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  Spring/Summer 2013
  Vol. 18 • No. 2
Please photocopy or email  
to all your youth workers  

  Topic: Empower  

What type of culture do you have in your church and ministry?

The North American youth ministry vision for the last eleven years has been to be a catalyst to raise up a new generation of Christ-centered leaders through the simple strategy of Reach, Disciple, and Empower.

If you have read my recent book Smooth Hand Offs, you are familiar with the idea that passing the baton is a key part of empowering leaders for the future. The book of Judges is a great real-life lesson of what happens when leaders don't pass the baton of faith to the next generations. Statistics from the Barna Group indicate we haven't done the best job of making the handoff in the last few years. Sixty-one percent of today's young adults were "churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e., not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying)."*

We may need a paradigm shift, a shift that focuses more on empowering and helping students and their families own and live their faith than on spending all our time on bigger and better programs or flashy things to wow students. Hear me, I am not against doing things with excellence and having top-notch programs, but we need to think more about engaging the family system and how to hand off ministry than spending our time doing all the ministry.

I remember in my first year of ministry: We had a Sunday night service, and every few weeks we would let a teenager who felt called into ministry give the message that night to the entire congregation. I know most churches don't have Sunday night services anymore, and this wouldn't be a good idea in many churches because of their size. The point is that there used to be an avenue to empower and help students grab the baton as someone was running beside them to help them with the pass off. Currently my interns are pounded with this message: How are you setting up the next generation of interns that follow you? You should set them up so that they can stand on your shoulders and go to the next level. I am trying to do that myself, and I challenge you to always have that mindset.

This issue of YMI focuses on tools to help your students be empowered. My challenge to you is to ask the questions: Do you have a culture in which the baton is handed off? Who are you handing the baton off to?

Andy StephensonAndy Stephenson, PhD
Leader of Youth and Family Ministries
Andy can be reached at


* Barna Group, "Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf Following Spiritually Active Teen Years," September 11, 2006. http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/16-teensnext-gen/147-most-twentysomethings-put-christianity-on-the-shelf-following-spiritually-active-teen-years?q=teens+church

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  Leadership Summit 2013: Leadership Redefined  

This summer, Leadership Summit will take place on the campus of Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. At Summit, emerging leaders from around the country who are being called to vocational ministry, missions, and leadership in the Church of God will have a life-changing opportunity to grow in their faith and understanding of the call of God on their lives. We believe that God is preparing these emerging leaders to do great things for him and his kingdom! We believe that God wants to shape these students into the people that he has created them to be, ready to serve in the kingdom.

The theme for this summer's Leadership Summit is, "Leadership Redefined," which is based on Ephesians 4:1–6:

...I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

At Leadership Summit this summer, students will experience leadership development, teaching, worship, practical experiences, and powerful moments that encourage them to Be Humble, Be Gentle, Be Love, Be One, and Be Worthy...Leadership Redefined.

Students and leaders will be encouraged to understand that leadership flows from who we are, not what we do. We hope that these students will be part of a generation that redefines leadership.

Leadership Summit 2013 takes place this summer, July 9–13, at MACU, in Oklahoma City. This is an incredible opportunity for emerging leaders in your youth ministry. Don't miss it.

For more information on Leadership Summit or emerging leaders, visit www.chogy.org or www.emergingleaders101.com.

 Eric ReederEric Reeder is a member of the Youth Ministry Team. He serves as the senior-high youth pastor at Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana. He can be reached at ereeder@madisonparkchurch.org.

NOTE: Leadership Summit Applications are due by April 29, 2013.

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  SLIs Equip a New Generation of Leaders  

SLI logoThe vision of North American Youth Ministries is to be a catalyst in raising up a new generation of Christ-centered leaders. One of the strategies used to empower these young leaders is to support the various Student Leadership Institutes that are currently in place.

SLIs are focused on training and equipping student leaders for a higher level of service in ministry. These events are designed for the cream of the crop, for students who are highly gifted in leadership areas. Many students who participate have expressed a call to ministry, and others are extraordinary student leaders who desire to develop their potential and discover how God has uniquely gifted them to serve.

Several SLIs are currently active in the United States. Some have been in place for more than ten years, and others are just beginning. Here is some basic info about each program:

Michigan: MSLI (Michigan Student Leadership Institute) is held in November each year. It is a two-day event with a 3-year training course. Go to www.choginmi.org for more information.

