LOCAL SERVICE, GLOBAL MISSIONS, and DISCIPLES IDENTITY. To become eligible for travel, a young person needs to apply for one of our leadership ministries (YLT, YIM, or YALL) to ensure proper preparation and training is established. We want everyone who attends a Global Service Project to be set up for success in service and faith development.
Back by popular demand, the Family Fishing Excursion is open to all ages (under 12 with chaperon). This is an all-day event and will be on a chartered fishing boat with PSWR friends and family only. Limited space (30 people). First come, first served. We are especially encouraging youth and young adults to bring friends.
When: Wednesday, June 20th – 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
Where: 22nd Street Landing Sportfishing located at 141 W 22nd St, San Pedro, CA
Why: To build friendships, to spend time in community enjoying creation, and to create positive memories.
Registration for this event is now closed. For information about this event, contact Rev. BJ Barlow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Reflection on UNITE2018
by Gabriella Campbell, Senior High School Student, FCC Torrance
This past February was the second year of UNITE, an annual conference for youth and young adults in the Pacific Southwest Region. As a member of Youth Leadership Team (YLT), it was rewarding to be able to attend an event that seemed impossible just a year ago. I attend First Christian Church of Torrance which is one of the smaller churches of the region. I was the only participant from my church which allowed me to unite with many other people from many other churches. Continue Reading
A BIG UNITE2018 Thank You!
The gratitude in our hearts for all the hard work of so many people is still overflowing. With over 100 youth and young adult participants, nearly one quarter of all PSWR churches involved, representatives from the General Church and our ethnic constituent ministries, and guests from the Youth Leadership Team in Arizona, Presbyterian Church, and non-denominational communities… UNITE2018 was one of the most powerful youth and young adult experiences we’ve hosted in recent years! Because of the dedication and hard work of dozens of people, lives have been touched and changed forever. God has given us powerful stories to share because of this conference. Here are a few of them.
"I still can’t get over what a powerful weekend I had at #UNITE2018. I’m in awe of Gods work in all of our lives in such a short amount of time! My purpose in life has become more clear and I see I am surrounded by other young adults who are in this work of ministry with me! I have a circle of strong, blessed people who I know pray for me like I do for them! The people united, will never be divided.
"I had great expectancy going towards UNITE this year. I saw the team that gathered to pull this together, and I was excited. I wasn't sure what was going to happen but God is always on the move. He is not passive. He is always doing something."
"The first night we were there… we wanted it to be perfect, and we wanted lives to be impacted. For me, everything was "working" but I wasn't able to fully engage in worship. I was having trouble, and I was praying for God to deliver me from anything that was holding me back. The next day we had our workshops in the morning and our day went fine with no major issues. We had our second night and I still just wasn’t there. That night we played games, had fun, and hung out after worship service… the next day was amazing. We went to the beach, went whale watching, and everything seemed normal. That night during service, God stepped down from heaven and came to our meeting. I don't know what happened but as the night kept going I experienced a freedom that is only found in His presence. I saw many, many lives being transformed, and touched by the Holy Spirit. There was an atmosphere filled with God's presence where nothing else mattered but him. God was surrounding us and embracing us with loving arms. How beautiful God is!!! The last day I was amazed to the point of crying when I saw the youth of our region bringing their gifts and participating in such way that everything reflected God. I couldn't stop seeing God in the midst of us."
"UNITE was a lot of work. I'm tired, but I will do it again just to see lives transformed. I can't stop thinking about this weekend, and I can't stop thanking God for allowing me to be part of this."
After everyone left #UNITE2018, we went to get lunch at a local BBQ joint. We sat and enjoyed time recapping an amazing weekend. Towards the end of our meal, just as we were getting refills for the road, a lady in line at the register approached me. “Thank you for an amazing event!” She was at least 60 years old, seemingly educated and well to do. I asked her how she was connected to UNITE. She said...
“I was just walking by the church on Sunday night and heard the music from the street. A really nice lady was standing outside the church, and I asked what the powerful sound was all about. She began to share a little about the program and invited me to worship this morning.”
With tears streaming down her cheeks, she continued, “I am so glad I got up this morning and came to your service. Seeing those young people sharing their faith and talking about unity just made my day. It really did. I have needed that in my life. To see young people step up and take leadership in that way was inspiring! Thank you so much for giving the space for young people to worship like that.”
UNITE2018 was a powerful example of how much can be done when there are no walls separating us from one another and when the Church is focused on the ministry of Jesus Christ. It demonstrated the significance of young adults and high school students working together to make the Church stronger and encourage one another in faith.
All those who attended UNITE and worked to make it happen are thankful for the support given by the PSWR family. Thank you for the resources shared, the time spent, the energy exerted, and for giving your heart in service of the young people throughout our region and beyond.
