Discipling the Next Generation of Leaders


One of our passions at Venture Church Network is to equip and empower the next generation of young people to not only love Jesus but spread that gospel presence all around their entire community. Northwest Hills Community Church is making this happen through its incredible internship program. Check out what the staff and interns have to say about this unique and wonderful program!

According to the worship director, Justin Jackson, this internship was born out of the vision to make Jesus known. Northwest believes one of the best ways to do that is not allowing a consumer mindset but teaching generations to live and serve like Jesus. “We don’t want it to be just one generation of people serving for a certain amount of time, and then it dies, and the church goes with it.” One of the greatest things Justin has learned from this internship is just how important it is to have soldiers fighting alongside you. To him, this internship isn’t just an opportunity to teach younger adults everything he knows. The interns are learning the same things he is.

Youth Pastor, Gary Jones, echoes this, saying, “I get to learn a ton from them.” He believes the interns can reach students in a way he can’t. Not only can the interns train others, but they can teach others to train others. Disciples making disciples-makers.

The interns say that the program has changed them and helped them grow spiritually. One intern comments how she’s learned to have intentional conversations and love people well. Another says he feels incredibly equipped as the leaders have been extremely willing to give him responsibility and let him run with it.

Carissa Larson, who serves in communication and connection, knows exactly what that’s like. She approached the pastor with a burden on her heart regarding the big gap in women’s ministry. She never would’ve expected the pastor to ask her if she was willing to lead that ministry. Carissa thought at 25 years old, there was no way she’d be able to do that. But the pastor saw something in her, and she said yes. The experience has taught her to lead humbly, and she says all the while she had an amazing team of cheerleaders and supporters from the church behind her, rooting her on.

What God is able to do with young people in the church is astounding. The Apostle Paul wrote this in one of his letters to Timothy: “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Ask yourself: do you love your youth enough to equip them in being examples to believers? What does that look like in your church? How can you begin equipping them today?

God bless you.


James Gleason

Director of Church Network Northwest

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