Assemblies of God SearchSite GuideStoreContact Us
Evangelism, Worship, Discipleship & Compassion

News RSS Feed

Audio News Reports

   Additional Headlines & Audio Reports

Search AG News

As the world continues to vie for the attention of the younger generation, the Assemblies of God is one of the few U.S. denominations where young people are flocking. Statistics indicate approximately 40 percent of the Fellowship's more than 3 million adherents are 25 and younger.

"The Assemblies of God has historically done a good job of keeping the focus on the next generation," says Scott Berkey, children's pastor at Victory Worship Center (AG) in Tucson, Arizoma, and former national director of the Children's Ministries Agency. "When that comes from the top, it trickles down in different ways and in different capacities all the way to the local church level."

Now more than ever, Berkey says parents are doing their homework before they walk into a church with their families and choosing ones that place special emphasis on children. If the church is doing its job by helping children feel connected, then it's the children who will bring their parents back to the church, says Berkey.

"Today's parents predominantly go where their kids want them to go," Berkey says. "The buying power kids have today is unlike any generation before them, and the same holds true as to where they go to church."

Mark Entzminger, senior director for AG Children's Ministries, says this need for connection is of vital importance to children.

"Kids today want to belong and have a place where they fit in and are welcomed, loved, and accepted for who they are," Entzminger says. 

In addition to a nurturing environment, Entzminger says the AG is reaching a hands-on generation, and teaching methods should reflect this whenever possible.

One of the Fellowship's most successful evangelistic outreaches for children, MEGA Sports Camp, gives evidence of this trend. MEGA Sports Camp allows the worlds of sports and faith to collide with positive results. Entzminger says this Vacation Bible School-style outreach typically attracts children who aren't Christians or who come from an unchurched background. The result is often a number of families getting plugged into a local congregation.

When reaching those outside the church, Berkey says it's important to be strategic and create an environment where people want to come and experience why a church is different from other community children's events.

"What separates us from those events is the love of Jesus Christ," Berkey says. "The people in our churches are interacting and sharing the love of Christ with children."

After establishing a foundation built on the love of Christ, children then graduate into local youth ministries. Heath Adamson, senior director for AG Youth Ministries, says the Spirit-empowered gospel is what speaks to their hearts.

"We're firm believers that the most relevant thing today truly is the presence and the drawing of the Holy Spirit," Adamson says. "He always communicates in a language everybody understands, and it is His presence that becomes the impetus that crosses those invisible borders that separate generations."

Adamson says this movement of the Spirit was never intended to remain within the four walls of the church. Through the campus ministry of Youth Alive, students are intentionally being equipped to be salt and light in their schools and to identify key moments they can live out their faith, whether it's in science class or walking down the hall at school.

The goal, Adamson says, is for Youth Alive campus missionaries to not necessarily tell everybody about what they believe, but to have the courage to listen to somebody's story and, through the interaction of the Holy Spirit, allow God to open a door for them to share God's story.

The hope of the ministry is that the participating students will make an impact on the lives of those around them regardless of where their paths take them. Students not only make a difference; they become the difference.

Jay Mooney, executive director of COMPACT Family Services in Hot Springs, Arkansas, (AG) knows all too well the importance of being the difference in the lives of children and youth, particularly those in crisis.

Mooney says a child or youth who comes through the door of COMPACT immediately is shown the love of Christ. Mentors model consistent discipline and love.

Love was what greeted a 19-year-old woman from South Carolina who described herself as a scared, broken child when she stood on the doorstep of COMPACT's Highlands Maternity Home.

Molested as a young girl, she suffered from a sexual addiction that left her unmarried and pregnant; however, she says it was the love of God that changed her life.

From day one, Mooney says caregivers work with troubled children and youth from every angle to influence their lives and heal their wounds by ministering to their whole person — body, soul and spirit.

Such was the case with this young woman, who has ultimately come to experience God's grace and forgiveness.

"It's crazy how God ordered my steps," she says. "Highlands is where God began to turn my life around, and now God is walking me down the road so I can be who He's called me to be."

She is currently enrolled in school and has plans to pursue her credentials to become an AG missionary.

"It was just amazing the love that they had for me," she says. "They loved me past my attitude, and they loved me past my sin. They showed me how Christ sees me."

With this simple, yet timeless message, AG children's and youth ministries are successfully reaching out to and impacting a generation marked by constant change and advancement. 

"At the end of the day, love works," Adamson says. "Walking with Christ works."

Author: Shannon M. Nass, Pentecostal Evangel

 

 


Search Assemblies of God News Archives

Resources

 

Mega Sports Camp Beyond The Gold

 

Item # 33TW0300

Price $129.99

 


You Might Also Like


Videos (AGTV)

AG News

Return to News Index

Flash mob -- preparing chaplains to respond

Mon, 07 Nov 2011 - 4:30 PM CST

Whether preparing students for military chaplaincy, occupational and institutional chaplaincy or even emergency services chaplaincy, the Assemblies of God has established a reputation for providing quality chaplains to serve in a variety of ministry areas.

Military chaplains serve active duty and reserve military units. Occupational and Institutional Chaplains serve in businesses and institutional setting such as jails and prisons. Emergency Services Chaplains serve the emotional and spiritual needs within fire departments, law enforcement agencies, EMS departments, and emergency dispatch centers. They care for responders and citizens in crisis.

Recently, the Assemblies of God national Chaplaincy Department partnered with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) to help chaplaincy students and those preparing to be emergency services chaplains experience the demands of a violent flash mob.

