Next Gen Multiplication and Discipleship hosted its annual Fuel conference online this year, April 20-24. The event, Fuel WebCon, was scheduled to be online prior to COVID-19 shutdowns, as Wesleyan Next Gen leaders from around the world hoped to participate.
Next Gen leaders within The Wesleyan Church from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and the Caribbean participated in the event.
“Fuel WebCon gave us a great way to collaborate and learn from each other. The teachings helped shape what ministry currently looks like and can look like as we all adjust during this season,” Zach Coffin, director of Next Gen Multiplication and Discipleship of The Wesleyan Church, said.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, Coffin noted leaders’ “hunger to learn, grow, encourage and collaborate.
“People are eager to give whatever they have to help encourage someone else. It’s such a beautiful picture of kingdom work,” Coffin said. “I have been encouraged and inspired over and over again by the creativity, heart and grit of our Next Gen leaders. They are laser focused on loving, equipping and caring for their communities.”
The conference hosted over 250 virtual attendees and covered topics such as leadership through disruption, leadership through change and new initiatives, why service and missions matter now, moving past cynicism and how the gospel cannot be quarantined.
Christen Carlson, who serves as administrative assistant in Next Gen Multiplication and Discipleship for The Wesleyan Church, said, “It was so encouraging to see people still passionate about ministry and the mission even though it looks so different right now. The engagement we had with our live webinars was so encouraging to see for me, because people are still wanting to be equipped and uplifted though life seems uncertain.”
Among Fuel WebCon participants this year were Katie Lance and Selina Wheeler. Lance serves as lead pastor at Thrive Church, which she planted with her husband two and a half years ago, and Wheeler has served as the Next Gen pastor at First Wesleyan Church in Kannapolis, North Carolina, for two years.
Wheeler, who found Fuel WebCon to be not only a source for understanding how to lead in a NextGen role but was challenged in her personal faith walk, said, “I am seeing a generation of young men and women who I feel are more bold in their faith than I’ve seen before. They are not ashamed to serve Jesus Christ and to give their lives for him. They proudly proclaim his name across social media, and they stand for their convictions in their local schools as well as when they hang out with friends. I think more than anything I’m seeing them lead already by living out their beliefs.”
As a pastor and active participator in Next Gen Multiplication and Discipleship, Lance similarly noted that the next generation is not preparing to lead; they already are leading.
“I think we cut our legs out from under us if we fail to see that the ‘next’ generation isn’t the next generation — it is the generation (current). We are moving into a world — if we’re not already here — that will be able to bridge the gap between the Church and the [spiritually] lost like never before,” Lance said. “With the help of the coronavirus kicking us out of our buildings, it is setting the perfect stage for our youth to engage the gospel message right where people are in their day-to-day crisis, in authentic ways — even video game platforms. It isn’t time for youth to ‘help.’ It’s time for them to be given opportunity to lead. And I see them leading the best outside of four walls, engaging with people right where they are. They are the best at seeing the Unseen.”
Fuel WebCon resources available here.