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He credits Southeastern for seeing youth ministry as beyond ‘status quo’

WAKE FOREST, N.C.(BP)–Brad Jurkovich is tired of “status quo” youth ministry.

“When I say ‘status-quo,’ I mean the attitude of ‘do whatever it takes to get a crowd and, then, in some happenstance way we’ll try to get them grounded in Jesus,'” said Jurkovich, associate pastor of students at First Baptist Church of Lavaca, Ark. “They don’t really take the kids that God gives them and ground them in Jesus in every way possible.

“I’m not interested in building a crowd. I am interested in building kids up for Christ.”

Jurkovich, a fulltime evangelist for several years before coming to First Baptist, figures that the best way to reach many students is to reach their youth pastors, and that’s what has planned to do with a one-day student pastor conference Aug. 28.

The “Gather The People” conference will focus not on the “nuts and bolts” of student ministry, but on the philosophy of what successful student ministry should and can be, said conference speaker Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Though the conference is being held in northwest Arkansas, it has its roots on the Southeastern campus in Wake Forest, N.C. It was there in 1998 that Jurkovich, then a master of divinity student, Reid and others organized the first “Culture Shock” student conference, a three-day event that gathered youth ministers from several states and challenged them to cast a vision for student ministry beyond pizza parties and lock-ins.

Jurkovich has geared Gather The People to mirror Culture Shock in its emphasis on going against the grain of modern student ministry. He wants student pastors to base their ministries not on activities, but on the Word of God.

“We’ve got a one-day shot to make sure guys are on the same page with that kind of ministry,” said Jurkovich, who has tapped speakers like Reid and Voddie Baucham, a doctor of ministry graduate from Southeastern.

Reid is outspoken in his critique of the activities-based student ministry. He spent much of a semester-long spring sabbatical researching the role of young people in revivals and believes the rising generation of middle and high school students has the potential to start such a revival the United States.

“This conference has the view that youth ministry is to equip young men and women to be champions for God now, not later,” Reid said. “It also believes the YMCA-activity approach to youth ministry has failed. There is a significant, growing movement among youth pastors that emphasizes raising up an army, not baby-sitting church kids. That is the focus of this conference.”

Reid has written a booklet, “Raising the Bar,” based on his research. He plans to write a book on the subject sometime next year.

Jurkovich hopes to expand the student pastor conference to a multiple day event in the future. His ultimate vision, he said, is to hold a “Culture Shock” modeled student pastor conference at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Reid said it is significant that this conference’s movement toward deeper student ministry has its roots at Southeastern.

“We at Southeastern do not have a large number of youth classes or youth professors as other large seminaries do,” he said. “What we do offer is focused on changing the status quo. What we offer beyond courses is a philosophy that believes youth can serve God now, not later, that if they can learn chemistry in school they can learn theology in church, and that if they can be committed to a sports team they can be sold out to Jesus, including being active witnesses for him. Southeastern’s commitment is to raise an army of evangelical special forces to take on the kingdom of darkness.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: VISION FOR YOUTH.

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  • Jason Hall