During the 2021-2022 associational year, we have continued to fulfill the work of the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department and invest in those that seek to impact the next generation for Jesus Christ. Our mission remains the same — to provide connections, continuing education and coaching for student ministry pastors and leaders.
Since its beginning in February 2020, our reach has continued to grow through the Student Ministry Matters podcast. As of this writing, we have released 135 episodes and 7 ministry updates. Those episodes have reached all 50 states and 93 other countries. Total downloads have reached 17,149 — up from 6,120 last year. I thank Chris Vines for serving with me as co-host. You can find the podcast at studentministrymatters.podbean.com or through most major podcasting platforms.
The BMA of Arkansas Youth Department is also continuing to bring student ministry leaders together through digital means. This year, the Student Ministry Matters Community (BMA of Arkansas Youth Department) Facebook group grew from 266 members to 290 members. Our page is now followed by 516, compared to 435 in 2021. Our Twitter and Instagram accounts also saw growth. Twitter went from 106 to 138 followers and Instagram went from 245 to 330. We still have a small footprint on social media, but we continue to look for ways to see that grow and impact others. Our YouTube channel continues to provide an avenue to share the podcast, announcements from Student Ministry Matters and teaching videos. With growing from only 27 to 34 subscribers, it remains in the beginning stages of its usefulness.
This year’s Student Ministry Workers Retreat was another great time of connecting and continuing education. We had 65 in attendance, and enjoyed Dr. Samuel Bierig and Dr. Jared Bumpers of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary sharing in our main sessions. Maverick Hendricks and Nathan Dodson did a great job leading our worship. Dr. Bumpers, Sidney Vines, Temple Carson, Rodney Fry, Jake McCandless and Jonathan Cofer led out in our breakout sessions.
I thank Central Baptist College for allowing us to meet on their campus and the many others that helped make our event happen. Next year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 16, 2023.
Our Continuing Impact
We see three great needs as we move forward:
• There seems to be a growing number of student ministry vacancies in our churches. Helping churches find student ministry workers is a necessary part of the work we do. We want to be helpful in that process and are seeking ways to help encourage the choice of student ministry.
• There is a need to encourage young men to consider the call of ministry in their lives. While we have no desire to be the Holy Spirit, we need to help encourage that possibility that in lives of young men.
• There is a need for a greater focus on evangelism in our student ministries.
As a department, our challenge is to help in these and other areas. There is still much work to be done.
Thank you for allowing us to continue to work and invest in student ministry workers in Arkansas and beyond.
You can help us fulfill our mission by doing the following:
• Pray for us.
• Give monthly to the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department. We want to continue to expand our reach and ministry, and we can’t do that alone. I am so appreciative of the churches that give on a regular basis to our ministry. They allow us to do all that we do. Consider joining our team. You can do that by mailing a check to BMA of Ark. Youth Department c/o Calvary Baptist Church, 1410 North Porter Road, Fayetteville, Ark. 72703.
• Give a one-time gift. If your church is unable to give monthly, consider sharing a one-time gift with the youth department. It was a one-time gift that gave us the courage to start our annual Student Ministry Workers Retreat.
• Consider financially sponsoring our annual retreat. It takes close to $7,000 to cover all of our expenses. Between gifts through the year and sponsorships, we have managed to make it happen and keep the event at a low price. We want to continue to keep the cost low for attendees in order to make it possible for volunteer, part-time and bi-vocational student ministry workers, as well as ministry students, to continue to attend.
• Share about our ministry with your student ministry workers. They may not know about our podcast, social media accounts or annual conference. We want to help them. It doesn’t matter if they are paid or volunteer. Our heart beats to help them.