30 years ago, youth ministry seemed to be more about stuffing marshmallows in kid’s mouths and doing wild and crazy games than advancing the kingdom of God on Earth. It was out of this time that I entered my youth ministry years. In fact, my two-person Junior High group was not even a group in my estimation. For me, going to church was required, it was absolutely boring and not a good experience.
My family moved and went to a different church when I was in High School. My Youth Pastor was a passionate guy who wanted to have a maximum impact for Christ during his lifetime. His mantra was WIN, BUILD, & SEND. He believed that the only way each of us students could live a meaningful life was to win our friends to Christ, build them up in the faith and send them out to do the same for the rest of their lives. As a senior in High School, I caught his passion and it sent me on a path to serve Christ as a pastor to youth.
I can see now that my Youth Pastor was balancing the five purposes in how he lived his life and faith. As I was exposed to more and more youth ministries in my own early, formative years as an intern and youth pastor, the ones that resonated with my heart were the ones that were based on Reach, Connect, Grow, Discover and Honor. When I would talk to different youth workers, who also built their ministries on the five purposes, what would always stick out was that WHAT they did was always subordinate to WHY they did it.
I was first exposed to PDYM and Doug Fields about 10 years ago. I was so thrilled to hear about PDYM because it confirmed what was in my heart about ministry. What thrilled me even more was how much I learned that implementation was a process. By finally hearing an expert say that they were in a constant state of learning how to do it better, failing and learning all along the way, I can’t tell you how much that encouraged me.
When I went to the PDYM Conference, I learned that it was not about program imitation, but adapting key concepts I learned to my own ministry situation here in Oregon. I have found that the more our ministry functions in a healthy, balanced way, the more automatically we do ministry with God’s purposes in mind.
I have to say that the benefit of going to PDYM keeps getting better and better. Instead of coming to hear the expert alone, you can hear from scores of people who have been impacted by PDYM over the years. In addition, the refreshment you will receive from getting your ministry tank filled is hard to describe. The combination of humor, challenge and instruction is unmatched! Also, I have made it a priority to bring some volunteers from my ministry team at home. The investment in building them up through this conference has reaped countless dividends in our ministry when we return.
Let me encourage you to not let another year go by without getting involved. PDYM continues to change my life…will God use it to change yours too?