Illinois: Youth Leadership Summit is held in February each year. It is a two-day event with a 3-year training course. Go to
www.ilcog.org for more information.

Florida: FYLI (Florida Youth Leadership Institute) is relaunching their event in May of this year. For more information, contact Bayside Church of God in Safety Harbor at chip@baysidechurch.net.

Indiana/Ohio/Kentucky/West Virginia: 3SLI (Tri-level Student Leadership Institute) is held in September each year. It is a three-day event with a 3-year training course. Go to www.threesli.com for more information.

Missouri: MYLI (Missouri Youth Leadership Institute) was launched on March 16 of this year. For information about future events in Missouri, go to www.cogamo.org and click on Maximizing Ministries.

Don't see your region listed here? Go to www.chogy.org and click on the SLI logo to download a manual with resources and information on how to start a Student Leadership Institute in your area!

Tami ByrdTami Byrd is a member of the Youth Ministry Team and the youth pastor at South Memorial Drive Church of God in New Castle, Indiana. She can be reached at tami@smdcog.org. She helps facilitate communication between STW and those on the field.

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  Free Training for your Emerging Leaders  

One of the biggest surprise joys of ministry for me has been watching an emerging leader emerge. A few students from each wave tend to really get it. Who knows why. God taps them on the shoulder, and they respond. They are called into ministry, called to become a leader!

So then what? How do we take these amazing students that God has placed in our lives and help them take steps and move forward in their calling? The answer to that question is too long for the short space, so I will just give you one tool that is a must-use resource.

The Emerging Leaders 101 website, www.EmergingLeaders101.com, is designed especially for your emerging leaders, students from your church who have a heart to be used by God to further the kingdom. Each month, there is a fresh focus on a new leadership principle that empowers and equips students to step up and be the leader God has called them to be. Give this tool a try. You'll love it!

Chris SpittersChris Spitters is a Youth Ministry Team member and the youth pastor at First Church of God in St. Joseph Michigan. He can be reached at spitters@myfirstchurch.com.

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  Is God Calling You to Do More?  

Over 750 students answered yes to that question this past summer in Denver and responded by attending the Emerging Leaders Gathering at IYC. Think about that for a moment: 750 students who realize that God is calling them to do more, 750 students who feel a clear call on their lives to be in ministry.

How about you? Is God calling your students to do more? Is God calling you to do more? While we are eagerly anticipating another amazing Emerging Leaders Gathering at IYC2014 in Nashville, please don't wait until then to help your students discover and answer the call to ministry. If God is calling your students to do more now, there is no need to wait until July 2014 to help them answer that call.

We have put together the Emerging Leaders Package (ELP) and made it available as a FREE download. In the ELP, you will find everything you need to hold your own Emerging Leaders Gathering-be it with your local church, at your state youth convention, or within your student leadership team. Whatever the venue, the ELP is a great resource to help your students take the next steps in answering God's call on their lives.

The Emerging Leaders Package (ELP) can be downloaded by visiting www.emergingLeaders101.com and clicking the "LEADERS+" tab or by clicking the link at www.chogy.org.

Mark ShanerAdam Rentas is a Youth Ministry Team member and the youth pastor at First Church of God in Vero Beach, Florida. He can be reached at adamr@fcog.com.

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Topic: Empower
Leadership Redefined
SLIs Equip a New Generation of Leaders
Free Training for your Emerging Leaders
Is God Calling You to Do More?
Important Dates & Events
Emerging Leaders 101
Register for IYC2014
Check Out Ultimate Adventure Remix
Welcome Josh Boldman
Welcome Brain Seidel
God at Work Story


Leadership Summit:
July 9–13, 2013
Oklahoma City, OK
MACU Campus

Logo: Leadership Summit

December 2013

July 5–8, 2014
Nashville, TN
Gaylord Opryland Hotel


   YMT Members
Tami Byrd Eric Reeder Chris Spitters Andy Stephenson Adam Rentas






Youth Network Team 

  Youth Network Team

            Harold Bradshaw (WY)
            Ryan Chaisson (AZ)
            Josh Deeter (AL)
            Mike Fackler (OK)
            Josh Boldman (FL)

      Brian Seidel (ID)
      R. W. Moody (TX)
      Adam Rentas (CA)
      Rob Ringwald (WV)
      Kim Schuessler (IN)



Click here for more information about Emerging Leaders 101
Spread the Word
Intern Academy

Internships for 2014: Check out www.emergingleaders101.com,

for information on U.S. and international internships

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Click here to register

Lower Prices.
NEW and improved schedule.
Same powerful experience!
Don't miss IYC2014.

