Category Archives: Student and College Ministries

Next Generation Ministries Council hosts leadership summit for EPC ministry leaders


Collaboration, encouragement, fellowship, and worship were on the agenda for more than 30 EPC children’s ministry, student ministry, and family ministry leaders on October 6-7 in Orlando. The workers from local churches in all 14 Presbyteries met for the inaugural Next Generation Ministries Leadership Summit, hosted by the Next Generation Ministries Council (NGMC).

The focus of the two-day “think tank” was to consider best approaches for ministry to children, students, and families, as well as discuss a variety of challenges facing age-group ministry in the current cultural landscape.

Jen Burkholder

“While the good news of Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the Church needs to think hard about how we can best reach and disciple the young generations of our communities with the gospel in an ever-shifting culture,” said Jen Burkholder, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Coalition for Christian Outreach and a member of the NGMC. “We cannot wait any longer to figure out how to equip them for leadership in our denomination and world.”

Among the topics that launched robust discussion among participants were practices, identity, diversity, and networking. Following a presentation on each issue, participants engaged in small group discussion to both foster dialogue and help build community among ministry peers.

Enid Flores, NGMC member and Ruling Elder for Iglesia Presbiteriana Westminster in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, led the discussion on diversity.

“When we work with relationships, we get to know our neighbors,” she said. “When we get to know our neighbors, we get the opportunity to have discipleship. And with that, we get a deeper friendship. And at the end, we love our neighbors as He loves us.”

As each table presented highlights of their group discussion, a theme emerged of the desire for broader diversity in the church.

“We talked about how to have the conversation in our church if they don’t want to embrace diversity—even if it’s an age diversity and not a racial one,” said Blaise Shields, Pastor for Youth & Families at St. Andrew EPC in Auburn, Ind. “It makes sense to me that someone who visits the church would feel more at home if they see someone in leadership who looks like them—whatever that may look like.”

Connected to reach the world for Christ’

As part of the discussion on networking, NGMC Chairman Greg Aydt said the Council’s goal is for a stronger level of collaboration among Next Generation Ministry leaders, both within and across Presbyteries.

Greg Aydt

“We are all connected to reach the world for Christ,” said Aydt, who serves as Pastor of Youth Ministry for Advent Presbyterian Church in Cordova, Tenn. “We have a strong belief in the wisdom of the collective—of the group. It’s Trinitiarian in a way. There’s power in that fellowship.”

He said the Council hopes to help foster creation of ministry peer networks all across the EPC.

“Our desire is that no NextGen worker is on an island. Networking has a bunch of strengths—resourcing, collaboration, mutual edification,” Aydt said. “We are thrilled to have denominational leaders who are invested in Next Generation ministry and want to see it prosper.”

Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk, said the Council’s work to connect Next Generation Ministry leaders to each other and also the larger vision of the EPC was already bearing fruit for the Kingdom. Weaver spoke to the gathering on Wednesday afternoon via video conference.

“I have no doubt the God will continue to bless the vision and energy these leaders have for reaching young people in their communities,” Weaver said. “They are natives to the culture that the people they are trying to reach are in, so they are in a unique position that not all of us can be as effective in.”

Jerry Iamurri, EPC Assistant Stated Clerk, noted that the passion for evangelism and outreach among the attendees “signals that both the present and the future of EPC leadership looks promising.”

“These folks are at the tip of the spear in evangelism in their churches and other ministry contexts,” Iamurri said. “Listening to these folks describe how they are reaching their students for Christ is incredibly encouraging.”

Aydt noted that “the next generation is going to reform the Church; whether or not they are formed in the likeness of Christ is up to people like those in the room.”

Dean Weaver featured speaker for Jubilee student conference


Dean Weaver

Dean Weaver, Pastor of Memorial Park Presbyterian Church in Allison Park, Pa., and Moderator of the EPC’s 37th General Assembly, is a featured speaker for the Jubilee 2020 Conference hosted by the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO). Jubilee is CCO’s annual conference designed for college students; this year’s event is February 21-23 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. The theme for Jubilee 2020 is the biblical narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.

Weaver will address the topic of redemption with “The Moment that Changed Everything” at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 22.

“The conference is a life changing and transforming experience and it is exciting to be a part of engaging 4,000 college students with the gospel,” Weaver said. “It is one of the closest things on this earth to experiencing the fullness of the Kingdom of God.”

The EPC has partnered with CCO since 2007 to help local churches engage in campus ministry in their communities. Among the EPC congregations with CCO partnership college ministries are Memorial Park Presbyterian Church; Bellefield Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh; Hope Church in Cordova, Tenn.; First Presbyterian Church in Orlando; and many others. In addition, CCO’s Partnership Coordinator for Western Pennsylvania, Jen Burkholder, currently serves as chair of the EPC’s Next Generation Ministries Council.

For more information on Jubilee, see

City of Hamtramck, Mich., thanks World Outreach Summer Mission Jam participants


SummerMissionJam2019HamtramckIn a July 11 post on its Facebook page, the City of Hamtramck, Mich., thanked EPC World Outreach for holding its Summer Mission Jam in the southeastern Michigan city.

“Thank you for making Hamtramck a destination again this year for your Team Summer Jam!,” the post reads. “We enjoy working with you on keeping our city ‘Klean’ and beautiful!”

Surrounded by the city of Detroit, Hamtramck has a significant Bangladeshi, Yemeni, and Bengali population. The city made national news in 2015 when residents elected the first Muslim-majority city council in the country.

“We are thankful for our relationships with the people and leaders of Hamtramck,” said Phil Linton, World Outreach Director. “Our Summer Mission Jam provides an opportunity for high school students to make Muslim friends and talk with them about Jesus without traveling halfway around the world. Hamtramck is a great setting for our students to ‘find somewhere different to love your neighbor,’ as we like to say.”

Students from three EPC churches took part in this year’s event, held July 8-13. Participants spent the afternoon each day serving Hamtramck residents by picking up trash, cleaning yards, and leading outreach games and activities in a local park. In the evenings, students and leaders gathered for worship services in which they were challenged to reimagine the cost of following Christ.

