I have been just thinking about the blessings that many young people have received over the years because our state association felt that they were important enough to have a ministry just for them.
The need for fellowship in churches is of extreme importance. It draws believers closer to one another and enhances the desire to work together for the cause of Christ. Young people sometimes feel they are just along for the ride. They don’t feel included. But these young men and women must be included. The old adage that says the youth of the day are the church of tomorrow is limited in scope. If a teen has been saved, baptized and has become a member of the church, that young person is part of the church today!
The BMA of Arkansas Youth Department was the vision of a layman, Harvey Hall. He saw a need, then set himself to meeting that need. I have long said that I have a two-word definition for ministry — meeting needs. Bro. Hall developed, for and through this association of churches, a ministry to youth.
In those fledgling days of the department, the emphasis was placed on young people going to church camps, church Bible studies and participation in missionary encouragement. It was in those early days that a Teen Bible Conference was developed that brought Christian teens to Little Rock for several days during their Christmas/New Year’s break from school. The Teen Bible Conference would continue under the name “Encounter” for several years. That set the stage for many other conferences and activities for the youth from our churches. Bro. Hall blazed the trail for others to follow in the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department. His was a ministry of love and service that was, indeed, well done.
Following Harvey Hall as director was Steven Carroll. Helping to make the trail much clearer, Bro. Carroll brought enthusiasm to the department and the special event’s attendance began to grow each year. With a focus on discipling the youth of our churches, he emphasized personal Bible study and led the youth to be involved in evangelism.
Kevin Prawl had been involved in the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department as its committee secretary since 1994. After concluding his committee tenure, the department hired him to be a part-time secretary for the director. After Bro. Carroll resigned in 1998, the association elected Bro. Prawl as interim director. He served until the election of the new director in 1999. He continued to lead the department on the same path as his predecessors. He especially continued the ministry of Encounter, with 1,000-1,300 young people attending. In 2002, he was once again appointed as the interim director. Bro. Prawl demonstrated his love for the youth of Arkansas as is evidenced by his history with the department
Mark Morris was the one elected in 1999 to lead the Youth Department. He also built on the work done by those who had come before him. Fellowship among the youth of our Arkansas churches continued to grow spiritually through the conferences and fellowship afforded by the activities and events provided. Bro. Morris served until 2002.
After Bro Prawl’s brief second time as interim director, Joey Slayton was elected to be the director. Bro. Slayton, like others who would follow him, had been a young man who was one of the young people ministered to by the department. He served for several years, enthusiastically urging young men and women to participate in the sponsored activities afforded them by the department.
Following Bro. Slayton, Chad Stephenson had a five-year time of service as director of the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department. During his tenure, Bro. Stephenson saw the number of associational churches supporting the department double. That enabled the department to have more ministry funds because the monthly offerings also doubled. It was under his leadership that the department began to have local youth conferences around the state involving churches that had bi-vocational youth ministers.
From 2014 to 2016, Nathan Brewer, a native of Oklahoma, served the churches as director of the Arkansas Youth Department. It was during his time that many churches were facing financial struggles and support for the department was diminished; however that was not a reflection on Bro. Brewer or his leadership. It was during the time of Bro. Nathan’s ministry that the department first partnered with Central Baptist College to sponsor a BMA of Arkansas Youth Preview Day. Many of the students who took part in that event made their decisions to enroll as students of the college.
Today, Dan Carson serves extremely well as the director of the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department. He is enthusiastic in his approach to ministering to the young people of the churches because he has a burden for them. He also desires to assist high school graduates in their college endeavors by pointing them to Central Baptist College. In conjunction with CBC, Bro. Carson is preparing for CBC Youth Group Day, which will be held on the college campus Feb. 29. You can reserve your church’s youth group at cbc.edu/stampede.
If any of the pastors, youth pastors or members have questions about the ministry of the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department, you may email Dan Carson at email@example.com. You may also keep abreast of the ministry’s events and activities by becoming a member of the Student Ministry Matter Community on Facebook. You will need to request membership, but it will be a most worthwhile effort.
I was just thinking… the men who have served as directors of the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department have served faithfully, often under trying circumstances; and as a result, God has worked in the lives of young people from across our state. Many have been called to preach, pastor and be missionaries; and even more have been led to serve faithfully as members of local churches affiliated with the BMA of Arkansas.
Thank you, Lord, for using these men to influence young lives!