Hispanic Youth Ministry and the Philadelphia Project

BY RUBEN ORTIZ

Hispanic Youth Ministry
Getting a bunch of Hispanic youth workers together (outside of a wedding or funeral) is almost an impossible task. But when we finally managed to get it done here in the city of brotherly love, some great things happened.

The Hispanic Youth Ministry Challenge was held on October 11, 1997 in conjunction with Youth Specialties and run by E.A.P.E./Kingdomworks. It drew 65 youth workers who presently work with Hispanic kids. It was momentous because for some of the youth workers present, it was their first experience attending a conference. It was uplifting, challenging and practical. These workshops were also fulfilling for veteran Hispanic youth workers (most of them bi-vocational as well) in that they received training by experienced presenters who understand urban Hispanic youth ministry issues, and shared new outreach strategies.

The first workshop, titled, “Surviving as a Hispanic Youth Worker,” centered on specific issues related to the Hispanic youth worker’s language, culture, and traditions. It dealt with specific problems that the average Hispanic youth worker experiences throughout their time in ministry. It was obvious that it resonated with the audience since they expressed personal experiences and discussed their struggles in the small groups following the presentation.

This was followed by a practical workshop on relational youth ministry. The majority of those present stated that youth ministry in their churches was limited to youth-led church services.

Lunch-time was the element that linked the people, ideas and ministries to one another. The Puerto Rican style rice, beans, and traditional “tostónes” served as great networking catalysts. With Spanish worship songs played “salsa” style in the background, conversations buzzed with eager anticipation for the next training event. We promised that there would be more to come.

The Philadelphia Project
The Philadelphia Project for Youth Ministry (PPYM) is a 3-1/2 year initiative to lay the foundation for a city-wide youth ministry movement through local churches in Philadelphia. Our holistic and integrated approach allows for training, mentoring, relationship building, and financial support.

With a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, PPYM addresses the major obstacles that impede effective youth ministry. We provide a two year cycle of the Urban Youth Ministry Institute. The core curriculum includes: Youth Ministry 101, Understanding Urban Youth Culture, Developing Excellent Youth Ministry Events, Effective Outreach, and others.

In our Student Leadership Program, three to five high school aged young people who have a vital relationship with Jesus Christ are selected. In this one year cycle of servant leadership training, we include retreats, practical seminars, worship celebrations and service learning projects. They learn to grow spiritually by serving their families, schools, churches and communities.

Through our Church Matching Grants program we help churches make youth ministry a priority. We assist each church in putting together a three year youth ministry strategic plan. Included in each plan is an Analysis, Mission, Vision Statements, Goals, Objectives, and Action Steps. Based on their plan, we match dollar for dollar (from two to twelve thousand dollars) that which the church allocates for youth ministry for up to two years.

Each PPYM Project Associate mentors and assists the youth worker in order to develop better youth ministries. One way that we accomplish this is by equipping them with relevant urban youth ministry resources.

Early next year (Winter 1998), the Urban Youth Ministry Resource Center will identify and collect the best available resources and make them available to any youth worker whether or not they’re a PPYM participant. Presently there are books, magazines, videos, music, tapes, as well as technical assistance available. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for further information regarding PPYM or E.A.P.E./Kingdomworks’ ministry with churches.

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