Will, a rising 11th grader from Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church in Signal Mountain, Tenn., said his favorite part of the experience was “the opportunity to show God’s love to the people around us and just to be able to serve.”

The 2020 Summer Mission Jam is scheduled for July 20-25 in Fremont, Calif. For more information, see

Student mission conferences offer unique worldview experiences


High school and college-aged students—as well as their leaders—have multiple opportunities in the coming months to be encouraged, equipped, and challenged to dig deeper into the God’s Word and His heart for the nations. For more information about any of these conferences, contact Cassie Shultz, EPC World Outreach Church Liaison, at or 407-930-4314.

EPC Summer Mission Jam
June 24-29, 2019—Fremont, Calif.
July 8-13, 2019—Hamtramck, Mich.

SummerMissionJam2019Summer Mission Jam is a mission and outreach equipping conference for high school groups. Participants will work alongside EPC partner churches to minister to Muslim peoples in these two cities. Registration is $480 and includes lodging and meals (except dinner on Monday).

A minimum of 80 registered students is required by November 15 in order to host this event; students, leaders, or youth groups interested can complete a brief online survey to learn more and indicate interest in either the California or Michigan event.

December 27-31, 2018—St. Louis, Mo.

Urbana2018Held every third December, Urbana is a global mission conference that creates a sacred space for college students to learn more about missions and discern God’s call for their life. Among the speakers is the EPC’s own Beth Paz, Director of High School Ministry for First Presbyterian Church in Fresno, Calif.

Registration is $515 until November 15; $615 after that date; lodging is approximately $125 plus taxes. The EPC Next Generation Ministries Council provides a limited number of $150 scholarships to students interested in attending; go to for details and to apply. Learn more about this potentially life-changing conference at

Cross Conference
January 2-5, 2019—Louisville, Ky.

CrossConference2019Cross Conference is a global missions conference for college students that focuses on reaching the unreached peoples of the world. Registration is $119 until November 30, and $139 until registration closes on December 18, 2018. Lodging is approximately $116 plus taxes. The EPC Next Generation Ministries Council provides a limited number of $40 scholarships to students interested in attending; go to for details and to apply. Learn more about this exciting conference at

In the short video below, David Platt, Pastor-Teacher for McLean Bible Church in McLean, Va., and former President of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, explains why Cross is not just for those who sense a personal call to serve on the mission field.

2017 Leadership Institute: Building a Philosophy of Youth and Family Ministry


GA2017LI-YouthAndFamilyMinistryIn the 2017 Leadership Institute session Building a Philosophy of Youth and Family Ministry, Joey Stewart noted that in Jesus, believers are justified “not only because of His death, but because of His life.”

Stewart is Executive Director of Reformed Youth Ministries (RYM), an EPC strategic partner.


General Assembly Networking Lunches offer more than mid-day meal


2017GAbannerRegOnlineNetworking Lunches at the EPC 37th General Assembly provide opportunity for connecting with others with similar ministry interests on June 21-23 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. For more information, including descriptions and meeting locations, see

Wednesday, June 21

  • Church Planting (hosted by the EPC Church Planting Team)
  • For the Church, For the Generations (hosted by Reformed Youth Ministries)
  • How to Build a Contagious Church Culture (hosted by Vanderbloemen Search Group)
  • How to Make Progress on Leadership Challenges (hosted by PastorServe)
  • Joy Together in Ministry and Mission (hosted by Serge)
  • Jump-Starting Church Revitalization (hosted by the EPC GO Center)
  • Presbyterians Pro-Life (hosted by Presbyterians Pro-Life)
  • What Is the Westminster Confession? (hosted by the Westminster Society)
  • Who Is My Neighbor? (hosted by the EPC Women’s Resource Council)
  • World Outreach Global Worker Meet-and-Greet (hosted by EPC World Outreach)
  • Young Ministers in the EPC (hosted by the EPC Young Ministers Network)

Thursday, June 22

  • Building a Culture of Generosity (hosted by the EPC Foundation)
  • Conflict Management: What Seminary Never Taught You (hosted by Pastor-In-Residence Ministries)
  • EPC Benefits “Lunch and Learn: Retirement Plan Changes” (hosted by EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.)
  • International Theological Education Network (hosted by EPC World Outreach)
  • Reaching Millennials (hosted by the EPC GO Center)
  • Reaching the Next Generation of College Students for Christ (hosted by the Coalition for Christian Outreach)
  • Understanding Gender Dysphoria and the Transgender Experience (hosted by OnebyOne)
  • Who Will Lead After You? A Guide to Effective Succession Planning (hosted by Vanderbloemen Search Group)
  • Women Teaching Elders and Candidates (hosted by the EPC Office of the General Assembly)
  • World Outreach Needs Business Professionals (hosted by EPC World Outreach)

Friday, June 23

  • Clerks of Session (hosted by the EPC Presbytery of the Pacific)
  • Coaching Church Revitalization (hosted by the EPC GO Center)
  • Come to The Well: Women’s Ministries Resources (hosted by the EPC Women’s Resource Council)
  • Engaging Muslim Communities for Christ Through Literacy (hosted by Literacy and Evangelism International)
  • EPC Benefits “Lunch and Learn: Retirement Plan Changes” (hosted by EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.)
  • Growing Your Church Through Small Groups (hosted by Hope Church, Richmond, Va.)
  • How to Lead Your Team to Fulfill Your Church’s Vision (hosted by Vanderbloemen Search Group)
  • Leaders of Small Churches (hosted by the EPC Z–4:10 Network)
  • Sending Our EPC Sons and Daughters (hosted by EPC World Outreach)

CCO Jubilee Conference available at no cost for EPC leaders


One of the EPC’s strategies for reaching and building Next Generation leaders is through its strategic partnership with Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO). Through that partnership, any EPC leader may attend CCO’s 2017 Jubilee Conference at no cost for registration. Jubilee will be held February 17-19 at the Westin Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, Pa. The annual event attracts more than 3,000 attendees each year.

