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BU youth program enriches lives of high school kids

Sept. 16, 2003

By Amy Leigh Washburn, reporter

Seven years ago, an idea was brought forth to involve Baylor students in the lives of junior high and high school youth around Central Texas.

The idea was named the Baylor Youth Ministry Program, which has grown from 10 to more than 60 Baylor students.

'We just get Baylor students involved in ministry,' Don Mattingly, the coordinator of youth programs, said.

Students pile in Baylor vehicles one Wednesday night each month and head off to Central Texas churches to conduct programs they have planned during the previous weeks.

Each program contains several elements including speaking, music, drama and creative elements.

'We accept any church, any size, anywhere within a 2.5-hour circumference of Waco,' Mattingly said.

He said the Baylor students plan and implement their own monthly programs during planning meetings.

'We put the teams together, but then they do the rest,' Mattingly said.

Dustin Perkins, a Cedar Hill senior, is participating on a youth ministry team for the third year.

'You can learn a ton of different stuff,' Perkins said, ' [such as] how to speak in front of crowds, how to facilitate events, how to do one-on-one counseling, how to present drama in an impacting way ... you can pretty much take anything you want out of it.'

However, Perkins has marching band in the fall, so he can only visit churches in the spring.

Many students, like Perkins, have conflicting schedules in the fall or spring and can only participate for one semester. About 50 percent of students who participate in the program return.

'Although students are encouraged to join at the beginning of the year, they are welcome to join any time they want,' Mattingly said. According to Mattingly, the purpose of the Youth Ministry Teams is threefold: to involve Baylor undergraduates and seminary students in ministry; to serve churches by being a bridge between students and churches; and to show Central Texas junior high and high school students Christian Baylor students in hope that they will some day consider Baylor.

The teams still need people who can play instruments and love to lead praise and worship.

The flier printed for the organization says, 'This is your opportunity to share with middle school and high school youth how they can grow spiritually and make wise decisions during their important teenage years.'

Other programs hosted by the Baylor Youth Ministry program include Hispanic Baptist Student Day in late September, Baylor Youth Day in November and a program called Ambassadors of Fun. The teams get to share with kids and see them 'stuck in their own little bubble,' according to Perkins. 'You get an eye-opening experience, and you get to give it [an eye-opening experience] to them too.'