|Operation Vote to launch Igniting Youth at Youth ?07|
United Methodist teens dance to the music of Kirk Franklin
during Youth '03 on the campus of the University of Tennessee in
Knoxville. Youth 2007 will bring up to 10,000 United Methodist youth to
Greensboro, N.C. UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
By Linda Green*
June 8, 2007 | NASHVILLE, Tn. (UMNS)
United Methodist youth will use an old board game to try to set a new
world record and, in the process, help launch a ministry to invite
other teens into the church as they seek to explore their faith.
When up to 10,000 teens gather for Youth 2007 on
July 11-15 in Greensboro, N.C., they can try to play "Operation" in
less than one minute and two seconds and earn a place in the Guinness
Book of World Records as the fastest game of Operation ever played.
As part of Operation Vote, teens
attending Youth 2007 can try to
break the world record for the
fastest game of Operation.
It's all part of Operation Vote, which will help launch a new
denominational ministry called Igniting Youth, aimed at welcoming teen
seekers into the life of the church.
Part of the initiative is a new interactive Web site filled with a
library of advertising material for youth and youth groups to use for
local community outreach and evangelism, including a handbook to help
churches enhance their teen welcoming ministries.
Through Operation Vote, youths ages 14 to 17 can help select the Web
site's name by voting from a ballot of five names submitted by teens
from across the United Methodist connection.
Among today's Internet-savvy teens, an effective and interactive Web
site is an important part of the new ministry, and all the resources
will be teen-focused and teen-produced, according to Susan Crawford,
director of Igniting Youth at United Methodist Communications.
"It is based on very real teen things such as ways to tell another
about the youth group, ways to talk to the youth leader and ways to talk
about the strange times in life when faith becomes important-like when
you are upside down on that rollercoaster," Crawford said.
Every four years, The United Methodist Church hosts the largest
gathering of youth from across the denomination and, together, they
experience God through five days of ministerial, cultural and spiritual
opportunities. Youth 2007 is the perfect place to roll out the new
ministry because Igniting Youth is for, with and about youth, according
Can you operate on "Cavity Sam"?
Operation, the classic battery-powered board game created by Milton
Bradley and in production since 1965, tests a player's hand-eye
coordination as he or she uses wired tweezers to remove 13 plastic
"ailments" from a patient named "Cavity Sam." If the tweezers touch the
metal edge of the opening during the attempt, a buzzer sounds and the
patient's nose lights up red.
It's not as easy as it looks.
To play Operation, youth at the 2007 assembly must participate in an
interactive laptop computer experience about Igniting Youth, and then
qualify for an attempt to break the board game's record.
Igniting Youth is the teen sibling of denomination's 7-year-old adult program called Igniting Ministry,
an advertising and welcoming ministry that targets adults aged 25-54
through traditional media such television, posters, door hangers and
Both ministries are designed to raise awareness of The United
Methodist Church and target "seekers," or those who have not been to a
church worship service in six months and those not closely affiliated
with a church. The two welcoming campaigns also highlight the church's
tagline of "Open Minds. Open Hearts. Open Doors."
Church leaders say welcoming is a form of kindness, hospitality and
acceptance shown to both guests and church members alike. "In a nation
that's becoming more unchurched all the time, we need to ensure that
teen seekers encounter in us a Christ that they want to know better,"
according to literature introducing Igniting Youth.
Specifically, Igniting Youth is an evangelism tool to reach 14- to
18-year-olds. Research indicates that teens, like adults, are "soul
searching" and using diverse means to connect with one another and to
"Igniting Youth was not designed to take
the place of relationships, but to provide a portal for youth to connect
to the bigger picture and to help answer questions along the way." –Jay Clark
"Teens need to feel they have valued voice with adults," said
Crawford. "They need to feel that the questions and issues they have are
valid and warrant the same thoughtful consideration and answers any
adult posing the question would receive. They need to feel that there is
a community where they can share their ideas and not be judged on their
One of the most critical issues facing The United Methodist Church is
communicating with youth and young adults, according to the Rev. Larry
Hollon, top executive at United Methodist Communications.
The Igniting Ministry Youth Initiative "has partnered with youth and
young adults to learn about their concerns, joys and hopes in order to
encourage connection between youth and young adults and the church,"
Hollon said. "The hope is that in this partnership we will find ways to
encourage meaningful interaction that will lead all of us to growth and
Although housed at United Methodist Communications, Igniting Youth's
partners include the Division on Ministries with Young People;
De'vozine, the church's teen magazine; ileadyouth.com at the United
Methodist Publishing House; the Living Prayer Center at the Upper Room;
and the youth worker movement.
This September, the denomination's annual Open House Month will
focus on welcoming and inviting teens in local communities to church. A
UMNS image by United Methodist Communications.
Igniting Youth is just one more way the church can connect with
teens, according to Jay Clark, director of Youth 2007 and a staff member
of the Division of Ministry with Young People at the Board of
"Igniting Youth was not designed to take the place of relationships,"
he said, "but to provide a portal for youth to connect to the bigger
picture and to help answer questions along the way."
As part of the effort, the denomination's annual Open House Month in
September - when United Methodist churches host special events to
welcome and invite people in the community to church - is this year
being called Teen Open House Month, aimed at welcoming teens into the
life of the church.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
What Is Igniting Youth
Youth 2007 brings together United Methodist teens
Study finds similarities between 'churched,' 'unchurched' people
Youth to 'splat' through cultural, spiritual, global event
Division on Ministry with Young People
Living Prayer Center