For more than 40 years, the Jubilee Conference has helped college students talk, learn, think, and dream about the public implications of their personal transformation. And it’s not just for those pursuing a career in ministry—Jubilee is designed for all students to help them understand how to be involved faithfully in whatever discipline they choose—both in college and the years to come.

The three-day conference normally costs approximately $300 per person. In addition to the waived registration fee, EPC leaders are offered a discounted rate at the Omni William Penn Hotel. Two meals also will be provided free of charge—Saturday lunch and Saturday dinner.

Free registration is available to any EPC pastor, elder, church or presbytery staff member, or other leader as a ministry of the EPC Student and College Ministries (SCM) Committee. One of the committee’s primary goals is to further develop EPC’s partnership with CCO to help growing numbers of EPC churches develop or improve their ministry to college students and millennials.

To register, go to the Jubilee Partners page at For more information, see the CCO website at or contact Elliott Simko, CCO Partnership Coordinator, at

EPC ministry committees discuss potential of Next Generation Council



The EPC Student and College Ministries Committee and the Christian Education and Communications Committee are holding joint meetings October 28-29 in Orlando to begin discussions about a future Next Generation Ministry Council. The 2016 General Assembly approved a proposal from the National Leadership Team that the two permanent committees combine to form the new council to take effect July 1, 2017.

Discussion centered on developing appropriate Next Generation Ministry vision, mission, strategy, and structures aligned with the strategic initiatives of the General Assembly. The strategic initiatives are global movement, church planting, church revitalization, and effective biblical leadership.

EPC-CCO: partnering for Kingdom growth


Several EPC leaders joined more than 4,000 college students and young adults at the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO)’s 2016 Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh.

Jubilee3-CCOThe EPC is moving closer to a full strategic relationship with the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), a college campus ministry that has been successfully reaching the next generation for Jesus Christ for more than 40 years. Several EPC leaders attended CCO’s annual Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh, February 19-21. More than 4,000 college students and young adults gathered at Jubilee for worship, inspiration, fellowship, and equipping “to serve Jesus Christ with their entire lives.”

Attending were Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah, Associate Executive Bill Enns, Student and College Ministries Coordinator Susan Holland, Committee on Administration member Dean Weaver, and Student and College Ministries Committee (SCM) members Elliott Simko and David DeBruler, who serves as SCM chair. In addition, Rufus Smith, Pastor of the EPC’s Hope Presbyterian Church in Cordova, Tenn., was the plenary speaker for the Saturday evening worship service.

The EPC General Assembly approved a partnership with CCO in 2007, but Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah notes that it was largely “on paper only.”

“We did not have many churches then,” he said. “Plus CCO was very focused in one geographic area—the Northeast U.S.—in which we had few churches. Where we are with CCO in 2016 is a testament to Susan Holland’s outstanding leadership as Coordinator of the EPC’s Student and College Ministries.”

At present, CCO is active on 116 college campuses extending from New Jersey to Indiana, with a high concentration in the greater Pittsburgh area. About 25 EPC churches in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio have ministry connections with CCO.

Vince Burens, CCO President, said CCO is ready to expand its geographic reach, but will only work in a college community in partnership with a local church. “We are a parachurch organization that does campus ministry with the local church,” he stressed. With more than 580 churches, the EPC has churches scattered across the country that could envision a partnership with CCO as a great way to reach into the college students in their community.


Susan Holland, EPC Coordinator of Student and College Ministries

“I am really excited,” Holland said. “I have prayed for a long time about how the EPC can better reach college students across the country, and CCO has been doing exactly what my vision has been. I am thrilled to be expanding our partnership.”

Jeremiah said that Holland has been “patient and persistent across the years as she has waited on the Lord’s timing for the relationship to blossom into a substantive Kingdom opportunity for both the EPC and CCO.” Simko and DeBruler have played important roles in nurturing this relationship as well, and the SCM Committee will take the lead in contacting churches that may want to pursue a partnership with CCO.

The 2015 General Assembly approved “reaching the next generation for Jesus Christ” as the focus for the 2017 General Assembly in Sacramento, California. “I’m very confident the Lord will provide us some exciting success stories we can celebrate in 2017 as our churches take advantage of this Kingdom opportunity,” Jeremiah said.

Reformed Youth Ministry offers leader training; scholarships available



RYMlogoEPC’s strategic equipping partner Reformed Youth Ministries (RYM) is holding its annual Youth Leader Training conference January 25-29 in Nashville, Tenn. The conference provides biblical training in theology and philosophy of ministry, small group interaction, mutual encouragement, edification, and networking for those who minister to junior and senior high school students. You do not have to be ordained or full-time church staff to attend, and scholarships are available.

Featured speakers include Richie Sessions, RUF Campus Minister at Vanderbilt University in Nashville; and Walt Mueller, Founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding in Elizabethtown, Pa.

The partnership with RYM is part of the EPC’s strategic initiatives for both leadership development and church revitalization. To help those churches that may not have the financial resources to send their leaders, the Student and College Ministries Committee is offering nine need-based scholarships of $400 each for student ministry workers to attend.

The normal conference cost is $375 per person, and includes tuition, training materials, lodging, and food (except for dinner on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday). EPC leaders in attendance will gather for one of these meals; watch for details soon.

To apply for a scholarship, contact Susan Holland, EPC Student & College Ministries Coordinator, at Please provide your contact information, name of the church where you serve, and a brief statement indicating how a scholarship would help you attend the conference. Scholarships are limited to leaders serving in EPC churches and ministries. The deadline to apply is January 15.

The scholarships are a way to extend this training opportunity and establish momentum within EPC student ministry workers and RYM for years to come.

For more information about the conference visit

Scholarships, free meal available at Urbana 15


Urbana15The EPC is offering several ways for young adults (age 17-29) to participate in Urbana 15, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s missions conference. Held every three years, more than 16,000 participants make Urbana the largest conference of its kind in the world. This year’s event is December 27-31 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Featured speakers include Francis Chan, David Platt, Evelyne Reisacher, and other noted missiologists.

