I spent yesterday with a small group of youth leaders, pastors, and Bishop Schnase (the Bishop of the Missouri Annual Conference) discussing the conference role in helping youth ministry. I wasn't quite sure why I was invited as I have very little involvement in youth ministry (other than I used to be a youth leader). One thing I do know is that if the Bishop invites you to something, it's probably best to attend.
The big question of the day was what the Annual Conference can do to help local congregations have outward focused youth ministry. It was a great conversation and I'm looking forward to seeing what might come of the various ideas that got kicked around.
The bigger question in my mind though is what can be done to help all churches be more outward focused. The driving principle is that we fulfill our mission as a church when we interact with people past the edges of our community of faith. This applies to my primary areas of ministry – college & arts. It's one of the reasons I continue to lead the local Adobe User Group even though I'm not working in the marketplace. It's a big reason I spend a lot of time using the student union as my office.
The question can really be shifted to any level and any ministry, and is something we should explore thoroughly. Denominational structures looking at how they support churches, pastors looking at how they support leaders, leaders looking at how they support church members, and church members supporting each other. All asking the question: what can we do to help others (and ourselves) be more outwardly focused?
What are your ideas? What could you do in your current role to help other people engage in ministry focused on those outside of your community of faith?