The Adventist Youth Society is a department of the church through which the church works for and through her youth.
"Moses answered, ‘We will go with our young and old, with our sons and daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the Lord’ " (Ex. 10:9, NIV). "These command-ments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates" (Deut. 6:6-8, NIV). "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and purity" (1 Tim. 4:12, NIV).
"We have an army of youth today who can do much if they are properly directed and encouraged. . . . We want them to be blessed of God. We want them to act a part in well-organized plans for helping other youth."—Ellen G. White, in General Conference Bulletin, Jan. 29, 30, 1893, p. 24.
The servant of God called for the establishment of a youth organization in each church and told what kind of organization it should be. "Let there be a company formed somewhat after the order of the Christian Endeavor Society. . . ."—Counsels on Health, p. 537. "Let there be companies organized in every church to do this work."—Ellen G. White, in Signs of the Times, May 29, 1893.
"When the youth give their hearts to God, our responsibility for them does not cease. They must be interested in the Lord’s work, and led to see that He expects them to do something to advance His cause. It is not enough to show how much needs to be done, and to urge the youth to act a part. They must be taught how to labor for the Master. They must be trained, disciplined, drilled, in the best methods of winning souls to Christ. Teach them to try in a quiet, unpretending way to help their young companions. Let different branches of missionary effort be systematically laid out, in which they may take part, and let them be [110 CHURCH MANUAL] given instruction and help. Thus they will learn to work for God."—Gospel Workers, p. 210.
"With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!"—Messages to Young People, p. 196.
While there is to be an active Adventist Youth Society in every church, it is important that the youth program not be isolated from the rest of the church. In addition to their participation in the youth organization, the young people should be integrated into responsible leadership and involvement in the entire church program. There should be young elders, young deacons and deaconesses, et cetera, working with experienced church officers. In all lines of church work the youth should be active. "In order that the work may go forward in all its branches, God calls for youthful vigor, zeal, and courage. He has chosen the youth to aid in the advancement of His cause. To plan with clear mind and execute with courageous hand demands fresh, uncrippled energies. Young men and women are invited to give God the strength of their youth, that through the exercise of their powers, through keen thought and vigorous action, they may bring glory to Him and salvation to their fellow-men."—Gospel Workers, p. 67.
Mission Statement—The primary focus of youth ministry is the salvation of youth through Jesus Christ. We understand youth ministry to be that work of the church that is conducted for, with, and by young people.* Our task is to:
1. Lead youth to understand their individual worth and to discover and develop their spiritual gifts and abilities.
2. Equip and empower youth for a life of service with God’s church and the community.
3. Ensure the integration of youth into all aspects of church life and leadership in order that they might be full participants in the mission of the church. (See Notes, #9, p. 136.)
*Adopted by the General Conference and division Youth directors, July 1993.
Objectives—In response to these inspired directives, the Youth Ministries Department was organized to give leadership training and to provide resource materials and evangelistic plans for the Adventist Youth Society in the local churches. The Spirit of Prophecy sets forth the [AUXILIARY ORGANIZATIONS OF THE CHURCH 111] objectives of the youth organization as follows: (1) to train the youth to work for other youth, (2) to recruit the youth to help their church and "those who profess to be Sabbathkeepers," and (3) to work "for those who are not of our faith."—Signs of the Times, May 29, 1893.
In seeking to reach these objectives the youth are called upon (1) to pray together, (2) to study the Word together, (3) to fellowship together in Christian social interaction, (4) to act together in small groups to carry out well-laid plans for witnessing, (5) to develop tact and skill and talent in the Master’s service, and (6) to encourage one another in spiritual growth.
The Aim of the Adventist Youth Society is: "The Advent Message to All the World in My Generation."
The Motto is: "The Love of Christ Constrains Me."
Membership in the Adventist Youth Society—There are three categories of membership in the Adventist Youth Society. (See Notes, #10, p. 137.)
Adventist Youth Ministries Committee—The Adventist Youth Ministries Committee is the umbrella organization in the local church responsible for the general planning of the youth ministry program. (See p. 87.) It includes the elected officers of the society plus the Personal Ministries leader, youth Sabbath School division leader, Health Ministries leader, Pathfinder Club director, Adventurer Club director, principal of the school, if there is such, the sponsor, and the pastor. The Adventist Youth Society leader, who is a member of the local church board, chairs this committee.
The committee should meet as often as necessary to plan and direct a successful youth ministry in the local church. Committee meetings should include time for prayer, a study of ways to help the youth spiritually, and plans for witnessing activities. The committee will also be responsible for seeing that regular meetings are scheduled for the youth and will work with other departments in coordinating the youth program in the local church. There should be short- and long-range goals if youth ministry is to be effective in reaching its objectives.
