During the 2022-2023 associational year, we have continued to fulfill the work of the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department and invest in those who seek to impact the next generation for Jesus Christ. Our mission remains the same. We want to provide connections, continuing education, and coaching for student ministry pastors and leaders.
Since beginning in February 2020, our reach has grown through the Student Ministry Matters podcast. We have released 175 episodes and 9 ministry updates as of this writing. Those episodes have reached all 50 states and 93 other countries. Total downloads have reached 29,477 from 17,149 last year. I want to 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 also continues to bring student ministry leaders together digitally. During this year, the Student Ministry Matters (BMA of Ark. Youth Department) Community Facebook group grew from 290 to 305 members. Our page now is followed by 616 compared to 516 in 2022. Our Twitter and Instagram accounts also saw growth. Twitter went from 138 to 159 followers and Instagram went from 330 to 457. We have added Threads, but I have yet to see the impact of this platform with only 59followers. Although our footprint on social media remains small, we continue to look for ways to see it grow and impact others. Our YouTube channel continues to provide an avenue to share the podcast, announcements from Student Ministry Matters, and teaching videos. It remains in the beginning stages of its usefulness. While not large numbers, we have grown from 34 to 41 subscribers.
This year’s Student Ministry Workers Retreat was another great time of connecting and continuing education. We had between 60-70 in attendance, with multiple states represented. Dr. Timothy McKnight of Anderson University in South Carolina spoke to us about helping our students share and stand for their faith. Nathan Dodson led our worship. We had three breakout leaders at our 2023 event — Dr. Ben South, Dr. Jonathan Cofer and Angelyn McMurray. I am so thankful for all our leaders and their investment in our student ministry workers.
Another group I don’t mention enough regarding our conference is our volunteers. Temple Carson, Julian Dominquez, Kenny and Glenda Herron and Colter and Olivia Hall helped make our event special. They jump in and help me get going for the day. I also want to thank Joel Young, who faithfully runs our tech.
We would love to see you at the 2024 edition held on Sept. 14 at Central Baptist College. You can register at SMWR2024.eventbrite.com. Be sure to come the night before. We spend some time together in one form or another on Friday night. For 2023, it was pizza night at Larry’s Pizza of Conway.
Our Continuing Impact
As I looked at last year’s report, I was reminded of the needs that remain:
• 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 our work. 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 in the 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, but we can’t do that alone. I am so appreciative of the churches that give regularly 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 cannot give monthly, consider sharing a one-time donation to the youth department. It was a significant 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 $7,500 to cover all our expenses. Between gifts throughout the year and sponsorships, we have managed to make it happen and keep the event at a low price. We want to keep the event at a low cost for attendees to make it possible for volunteer, part-time, and bi-vocational student ministry workers and 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.