Jernigan and Cordero
Chaplains Jernigan and Cordero.

Dr. Manuel Cordero and Chaplain Robby Jernigan were the organizers of the event. Cordero teaches a five-day intensive at AGTS called Ministry to People in Trauma and Crisis and Grief, designed mostly for AGTS students called into the military or occupational/institutional chaplaincy. Jernigan, an AG U.S. missionary, conducts online Emergency Services Chaplain training along with periodic in-classroom chaplain training classes for pastors and others who want to become involved in their local communities as emergency services chaplains.

"In Chaplaincy," AG Chaplaincy Ministries Director Alvin Worthley says, "we know that chaplains need this training in order to be prepared to minister in traumatic situations. We also believe that pastors of local churches should be prepared to respond to traumatic situations that happen in their local community."

Cordero says that a violent flash mob incident was chosen because it's cutting edge right now. "It's also critical to understand that we need to be prepared for about anything - whether it's a flash mob, a tornado that kills and destroys such as in Joplin or a hurricane that destroys and paralyzes such as the Northeast experienced earlier this year."

Although the flash mob violence was simulated, organizers of this training exercise focused on realism.

"The mob was comprised of Central Bible College and AGTS staff and students along with students from Evangel University," Jernigan says. "In this scenario, the mob started making fun of religion and then started stealing and breaking stuff at AGTS. We had several individuals who confronted the mob, and ultimately the mob turned on them. Bystanders were beaten, with one ultimately being 'shot and killed.'"

Flash Mob 2
As observers look on in the background, the flash mob takes off, leaving their "victims" behind.

As the flash mob dispersed, a Cox Hospital EMS crew with a fully-equipped ambulance arrived on the scene to attend to the "injured," while Green Lawn Funeral Home sent members of their staff to remove the body of the "deceased." In addition, the Springfield (Missouri) Police Department and the Greene County (Missouri) Sheriff's Office were on hand to ensure safety, while students from the Evangel University Criminal Justice Department served as security for the event.

Jernigan says that although it is unlikely that a chaplain will be caught in the middle of a flash mob, there is a strong likelihood that he or she will be ministering to people who have experienced or witnessed a crisis event in their lives. These events might include someone being beaten, shot or held against their will; someone being seriously injured; someone facing or witnessing death; or a number of other traumatic life experiences.

"This is the third such live field training exercise we have conducted in cooperation with AGTS for Chaplaincy training," Jernigan says.

"Previously, we held a simulated motor vehicle accident that was the result of a drunk driver serious injuries and several deaths occurred," Jernigan says, "and the second one, we had an 'active shooter,' where a person became violent and ultimately 'executed' the AGTS president (Dr. Byron Klaus) and took hostages. For that simulation, the Federal Medical Center (located in Springfield) sent us a SWAT team and a hostage negotiation team. Several other entities and emergency services agencies also participated."

Generally speaking, the emergency services chaplain students in Jernigan's class and the students from Cordero's class did not actively participate in the field training exercise. Their challenge was to take in the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of the 'crisis' and observed how trained chaplains and other responding personnel did their jobs in the midst of a crisis.

Flash mob 3
Paramedics wheel an "injured" bystander out of the AG Theological Seminary lobby to an ambulance, while a sheet covers a shooting "victim."

"It was an overwhelming experience for many of the students," Cordero says. "Many students commented on how there is so much to do. And afterwards, in our classes' review of the event, we discussed the different layers of victims and opportunities for ministry, as it's not just those who are personally caught in a critical incident who are impacted - family members, coworkers, friends and others can also be indirect victims of a crisis event."

"The concepts of Critical Incident Stress Management are one of the areas we cover in our training," Jernigan says. "It is recognized by the United Nations as the 'gold for assisting people (primarily emergency services personnel) who have been through a critical incident."

Jernigan says that there were a number of people, besides the students, who heard about the training and asked to come and observe the event. They included the director of corporate security for Walmart, the regional loss prevention manager from Walgreens and representatives from Greene County Office of Emergency Management. "They all wanted to know what to expect and how to use what they learned to better determine how to prepare and respond in such a crisis," Jernigan says.

In addition to being powerful training tools for the chaplaincy, Jernigan and Cordero have found that these field training events frequently are therapeutic for their students as well.

"Many times we'll have students who, due to the sights and sounds of the live event, will come face-to-face with incidents buried in their past," Jernigan says. "We spent 45 minutes after this exercise debriefing, asking students what they saw, how it affected them, ways they could minister to others in the future, and even what it drew out of them. Numerous students reflected back on their own life experiences, and found discussing them healing."

Cordero and Jernigan agree that through these field training exercises, students become better equipped to empathize with victims as well as understand the critical role they play in helping victims - at many difference levels - heal and recover.

flash mob 4
The "deceased" is carefully removed.

"I also believe that the more prepared our AG districts are to respond following a crisis, whether it be a natural disaster or some act of terrorism, the better we'll be able to actively demonstrate the compassion of Christ to our communities," Cordero adds.

"Assemblies of God Chaplaincy is willing and able to provide emergency response training for churches on a local or on a district level," Worthley says. "This training is a first step for working with their local VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) and with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)."

For more information about emergency services chaplain training, contact Jernigan at robbyj@ipa.net. To learn more about AGTS degree programs for chaplains, see the seminary's website. Information about the AG Chaplaincy can be found at chaplaincy.ag.org.

 

Authors: Dan Van Veen

Search Assemblies of God News Archives