the shape of leadership

Rallying a Generation Around God

A Q & A with Josh Wellborn

Chris Colvin on May 17, 2018

Josh Wellborn recently accepted the position of Assemblies of God national youth director. His path through ministry has been anything but traditional, but his vision for the future is no less grounded.

INFLUENCE: How did you get to where you are now, leading district youth directors across the Fellowship and steering the vision for the National Youth Department?
JOSH WELLBORN: It really started after graduating from Evangel University with a degree in communication studies. From there, I hosted a radio show geared toward teenagers and interned in youth ministry at a local church. Eventually, a door was open for me to move to the Flint, Michigan, area. We saw incredible growth. The church went from 700 to over 2,000 during a season of revival.

In the summer of 2015, I was approached to take the lead as the district youth director. It felt like a very natural transition for me. I was able to direct my attention to youth pastors throughout our state. When I was called to take this national position, though, it was never something I had dreamed of doing. I knew nearly every one of my predecessors personally. They’ve been my heroes, and I’ve always tried to emulate them.

What is your vision for the National Youth Department?
As far as long-term vision, I see three guiding principles directing us.

First, we need to focus on missions and Speed the Light. That means we are obedient to God, giving what He asks us to give when He asks. From those simple acts of obedience comes a wonderful testimony of provision.

“I want to see our teens rallying around God awareness.”
— Josh Wellborn

Second is leadership development. Most youth pastors are high-capacity leaders, so I just want to challenge them to expand their horizons and be ready for what’s next.

The third principle is two words: better together. How do we create a culture that prioritizes the body of Christ as a group fighting together for a common goal? I want to lead that charge.

If you could speak to every youth pastor, parent and student across America, what would you want them to know?
After the recent acts of violence in our public schools, I think more than ever we need to clarify our mission, especially on school campuses. As we see teenagers rallying around gun control, I want to see our teens rallying around God awareness.

I want to create a network of leaders where we are the first to respond. And I want to see students rising up to be the best leaders in the evangelical world.

Do you see something special about this generation of students?
Definitely. I’ve heard it said that Generation Z has the work ethic of the Greatest Generation and the attitude of Generation X. When students take the initiative, that could be a clue as to the kind of dynamic they have and the types of leaders they’re becoming.

What we need to give them is a genuine encounter with the Holy Spirit and strong biblical literacy through discipleship and community. When we teach them to care for each other, emphasizing empathy and compassion, they can use that energy to change the world.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2018 edition of Influence magazine. Sunday, May 20, is Graduation Recognition Day in the Assemblies of God. From all of us at Influence magazine, congratulations to the graduating seniors throughout our Fellowship.

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