Next Gen: Going the Distance Despite Social Distancing

And the child grew and became strong in spirit.”—Luke 1:80

As youth grapple with so many challenges over the next few months, they need a place where they are safely able to express themselves, connect with others and God and just have fun. Next Gen is doing everything they can to make that happen.

The team at Next Gen is staying connected through Zoom, social media and phone calls, and continuing to offer opportunities to youth that enrich while keeping them safe and healthy like a virtual IGNITE Communities, the upcoming Summer at Home camp in July and a family camping adventure in August.

“I’m so proud of what I hear so many of our youth doing in spite of this time of uncertainty,” said Eric Drew, executive director of Next Generation Ministries. “From online confirmation projects and fundraisers to just showing how they are there to support one another, our youth are standing up to say we all matter and that God is still working through them every day.”

College Cultivate
In late April, Next Gen finished up its first year of the College Cultivate internship program, a mutual learning experience as clergy members share with students on what it means to be a pastor for 20 hours each week. The exchange allows students to glean valuable advice from clergy and allows clergy members to reflect on their own missions and see potential growth in their roles. The Cultivate program is a way to impart in these students the importance of planning, organization, collaboration, communication and the execution required to successfully operate church ministries.

After finishing the program one student said, “My faith is growing in ways I could never imagine. I am being pushed to think more theologically not only on issues of faith but as I approach my daily tasks in ministry. I have learned that it is okay not to have the right words, but just by being present means all the world to people.”

Applications for the second year of the program, which begins October 1, are being accepted. More information can be found at

Youth Resources
Being present is what Next Gen is continuing to do as they face the challenges associated with COVID-19. Every Monday and Thursday Next Gen leaders host Zoom calls to keep conversations going between youth and youth leaders.

An array of additional resources, from book suggestions and Bible Pictionary to family playlists and a hope devotional for parents can be found at

Summer at Home and Family Camps
As the summer approaches, there is trepidation and continued uncertainty for youth and youth leaders, but Next Gen is still committed to its mission while keeping youth safe with the unveiling of IGNITE Summer at Home and Family Camping. Each experience promises to restore a little normalcy to their lives and create lasting memories for years to come.

“Now with IGNITE Summer at Home, your online camper will connect with a great community of students, grow in faith, learn new skills and have a lot of fun too,” said Drew who added that the structure will be more relaxed and involve activities both inside and outside.

“Family Camp gives families a chance to get away safely while they carve out a summer vacation doing a lot of the same things they would normally do during August,” said Drew.

Each family who registers will be given the opportunity to sleep in their own cabin while having the chance to participate in normal summer activities like telling stories around a campfire, hiking and archery. State guidelines regarding social distancing will be strictly followed.

For more information, visit