On June 16, the Center for Black Church Studies (BCS) offers a double header event aimed to empower black youth. Leaders from across the country will attend the Great Awakening to learn strategies on how to engage this special population and more than 100 teen girls are registered for The Becoming Conference to address issues that are important to them.
“The need to focus on black youth is personal to me,” says Rev. Kermit Moss, interim director for the Center for Black Church Studies at Princeton Seminary. Since emerging adulthood, he has been involved in youth ministry. Most recently, Moss served as the senior pastor of Manhattan Bible Church in New York where youth ministry under his leadership reached more than 300 mostly Latino and African-American boys and girls weekly.
“The need to focus on black youth is personal to me.”
“If you look at the pews in most black churches, they (black youth) are not there,” says Moss. “A study that surveyed black youth in the Midwestern United States found that teens were put off by their clergy, felt the programming was unappealing and viewed the church as irrelevant.”
Moss attributed his recent church’s success in reaching youth to their commitment to making young people a priority and integrating them into just about every ministry. Such strategies will be shared with youth leaders at the Great Awakening. The event will demonstrate how to create an environment that attracts and inspires black youth to participate in ministry. These core goals of helping black churches become aware of the essential elements necessary to serve black youth today is what inspired the conference name.
“Through the Great Awakening, we want church leaders to consider new practices to engage youth,” says Moss. “Church leadership must invest, support and speak to the needs of their younger congregants.”
“The Becoming conference is effective because teen girls have planned and designed the program,” says Rev. Khristi L. Adams, program administrator at the BCS. From delivering the keynote address to hosting, the teen girls are intentional about leading and interacting with their peers.
The name of the conference acknowledges the girls’ maturation process and hopeful expectation as they shape their future identity. See the video clip below for more information about The Becoming Conference.
BCS aims to be a core resource for the black churches throughout the nation by providing educational opportunities and building community. For more information, visit the BCS website.