Re-evaluating YouthQuest and BIC U.S. youth ministry
Mechanicsburg, Pa. (May 28, 2015)—For many people, one of the highlights of BIC ministry has been YouthQuest—the General Church conference for youth. This event, originally held once every three years and more recently every two years, was a place where youth gathered for worship, teaching, fun, and fellowship while connecting with other youth from across the country. We are deeply grateful for all that has been accomplished through this ministry and thankful for the sacrificial leadership of so many people over the years.
The most recent YouthQuest was held this past December in Washington D.C. and was a blessing to those who attended. Unfortunately, attendance at the event continued the recent pattern of declining numbers and led to expenditures that well exceeded income for the event. Leadership Council (LC) has discussed the declining attendance for this event in an attempt to understand what the reasons might be. Is it the cost? The time of year (between Christmas and New Years)? The location? The program? The frequency? Or perhaps a combination of these mean that youth in our congregations choose alternative events that are less costly and occur at a more suitable time?
At its recent meeting, LC discussed if it might be time to find an alternative strategy to continue the good work that has been done by YouthQuest. LC continues to uphold the critical importance of youth in our congregations and wants to maintain ministry to youth as a priority of the Church. It is also imperative that youth experience leadership development that includes discipleship in the context of relationships within the Church—local, regional, national, and global. We want our youth to wholly follow Jesus in obedience and to take up the challenge of gracious transformational Christian leadership in the world.
At this time, there are no plans to facilitate YouthQuest in 2016. During the next year or so, LC wants to talk with pastors, youth pastors, youth, and parents so that, together, we can find alternative means and methods for national church youth ministry that continues the good work of YouthQuest. Please contact your bishop if you have suggestions, opinions, or ideas on what might be helpful in continuing effective national ministry for our youth.