When you work with teenagers, what works one year doesn’t always work the next. To be effective you must constantly be willing to adjust and change. For some, that much change is exciting, challenging, and enjoyable. To others, it is scary, and difficult, and may even freak them out. At USMB Youth, we never want to find ourselves stuck and unwilling to change. We are always constantly evaluating, preparing, and elevating what needs to be done so we can be more effective in helping youth workers make an impact for the next generation.
For many years our sole focus had been on planning a national youth convention (YOUTHCON) that happened every four years. Then, following the 2019 convention, we began to expand our vision to include a move toward impacting the next generation of leaders. Our leadership team went from the “national youth conference planning team” to “USMB Youth” to better reflect what we felt called to do. This included the addition of a National Youth Worker Network to come alongside youth workers (full, part, and volunteer) to help encourage them between conventions. We also adjusted from the once every four years YOUTHCON to an annual summer camp called ASCENT. Unfortunately, COVID hit and delayed the launch of this new vision. While we have now been able to experience ASCENT on a national scale at ASCENT, like most churches, COVID forced us to evaluate further and adjust yet again.
We believe that a national camp and a youth worker network are great, but maybe not address a bigger need. We have seen leadership turnover in youth and other ministries across the nation and a lack of leaders equipped and ready to serve. So, perhaps the bigger need is finding, nurturing, and equipping the next generation of leaders to serve our churches. There seems to be a national trend toward a leadership shortage in the church across most denominations. We are seeing fewer and fewer people from within our denomination applying for staff and pastoral positions and the majority of our new pastors are from outside of the denomination. Thus, in 2022, we started the Leadership Pipeline to identify leaders, invest in them, and release them to make an impact for the Kingdom. At the same time, we are inviting churches to join in the opportunity to serve and be served by these young leaders by providing internships in a variety of ministry areas. God blessed our first year by providing 9 interns with the initial pilot program. We are looking and praying for even more this coming year. With the launch of the Leadership Pipeline, we recognize that now two of the three ministry areas of USMB Youth are for leaders rather than youth. Our branding no longer matches our mission. We still love and are for teenagers and our focus has shifted slightly to more intentionally come alongside our USMB churches to provide opportunities to further equip and invest in the leaders who are and will be impacting the teenagers and the entire local church body.
With that in mind, the leadership team has made the decision to rebrand from USMB Youth to USMB Next Gen. We feel it better fits what we are about, impacting the next generation of LEADERS and youth. The vision includes youth workers, as well as, those serving in the areas of worship, kids ministry, church planting, missionaries, service organizations, etc. The immediate focus of USMB Next Gen will continue to be on ASCENT, the National Youth Worker Network, and the Leadership Pipeline. The ministries and services don’t change, just our branding. We hope this helps us connect more accurately with youth ministry, post-high school ministries, educational institutes, and the greater church mission.
Starting in January 2023 USMB Youth Will Become USMB NextGen
A new logo will be announced soon as well as some other changes. The next two months will be an adjustment so please bear with us as we launch to this new branding. We will be updating our website, social media, and printed material but in the meantime feel free to still use all the USMBYouth URLs (usmbyouth.com) and usernames (@usmbyouth). And for a while, we will be using both. But by summer 2023 it will just be USMB, NextGen. So stay tuned for more details.