Nurturing the yen for youth ministry

For those who enjoy it, there’s nothing more rewarding than working with young people.

But advances in technology and changing times have led to increasing challenges, for both youths and those who shepherd them in youth ministry. 

Kelly Minter
Kelly Minter

“It’s changed dramatically from when I started 15 years ago,” said Kelly Minter, who currently works with the Florida Conference youth ministries program.

She cited social media, cell phone texting, and other forms of instant communication as one of the biggest cultural shifts shaping today’s teenagers.

“Everybody’s information is in the public domain,” Minter said. “It [youth ministry] is very different to deal with in such an immediate culture.”

To help youth workers, whether volunteers or pastors, the conference is holding a two-day event called “Rooted,” featuring workshops on youth ministry issues ranging from budgeting to dealing with at-risk teenagers. The program is geared mostly toward those who work with teens, but people who work in a combined ministry for both teens and younger children are welcome, Minter said.

The event will be held Sept. 17 and 18 at the Warren Willis Camp, 4990 Picciola Road, Fruitland Park. Youth workers can sign up for one day or two. Fees include meals. The cost is $35 for one day and $80 for two, which includes overnight lodging at the camp. Registrations are due by Sept. 10 and can be accessed at

The idea for the name “Rooted” came from a desire to give youth workers strong roots in their ministries so that they can grow while remaining grounded, Minter said. The event is being developed in partnership with the Youth Ministry Institute (YMI).

The conference has been sponsoring a youth worker training event in the fall for a few years, Minter said. Typically, 40 to 50 people sign up. This year, Florida has seen a surge in new youth workers, all of whom are encouraged to attend the event, along with those who have been in the field for some time. 

Planning Rooted event
A Youth Ministries committee meets to finalize plans for the Rooted event targeting youth workers in September.

In addition to workshops, the event allows youth workers to mingle and share ideas with others from across the state, she said.

“Youth ministry is a weird field,” Minter said. “When you get a bunch of them together who understand that weirdness and love that weirdness, there’s a kind of strength in that.”

Workshops for new youth ministers will include a presentation on program aspects to have in place in the first two years. Other workshops will focus on fundraising and budgeting for expenses, developing curriculum, child protection issues and the different needs of programs for small or large churches.

The training also will include a workshop on teenage recovery, a topic encompassing how to react when a young person is engaged in self-destructive behavior, such as eating disorders, cutting oneself or substance abuse.

YMI also will offer classes for its students, some of which will be open to all Rooted participants. For information, visit or call (407) 341-0855.



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