For those attending, World Outreach is hosting a free meal to facilitate connections with other EPC college students and young adults. In addition, WO staff will be available to answer questions about EPC mission opportunities. For more information, contact Shawn Stewart at or 828-273-2009.

For those who would like to help a student attend, EPC Student and College Ministries has set up a fund to provide partial scholarships. For more information, see

Our hope is that all EPC young adults who have a heart for missions are able to experience this life-changing event. However, we are only able to give financial assistance if churches and individuals contribute to our scholarship fund. To help make an impact in the life of a young adult:

  1. Go to
  2. Click the “Donate Today” button
  3. Select “Student and College Ministries”
  4. Select “College Conference Scholarships”

At Urbana, participants can connect with fellow believers from around the world who have real experience working and serving in amazing places. They have seen both beauty and brokenness, and will share insights that are hard to find anywhere else. Urbana is an unmatched opportunity for young adults to discern how God may be leading them, connect with others asking the same question, and speak with some of the hundreds of attending missionaries. Hundreds of today’s missionaries and church leaders point to their Urbana experience as pivotal in their decision to serve in full or part-time ministry. For more information, go to

Help spread the word to EPC college students and young adults (age 17-29) about this unique opportunity!

College Ministries online book study “College Ministry from Scratch” begins February 9


College Ministry from ScratchThe EPC College Ministries 2015 online book study, featuring College Ministry from Scratch by Chuck Bomar, kicks off the week of February 9 and runs through the week of March 30. The study will be facilitated by Dan Weidman, longtime youth pastor, college ministry leader, senior pastor, and former EPC Student Ministries Director.

Participants will read the book in community with other leaders, and respond to weekly discussion questions on the EPC College Ministry “Sustainable Youth Ministry” Facebook group page.

Participants will read the book in community with other leaders and respond to weekly discussion questions on the EPC College Ministry “College Ministry from Scratch” Facebook group page. We will read all of Section One (Chapters 1-6) and portions of Section Two (Chapters 7-18) as selected by participants, based on the ministry needs of those in the study. 

You should take this course if you have college-age students in your church. If you’re not sure what they need or how to get something started, this is a perfect place to begin. The book focuses on church-based ministry, and is a step-by-step guide to starting from day one. You will learn how to set priorities based on the long-term needs of college-age people, as well as focus on the day-to-day aspects of ministry.                                                                                        

For more Information, click here to download the syllabus.

Student Ministries online book study “Sustainable Youth Ministry” begins February 2


Sustainable Youth MinistryThe EPC Student Ministries 2015 online book study, featuring Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries, kicks off the week of February 2 and runs through the week of March 23. The study will be facilitated by Mark Steimer, Middle School Pastor at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tenn., and an EPC teaching elder.

Participants will read the book in community with other leaders, and respond to weekly discussion questions on the EPC Student Ministries “Sustainable Youth Ministry” Facebook group page.

You should take this course if you are a:

Youth Leader
If you are sold on the idea of building a youth ministry that will be stronger years after you are gone than it is today, this study is well worth your investment. We will study and discuss ideas for developing or re-developing a sustainable vision, and learn ways to communicate the vision to the larger church.

Senior Pastor
No one will more strongly influence the building of sustainable youth ministry. You are uniquely positioned to help your church reach the next generation in a deliberate and lasting way. This study also is a great a resource for developing a picture of what is reasonable to expect from your Student Ministry staff.

Search Committee
The key advice from this study is “Don’t hurry and don’t settle.” The people you hire will do what they like to do, so hire people who like to do the things the job requires. Therefore, you should discuss vision before you ever announce a job opening.

Youth Elder
You will learn and discuss ideas for creating an intentional process for maximizing the possibility that younger, inexperienced staff can succeed, thrive, and receive training to become effective leaders—to the next generation as well as the larger church.

For more Information, click here to download the syllabus.

Student and College Ministries online book studies offer ministry helps, ideas


All EPC student and college ministry leaders, pastors, elders, and search committee members are invited to participate in two online book studies beginning in February 2015. Each study will be led by members of the Student and College Ministries Committee and last six to eight weeks. Discussion questions will be posted in a Facebook group, and conference calls will be available for further discussion and sharing of ideas in community with other EPC leaders.

Sustainable Youth Ministry:
Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn’t Last and What Your Church Can Do About It
by Mark DeVries
Facilitated by Mark Steimer and Susan Holland


In this study, we will read about and discuss practical tools and structures that youth pastors, senior pastors, and other church leaders need in order to lay a strong foundation for youth ministry so that it isn’t built on a person or the latest, greatest student ministry trend. Topics of discussion include:

  • Equipping youth pastors to build a strong volunteer team
  • Creative solutions for youth pastors
  • Road maps for navigating church politics
  • Help for senior pastors and search committees to create a realistic job description for a youth pastor
  • Tips for making wise hiring decisions

This study is valuable for youth leaders and for pastors, elders, and search committee members who make decisions concerning the direction of youth ministry in their congregation. To join the study or for more information, see the Facebook group EPC Student Ministries Book Study – Sustainable Youth Ministry


College Ministry from Scratch:
A Practical Guide to Start and Sustain a Successful College Ministry
by Chuck Bomar
Facilitated by Dan Weidman and Susan Holland


In this study, we will read and discuss simple tips and practical ideas for anyone looking to start a ministry for (and to) college-aged people in their congregation. This book is easy to digest and offers insights on several practical topics, including:

  • Laying the Foundation for a College Ministry
  • Developing a Job Description
  • Overview of College-Age Issues
  • The often intimidating task of initiating meetings with students
  • A list of questions to ask when having coffee with a student
  • Leading a small group or Sunday school class
  • Leading retreats and mission trips

Organized by topic, it is sure to help any size church begin to meet the needs of those age 18-22. To participate or for more information, join the Facebook group EPC College Ministry Book Study – College Ministry from Scratch

Generational Differences: Problem or Potential? – Part 2


Generational differences are common in the workplace, home and churches. Leaders that effectively address these differences begin the process with understanding; realizing that the differences stem from each generation having very different experiences in life and living in a different world.

