Reverend Santes Beatty has accepted the invitation to rejoin the Church Multiplication and Discipleship team as the Director of Next Gen, where he will oversee the kids, youth, and young adult disciple-making and multiplication initiatives. We thank God for Rev. Beatty’s leadership gifts, as he builds on the tremendous foundation of Reverend Zach Coffin and many others who have invested in our Next Gen ministries through the years. The Wesleyan Church has a rich history of empowering young people and supporting the youth movement. We continue to pray for revival among our emerging generations and believe the Next Gen arena will be a bright spot in The Wesleyan Church (TWC).
The following is a conversation between Dr. Ed Love and Rev. Santes Beatty:
Ed: How has God uniquely prepared you for this Next Gen role?
Santes: There has been a good balance of preparation through the school of hard knocks, successes, and formal education in leading kids, youth, and young adults in small, medium, and large church contexts. I think a lot of people see the Next Gen world as a steppingstone to other ministry roles. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with that progression, I see God has used different ministry roles to prepare me more effectively to serve leaders, families, churches, and universities in the Next Gen world. I think the dynamic of seeing this work through multiple ministry lenses makes me more understanding of the Next Gen leader, volunteer, lead pastor, district superintendents or leaders within our universities.
Ed: Why are you passionate about kids, youth, and young adults?
Santes: Working with these age groups is so life giving. Experiencing young people come to Christ and make commitments to follow him never gets old. Watching as their lives are transformed, and then them, in turn, leading others to Jesus is probably the greatest reward.
My passion also comes from a combination of my sense of calling and my own personal pain. That pain has helped shape my purpose in life and that is not only to help point as many young people to Christ as possible, but to help them pursue a growing relationship with God every day. After I made my own commitment to Jesus in middle school, I now realize I was not discipled well. As I look back on that experience, I realize what was missing and I don’t want to see that played out in the life of anyone else no matter their age or stage.
To be passionate about this age group also means being focused on equipping their parents to be the primary disciple makers of their children. It is a “both and,” not an “either or” approach.
Ed: What are the bright spots you see in TWC related to the Next Gen realm?
Santes: I think one thing is our rich history and commitment to Next Gen, combined with the passion I currently see in those who serve our kids, youth, and young adults. The rise of so many who desire to reach the lost and hurting, in every creative way possible, is because of the investment in young people the last 50-60 years. There is a new generation of students and leaders emerging who are committed to prayer, seeking God’s presence, and longing for revival. I think we are on the precipice of something we’ve never seen before. The best days of Next Gen aren’t behind us — they are ahead of us!
Ed: What are the challenges you see in TWC related to the Next Gen realm?
Santes: I think for a long time we were pioneers in this movement, but it is tempting when you’ve been a pioneer to become a settler. We can’t stop pioneering by investing and being intentional about how we prepare and develop our Next Gen leaders and those they serve.
One practical challenge is how we mentor and prepare students who respond to God’s calling on their lives within our churches, camps, conferences, and universities. Although some good things have been developed over the years, we need something simple, virtual, and effective which does not allow those sensing a call into ministry to fall through the cracks. A denomination-wide “Calling Collective” could be a viable solution as a learning community with multiple age-appropriate cohorts and mentoring.
Another challenge is creating more alignment between Next Gen and what is happening in every other part of our movement. We must see our Next Gen leaders and those they serve as equally important and a contributor, not just a consumer. We may have to create new metrics to accommodate the innovative things our young people are doing at their schools and in our communities to affirm how God is using them.
Ed: What is the God-sized dream in your heart as you step into the Next Gen role?
Santes: When someone asks in the next 10, 20, 30 years about how God brought revival, not only to the US and Canada, but to the world, the roots will be traced back to the prayer, fasting, and pursuit of God’s presence with our leaders, families, and Next Gen trailblazers.
I long to see such an explosion of people, of all ages, coming to the faith. Oh, that we would no longer be known as a denomination, but a movement led by the Spirit and discerned by the wisdom of God. Yes, we will grow in numbers at every level, but more importantly we will grow in influence and more people will enter the kingdom of God. We must not be afraid to encourage our young people to operate fully in their gifts and follow wherever God leads.
Ed: How can Wesleyan leaders partner with you?
Santes: The first, and most obvious, way to partner is through prayer. We are forming prayer teams right now and I’d love to invite leaders into regular rhythms of prayer and fasting.
The second way is caring for and investing in Next Gen leaders. I am often saddened when I hear of the burn out and unnecessary challenges they are facing daily.
A third way is to consider investing more in kids, youth, and young adults. We must put our time, talent, and treasure where our mouth is.
Lastly, we have FOLLOW coming up in Cincinnati (Dec. 28-30, 2023). Not only would I encourage every Wesleyan leader to attend FOLLOW, but I would love to invite anyone who has been impacted or has a heart for what God does through our youth conventions to consider a financial donated investment. We desire to see as many students, leaders, and young adults engaged as possible. The lives that will be touched and callings confirmed will change the trajectory of our movement.