Executive Editor’s Note: The “Moving the Conversation Forward” article by Associate Editor Allan Eakin in the Dec. 20 issue introduced a series of articles we would feature at the beginning of the new year. The first of these articles — “How Do We Associate?” — appeared in the Jan. 10 issue.
In the Jan. 17 issue, we shared the stories of the two oldest ministries of the Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas — State Missions and the Baptist Trumpet.
In the Jan. 24 issue, we shared the stories of the two largest ministries — BMA Global (Missions) and Lifeword — that are made possible because of the national association of churches, the Baptist Missionary Association of America (BMAA).
In the Jan. 31 issue, we shared the stories of the two departments that help maintain the identity of our association — BMA Theological Seminary and Baptist Publishing House.
In the Feb. 7 issue, we are shared about two national ministries that help churches extend the reach of what they could do on their own — Moral Action Agency and BMA Financial.
In this issue, we are wrapping up this series by sharing about the ministries that seek to reach the next generation with the gospel — the Arkansas Youth Department, Central Baptist College and Daniel Springs Camp. (All articles in this series are being made available and accessible to everyone at BaptistTrumpet.com. Look for the “Why An Association of Churches?” Series graphic.)
The Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas Youth Department is the “little engine that could.” Since its inception in the 1980s, the department has invested in a variety of ministry efforts. The Liquid Lock-In and the Encounter Teen Bible Conference were among those youth-focused activities of the early days.
Even in moments when the department went through some moments of struggle, there has never been a desire to draw it to a close. We all know how important it is to reach the next generation.
Over the past several years, we developed a plan to love on our student ministry workers and to help them as they seek to impact the next generation for Jesus. That is what we have done and continue to do. We seek to expand the conversation through social media and our podcast, “Student Ministry Matters.” We also love providing an annual one-day retreat/conference that provides connection and continuing education for those working with youth in our churches.
I have had the privilege of serving as the director since 2016. During the beginning days of ministry with the department, I was really at a loss for our direction and focus. It took a little over a year for us to determine our next steps and mission. Since 2018, we have narrowed our focus and the Student Ministry Matters initiative began.
Along the way, Chris Vines, student pastor at Garrett Memorial Baptist Church of Hope, Arkansas, has helped with our podcast and served as a sounding board for many of the things we have put into place. Our state-elected committee has been helpful as well. One person you may not be aware of is Stephen Avitts. Stephen is a retired pharmacist from Springdale who serves as our bookkeeper. In addition to being the church treasurer at Calvary Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Stephen volunteers his time to keep me on track and record all our financials. I am so thankful for the work he does for us.
God has done some fun things over the past seven years. In the fall of 2018, we had our very first Student Ministry Workers Retreat at South City Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Pastor Drew Cline opened up his facility to us, and we had close to 50 people in attendance. It was a simple day with a simple desire — to provide something good for our student ministry workers. Since that time, we have met at Central Baptist College of Conway on a Saturday in September, with growing numbers of people joining us.
Another of our bigger initiatives began in February of 2020. That was the month we released our first episodes of the Student Ministry Matters podcast (studentministrymatters.podbean.com). We are now at nearly 180 episodes, with over 30,000 downloads across the country and around the world. “Introducing Christianity to Mormons with Eric Johnson” exploded in its reach and now has over 7,000 downloads. That is a wild thing when we began thinking that maybe 20 people a month might listen to us.
There is so much more we want to do, but we can’t without the resources to do it. That is where you come in. With only 15-20 of the 300+ churches of the BMA of Arkansas giving to our department, I can only imagine what we could do if we doubled the number of our current supporting churches — $10 a month can make a huge difference in our reach. Ask the leadership at your church if your congregation is financially supporting us. Even if it isn’t a part of your church’s budget, you could help by giving through your local church. The other thing you could do for us is to pray as we seek to fulfill our mission. We would love to have you partner with us.
If you have a youth class or even just one teenager in your church, you have a student ministry. God will hold us responsible for how we minister to them. Let me encourage you to connect with us and let us help you in that process. You can find us online at StudentMinistryMatters.com or through most social media outlets. If you would like to learn more about the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department or would like to have me come and speak at your church, contact me at email@example.com. I would love to connect with you.
Let’s continue to love students, minister to their families and show them all Jesus, because Student Ministry Matters.
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