Adventist Youth Society Committee—The Adventist Youth Society Committee is responsible for senior youth activities of the local church and works in coordination with the other youth entities through the Adventist Youth Ministries Committee. Where there is no Pathfinder or Adventurer program, the AYS will include these younger members in a Junior Society. [112 CHURCH MANUAL]
Officers of the Adventist Youth Society—A chief factor in the success of any Adventist Youth Society is its leadership. When the officers are dedicated, active Christians, with initiative and ability to organize and inspire others, the work will go forward, young people will be saved and trained in God’s service, and the whole church will be strengthened.
The officers of the Adventist Youth Society which are elected by the local church are: youth leader, associate youth leader, secretary-treasurer, assistant secretary-treasurer, chorister, pianist or organist, and sponsor, who may be one of the local elders. Since music plays such an important role in the formation of the youth character, musicians should be as carefully selected as the rest of the officers of the Adventist Youth Society. (See p. 78.) This group forms the nucleus for the Adventist Youth Society Committee which in counsel with the young people appoints other officers such as fellowship or social leader, devotional leader, librarian, publicity leader, and the various action group leaders. In smaller churches one person will of necessity carry several responsibilities. As many youth as possible should be involved in the planning and execution of the youth program.
Youth Leader and Associate Youth Leader—The Youth leader as a follower of Jesus must exemplify the graces of a genuine Christian, with a burden for soul winning and a contagious enthusiasm. In helping motivate the youth to work together and take responsibilities, the leader will be in the background—guiding, counseling, and encouraging the youth, helping them to gain experience and the joys of achievement. It will be necessary to study the youth profile of the church and seek to involve every youth in the society.
The Youth leader will keep in close touch with pastors and sponsors and with the conference/mission/field Youth director, taking advantage of every opportunity for in-service training and leading the society into a cooperative relationship with the church and the conference/mission/ field.
The associate Youth leader will assist the Youth leader in this work and in the absence of the Youth leader will chair the Adventist Youth Society Committee and perform the duties of the leader. The associate will also be assigned certain responsibilities as determined by the committee. In smaller churches the committee may assign the assistant to the office of secretary-treasurer.
Secretary-Treasurer and Assistant—As in the case of the other officers, the secretary-treasurer’s first qualification is spirituality and dedication. One should know the Lord, be able to speak from personal [AUXILIARY ORGANIZATIONS OF THE CHURCH 113] experience, and have a burden for young people. The secretary-treasurer will keep a record of the activities of the society and send in a monthly report on special forms provided to the local conference/mission/field Youth director, who will also encourage the young people to report their witnessing activities during the ten-minute Personal Ministries period at the close of the Sabbath School Bible study. (See Notes, #11, p. 137.)
The assistant secretary-treasurer (when needed) assists with the secretary-treasurer’s work as may be mutually arranged and acts in the absence of the secretary-treasurer.
Adventist Youth Society Sponsor—This may be an elder or other qualified person on the church board who understands thoroughly the objectives of the society and who is sympathetic with the youth and their involvement in the church’s ministries. This individual serves as a guide or counselor to the Adventist Youth Society officers and meets with them regularly at the time of the Adventist Youth Society Committee meeting. The sponsor will be one whom the young people love and look to for counsel, working with the Youth leader in bringing the needs of the society before the church board.
The sponsor should become acquainted with the local conference/ mission/field Youth director, keeping him or her informed of any changes in officer personnel and other matters relating to the Adventist Youth Society. Along with the society officers, the sponsor should attend the youth training institutes of the local conference/mission/field to keep pace with what is developing in youth ministry and thus be more effective in giving counsel. It would be well if the sponsor could serve over a several-year period for continuity.
Adventist Youth Features—As young people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ, the Youth Ministries Department seeks to provide them with age-related, dynamic, active programming that provides an environment for development of spiritual gifts in preparation for this life and the life to come. These include the following:
1. Devotional and Educational—Morning Watch, Bible reading plans, Encounter series, Adventist Youth Week of Prayer, Youth Bible Conference, Youth Ministry Training Course, Pathfinder Staff Training Course, Adventist Youth Book Club, Guide and Master Guide and related leadership training classes, Adventist Youth Honors, outdoor clubs, and others.
2. Witnessing—Voice of Youth, Friendship Teams, branch Sabbath Schools, Story Hours, Adventist Youth Taskforce, Adventist Youth Service Volunteers, Festival of the Word, youth rallies, Sunshine or Singing Band, Community Services, Literature and Correspondence [114 CHURCH MANUAL]
Action Group, youth music witnessing teams, and Adventist Youth Honors.
3. Recreation—Social to Save, nature exploration, outdoor clubs, Adventist Youth Camping, specialty camps, Adventist Youth Honors, Silver Award, Gold Award.