A special thank you goes out to Abundant Life Christian Church, First Christian Church of Orange, First Christian Church of Riverside, East Whittier Christian Church, Arizona YC, Loch Leven, the National Benevolent Association, Disciples Home Mission, the Vision Fund, Bianca Jacobs Media, Legacy Park Films, Sandhya Jha, Ayanna Johnson Watkins, Beth Parker, and Elton Penn for the gifts presented, the sponsorships given, and the investments made.
We can only imagine how this experience will impact our Church for years to come. Thank you!
-PSWR Youth and Young Adult Ministries
Open Application Period
for Youth Immersion Ministry and Youth Leadership Team
If you or someone you know has a passion for leadership, public speaking, community networking, or developing authentic Christian faith, YIM and YLT are currently accepting applications. These two regional training programs offer life-changing opportunities for travel, anti-racism exercises, in-the-field leadership instruction, and financial aid to Disciples’ Universities and Colleges all over the country. Those youth who participate in YLT or YIM are more likely to be accepted into programs like XPlor, HELM, and Peace Internships.
We are looking for youth (ages 14 to 18) to step into region leadership, bringing with them passion, faith, and education, to make ministry with young people in the PSWR authentic and fun. Those who apply and are accepted will receive regional funding for opportunities to travel to Mexico, Washington D.C./Virginia, Hawaii, Australia, and much more. However, YLT and YIM participants are expected to stay engaged in their local congregations, attend regular regional meetings with their peers, and prepare an annual presentation to demonstrate all that they have learned throughout the program.
For an overview of the YLT and YIM ministries, read the articles below. For more information about applying for YLT or YIM, contact Associate Regional Minister, B. J. Barlow at email@example.com.
Youth Leadership Team (YLT)
A regional leadership training ministry that prepares young leaders for lifelong service by engaging their gifts and passions to support regional camp ministries. High School youth from around the PSWR are recruited through a broad application and interview process. The size of this ministry varies depending on the need and interest, but normally between 16 and 21 youth are chosen each year. Focusing on five areas of spiritual formation (Hospitality, Mentorship, Local Service, Global Mission, and Disciples Identity), these young leaders participate in leadership for our High School Winter and Summer Camps, as well as, serve as Counselors in Training for our younger aged camps (optional). Additionally, each year YLT participants are encouraged to visit regional congregations to share information about the ministry and recruit new members. We pray that God will use this ministry to prepare leaders who have deep roots in service in the local, regional, and national expressions of the Church in a way that empowers their passion for camp ministry and Christian service wherever God leads them. (Total monthly commitment: 15-20 hours including one week-long summer camp each year)
Youth Immersion Ministry (YIM)
A regional anti-racism/pro-reconciliation initiative that prepares young leaders to do ministry in cross-cultural contexts. High School youth who are recommended by their pastors are interviewed and selected based on their passion and interest in promoting justice for all people. The ministry is designed to engage 16 youth selected from among the North American/Pacific Asian Disciples constituency, Hispanic Convencion constituency, African American Convocation constituency, and Anglo/European communities of faith in cultural experiences from all over the world. Focusing on five areas of spiritual formation (Hospitality, Mentorship, Local Service, Global Mission, and Disciples Identity), these young leaders participate in one significant immersion experience per year, difficult conversations regarding race and culture, service projects in local settings, and advocacy on behalf of those whose voices go unheard. We pray that God will use this ministry to prepare leaders who have broad world-views, sensitive but bold voices for justice, and strong foundations in our Christian tradition. If you or someone you know might serve well as a YIM participant, you are encouraged to speak with your church pastor about how to be considered for recommendation. (Total monthly commitment: 15-20 hours including an immersion trip each year)
Adult leaders for YIM are invited each year to chaperone events, mentor youth, and plan programming for youth participants. Ideally the adult leadership is comprised of one male and one female from each of the constituent ministries listed above. All regional adult leaders commit to anti-racism training as well as consent to a background check to ensure the safety of all minors involved. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a YIM Adult leader, please contact Rev. B. J. Barlow – Associate Regional Minister - firstname.lastname@example.org. (Total monthly commitment: 20-30 hours including an immersion trip each year)
INVITE YLT OR YIM TO YOUR CHURCH ON SUNDAY!
Are you interested in hosting a YLT or YIM Sunday at your church? We are anxious for the opportunity to come share the good work being done at camp and the amazing opportunities experienced in reconciliation ministries for high school students in the PSWR. Our YLT or YIM have experience presenting in worship and can offer a 15 minute message or program during Sunday School/Coffee hour. Whatever works for your church, we welcome the opportunity to partner with you, and to spread the good news of what God is doing in and through our young people in the PSWR. To schedule a Sunday, contact the regional office at 626-296-0385.
What is so unique about Youth and Young Adult Ministry in the PSWR?
Recently I was in conversation with one of our General Church leaders who caught me a bit off guard by saying, “The PSWR Youth and Young Adult Ministry is being watched by the larger church. You all are really doing amazing things.” How exciting and scary all at once. This conversation got me thinking about what it is that people might not see about the PSWR Youth and Young Adult Ministry by observing as a spectator. Continue Reading