GNJ children enjoy the lake at The Pinelands Center. Photo provided

Next Generation Ministries Proposal to Come Before Annual Conference

The connections between youth ministry within GNJ can lead to a powerful transformative experience for the next generation of Christian leaders is the basis of the findings by Ministry Architects, a consulting firm tasked with developing a strategic plan for camping, campus, and youth ministries in GNJ.

After meeting with 112 stakeholders including youth, young adults, parents, youth workers, campus ministry workers, camp staff, pastors, and conference staff with an additional 110 people completing surveys related to camping, collegiate, and student ministries, Ministry Architects is working with Hector A. Burgos, Director of Connectional Ministries on an executive summary to present to the 2017 Annual conference session in Wildwood at the end of the month.  The summary will be provided in an addendum to the Pre-Conference Journal and made available on or about May 15.

Mark DeVries, president of Ministry Architects praised GNJ for its “wonderful opportunities.”

“We’ve just begun to scratch the surface in building the systems to raise up a generation of young leaders in the conference,” he said, expressing a desire to build on the positive energy throughout GNJ among local church leaders who seek to work collaboratively in clusters and regions.

The core recommendations from the plan include designing and implementing innovative, Christ-centered, connective leadership development structures for youth and college students throughout the conference and a development plan for GNJ camps.  The plan details a key 10 year goal of establishing Next Generation Ministries in GNJ which would involve 20,000 young people and decrease the average age of GNJ congregations by 5%.

“GNJ vision and strategic priorities include raising new generations of enthusiastic disciples of Jesus Christ who are connecting, engaging in and leading ministry in congregations and participating as healthy young people within a global society,”, said Rev. Burgos. “Through the Next Generations Ministries plan GNJ intends to leverage the resources we have available through our Youth and Young Adult councils and the Board of Higher Ed and Campus Ministry, and GNJ Camps to equip and support our congregations and their leaders for vital and sustainable students’ ministry”. This holistic approach seeks to provide a holistic experience that engages students in life transforming and faith deepening ministry that is built around the things that are most important to students: meaning, purpose, belonging, challenge, fun and meaningful relationships with adults”, he added.

The plan starts with connecting youth ministries by reframing the current Camps and Retreats Board, which is an affiliated 501c3 organization, as the GNJ Next Generation Ministries Board which will establish clear leadership for all GNJ initiatives related to youth.  The Next Generation Board will serve to coordinate and collaborate the work of the Councils of Youth and Young Adults, the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministries, a Camps and Retreats Committee and a staff action team for operations.

Suggestions include design and implementation of a long-term funding plan for Next Generation Ministry, investigating and cataloguing creative funding sources and developing programs that are innovative, flexible and scalable.

For detailed information, survey results, and Ministry Architect’s full assessment report, please click here. The Executive Summary of the Next Generation of the Strategic Plan will be available for review on or about May 15.