Reaching a New Generation

One of our Conference priorities is empowering and reaching a new generation of United Methodist Christians. A rising median age of our church indicates that we have much to do to position ourselves to reach our youth.
A huge step forward has been our appointment of Clay Farrington, a Deacon, to oversee our Conference work with youth. Clay is leading us in some exciting ways.

Clay says that Conference Youth Ministry exists for two reasons:

1.     To develop youth ministry leadership – both students and adults
2.     To host excellent student events that strengthen the local church

To those ends, we’re doing a few things…

August 25: Bread & Butter: Youth Ministry Training

A jam packed one-day youth ministry training event. $20 registration fee!. Last year Duffy Robbins was our featured speaker with around 20 breakout sessions covering the gamut of student ministry. This year our featured speaker is Jason Gant from the Church of the Resurrection. The event will be at Trinity UMC in Homewood. This event is perfect for our smaller congregations who want to get back into youth ministry.


The cherished event in Gatlinburg has been reborn. This winter we had more than 500 students and leaders from throughout the North Alabama Conference present. We gleaned a huge number of names of young persons who feel called into ministry. Dr. Thomas Muhomba and the office of Ethnic Ministries partnered with Conference Youth Ministry to help reach a number of ethnic United Methodist youth.

Battle of the Bands

In an ongoing effort to develop student leadership for ministry, this year we will host a youth battle of the bands in Munger Auditorium during Annual Conference. The winning band will lead worship for Bread & Butter and a set during Encounter 2013. Clay says, “If Annual Conference gets a little boring, come on over to Munger and see the future of the North Alabama Conference.”


Clay is doing a remarkable job drawing upon the youth ministry leadership talent we already have in many of our churches. By this Annual Conference each district will have a Youth Leadership Team (DYLT) made up of 2-3 of the best youth workers in the district and 8-12 stand out student leaders (some of whom responded to the call to ministry at Encounter). The DYLT’s will be given a budget from Conference. Districts have been asked to match funds. And the DYLT’s will be charged with planning and implementing a youth ministry event for their district – student led as much as possible.

How well is your congregation doing in reaching and retaining youth? If you want to do more, write Clay!

Will Willimon

P.S. Join me in praying that we will have a productive and invigorating Annual Conference this week. The North Alabama Annual Conference will meet on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College May 31-June 2. 

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