Serving others is a primary objective of Palm Beach Atlantic University. One way this is accomplished is through the Student Ministry Traveling Team, a group of students who have a passion to serve youth by going to different churches to assist in participating in youth ministry events.
The Traveling Team began seven years ago. “We didn’t have any ministry like this, connecting to local churches and through past experiences,” said Dr. Jonathan Grenz, director of the M.Div. program at PBA and the founder of the team.
The Traveling Team is available to lead entire events or just partial ones at no cost, traveling as far north in Florida as Jacksonville and Ocala. However, the farthest trip taken was a recent visit to Dallas, Texas.
They provide youth with a biblical message through worship, games and testimonies. The team leads events for church youth groups and Christian schools, such as midweek events, Sunday events and retreats.
“We recognize the importance of connecting with local churches for the purpose of getting PBA’s name out there for assisting, recruiting and general participation in kingdom work,” Grenz said.
“By seeing the way that other congregations connect to their youth, it’s opened my mind to new perspectives and has taught me about the cultural aspects of ministry,” said Danielle McDonald, a student ministry major. McDonald is a junior and has been a part of the team for two years.
By allowing the PBA students on the team to lead, it gives youth ministers a much-needed break and permits them to just spend time with the youth and the Lord, Grenz said. But it also gives students the experience and knowledge of leadership.
“The experience has definitely given me more respect for youth leaders. Working with teenagers is really hard,” said Sarah Ann Roginsky, a cross-cultural studies major. Roginsky is a junior and has been a part of the team since her freshman year.
“I love the moments when students open="open" up to me as well. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is actually working, and those moments of vulnerability always teach me something,” McDonald said.
This type of real-world experience is good for students, Grenz said. “You develop your skills in the particular area, whether it’s worship or speaking,” he said. “You get to see different models of youth ministry. So, if people are going to go in youth ministry they can see that. Also, we develop relationships with youth pastors, and it can lead to future jobs.”
Students say they learn other things as well. “I've also realized that God's redemptive plan is not confined to the church. It's so important to get out of our ‘Christian bubble’ and to be lights of the world and not just lights of the church,” Roginsky said.
Typically, the Student Ministry Traveling Team has 10 people partaking, who are each unique in their own ways.
“We look for people who have different skills and gifts. We look for people who have skills in music for worship leading, some public speaking skills for preaching and then look for people who have relational skills to work with teens,” Grenz said.
Due to the diversity and constant interaction amongst the team, they are always practicing team-building.
“The actual travel times to and from the events with the team are the most memorable for me. This is one of the most joyous and laughter-filled groups of people I've ever been with,” Roginsky said.
“Obviously the youth events are wonderful, but there's something very special about the space of community and encouragement that this team has built.”