Hayne Shaw, in his book Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places they Come Apart, outlines five steps for leading groups through generational differences:

  1. Acknowledge
    Talking about generational differences by bringing differences and frustration out in the open, where they can be resolved. Ideally, all generations should have a voice in this conversation. Avoid “managing” separate situations by making new policies at this point. Place emphasis on talking and not resolving.
  2. Appreciate
    Placing focus on appreciation for other generations will steer the conversation away from complaints and finger pointing. Introduce common need early in the discussion and focus on the “why” instead of the “what,” of how attaining that common need may differ. Those leading may need to redirect a group numerous times, before they get the hang of this new way of thinking. Until people understand why other generations work differently, some will remain irritated and the group will pull apart. For example, one common need is communication among church staff. Younger workers may tend to email or instant message coworkers and listen to music on headphones while on the computer. Older workers may prefer talking over their cubicles or attending meetings. However, when asked “why,” both groups respond that they are trying to be efficient and communicate well. The idea is to appreciate common goals, while acknowledging the different approaches; allowing further discussion.
  3. Flex
    Agree on how to accommodate different approaches. Consider training; the four generations prefer to learn differently. Some organizations have argued over classroom verses online training for years. Don’t argue – flex. Offer both and let people choose. The common need is not how people learn, but what they learn. The key is separating preferences from needs. Clearly not everything is flexible, but communication is always essential.
  4. Leverage
    Maximize the strengths of each generation. Leveraging differences so that one person’s (group’s) strength makes up for another’s weakness. It is easy to miss strengths and focus on irritations; effective leadership brings out the positive in what others think are negatives. Leveraging the strength of each generation builds a team.
  5. Resolve
    Determine which option will yield the best results (when flexing isn’t enough). Discuss how the group will move forward in those situations where everyone’s preferences cannot be accommodated. Often issues are resolved through a combination of flex-resolve. For instance, a youth pastor may allow students to use their smart phones to access bible apps, but request that they not text or play games during youth group.

Generationally, we will always feel more at home in our own “country.” However, intentional conversations will help members from all four generations learn about the other “countries.” Such understanding is essential to the revitalization and growth of church.

Generational Differences: Problem or Potential? – Part 1


Today, it is common to see generational differences popping up in businesses, organizations, and families. In any one church, we have five generations in the general population and four generations working and worshiping together. In a changing and confusing world, believers often turn to the church for comfort and guidance; some people come to church looking for the one thing in their lives that is not changing. Therefore, the differences in cultural styles and preferences of these very different generations inevitably cause friction points; especially if there is a perceived loss, change or absence of what brings comfort or guidance. Experts on generational relations agree, it takes intentionality and purposeful work for organizations to create more productive teams, reduce turnover, and retain top talent. It is no different in the church, intentional conversation and planning is needed to address the issues of church decline and disciplining the next generation in a changing world.

Generally, there are four approaches to addressing the generational differences: ignore the differences; “fix” the other group; cut a deal; or lead.   Ignoring is the “easiest” approach; it takes the form of those in power just not addressing the issue or isolating the smaller group. The status quo is maintained and the group without power feels marginalized and unheard, until they drift away. “Fixing” the other group happens when the group is too large to ignore and often involves the older generation creating a program that addresses the perceived “broken” areas of the younger generation. Cutting a deal happens when changes are made to try and attract the younger generation in response to larger numbers of the younger group becoming more vocal or leaving. Inevitably, one or more of the generations will be upset by the changes or lack thereof. Ignoring, fixing and cutting a deal all involve management – managers see a problem, come up with a solution and announce the decision. Leadership starts with understanding; understanding leaves room for realizing that the differences may have to do with each generation having very different experiences in life and living in a different world.  The most common complaint coming from frustrated people in all four generations is “They don’t get it.” Acknowledging that we will always feel more at home in our own “country” is part of the process. The next steps involve helping lead members from all four generations learn about the other “countries;” acknowledging that each generation (including their own) has both strengths and weaknesses; and recognizing the “sticking points” – places where generations working and living together get “stuck.” These sticking points have the potential to either get a church stuck or help it stick together.

Haydn Shaw, in his book, Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart, addresses these issues, as it relates to the work place. Haydn is a believer and a church planter; he has a heart for bringing to the church his expertise, from over twenty years of consulting on generational differences for Franklin-Covey. The content of this article comes from Haydn’s work. Look for subsequent articles addressing each of the four generations in detail – experiences shaping them, strengths and weaknesses – and ways to turn the 12 “sticking points” from problems to potential.

A MUST READ for Anyone Working with Emerging Adults!


Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood: A Practical Theology for College and Young Adult Ministry

Consider the many life changes that occur from ages 18-20: high school to college; family life to college life to living independently; predetermined set of rules to determining one’s own rules; part-time jobs to a vocation; financial dependence to financial independence; being in family to starting one’s own family.

This stage of life has been marked by a general drift away from the church. Christian scholars generally agree that Christian practices and participation are likely to decline even when beliefs remain intact. So these years are essential for faith and worldview development

In Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood: A Practical Theology for College and Young Adult Ministry, David Setran and Chris Kiesling, both veteran teachers with backgrounds in college and young adult ministry, have researched this stage of life and have written an impressive volume encompassing good research and practical ideas.

Spiritual Formation works to bridge a gap in the existing literature by being a practical theology for college and young adult ministry. It combines both current scholarship with theological vision and provides realistic ministry applications.

The main areas addressed in this book include faith, spiritual formation, identity, church involvement, vocational opportunities, morality, relationships, sexuality and mentoring. In each of these areas Kiesling and Setran present the current cultural landscape and identify the important influences. Using Scripture, theology and other academic disciplines they delineate key postures and practices designed to facilitate spiritual formation and equip those working with and among emerging adults. Although they describe emerging adulthood as a time of formidable challenge they also present it as a time of great opportunity for the church.

