“We are part of an ancient work of God. The Kingdom of God was here way before us, and it will be here way after us. In NextGen ministries, I love that we’re innovative and creative, but I just want to remind you, we don’t start anything, we don’t end anything; it’s just our turn to be faithful to point Gen Z to the mighty acts of God,” Shane Pruitt, National Next Gen director for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), told attendees of the 2022 Conclave conference.
Conclave is designed to offer training and networking opportunities for youth, family and NextGen ministers from around the state. Participants heard from speakers such as Pruitt about how to engage a generation of devoted disciples. This year, Conclave also launched a pastor’s track for senior pastors to network with and learn from other pastors who are leading churches that focus on NextGen ministry. Cory Liebrum, youth discipleship specialist for Texas Baptists and Conclave’s coordinator, recruited renowned speakers to ensure that conference participants had access to high-quality resources and training.
Equipping the next generation
During his session, Pruitt shared eight things leaders needed to know about reaching, discipling and mobilizing Gen Z. He said that, above all else, this generation is looking for hope and truth, something the gospel can provide them. He reminded them to focus on building authentic relationships and raising up Gen Z leaders who can reach their peers most effectively.
The conference, which took place Oct. 10-13 at First Baptist Church in San Antonio, also featured breakout sessions led by a variety of ministers and specialists. These sessions gave attendees the opportunity to explore in-depth topics designed to further their ministries.
Breakout sessions covered topics such as leadership, discipleship and ministry collaboration. In a workshop led by Abram Haley, pastor of Student Ministry at Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugar Land, participants learned about “The Art of Developing Student Leaders.”
Haley spoke about the importance of student leadership, explaining that as students assume more responsibility, they will become more impassioned and invested in the church and the church will become more invested in them. He encouraged against a mindset of waiting until students became adults to grow them into leaders, explaining that students who are believers are already active members of the body of Christ and need to be treated as such.
“The minute they graduate high school isn’t when they become a believer or the church. When they commit their life to Christ, they are the church. And so it is our job, as the church, to disciple them,” Haley said.
Another breakout session, led by Jonathan Williams, founder of Gospel Family Ministries, entitled “Intergenerational not Multigenerational,” focused on fostering connections across generational lines. He explained that putting an emphasis on intergenerational church ministry allows the church to have a shared vision across all age groups and gives older generations the opportunity to leave a legacy of faith as they disciple and mentor younger generations. Williams emphasized that intergenerational ministry can also better equip parents to disciple their children at home.
“The Great Commission was given to the church, and yet we see throughout scripture that it starts at the home,” he said.
In the Tuesday night main session, Robert Purvey challenged ministry leaders to be equippers of the parents in their churches.
“I believe that if you program for kids and forget the parents, then you’ve limited discipleship and dismissed the biggest disciple-maker,” he said. “If we’re going to be effective leaders, our goal has to be not just being concerned with the kids we serve; we have to be concerned about the parents as well.”
Conclave NextGen 2023 will take place Oct. 2-3 at Dallas Baptist University. Learn more at txb.org/conclave.