“Turning ministry over to youth creates a momentum that is unstoppable,” said Adalid Duran, former youth director at Woodbridge Spanish church (Va.). When attendance started to dwindle for the church’s youth program, members decided it was time to revamp and refocus to create a dynamic, multi-facetted group with a positive identity.
The group began by changing its name to WAYS–Woodbridge Adventist Youth Society– developed a logo and made shirts. “This probably seems small, but it really helped us cement our identity,” said Duran. “Adults have supported us by purchasing the shirts for themselves. Whenever we see them wear it, it visually reconfirms the support they have for our ministry, which is great because we wanted the vision to extend past the youth and be perceived by adults as well.”
The group wanted to focus on important components, like providing training for its leaders, spiritual mentorship and intentional prayer. They began choosing relevant monthly themes to cover during the weekly programs, reopened a youth home church that had existed on and off through the years, worked on social media presence and a youth-led prayer network.
Since revamping the program the group has grown in size, energy and participation. “Another part of revamping the style of
leadership was finding areas each person liked and are strong in. This has given them a greater sense of ownership to that role and the group,” said Duran. “The best part has been watching the younger leaders blossom. Some of the youngest subdirectors really stepped up once they were given the responsibility.”
As an example of this leadership and involvement, the youth developed a community wide scavenger hunt. “It was designed to be interactive and attractive for those participating, but with the purpose of reaching out to our community,” said Duran. Items on put on the list were specific to the community and included making and delivering a thank you card to local firefighters, handing out a certain number of brochures and taking a picture with a horse at a nearby farm. “The goal was to show the community that there is a presence of Christ-loving teens in Woodbridge that aren’t afraid to share the gospel. It also helped to serve as an icebreaker for youth who can be very shy.”
Duran says many teens have gone above and beyond and have become mini-leaders in their own right. One young man, who tends to be shy, was willing to be put in charge of a prayer group for an upcoming event. He organized the prayer meeting and more than 20 young people participated. “This was a blessing for the whole congregation, because our church has a prayer group and the numbers had been dwindling. That prayer group ended up joining us that morning. It was a huge blessing.” Overall, Duran says the church has a different atmosphere now – more youthful, creative and inviting in a new way. “We are really excited for the future and to continue developing this program and our young people as leaders.”