The authors contend that part of our calling as adults is to help emerging adults unleash their potential energy into channels through which the kingdom can infiltrate church and world for God. The book attempts to address and answer two key questions. First, what does the gospel bring to these emerging adults in transition? Second, what do emerging adults shaped by this same gospel within these communities offer to the church and their world in the way of truth, healing and hope?

One of the challenges the book addresses stems from the default faith position of many emerging adults called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, a term (presumably) coined by Christian Smith in his book Souls in Transition. It is its own religion that promises personal assistance in making life better while making few demands on emerging adults in terms of identity, lifestyle and purpose. Because of this, the authors contend, many emerging adults are not being formed by Biblical faith into the image of Christ but, instead, are forming a faith that will shape them into their own image of happiness. This ultimately is idolatry – false worship – and a false pathway on which many young adults, both in and outside of the church, find themselves.

One of the central tasks, as the authors see it, is to help emerging adults detect, identify and abandon competing sources of worship. Throughout the book, the authors outline frameworks for spiritual formation in emerging adults. But no quick fixes are presented. Rather, entering into emerging adults’ lives through mentoring and guiding these young adults in their years of experimentation and exploration is the prescription. And in each section the authors call the larger church to stay (or become) involved in emerging adult lives. The church cannot allow itself to become removed from its position of influence in this transitory stage, but must remain steadfastly involved in order that a new generation of adults will own and live their faith in Christ.

If you are involved in college or young adult ministry or know someone who is, buy the book, read it and give it to someone – a parent of young adults, a pastor with a church that has young adults, a college or young adult worker. You will give them a jumpstart in understanding, praying for and ministering to emerging adults.

Written by: Rev. Dan Weidman, Student & College Ministries Committee

New City Church partners with CCO


Why New City Church chooses to partner with the CCO to minister to college students: An interview with the Rev. Dr. Rodger Woodworth

New City Church is a year-and-a-half-old EPC church plant in downtown Pittsburgh. New City Church partners with the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) to reach out to Point Park University students. Rodger Woodworth, the Lead Pastor of New City, served as chair of the EPC’s National Outreach Committee, which is where the partnership between the EPC and the CCO was born.

Why does New City Church choose to partner with the CCO?

We partner with the CCO because it sees itself as a true parachurch organization. The CCO comes alongside the church because, in the words of its President Dan Dupee, it believes “the church is where college students are equipped to live out their faith for the long haul.”

Why is New City Church committed to ministry to college students?

We are committed to ministry to college students because they are the future of the church and the future of God’s missional Kingdom. More specifically, at New City Church we are called to a mission in downtown Pittsburgh, and Point Park University has made a long-term commitment to the flourishing of the downtown neighborhood. By ministering to their students, we join Point Park in seeking that common good.

What has been the benefit of having CCO staff member Michael Thornhill working with you and with students at Point Park University?

We are a congregation committed to a vision of a multi-generational and multi-racial church. We recruited Michael with that vision in mind as he is an African- Cuban American who has the gifts, experience, and personality to minister to all ages. Michael has the ability to cross the divide of race and artistic culture that is unique to Point Park University.

Do congregation members participate in the ministry to students? If yes, how?

As we are a church plant that is a year and a half old and renting space in a restaurant/bar, the congregation’s participation has been limited to Sunday mornings. However, students have been invited to families’ homes for dinner. Millicent, an African American single woman and one of our downtown residents, frequently has students over for pizza and to experience her 24th-floor apartment that looks into PNC Park. She invited several students who were unable to get home to join her for Thanksgiving dinner—from Boston Market as Millicent doesn’t cook.

An atheist friend of Millicent’s joined them for Thanksgiving and while a conversation about faith was taking place around the table, she asked Michael what it meant to love Jesus. Michael shared the gospel and a wonderful discussion followed. I think the honest and inquisitive nature of college students often opens others up to seek and ask questions they would normally not pursue.

Are there parachurch campus ministries on college campuses near you that are not especially interested in connecting students to the local church? How does your congregation draw students into the life of the church?

There are other campus ministries at Point Park, but none have the level of commitment to the church as that of the CCO. We attempt to draw students to New City primarily through the relationships Michael builds. Every first Sunday of the month, we have a simple meal after church and students are invited, whether they attend worship or not. We have them participate in the service as often as possible, and since Point Park is big in the arts—drama, dance, theatre productions—we pray for and celebrate students’ upcoming projects. One young African American student was baptized this past summer, and every Thursday at noon, students, CCO staff, and a few church members do a prayer walk around the downtown campus.

Jubilee 2014 – CCO College Campus Ministry Conference – There’s Still Time to Join


College Students

Each year hundreds of college students convene for a weekend in Pittsburgh for the CCO’s annual Jubilee conference, which is designed to inspire and equip them to live out their Christian faith in every area of their lives. There is still time for college students to register for the conference and explore how God has uniquely equipped each student for His purposes, in all areas of their life.

CCO Partnership Track

Jubilee is also for college ministry and church leaders already partnering with CCO or interested in exploring a partnership. Jubilee Partner is a special track during Jubilee 2014 designed especially to engage those leaders with a desire to reach college students with the life-changing message of the Gospel. The theme of Jubilee Partner 2014 is 360 Degrees of Transformation, and in addition to the regular Jubilee sessions, you will have opportunities to hear from CCO President Dan Dupee and a panel of college seniors.

EPC Breakfast

Please contact CCO Partnership Coordinator Elliott Simko at for further details about a special Saturday morning breakfast meeting at Jubilee exclusively for EPC members and leaders.

Among others, we expect to welcome representatives from the following EPC congregations:

  • First Evangelical Presbyterian Church (Kokomo, IN)
  • Manoa Community Church (Havertown, PA)
  • Memorial Park Church (Allison Park, PA)
  • New City Church (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • North Park Church (Wexford, PA)

When: February 14-16, 2014

Where: The David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. Hotel accommodations are available to you at a special rate at the nearby Omni William Penn.

