Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Six pastors, Renee Stepp, Garrison Hayes, Federico Revollo, Joseph Khabbaz, Geraldo Christo and Josant Barrientos, recently completed their cohort in Growing Young, which identifies cultural values necessary for successful ministry to young people.

6 Pastors ‘Grow Young’ to Reach Young

Story by Tiffany Doss

Six pastors in the Potomac Conference recently completed their cohort in Growing Young—a research-based project focusing on successful ministry to young people—and have committed to being influential trainers for other pastors, youth and young adult leaders and churches in their areas.

The project, developed by Fuller Theological Seminary (Calif.), started by looking at what components ensured a successful young adult ministry. After 10,000 research hours and 1,300 individual interviews over 40 states, they discovered six essential core commitments. The Growing Young cohort unpacks these commitments, which are defined on their website as: “keychain or load-bearing (rather than token) leadership, empathizing with young people, taking Jesus’ message seriously, creating a warm environment, engaging young adults and their families and being good neighbors to our local and global communities.” Completion of the program certifies participants as speakers and trainers.

Josant Barrientos, director for Youth and Youth Adult Ministries, says, “We believe that implementing the values of Growing Young is a powerful step in growing healthy, disciple-making churches—Potomac’s mission. We are excited to be investing in the younger generations of our church in a very intentional way.” Barrientos says he and the five other pastors who completed the cohort—Geraldo Alonso (Valley/Southwest Va.); Garrison Hayes (Northern Va.); Joseph Khabbaz (Maryland); Federico Revollo (Hispanic churches); and Renee Stepp (Capital/Tidewater)—are looking toward the future of how these values can become part of every church’s culture.

“As certified speakers and trainers, we are available to pastors at monthly and yearly educational meetings,” Barrientos explains. “We also offer private mentoring to pastors who are interested in one-on-one training. Additionally, we will have presentations available for lay leaders through EQUIP trainings, which are regularly scheduled throughout the conference each year. The Youth and Young Adult Ministries Department is committed to training leaders at their events. We are also available to any group that would like to invite a speaker to present at their event, training or church(es).”

Barrientos believes implementation of Growing Young will help churches grow and keep young people engaged. “It allows us to play a key role in winning this and future generations to the kingdom of God,” he says. “Growing Young seeks to engage people of every generation, focusing on giving ownership and meaningful leadership to younger generations in order to ensure health and growth. We invite you to pray for this ministry! How you would like to be a part of the great story of God in these exciting times?”

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