While 2020-2021 started to look a bit more normal, it has still been a year full of twists and turns. However, we have continued to fulfill the work of the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department and invest in those that seek to impact the next generation for Jesus Christ. Our mission remains the same — we want to provide connections, continuing education and coaching for student ministry pastors and leaders.
Since beginning in February 2020, our reach has continued to grow through the Student Ministry Matters podcast. As of this writing, we have released 86 episodes and 3 ministry updates. Those episodes have reached 45 of the 50 states and 19 other countries. Total downloads have reached 6,120 from the 2,117 of last year. I want to thank Chris Vines, Micah Powell and Zac Lee for serving with me as co-hosts. Micah Powell has left our team to attend Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Kansas City and we rejoice with him. It was conversations with Micah that got the ball rolling on this crazy journey. You can find the podcast at studentministrymatters.podbean.com or through most major podcasting platforms.
The BMA of Ark. Youth Department is also continuing to bring student ministry leaders together through digital means. During this year, the Student Ministry Matters Community (BMA of Ark. Youth Department) Facebook group grew from 242 members to 266 members. Our page is now followed by 435 compared to 335 in 2020. Our Twitter and Instagram accounts also saw growth. Twitter went from 81 to 106 followers and Instagram went from 170 to 245. We still have a small footprint on social media, but we continue to look for ways to see that grow and impact others. Our YouTube channel continues to provide an avenue to share the podcast, announcements from Student Ministry Matters and teaching videos. With only 27 subscribers, it remains in the beginning stages of its usefulness.
This year’s Student Ministry Workers Retreat was a great success. We had 70 in attendance and enjoyed Jeff Borton, author of Your First 100 Days in Student Ministry and the 40 Years that Follow. Andrew Guyton and his team led our worship. Jordan Tew of the Baptist Publishing House, Joel Young of Summers Baptist Church, Lori Cline of South City Church, Rodney Fry of Fresh Roots Family Counseling and Jason & Janna Burns of Calvary Baptist Church all shared in our breakout groups.
I want to thank Central Baptist College for allowing us to meet on their campus and the many others that helped make our event happen. Our Gold Level Sponsors for this year’s event included: CBC, the Association of Baptist Students at the University of Arkansas, Antioch Baptist Church of Conway, and Volunteer Student Missions of the BMAA. Next year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 17, 2022.
While the CBC Youth Group Day was canceled this year due to COVID-19, we joined students at SOAR 2021 and enjoyed all that the SOAR team had put together. I even had the opportunity to share with student ministry workers in two breakout groups.
Our Continuing Impact
We continue to seek out ways to fulfill our mission to help student ministry pastors and leaders impact the next generation for Jesus. In 2022, we plan on creating a cohort of student ministry workers that will meet once a month to share and grow together. We are currently operating with the name 222 Leadership by Student Ministry Matters and are looking for 5-8 individuals who would like to be challenged and grow in their ministry skills. Why 222 Leadership? We want to base our group off the II Tim. 2:2 principle: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (ESV). We are looking for faithful men and women who are looking to grow as they invest in students.
Thank you for allowing us to continue to work and invest in student ministry workers in Arkansas and beyond.
You can help us fulfill our mission by doing the following:
• Pray for us.
• Give monthly to the BMA of Arkansas Youth Department. We want to continue to expand our reach and ministry. We can’t do that alone. I am so appreciative of the churches that give on a regular basis to our ministry. They allow us to do all that we do. Consider joining our team. You can do that by mailing a check to BMA of Ark. Youth Department, c/o Calvary Baptist Church, 1410 North Porter Road, Fayetteville, Ark. 72703.
• Give a one-time gift. If your church is unable to give monthly, consider sharing a one-time gift with the youth department. It was a one-time gift that gave us the courage to start our annual Student Ministry Workers Retreat.
• Consider financially sponsoring our annual retreat. It takes close to $7,000 to cover all of our expenses. Between gifts through the year and sponsorships, we have managed to make it happen and keep the event at a low price. We want to continue to keep the event at a low cost for attendees to make it possible for volunteer, part-time and bi-vocational student ministry workers, as well as ministry students, to continue to attend.
• Share about our ministry with your student ministry workers. They may not know about our podcast, social media accounts or annual conference. We want to help them. It doesn’t matter if they are paid or volunteer. Our heart beats to help them.
Recommendations from The Youth Department Committee
• We recommend the director’s salary be increased from $500 per month to $750 per month plus expenses.
•We recommend the approval of the budget for the year.
•We encourage all of our churches and people to pray for this department.
• We encourage you to help connect all those in your churches that work with students to