Ministry Is Top Priority For New Youth Leaders

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Brandy and David Fajen, who have worked with youth in the community since 1997, have stepped into the position of Youth Pastor at the Warsaw Assembly of God Church. Postings on the church’s Facebook page are very positive about the appointment of the Fajens, and expectations for a successful youth program are high.
“The youth are a vital part of today’s church,” said Brandy Fajen. “They are our future leaders. It is important that we instill the necessary tools and lessons for the future. We believe in the importance of prayer and having a relationship with Jesus Christ!”
Fajen said that it is often said that there is nothing for our youth to do in this community, but she encourages any parent to prayerfully consider sending their children to one of the various youth groups in the community. She said that plans are being made for the youth to do a lot of community outreach, including helping the elderly, and feeding the homeless in Kansas City through the City Union Mission. 
“I want our youth to learn how to have a servant’s heart,” said Fajen.
The Warsaw Assembly of God youth group meets on Wednesday at 6 PM for Bible Study, and on Sundays at 6 PM for church service.
A study on the priorities, challenges, and trends in youth ministry was recently conducted by Barna Group, a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization located in Ventura, California. It has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984. The study revealed that Millennials are leaving the church in large numbers. In a community like Benton County, where senior citizens compose a large part of current church memberships, the need for young people to prepare for future church leadership positions is apparent.
Youth ministry is therefore a priority for many churches. Sixty-one percent of senior pastors queried in the study said that youth ministry is “one of the top priorities” of their church’s ministry, and seven percent said that it is the single highest priority. In large churches, the purpose of youth ministry was reported to be discipleship and spiritual instruction (75%), and building relationships (48%).
The study looked into the value of immersive programs, outside of weekly youth activities, such as camps, retreats and missions. Leaders said that the most important of these was youth mission trips. It was followed by overnight retreats and week long camps. 
While there are many aspects of youth ministry that seem to be strong, the fact that Millennials continue to leave the church in larger numbers than ever before – when they reach adulthood, suggests a need to either revise current approaches or double-down on efforts to equip and prepare today’s youth. The fact is that teens lack commitment due to general busyness, and the broad scarcity of student leaders.
In a July Benton County Enterprise article, it was reported that Faith Lutheran Church installed a recent seminary graduate as its new Pastor. One member of the congregation said that her church population was aging and everyone hoped he could encourage church attendance of younger families.