Creating a moment
for life change


July 5–8, 2014
Nashville, TN

Register at


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Check out the
Ultimate Adventure Remix series for helping
your students grow. Visit www.chogy.org/ultimate-adventure

Click here for ordering information

Click here for ordering information

Click here for ordering information

Click here for ordering information

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Welcome Josh Boldman to the Youth Network Team

Josh BoldmanJosh has been working with students in ministry since 2003. He graduated from Warner University in 2006. His wife Rachel is a mental health counselor. Together, they serve the students of the South Daytona, Florida, community at White Chapel Church of God and Warner Christian Academy. Their son Zeke was born in 2008. Josh believes that a strong, connected student ministry is a key indicator of a congregation's ability to effectively reach its community. Josh also serves on Florida's Student Ministry Team.

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Welcome Brian Seidel to the Youth Network Team

Brian SeidelBrian is youth pastor at Cloverdale Church of God in Boise, Idaho. He graduated from Northwest Nazarene University with a bachelor's degree in youth ministry in 2002. Brian has a passion for youth ministry that extends beyond his local church and has been involved with several national youth organizations as well as mentoring other youth workers. He just released his first book, Flimsy Ministry, in 2012. God has blessed Brian and his wife Maureen with three boys—Colin, Curtis, and Cameron. You can read some of Brian's writing on his blog— www.myendofthedeal.com.

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Click here for more information about Emerging Leaders 101

Help your emerging leaders in their development?

Check out
for free mothly training.

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Reminder: The 2013 General Assembly of the Church of God will convene on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Be sure to register for the 2013 Global Gathering at www.jesusisthesubject.org/globalgathering.


God at Work Story

In my years as a student in youth ministry, my church went through several transitional periods. I felt called to be a consistent leader in an inconsistent ministry, and that was honestly the extent of my call to ministry. I knew that I was being used as a student leader, and I knew that I had a passion for the purpose and direction of our church, but I was under the impression that because I didn't have a slap-in-the-face moment from God saying that I was going into vocational ministry, that it meant that I wasn't "called."

Fast-forward to the end of my senior year of high school when I was trying to figure out where I was going to college and when I was convinced that I needed to know right then and there what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I remember pleading with God to show me where he wanted me to go and what he wanted me to do. God answered me eventually, but just as he often does, it was in the most unexpected way. One evening I was sitting at home checking my e-mail and I noticed the Emerging Leaders 101 update. I read the e-mail and decided to watch the video. To be honest, I have no idea what the topic of the video was. All I know is that when Meaghan said, "YOU are called by God," I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me. As a Christian and a student leader, I had heard that statement countless times. Why was this moment, on my couch at 8:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, so much different than the rest?

"When God calls you into ministry," one of my mentors once said to me, "it'll hit you like a brick wall." Oddly enough, that moment of watching a short Emerging Leaders 101 video was my brick-wall moment. It was the most complicated moment of clarity, and the most chaotic moment of peace. I had so many prayers answered and yet had so many more questions to ask of God at the same time. I had no idea how to make sense of it. I shut my computer and ran upstairs to my room to be with God. In those following hours, I knew that God was going to use me in ministry. God gave me a shove in the right direction, but he left the next steps after that hidden. The thing is, I'm now convinced that that call to ministry didn't necessarily mean "go into ministry in the future." It meant, "you are called into ministry TODAY."

It has been two years since I hit the brick wall, and even now that I am nearly halfway through my college years, I am still seeing that calling unfold. Without my experiences with other emerging leaders reaching out to me at IYCs, SYCs, Leadership Summit, and, yes, even through those monthly emails, I can honestly say I would not be where I am today. Throughout my life God has surrounded me with people who come from broken homes, and through those relationships and experiences I have realized that he has given me a passion for helping people restore their emotional, spiritual, and relational wholeness. God has given me the opportunity to serve on Anderson University's campus in relational ministry as a resident assistant, and he has opened doors for me to study family science and psychology with the goal to eventually become a licensed mental health counselor

I truly believe that everyone who desires to live a life with God is called into ministry. To me, that doesn't mean that everyone is called to be a pastor. I think it means that all of us are called to be light in the dark places wherever we are, because in those places, God is with us.

Hannah Witham


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