Cost: Registration for Jubilee Partner is FREE of charge for you and those you choose to invite, but housing is not included. We have negotiated a special price of $99 per night per room for Friday and Saturday (February 14 and 15) at the Omni William Penn. (This is a flat room fee—so if you share a room with others, the price per night decreases accordingly!)

To take advantage of this special rate, when you register for housing, type the word partner in the discount code box for each night you will be staying. Again, this is a flat rate per night for the room (not per person).

Click here to register for Jubilee Partner. (FREE)

Click here to make your hotel reservation.($99 per night per room; don’t forget to enter the discount code partner)

And check out the promo video for Jubilee 2014!

College Ministries Partnership with CCO Campus Ministry


In 2007, College Ministries entered into a partnership agreement with CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach). CCO is a unique campus ministry in that it grew out of a vision to partner with local churches to reach college students for Jesus Christ. They work with churches to reach students on a variety of campuses, from small private schools to large state universities and commuter campuses. They reach out to traditional 18- to 22-year-old students as well as to graduate students and nontraditional students, such as through their international student ministries. Currently CCO is partnering with churches in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington D.C. Several EPC churches are already partnering with CCO. The following is the first in a series of articles featuring these exciting partnerships.

How the CCO helps Memorial Park Church reach local college students: An interview with Lead Pastor, D. Dean Weaver

Memorial Park Church is an Evangelical Presbyterian Church located in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, a northern suburb of Pittsburgh. Memorial Park Church partners with the CCO to reach out to international students at nearby La Roche College. What follows is an interview with D. Dean Weaver, Memorial Park Church’s Lead Pastor.

Why does Memorial Park Church choose to partner with the CCO?

We love the CCO’s love for college students. We share the same desire to see transformation and value their highly relational approach. The CCO is the best fit for Memorial Park—in worldview and practice!

Why is Memorial Park Church committed to ministry to college students?

We are committed to ministry to college students because they are made in the image of God—and this may be the most strategic time in their lives to engage the whole person with the whole gospel.

What has been the benefit of having CCO staff member David Kuehl working with you and with students at La Roche College?

David and his family have become integrated into both the family of Memorial Park and the family of La Roche College, and that has helped to bridge the gap with our college neighbors. David has been a great ambassador for us at La Roche, and we love all the international students that hang out with him at MPC. It makes our community life richer!

Do congregation members participate in the ministry to international students? If yes, how? Of course, students and congregation members spend time together on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings around our worship services, as well as in our members’ homes over the holidays. But the thing I love is watching folks from MPC taking a student “under their wing” to review their resume, coach them on job interviewing, and work alongside them in outreach and mission projects. That is where the transformation occurs—on both sides!

Click here to learn more about Memorial Park Church, and click here to learn more about the CCO’s ministry at La Roche College.

Collision of Spiritual and Technological Trends among Millennials


Online Faith Practices, Fact-Checking Sermons and Digital Donations

Most would agree that today’s Millennials (18-29 year olds) are the most technologically savvy generation to date. We are also discovering that their faith experience and practice is also unique. So what happens when these two worlds collide?

For centuries the church has taught on practices such as prayer, Scripture reading, Sabbath observance, and gathering for Sunday worship. The daily practices of Millennials include social media, finding answers to questions by “Googling it,” scrolling thorough Facebook, Instagram and Twitter during leisure time, and texting conversations and information via smart phones. Are these ancient observances and contemporary practices mutually exclusive or potentially compatible at certain juncture points?

Some interesting ideas are explored by the Barna Group as a result of their latest study – What happens when the technological trends and spiritual characteristics collide? A few of these ideas can be helpful to churches as they consider ways to reach and engage Millennials. The study brought three ideas to the surface: Faith in Real Time, Fact Checking Sermons and Digital Donations.

“Faith in Real Time”

Millennials are digital natives; therefore, church leaders are safe to assume that this fact will overlap into their realm of faith. Here are just a few examples of their online faith practices:

  • Scripture – 70% of practicing Christian Millennials read Scripture on a screen. The use of YouVersion (a free Bible phone app) is an escalating trend and is one of the top Christian websites today. One-third of all Millennials read sacred Scripture online or on their phone.
  • Church Websites – 56% of practicing Christian Millennials use an online search to scope out a church – checking it out from a distance, as a prerequisite for committing to show up in person. One-third of all Millennials have searched for a church, temple or synagogue online.
  • Online Searches for Questions – 59% of practicing Christian Millennials search for spiritual content online. The search bar is as readily used by Millennials when they are curious about a restaurant, as it might be for issues of faith. This creates an interesting opportunity for churches, since 30% of all Millennials (including non-practicing Christians) take to the internet looking for spiritual content.
  • Online Videos – 54% of practicing Christian Millennials and 34% of all Millennials view videos pertaining to faith.

“Fact Checking Sermons”

Millennials view life as interactive. One way they make their faith interactive is by bringing their devices to church and making use of them. They forage in multiple digital places at any given time, including – texting, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterist, Wikipedia, news feeds and blogs. 38% of practicing Christian Millennials say they do not take teaching at face-value and will “fact-check” to verify the content of a faith leader’s talk. 14% of all Millennials indicate they have done the same.

“Digital Donations”

Millennials are generous with their money, but for the most part, the means they use is paperless. The generosity of young adults is significant when looking at giving opportunities such as the Passion 2013 conference, a four-day gathering of 60,000 university students in Atlanta. Attendees donated over $3 million to fund organizations and causes in the freedom fight for the 27 million human slaves around the world. 20% of practicing Christian Millennials indicate they text to donate at least once a month; 10% of all Millennials do likewise. This generation is on the go and digital donations are their preferred means of giving and when presented with a compelling reason, they give generously and often immediately.

Implications of Colliding Trends

Barna concludes their research with the following findings – Millennials desire radical transparency and tend to “exhibit institutional distrust” giving them an “heightened sensitivity for artificiality and false promotion;” they “desire relevant, two-way communication on a wide-range of topics,” and there are numerous opportunities to engage Millennials online with content and in discussion, including those who have left the church.

