The second week of January, the team of youth leaders at my church went up to the Katoomba Christian Convention for a week-long event called 'Next Gen'.
It is aimed at youth leaders and those who aim to be in youth ministry as a training ground to learn new skills and practices and to get confidence in ministering God's Word to teenagers.
Most days started with a morning talk that worked its way through the first half of Romans, then following this you were broken off into Strand Groups of about 10 people.
This Strand Group would be like your class where you went through a workbook where by the end of the week you would have created a bible study on Romans 5:1-11.
This bible study would include a launching question that started off the study, a context question that explained the passage and then three flowing questions that broke the passage into thirds and was then able to be discussed.
Once Strand groups had finished, we all came back as one big audience and had a workshop, this was a practical session on effective youth ministry by going into topics such as how a youth leaders life needs to be organised, understanding teenagers (this went into a couple of sessions, and even then I don't think I understand teenagers) as well as public speaking pointers and tips.
After Strand groups there was free time, being summer in the Blue Mountains, the best place to be was outside walking along the many bush walking tracks that provided spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountainside. We also went into town and visited the many cafes for discussions and relaxing.
When we got back from free time and dinner had finished, we had an evening talk that was on Habakkuk.
If you don't know where Habakkuk is in the Bible (I can't say I have spent much time looking through Habakkuk) it is right after Nahum, and before Zephaniah.
These evening talks were an interesting insight into a perhaps a book of the Bible that hadn't been trekked into much for youth ministry but it was a good way to branch outside of the more well-known and widely covered books for a different change of pace.
'Next Gen' was a great week of learning and note taking, discussions and talks, workshops and coffee breaks that will most definitely help the leader of my Youth Group prepare for this coming year.
Christopher Archibald lives in Sydney and is a Youth Leader at New Life Christian Church in Blacktown. A voracious reader, he ploughs through many books in a calendar year, with a bookcase that is constantly being rearranged to accommodate new additions.
Christopher Archibald's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/christopher-archibald.html