FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Last year they simulated a high school; this year they will simulate the ends of the earth.
A “Reality Evangelism Experience” was added last year for teenage attendees at the Youth Ministry Lab of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. At a nearby middle school, the YML participants sought to share their faith with 100 teenage actors role-playing typical students in an average high school.
This year the idea will be taken a step further with a “Reality Missions Experience.”
In partnership with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, youth attendees first will be trained by IMB personnel in how to make initial contact with a people group, build relationships, meet immediate human needs and learn creative ways to share the Gospel. They will then go to a nearby farm where they will encounter “other cultures” and share their faith in a simulated overseas setting.
Local international churches have volunteered to help by creating an area on the farm closely resembling a typical setting from their native countries, where they will dress, act and speak as they would in daily life back home, said Matt Hubbard, a Southwestern Ph.D. student and co-chair for the 2007 Youth Ministry Lab. At least three different continents and cultures will be represented.
“Part of the process is actually getting the Gospel over the language barrier,” Hubbard said.
The overall theme for this year’s April 13-14 lab will be “Uncharted,” Hubbard said, noting that frontiers of “uncharted” ministries will be examined. For example, a girls ministry conference will be added this year to offer training to those who want to launch or improve ministries to teenage girls.
“That’s something that came out of a need expressed by the participants last year and the past couple of years,” Hubbard said.
The 2007 lab will be held at The Smith Center on the campus of Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Featured speakers will be Gregg Matte, pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church; Walt Mueller, founder and president for the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding; and Merritt Johnston, president and executive director of Sage Ministries, a ministry reaching out both to teenage girls and those in Christian ministry to teenage girls.
In 2006, more than 1,300 students, parents, youth ministers and pastors attended the Youth Ministry Lab.
The reality missions experience is just one step in the process of developing a global perspective for the YML, Hubbard said, noting that organizers envision taking it to other countries someday.
“We will go and train youth leaders internationally,” Hubbard said. “Seminary and college students from Southwestern would go out into these countries and, using existing churches in the area, will train people not in an American-style youth ministry, but teach how to work with students developmentally.”
For more information on the 2007 Youth Ministry Lab, log on to www.youthministrylab.com, e-mail [email protected] or call 817-923-1921, ext. 2522.