Project Documents

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Steve Case

Second Advisor

Mike Stevenson

Third Advisor

Barry Gane

Abstract

Problem.

Florida Conference did not have a way to connect the Youth Ministries Department to local churches to support the churches’ teen ministry. There was a need for a structure to create a connection between the conference and local churches to strengthen youth ministry in the local church. With over 300 churches in the conference, the youth director could not achieve this alone. Furthermore, there was not even a contact list to know which churches had a youth leader or young people. Developing a structure would be a means of gaining access to local church youth leaders so that the youth director and a team of volunteers could offer help and support to these leaders.

Method

The Youth Ministries Department was reorganized to develop a structure of volunteers called Cluster Coordinators to become a link between the conference and the local church youth ministry. After consulting with different departments in the conference and in other conferences, reading what others had to say on this topic, searching Scripture regarding organization and structure, reviewing the then current Pathfinder and Adventurer structure in Florida, meeting with key leaders in the conference, and based on over 20 years of life experience in working with youth, the glaring need was to create a structure of volunteers to help the youth director.

The main emphasis would be on creating a vision of what the structure would look like, developing a basic understanding of the dynamics of change in an organization, redefining what the function of a conference youth director is, applying best practices on how to recruit, train and retain volunteers, and then implementing the plan. The focus of this document is to develop the structure, which was nonexistent, to connect local churches to the conference to strengthen local church youth ministry. This was all foundational to being able to impact local church teen ministry. The structure is simply the means to accomplish this goal. The goal is to improve local church teen ministry through a structure which would create a conduit to link youth leaders with the Youth Ministries Department. To accomplish this, a team of volunteers was recruited to partner with the youth ministries director. This group would be responsible for gathering current contact information for youth leaders, offering encouragement, support and training to these leaders. In order to make this happen the youth director would have to recruit a team of leaders to connect directly with local church leaders that would be trained and resourced by the Youth Ministries Department so that they in turn could train and resource local church youth leaders. This network of volunteers would be the means to accomplish the goal of strengthening youth ministry in Florida Conference.

Results

A structure was put in place to recruit a team of volunteers, called Cluster Coordinators, which became the link between the Youth Ministries Department and the local church youth leader. The same structure applied to Adventurers, Pathfinders, and Youth and Young Adults. Every church in Florida Conference was grouped into a Cluster and each Cluster was designed to have a Cluster Coordinator. There were 23 Clusters in total in the conference; each Cluster represented 10-15 churches. These Coordinators, in the Clusters where they were recruited, were the link between the conference and the local church youth leader. The number of Youth Cluster Coordinators fluctuated during the time of this project. A maximum of 16 of the possible 23 Cluster Coordinators were recruited at any given moment. These 16 Coordinators supported 139 congregations, nearly half of the 300 churches in Florida Conference. But, the full team of Cluster Coordinators was never entirely recruited for youth ministry. Nevertheless, with the help of the Adventurer and Pathfinder team of Cluster Coordinators we were able to create a database with contact information for youth leaders from every church in Florida. This was an important step which made it possible for the department to begin to connect with local churches. And this structure and information opened the door to begin investing in local church youth leaders in a new way. The structure was designed to make it possible to impact local church teen ministry, but the structure alone could not achieve this. It was simply a means to an end. The end goal of strengthening youth ministry in local churches would happen when the Cluster Coordinators would meet with local church youth leaders and share content with them. See Appendix A for a sample of the manual that Cluster Coordinators shared with a local church youth leader to offer encouragement, resources and support.

Conclusions

On the one hand, the structure worked. The team of Cluster Coordinators that was recruited became an invaluable help to the youth ministries director and positioned the department to establish contact with local church youth leaders so that they could begin to influence and strengthen the way that youth ministry was done in their church. In the Clusters where there were youth cluster coordinators, youth leaders had more contact more often from our office and the presence of a coordinator gave consistent support, encouragement and training to local church youth leaders. On the other hand, the project did not meet the original goal of conference wide implementation. A cluster coordinator was not recruited for every cluster in Florida Conference.

In the final analysis, a structure is needed to create a link between the conference and the local church youth leader. A youth director cannot reach all of the churches in a meaningful way without the help of volunteers, and it is through the structure that this team of volunteers is organized to strengthen local church youth ministry. For this reason, recruiting a team of volunteers must be the priority of a youth director. Having this group of volunteers in place around the conference is the key to closing the gap between the conference Youth Ministries Department and the local church youth leader. But the structure is only the beginning. The youth ministries director must work diligently with the volunteers to train them so they have content to share with local youth leaders that will help them be better leaders, serve young people better, and strengthen youth ministry.

Subject Area

Church work with youth--Seventh-day Adventists; Seventh-day Adventist youth--Religious life

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