(Photo: Tyler Bissmeyer)
The Academy of Preachers, an organization that supports young people with a call to ministry, has joined the ongoing effort to fight the trend of young people leaving the church.
It recently named six Young Preachers to its 2012 Gospel Catalyst Network, which was established to support the AoP's mission to identify and inspire young people in their call to Gospel preaching. It is comprised of rising, motivated leaders who have preached at the Academy's National Festival of Young Preachers.
"The Church cannot be what God wants it to be unless young people are engaged and active and their voices heard, their visions understood and their leadership followed. Young people have enormous gifts and talents that any movement needs," Dwight Moody, founder and president of AoP, told The Christian Post.
The six Gospel Catalysts for this year have been appointed to a one-year term and will work in different parts of the U.S. where they are in school or seminary. Their job is to be a field representative for the organization and seek out speaking opportunities.
The term "Gospel Catalyst" was coined by Moody. "It captures the essence of the AoP and our desire to fan the Gospel flame among a new generation of Young Preachers," he explained.
The AoP hosts festivals throughout the U.S. for young people to speak at and learn more about their call to work in ministry. Moody said that through those festivals he has discovered some trends in how young people view a call to ministry. Not everyone is looking to become a preacher.
Most of the big trends and interests lie in "community organizing, social justice, church planting, youth work, and mission work. These are the things young people across the board say they want to do when they testify to a call to ministry," Moody said.
He also commented that another trend he has watched develop is young people's "desperate desire to find their own voice and have an opportunity to speak." They tell him over and over that they never get a chance to speak because many churches feel they are too young.
And young people don't want to wait until they are older, Moody told CP. They want to start practicing now. "We spend a lot of our time with young people talking about how they can create their own platforms in cyberspace and in their local community," he said.
But while there may be a passion from young people to preach, many have told Moody that they feel isolated and misunderstood. Oftentimes they have little support from their family or their university.
Kadri Webb, one of the young preachers, said in a released statement: "One of the loudest complaints of the up-and-coming generation of preachers is that there is a lack of connection between us and those who have gone before us."
But through various AoP festivals they are able to meet others that share their passion, and gain mentors and encouragement from those who have been in ministry for many years.
Lead Gospel Catalyst Wyndee Holbrook, stated, "A long-term pastor and mentor once told me, 'Your job in ministry is to give your job away. Constantly be about the business of making ministers of those around you.'"
"In this case, we are substituting 'Catalysts' for 'ministers,' and we are working to further the Gospel by inspiring and connecting a new generation of young preachers."