“Adding in an additional time-taking ordeal was the last thing on my mind. But the church required it. They believed in what it offered and wanted me to have some sort of training. Now, looking back, going to the Youth Ministry Institute was perhaps the best decision in ministry I have ever made because of the fellowship and accountability I had with other youth workers. I thank God every day for helping me decide to go.”
– Manu Bhatnagar, YMI class of 2011
Manu Bhatnagar grew up in a great youth ministry. In fact, many of his peers went into full time Christian service from that ministry, including Manu. If osmosis worked with learning, we would all be geniuses. It doesn’t. Manu married a youth ministry major who is called to work with youth. While Manu’s background and his surrounding support system all exuded youth ministry, Manu realized he had quite a bit to learn.
“I had just received my first full-time paid youth ministry position after 5 years of volunteering and was set to be overwhelmed by the obstacles ahead of me,” writes Manu. “However what I received from YMI went well beyond tools. I received leadership and emotional development with a fantastic veteran coach and group of ministry co-workers.”
Manu began with a 35-40 youth on his roster. The ministry averaged 15-20 weekly. Six years later he has a roster of 65-70 and is averaging 45-50 weekly representing a 75% increase in active youth and a 233% increase in attendance. The number of offerings for youth to participate has tripled. Youth have assumed more leadership roles in the group. Manu says, “I was taught the basics and advanced mechanics of youth ministry in a practical way which was immediately implementable. Most importantly, I received the courage, motivation, and structural tools to maintain a sustainable youth ministry.”