“Better Together:” new event to encourage youth leaders

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CHIPLEY–Student pastor Matt Sawyer worked tirelessly to get his student ministry online in 2020 when the pandemic hit, so that they could stay connected and continue learning about God.

Without a blueprint for how to handle such an undertaking, he and other student ministers have had their work cut out for them, said Sawyer, student pastor at First Baptist Church in Chipley.

“I think it’s been a mental and emotional battle for many leaders. This led to physical exhaustion, for me, due to constantly trying to keep things flowing digitally.”

Youth Pastor EncourgementChurch leaders have faced unprecedented stressors daily during the quarantine. This is especially true for student and youth leaders, as they must continually be innovative with how they do ministry.

A study by Barna Group researchers in July 2020 found “half of pastors (47%) agree that ministry to kids and youth is the largest challenge they are facing.”

During the pandemic student ministers were forced to find new ways to communicate with students when parents might not be comfortable bringing them to church or when students may be more distant both physically and mentally.

Having personally experienced this challenging year, Sawyer developed an idea to hold an event to enrich and encourage student ministers.

“Out of my own personal struggles and moments of discouragement,” the student minister approached Lewis Miller, Florida Baptists’ west regional catalyst, about organizing an event “that can be a moment of connecting with one another and just loving on youth leaders.”

That first-ever youth minister event became “Better Together: A Night of Encouragement for Youth Leaders” and will be held at First Chipley, April 15 at 6 p.m. The night will concentrate on refreshing youth leaders and their spouses.

“We are strengthened and empowered for the work that God has called us to when we partner with one another,” explained Nathan Schneider, lead catalyst for Next Generation Ministries, Florida Baptist Convention.

Youth Pastor EncourgementThe meeting aims to help youth leaders make connections, so they know they are not alone in ministry.

Guest speaker for the night will be Matt Lawson, chief mobilization officer for the North American Mission Board, SBC.  The conference will include a free dinner and prize giveaways.

“Things like this help remind us we are not alone and in this together,” said Sawyer. “Yes, we belong to Jesus and He is sufficient. But we aren’t meant to live in isolation. We are better when we can network and know other leaders in our community are on the same team as we reach this generation.”

If you or someone you know would like to attend the “Better Together” event for full-time, part-time or co-vocational student ministers at First Baptist Chipley on April 15, 2021 at 6 p.m. you can sign up at https://flbaptist.org/event/better-together/.

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