Tauiwi Youth Leaders Training Event Wednesday July 19th 2017 Wesley Methodist Church, Papatoetoe
By Michael Lemanu
This past July saw the first INFLUENCE training event, held in Papatoetoe, Auckland. Youth Leaders from Auckland, Te Puke, Napier, Hastings, Palmerston North and Christchurch gathered on a cold winter day to partake in the first National Youth Leaders training event, post Tauiwi Youth Conference.
The event served as a time for youth leaders to come together from across the breadth of Tauiwi and take up an opportunity to be Connected, Resourced and Inspired through interactive workshops and discussion. The focus of INFLUENCE 1 was around the theme of Youth Discipleship - an area of youth ministry which is sometimes challenging to strategically plan for, due in large part to cultural contextualization as well as the reality that many of our leaders are volunteers with full time careers and family life demands.
What transpired was a great day of interaction, discovery and encouragement for the continued longevity of Youth ministry in Te Haahi Weteriana.
We were fortunate enough to have the awesome Duffy Robbins join us as the keynote speaker for INFLUENCE 1. Duffy teaches Youth Ministry at Eastern University in the US, and has written many books on the topic of youth ministry throughout his 30 year plus career.
In New Zealand for another Youth Leadership Conference, we were, by Gods grace, able to secure Duffy's services for the day - giving youth leaders the chance to learn from his experiences and also pick his brain throughout the day. Duffy ran two sessions for us throughout the day, while also participating in an expert panel discussion later in the day
Our day began with worship and interaction, led by our worship team. Devotion was led by Siu Williams-Lemi who shared a simple yet powerful illustration of INFLUENCE through the game "Simon-says". This would link to two important ideas - the power we have as leaders to influence others and also committing to a style of leadership where God's voice is the director.
From here we had a time for people to interact and get to know one another a bit better, using the ice-breaker people bingo.
"The problem with the Church is this - it is good at building power plants... that provide NO power" - Duffy Robbins
Throughout the first sessions, Duffy spoke about the reasons of us being here - To disciple and create disciples. Youth leaders in attendance were challenged to think about their role as youth leaders and how crucial a part we play in the spiritual formation of the teens in which we minister to. He also highlighted the reality that in many cases our churches are highly ineffective in how they seek to create disciples - not just young disciples, but disciples of all ages. This ineffectiveness threatens our very existence as a church, as it restricts our ability to carry out our mission in the world. Duffy described this as a power station (the Church) that provides no power.
In the afternoon session, Duffy delved into more detail around youth discipleship. The bulk of his teachings were based off of his book Building a Youth Ministry that builds Disciples. In the book Duffy presented a reverse model for the different levels of Youth Discipleship - Starting from a Pool of Humanity and gradually landing at being a Multiplier. What was established from this model was the understanding that all levels of youth ministry discipleship are valuable and interdependent on one another. This was a great learning for youth leaders - particularly those that would consider their respective youth ministries to be at the early levels of Duffy's model.
The final session of the day was a panel discussion with Duffy and three champions of Youth Ministry - Tumema Faioso (NYLO, Sinoti Samoa), Siu Williams-Lemi (CSI Youth Coordinator) and Stephanie Couch (National Youth Rep, Wesleyan Methodist Church of NZ). During this time, the panelists talked about their experiences in Youth Ministry - with particular attention to Cultural Dynamics, Inter-generational Ministry and Volunteer based Youth Ministry, among a host of other topics. We then drew our day to a close with prayer and a special rendition of the 66 books of the bible, rapped by the one and only Duffy Robbins - unfortunately not recorded on film!
Overall, INFLUENCE 1 was a great event and set the foundation for what we hope will be many more great INFLUENCE events to come. I acknowledge the attendance of all of our youth leaders/ministers who attended and believe the current generation of young leaders we have to be great seed planters in the garden that is the Kingdom of God.
Keep an eye out for future INFLUENCE events and please continue to pray for our leaders as they strive to build youth ministries that build disciples!