Connection, Communication and Cooperation

by | Dec 6, 2021 | South District Notes, Conference Newsletter, South District Webpage

by Rev. Matt Ashley, South District Missional Strategist & Superintendent

“I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your elders
shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” ~Joel 2:28~

Since I became fully vaccinated in early May, my wife Felida and I have been blessed to worship at almost every church in the South District. By the end of January I will have been to all of them. Meeting people and seeing the great ministry our churches are doing has been a wonderful gift.

Unfortunately, I have not met very many Middle School or High School students in our visits to local churches. The Desert Southwest Conference enjoys fruitful ministries with Builders and Boomers, but our ministries with younger generations struggle to connect. In the past we had a number of large churches with large youth groups, but now we have smaller churches with smaller youth groups.

This is a challenge we must address because we will not see the full picture of what God is doing in the world if our communities of faith are not intergenerational. Joel 2:28 says that the old dream dreams and the young see visions. Without the presence and participation of young people in our churches, districts, and conference, we will not be blessed by the vision for a new and different and wonderful future that God is sharing through them.

On September 2nd, some forty adult workers with youth in the Desert Southwest Conference gathered online on a Zoom call to discuss ideas for how we can increase our communication, collaboration, and cooperation between churches and districts as we seek to help our young people grow in faith and leadership. We gathered some wonderful ideas on how we may meet the needs of our youth in a pandemic and post-pandemic world.

I thought I’d share some of the input our adult workers with youth shared when we asked them to describe God’s vision for youth ministry in the DSC:

  • Connection
  • Resource Sharing
  • Help our teenagers socialize and overcome the challenges of the pandemic
  • Collaboration
  • Putting forth visible action in meaningful ways
  • Encourage mental health awareness
  • Collaborative, creative ministry that doesn’t necessarily do things the way it’s always been done
  • A safe place where youth support one another
  • A whole new way of doing youth ministry that doesn’t silo us in our churches
  • Equipping volunteers, church members, and communities to do youth ministry effectively
  • Equipping churches to do ministry that serves and meets the needs of youth
  • Connecting with local churches where we start to build community
  • Cooperative youth ministry relationships between churches – clusters
  • Connection with larger church community
  • Connect to do ministry together like service projects
  • Allow the Big Program version of youth ministry to die – grieve that loss and discover new ways to do youth ministry
  • Equip smaller churches to do youth ministry effectively
  • See our present circumstances as an opportunity to do something new
  • Support parents

The words I heard most often in the discussion were connection, communication, and cooperation. In my role as the Desert Southwest Conference staff person assigned to connectional youth ministry, I will work to foster and encourage better connection, communication, and cooperation between youth, adult workers with youth, churches, and districts throughout the Conference.

In follow-up conversations after the meeting, we’ve decided to start a Facebook Group called ‘DSC Youth Workers’ to help the adults who are actively serving as youth workers in the DSC communicate with one another. The group will be a place for encouraging one another, sharing ideas and resources, and making plans together. Please encourage the adults who are approved to work with the youth in your church to apply to participate in the group via Facebook.

Throughout Advent, we prepare for the Christmas child to enter into our lives and lead us. The youth in our churches are not the church of tomorrow; they are the church of today. They are fearfully and wonderfully made; they have a passion to  make the world a better place; and God is sharing with them a vision for a future that lives fully into the goodness of God. I invite you to join us in investing in the lives of our children and youth so that they may lead us into a new and different and wonderful future.

Thanks for listening –






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Author: District Office

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