Student and Kid Ministers Encouraged and Equipped at Next Gen Retreats

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Jordan Floro, student pastor at Hibernia Baptist Church in Fleming Island, admitted the past few months had taken a toll on him.

“Between a busy summer and walking with families through some difficult things, I was tired and a little worn down,” he said.

But when he attended a Florida Baptist student minister retreat in September, he found a source of renewal and strength he desperately needed.

“Coming to this retreat was such an encouragement to me because I was able to interact with student ministry leaders from across the state,” Floro said. “The messages were the right balance of being practical while also feeding my soul.”

Floro was among a group of Florida Baptist ministry leaders serving children and students from across the state who received encouragement, inspiration and practical insights during two Next Generation retreats held last month.

The two training events, hosted by the Florida Baptist Convention’s Next Generation Ministry, were the Kid Minister Retreat, which drew 48 ministers to the Sept. 9-10 event; and the Student Minister Retreat, which was attended by 80 participants on Sept. 16-17. Both meetings were located at the Convention building in Jacksonville.

Each retreat included two days of teaching sessions and times of worship and fellowship.

Next Generation Ministries, Florida Baptist Convention, Student Minister Retreat“The retreat was a great time to not only be connected to other kid’s ministry leaders, but a time of rich encouragement and a reminder of what an honor we have to lead the next generation,” said Mary Eppl, kids director at Central Baptist Church in Sanford. She attended the retreat for childrens ministry for the first time this year.

Jana Magruder, director of LifeWay Kids at Lifeway Christian Resources, and David Anderson, children’s ministry strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, led the time of encouragement and equipping for the kids retreat.

Magruder focused on the emphasis of a family ministry approach while Anderson shared practical insights into kids ministry.

Brooks Beike, children’s pastor at First Baptist Church in Chiefland, said “The kids minister retreat was not a ‘retreat,’ meaning that it helped us move away from focusing on Jesus or ministering to people, but the opposite.

“The retreat helped us move further toward Christ and equipping people.”

The student minister retreat was led by Ben Trueblood, director of Student Ministry for LifeWay, and Brian Baldwin, student ministries specialist at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

Trueblood discussed the impact family ministry can have in student ministry and five relationships that can help the student minister.

Baldwin’s teaching emphasized the philosophical and practical elements for mobilizing a youth ministry on mission.

As Floro concluded, “It’s great to know I’m not alone in ministry.”

Next year’s kid and student minister retreats are planned for September. For information regarding next year’s retreats and all events from the Next Generation Ministry department go to

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