NEWMAN—When Tim Weimer heard about a new network of California youth pastors, he jumped at the opportunity to join. It was worth the effort. In more than a year of involvement in the Youth Pastor Collective (YPC), Weimer, student pastor at a small church in the Central Valley, has attended almost every webinar offered and seen two students baptized thanks to an event promoted by the network.
“It’s been a very encouraging time to meet with the other youth pastors,” said Weimer, youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Newman. “The trainings offered through these webinars have been talking about all kinds of topics. They’re all very helpful and very informative.”
One webinar about family ministry “struck a nerve with me,” he said. With a small youth ministry of 10-15 students, First Baptist needs parent involvement to propel the student ministry forward. So Weimer, encouraged by the YPC, held a parent meeting this month where he explained how parents can be more involved.
That’s exactly how network founder RJ McCauley hoped the YPC would function. Launched by the California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) in late 2021, the network helps youth pastors connect for training, and encouragement and to promote CSBC youth ministry events. The YPC includes monthly Zoom training events for youth pastors, a private Facebook group where youth pastors can dialogue about ministry challenges, and a website that serves as a clearing house for California student ministry resources.
Webinars have featured CSBC leaders in addition to student ministry experts from Lifeway Christian Resources and the North American Mission Board.
“It’s been amazing what God has done and how we’ve had so much support from our SBC entities to get behind this,” said McCauley, CSBC youth coordinator of evangelism and outreach.
The YPC began to take shape when McCauley started his role with the CSBC in October 2021. He had a two-pronged vision: to relaunch the annual Ignition student evangelism conference and to promote the event through a collective of student ministry workers. That vision led to the first Zoom webinar in November 2021.
From there, the YPC vision expanded. The collective also includes an email list and an online portal where youth pastors can log their Gospel conversations with members of Gen Z. The CSBC communications team helped McCauley develop the online infrastructure for that vision. The only question was whether the YPC would catch on with youth pastors.
It did. The collective’s email list has increased from 90 youth pastors to 800, and its private Facebook group includes 140 people.
“Here we are over a year later, and we’re having tens of thousands of people pass by our website,” said McCauley, who also serves as student ministries pastor at Magnolia Church in Riverside.
The YPC’s next phase of ministry includes promoting regional Ignition conferences this year for Northern and Southern California—on March 10-11 at Gracepoint Berkeley Church in Alameda and on Nov. 10-11 at Orchard Church in Temecula. In the future, McCauley hopes for an expansion to three annual conferences to serve the northern, southern, and central regions of the state.
Back in Newman, Weimer says the YPC helps him keep serving, reaching students, and staying relevant in his sixth decade of life.
“I’m 58 but I still plan on serving in this capacity until I can’t do it anymore or it’s time to let somebody else take it over. I’m excited they have these things. I wish they had some of these trainings and webinars when I was younger as a youth pastor.”
For more information or to join the YPC, visit https://csbcyouth.com/collective.
David Roach is a pastor, author, and professor. A native of New Mexico, he has pastored Shiloh Baptist Church in Saraland, Alabama, since 2020. He attended Vanderbilt University (BS in philosophy) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (PhD in church history, MDiv in biblical and theological studies).
He has pastored Emmanuel Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and worked as chief national correspondent for Baptist Press in Nashville, Tennessee. He also has taught at several Southern Baptist colleges and seminaries and served on the staffs of churches in Kentucky and New Mexico. His writing has appeared in Baptist Press and Christianity Today among other outlets. He authored the 2021 book The Southern Baptist Convention & Civil Rights, 1954-1995.
David is married to Erin, who is from the Lexington, Kentucky, area and holds a journalism degree from the University of Kentucky. Erin served nearly two decades as a writer and editor for Baptist Press. They have three children—Caroline, Mallory, and Hutton. David enjoys reading, golf, and sports—including the Vanderbilt Commodores. But he really loves spending time with Erin and their kids.
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