Next Generation Ministry at New City

Dear Church Family,
I am writing to let you know about some important changes that we are implementing in our children and youth ministries beginning in 2024.  We will be taking a few minutes during this Sunday’s Fellowship Meal (January 14th) to discuss these helpful changes, and we will also have a time for questions.   So, please plan to join us after the Sunday Service in the fellowship hall for a great meal, good fellowship and a time to hear more about how the Lord is leading us.  If you can take time to read this fairly long letter beforehand, it may help you better understand our thought processes and the basis for these changes and answer questions you may have. 
We are re-organizing our children and youth ministry departments in a way that we believe will facilitate the outcomes we desire for all the children and youth that participate in our church’s ministries. Our plan is to bring all the departments that serve children and youth together as one department that works together to serve parents and children from newborn to 18 years old. We are calling this “Next Generation Ministry.” To accomplish this, we will be making some changes in staffing. Darius Griggs will come on full-time and serve in ministry with our middle and high school youth. Darius has completed his education at Covenant College and will graduate in May with his bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Biblical Studies, Community Development, Youth Ministry). In addition, Percy Rolleston will begin working full-time as our Children’s Ministry Director. She has a bachelor’s degree in Art and a master’s degree in Education from Covenant College and has been serving in both the children’s and youth ministry for the past year and a half. Both Darius and Percy have grown up in our church and have had helpful internships where they have gained valuable experience serving the children and youth in our congregation since high school. Gianna Rakes will continue in her role in leadership with our youth. As a part of this re-organization my role will change. I will begin overseeing all our ministries to Children, Youth, and their parents working to support and direct all our efforts toward common goals.
There are several reasons for these changes, and much of it has come out of what we have been learning since the pandemic forced changes to the way we were able to do things. Everyone in a position of leadership at our church had to re-evaluate the way things had “always” been done. While this involved some conflict it also provided opportunity to look at our ministries in a new light. As things settled down and moved back to a “new normal,” the pastors and elders began specific work to refine the mission and vision of each of the committees of Session with the help and guidance of the book The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.  I had the pleasure of working with Alvin Huffine and James Ward in doing that work for the Congregational Care Committee (formerly known as the Pastoral Care Committee). That book and the work we did had a profound effect on me. I began to think in terms of structures and systems. Then this past September the PCA’s Christian Discipleship Ministries (CDM) launched a Next Gen Certification Program designed to help the denomination’s youth ministries with longevity and sustainability. (The average tenure of a youth pastor, ordained or otherwise, is 18 months). Darius and I both enrolled. It was in my participation in Next Gen Certification that everything fell into place. I saw that the principles in Lencioni’s book applied directly to the structures of youth and children’s ministry.
One thing we learned in this process that was paradigm shifting for me personally is that whether one puts them in place deliberately or not, any ministry you are a part of will develop systems and structures. Furthermore, the systems and structures that develop in a ministry without deliberate intention rarely produce the outcomes that one hopes for. In fact, they often work against those outcomes. One of the things that Pastor Billy has been trying to help us with over the past several years is the problem that our Youth and Children’s ministries and the GLAD children’s ministry operate as ministry silos. We have worked on collaborative goals to overcome this disunity, but more effort is needed in this area. We need to go further if we are to overcome this problem. Operating in ministry silos not only works against unity in the body, but also makes transitions to the next developmentally appropriate ministry level hard for parents and children. It also makes it nearly impossible for children and parents who our ministries engage through evangelism and outreach to fully participate in the life, work, and worship of our church. It’s bad for all of us, and we need to instead put more cohesive systems and structures in place that help us to think differently about our children’s and youth ministries and work toward enfolding children and youth into the whole life of our church.
Additionally, there are some other things we have been learning that bear mentioning here. There is a lot of statistical evidence that young people who grew up in church and in Christian homes are walking away from the faith in startling numbers. There is also empirical evidence about what is different for young people who do not abandon their faith. Children and youth who are known by and who know adults in the church are much less likely to abandon their faith. Children who participate as fully as possible in the worship, work, and life of the church are much less likely to leave the faith. This points to the fact that we need structures and systems that work to help children know and be known by adults and that help them participate as fully as possible. This requires us to be careful about being sure that involvement is developmentally appropriate and that child safety procedures are rigorous, but these are attainable goals if we work together to implement them. Lastly, the number one predictor of whether children will follow Jesus for a lifetime is the spiritual life of their parents. This means that if our children are going to need to know and be known by the body and be involved in the worship, work, and life of the church, then we as parents will have to be involved in it as well for it to really stick. In other words, it’s going to take parents, children, children and youth staff, and children and youth volunteers all working together because it really does take a village (a church) to raise up a child in faith.
The basis for restructuring our ministry to children and youth is not just the book we read, or the training we are receiving through CDM, but more importantly, based in truths from the Old and New Testaments. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Moses presents the Covenant and the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel and charges the community of God to teach the covenant to their children whenever and whatever they are doing. It is a picture of an entire community working together to pass the faith on to their children. Then in Acts 6:1-7 when the Greeks arose against the Hebrew members of the Jerusalem church because their widows were being neglected in the daily food distribution, the Apostles gathered and made a structural change to address the problem. They appointed deacons to serve to restore the unity of the body and protect the teaching of the Word. In the same way we hope that the structural changes we are making will enhance our ability to pass on the faith to our children within the unity of the body. 
We will take a few minutes at this Sunday’s potluck dinner on January 14th to make a presentation and discuss these helpful changes. We will also provide a time for questions and answers. It is going to take some time to write mission and vision statements, values, strategic goals, job descriptions for volunteers, and put structures in place for each component of our ministry. But we can do it if we work together in the unity of the Spirit. The work we do now will shape not only our children but also our church for years to come and we ask that you work along with us as we make these changes for the sake of the Kingdom and the Glory of God. 
Patrick Rolleston
Director of Next Generation Ministries 
New City Fellowship





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