Youth Nexus Helps Prepare Future Ministry Leaders
CHICAGO (July 10, 2009) – High school students living as far apart as Arlington, Mass., and Unalakleet, Alaska, gathered in Chicago to spend June 30 through July 4 developing new spiritual practices, listening for God’s voice, and learning to serve in their communities.
An annual event that began in 2004, Youth Nexus drew students and youth leaders from nine Evangelical Covenant Churches representing five conferences this year, says coordinator Bob Auger. The participants were “wonderfully diverse” ethnically, he adds, noting that they included African Americans, Africans, Caucasians, Indians, Native Alaskans, and Latinos.
“As always it was amazing to see the students and leaders gel so quickly as they began to share their experiences with each other and to have shared experience together,” Auger says.
Students spent the mornings learning from faculty of North Park Theological Seminary and denominational leaders. After lunch, they engaged in activities or visited sites that corresponded with daily themes, including spiritual formation, caring for themselves and their relationships, learning to approach differences, and developing an understanding of what God may be calling them to do.
It was important for participants to learn about more than how ministry is done in Chicago, Auger says. The students also learned how to contextualize the lessons into their own settings.
Students took trips to the new Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Art Institute of Chicago, and John Hancock Tower Observatory. Auger notes that going to the top of the Hancock— the city’s fourth largest building—offered an opportunity for “a macro, hands-off view of the city that was later contrasted with a very micro, hands-on view of several city-based ministries.”
Other time was just spent relaxing. The students visited the Field Museum and Millennium Park, rode the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, and watched the city’s large fireworks display.
The Seminary’s Making Connections initiative, funded by a Lilly Grant, sponsors Youth Nexus as a way to communicate North Park's ministry vision to church communities around North America. Youth pastors nominate the students based upon their potential as future ministry leaders.