The State of Ministry Report
SEND North America
Kent R. Hunter
August 12, 2013
This report is being sent to anyone who has donated to the SEND ministry for any reason, as well as those who have taught or served SEND in any way.
I wish I could meet with you personally to share this. I’m praying that you will catch the enthusiasm I feel as if we were sitting down together.
How do we evaluate SEND? We evaluate SEND by the evidence of the objectives: SEND exists to impart (1) spiritual formation; (2) discipleship; and, (3) mission training – in young adults, 18-29, who graduate from SEND. The benchmark level for each of these objectives is, by comparison with the training program graduates we have observed in England over the last 12 years. This is the result: while SEND is still a young movement, every graduate reflects the spiritual levels in all of these objectives, just as we have seen in England.
In addition, 90% of the graduates are in ministry now: church planting, operating a camp for children, working on staff at a church, teaching in an inner-city Christian school, and working to help us recruit for future SEND young adults. At this time there is no young adult who has yet returned for a second year to take the SEND leadership, to be trained to start a SEND unit at their church – but one young adult is considering it.
There are several churches that have expressed the desire to hire a SEND graduate and one ministry outreach in Central America that would like to hire a SEND leader and establish a SEND unit. There are several churches that would like to have a SEND unit at some time in the future.
One of SEND’s greatest challenges has been recruitment. In the first year, five young adults participated. All graduated. In the second year (October 2012-June 2013), there were three enrolled. One of them was injured in an auto accident while home for Thanksgiving break. He required on-going reconstructive surgery on his wrist and had to drop out. Another from last year was dismissed from SEND. (SEND has an accountability structure. It follows the same structure used in England. Young adults are apprised, verbally and in writing, at the beginning of certain behaviors that are not tolerated. They receive a “strike” for each infringement, plus counseling and guidance. Three “strikes” and you are out. Sadly, we had a young man who received three strikes just before the end of this last year. Three local pastors and the SEND leader, Josh, were part of the effort to help him from receiving the third strike. While this is unfortunate, it also happens fairly often in England. SEND must maintain standards of conduct that provide a good experience for all the young adults involved and hold them accountable in an evangelical and disciplined approach).
SEND has a “break even” financial model based on 12 young adults. The maximum for involvement in one year is 20. All funds go entirely for the operating of SEND. All efforts provided by the staff of Church Doctor Ministries are donated. The training center for SEND is donated. It is at Destiny Family of Faith, a church in a strip mall in Kendallville, Indiana, pastored by Mike Albaugh. They have been extraordinarily gracious. And I believe SEND has also been a blessing to their ministry. Should SEND reach an enrollment of more than 12 young adults, the extra finances would be directed toward recruitment efforts. As of this writing, several young adults are in the application process for this coming fall. It is too early to predict how many will participate in this coming training season, October 2013-June 2014.
Recruitment efforts are an ongoing learning experience. We have learned much about what doesn’t work. We have learned a lot about what is effective and are focusing strategies that seem to be more productive:
- Using social media to raise awareness
- Meeting young adults who are (1) faithful, (2) available, and (3) teachable
- Targeting churches that have demonstrated effectiveness in reaching and keeping young adults, 18-29.
- Recruiting as a yearlong effort (This will begin this fall, when Josh will designate one day each week for recruiting, while SEND is operating. This was simply not possible the first two years, when everything was so new and we were learning so much. We believe this year it will be possible.)
- Utilizing one of our first-year graduates as an ambassador for SEND, sharing his testimony.
- Using the DVD from the Christian television show, Restoration Road, which featured interviews with SEND leader Josh Humberger and some of the young adults.
- Targeting Christian colleges and high schools.
- Reaching out to homeschool associations.
One of the greatest breakthrough blessings has come through one of the volunteer SEND teachers, Yohannes Mengsteab. Yohannes, originally from East Africa, has been in this country for many years. He has been a pastor, a church planter, and launched a church planting movement for a denomination. As a teacher of SEND, Yohannes has observed the ministry “up close” for the last two years. He is a great encourager. Yohannes feels we are on the right track. Having started a movement of his own, he reminds us that it takes years to gain momentum. Yohannes now works for a foundation as a representative to churches. From his base of experience, Yohannes says that the Christian church in America is in need of new mechanisms for training the next generation of leaders. He believes SEND is one answer to that need. Yohannes guided us to prepare a grant request to the Foundation. In March, the foundation board, granted SEND $90,000 for three years, to help with recruitment and to partially support Josh Humberger’s salary while we worked on recruitment. This has greatly encouraged us because (1) he knows SEND and Josh very well, (2) has had interaction with the young adults during both of these two years (he teaches church planting with African enthusiasm!), and (3) he understands the time it takes to develop a movement. This grant helps us “bide time” to learn more about recruiting.
All of our 50 volunteer teachers agreed to teach the second year of SEND. The volunteer mentors also continue to help. Josh is now approaching these volunteers for this coming year to serve again.
Josh Humberger is a great leader of SEND, uniquely gifted for this role. We have also observed him operating with the challenges of SEND, and watched his willingness to sacrifice. He now has to raise the balance of his own support, on top of everything else, until we reach a minimum of 12 young adults.
Meanwhile, we have conducted research about young adults. This has included books, articles and conferences. We are researching at our own expense. Josh, myself, and our colleague, Tracee, have been learning so much that will help us with recruitment. We have learned that the way we operate SEND (which we patterned after what they do in England), is perfect for the post-modern, millennial, young adult generation. Also, it follows the movement dynamics of Christianity, which has slowly drifted toward organizational bureaucracy and institutionalism – beyond what the Scripture intends for the Body of Christ. Tracee recently received unexpected and unsolicited support for the SEND model as she led a group to England this last June. We now include in that England trip a visit to the Message Trust, a ministry to reach inner-city youth in Manchester, England. The leader of the young adult training project told Tracee that what they do is almost identical in its tone and approach to SEND. For them, over the years, this has become a phenomenally successful ministry. That has been very encouraging to us.
I am developing a new workshop, “Reaching the Young Adult Generation, “for pastors and church leaders. Since so many young adults are leaving the church, this workshop should be very helpful – and alert many to the SEND opportunity. I hope to start providing this workshop in the next couple months. We believe that a SEND graduate who returns to their church can be an enormous help to church staff and leaders, guiding them to reach the young adult generation. Most of us over 40 have no clue how to do this – life has changed that much!
How can you help?
- Watch for young adult Christians who are faithful, available and teachable, and direct them to www.sendnorthamerica.com.
- Provide us with their contact information.
- Pray for this next generation of Christian leaders.
- Pray that we get more financial support to get through these beginning years.
- If you have nay questions about SEND, please feel free to contact us.
Kent R. Hunter