Note: This article is a summation of the following story: How Technology is Changing Millennial Faith. For more information and graphics, see the reviewed article at

One Formula for Reaching Millennials: Five Adult Fans


For years, many in youth ministry talked about the one to-five ratio of adults-to-students as the optimal goal for everything from retreats to small groups.  Leaders worked hard to build a volunteer youth ministry team that reflected the 1 to 5 ratio.

Today, the world has changed. There are new cultural realities, students experience more brokenness, and many Millennials have unresolved doubts or questions concerning the faith of their parents.

Several years ago Chap Clark, author of Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers, suggested a different approach to address these changes.  He went on to say that “We need to change the definition of youth ministry from just helping kids to grow in their faith to helping them become fully developed believers in Christ in the community of the Church.”  Clark, along with other leaders in youth and parent ministry, like Walt Mueller of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, essentially turn the 1:5 ratio on its head.

“What if we flipped that ratio upside down? What if we said we need five adults pouring into one kid?”  Kara Powell, author of Sticky Faith.

According to Clark, “Every kid needs five adult fans. Any young person who shows any interest in Christ needs a minimum of five people of various ages who will say, ‘I’m going to love that kid until they are fully walking as an adult member of this congregation.’”

Now the obvious reaction of leaders is going to be, “I’m having a hard enough time recruiting one small group leader for five kids, and now you want me to round up five leaders for every single kid?” Kara Powell, author of Sticky Faith.  But the good news is these adults are not all youth leaders.

Relationship is the key element.  Among twentysomethings who remain active in their faith beyond high school 59% report having a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church, according to a Barna study.  Furthermore, 28% of Millennials who stayed active had an adult mentor at church, other than their pastor.

Churches can really get creative in this 5:1 approach, including the involvement of a variety of adult mentors:  youth leader, small group leader, career mentors, mentors in their hobby, recent college grads, married couples, senior citizens, and prayer partners.  This approach has the potential to bless the young adults, mentors and the congregation as a whole.

Nomads, Prodigals and Exiles in our Midst


Taking a Closer Look at Once Church-Going Millennial

Thankfully many young adults have a growing faith and a strong connection with their church.  However, there is a growing trend that many of us have observed and recent polls by Gallop, UC-Berkley and Duke University and Barna confirm:  a growing number of Millennials (age 18-29 years old) who once attended church are either claiming no religious affiliation, dropping out of regular church attendance or are attending less regularly.

Who are these young adults in our midst and how do we best care for them, as they struggle with their faith and consequently their relationship to the church?  One way is to gain a bit more insight into the various paths these young adults took to arrive at the point where their faith and/or church are no longer a priority.

Author, David Kinnaman, in his book You Lost Me,  considered the answers given by these once church-going Millennials and deduced that they generally travelled along one of three spiritual journeys.  The three travelers are – nomads, prodigals and exiles.

Nomads – Consider themselves Christians, but have trouble identifying with a church or a particular “brand” of Christianity.  They “love Jesus, but not the church;” they appear to be wanderers, but claim they retain their faith.

Prodigals – Have lost their faith and are fairly certain they will never return to the Christian faith. They often express having some kind of intellectual change or emotional injury, leading to their long-term dismissal of the Christian faith.

Exiles – They chose to remain in the institutional church; however, they have a tough time finding a place in the church setting.  They struggle to find a way to connect their everyday life with their faith and the church.

Think about the young adults in your life who you haven’t seen at church for a while.  What path may have led them to drift away from the church?  Do you think they might be a Nomad, Prodigal or Exile?

If you have someone in mind, instead of an invitation to a church event, meet them for coffee sometime soon.  Consider asking a few open ended questions concerning:  their faith, Jesus, the church, intellectual concerns, emotional injuries, or connecting faith with their passions, career and relationships.  This journey will likely take more than one cup of coffee or one visit to the coffee house.  In following the call to “Go into all the World” we may end up venturing into the world of Nomads, Prodigals and Exiles.

Getting-To-Know Student and College Ministries Leaders


The Student and College Ministries Committee would like to connect with ministry leaders from every EPC church.  Members join the committee with a sincere desire to serve those who are called by God to reach and disciple the next generation.  We’ve created two surveys, just to get the conversation started with leaders (staff, volunteer, full-time and part-time).

The first is short and sweet – Just a Get-to-Know you and your ministry survey.  Please take a few minutes to introduce yourself to our committee members at

Your thoughts and ideas are the driving force behind the direction the committee will take in the future.  Therefore, we’d like to dig a little deeper and hear your perspective on the important issue of how to effectively disciple the next generation of young adults, in the midst of the significant challenges they face.  If you have a few more minutes, please let us know your thoughts at

Thank you for your time; your input is essential and greatly appreciated.

SURVEY: How Do We Foster Sustainable Faith in Young Adults


Take part in the survey by June 2013 at

Most of us in ministry have heard the statistics and read the articles. The stats vary, but the numbers are still notable, anywhere from 60-75% of Christian young people leave the church after high school.

In his book Revolution (2007), George Barna, indicated that if current trends in the belief systems and practices of the younger generation continue, in ten years, church attendance will be half the size it is today. According to pollsters, for the generation now coming of age, they believe it’s more than the usual “driver’s license to marriage license” joy ride.

Barna Research president David Kinnaman, after a five-year-study, determined that most church leaders are unequipped to deal with this “new normal.” According to Kinnaman, the two most common responses are: ignoring the situation, hoping young adults will return when they are older and have children or building the church on the preference of young people, excluding older members. Both responses miss the mark.

So the question becomes, as church leaders, how do we beat the odds? What is God revealing to His churches in the EPC?

The Student & College Ministries Committee is asking EPC church leaders to take a survey entitled, How Do We Foster Sustainable Faith in Young Adults? We believe that there is great merit in sharing our ideas, as God reveals His plan for our young people in our individual churches and in the EPC.

Your input is vital! We hope to accumulate the thoughts and ideas of pastors, ruling elders, parents, youth leaders, college ministry leaders, volunteers, staff and anyone concerned about young people. Please take the time to share your thoughts in the survey here, by August 30, 2013.