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"This could change Winnipeg," says Riverwood Church Community's youth pastor Mark Roslund.

What "this" is, is an effort by Winnipeg youth pastors to mobilize teens to reach out to their friends with the gospel. Roslund and other youth pastors from across Winnipeg met this weekend to discuss a new initiative that will see ministry leaders stepping into more of a mentorship role, giving leadership to the teens themselves.

"We (youth pastors) have come to the realization lately that we have to give students a context for obedience and put them in a position and give them the tools, training, and resources to reach their friends."

Roslund and Emilio Abiusi have been working with members of the Manitoba Youth Workers Network (MYWN) to get the ball rolling. Abiusi is a ministry leader with youth at Grant Memorial Baptist Church, and the MYWN is a network of youth workers from across the province that meets together monthly to support and encourage one another.

"There are 80,000 students in the city of Winnipeg, and less than 5,000 are connected to youth groups"

They've decided to utilize the well-known Alpha program. "Alpha just came out with a brand new curriculum," that is designed for youth Roslund says. "Our goal is to equip and train students to run it themselves. We did a bunch of research, and that's actually how this all started. We learned that there are 80,000 students in the city of Winnipeg, and less than 5,000 are connected to youth groups. And so the whole point of this is to reduce that gap."

Roslund says that as youth pastors they've realized that what's needed, then, is giving students the opportunity to reach their own friends.

"Jesus is calling us to reach the city"

"Looking at the city as a whole is really daunting, and even scary," Roslund says when dealing with the reality of trying to reach an entire city of youth. "We looked at the city of Winnipeg - we had a big map - and just went 'wow, this is crazy' . . . but we do believe that Jesus is calling us to reach the city."

hub mapThe five hubs of Winnipeg. Youth pastors will work together helping train students in the high schools closest to their church (MYWN)

The MYWN decided to divide the city up into five 'hubs.' 

"What we've called youth pastors to do is to work together, connect with other churches, ministries, and leaders in your hubs."

Youth pastors will focus on the schools in their hubs. "I might have a student from my church or youth group, but they go to another school, so the youth pastor who is nearest that school is the one who will be pastoring them."

Roslund and the MYWN see this as a way to break down the 'build my group' mentality that can sometimes take root in youth ministry.

"It's about building the Kingdom," he says, and about building teens into young leaders that are equipped to reach their friends.

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