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General Council 2009: Jay Mooney

By Deann Alford

Acts 2:17 came alive for Jay Mooney at a 1996 youth convention: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (NIV). Mooney envisioned a multitude of underdogs empowered as champions for Christ, and that vision proved to be a defining moment of his calling.

Mooney didn’t understand all the implications, but fast-forward 13 years and he’s the director of AG National Youth Ministries and believing God to be able to reach 1 million youth by 2015. Mooney oversees ministries for middle schoolers and high school students including Youth Alive, Fine Arts Festival, Bible Quiz, Ambassadors in Mission, Momentum and Speed the Light.

“Never in my wildest imagination would I ever have envisioned this,” says Mooney as he looks back over the past four years as NYM director.

This is just the latest step in a journey that has included directing the National Student Outreach (Youth Alive) and serving as Georgia’s district youth director. Mooney has also ministered as both a youth pastor and senior pastor.

With every ministry opportunity, Mooney has maintained a passion to reach the unchurched student culture.

“The campus is the most strategic mission field,” Mooney says. “There is no other portal in our society through which so much of our population passes.”

And despite guidelines for teachers and administrators concerning their religious expression in America’s public schools, students need to remember their First Amendment free speech rights to share the good news with those who don’t know Christ.

In this vast mission field, students can fulfill the literal meaning of Matthew 28:19,20 to go and make disciples.

“We think in terms of go as a place,” Mooney says. “Literally translated, that passage means, ‘In your going, make disciples.’ Churches need to develop students in their faith so they will be prepared, in turn, to make disciples. Students need to learn everything they can to fulfill that purpose. They’re not just to get a good education but to be God’s sent vessels.”

According to Mooney, the Assemblies of God has a measurable impact on 15 percent of middle and high schools through campus ministry — student clubs such as Youth Alive, family and church involvement through Prayer Zone Partners, and other outreaches.

But 15 percent is just the beginning. Mooney wants to see students equipped to reach this entire mission field.

“God has not limited our responsibility to developing youth ministry in larger churches, but in all these churches,” says Mooney, 47. Mooney aims to “multiply the constituency” by expanding youth ministry to all 12,400 Assemblies of God congregations in the United States.

He also wants to see a shift in how churches view their youth, with more young people becoming ministry partners rather than merely “consumers” of ministry. Young people can become “investors” in the harvest of souls, Mooney believes, and when students are mobilized in ministry churches will see powerful results.

But mobilizing the next generation poses God-sized challenges.

“The average Assemblies of God church has less than 100 people in attendance, and more than 90 percent of our churches average less than 400 in worship attendance,” Mooney says. “What are we doing to help them win, build and send their youth? At the General Council in Orlando, National Youth Ministries, in cooperation with the Executive Leadership Team, AG Trust and district youth ministries offices, plans to introduce an unprecedented youth ministry resource investment that should invigorate youth ministry for any sized church.”

Many of these churches struggle to allocate limited resources, another reason Mooney is working for a strategic shift from primarily doing ministry for youth to primarily mobilizing youth in ministry.

“Students want to be involved. We’ve got to do ministry with youth. That is a large key to grafting students in the church.”

At the Orland09 National Youth Convention on Wednesday, Aug. 5, Mooney will share a vision-based message that marks the progress and potential of youth in the cause of Jesus Christ. He’s titled his message “Cause.”

“I’m calling our student constituency to get back to the grassroots. Whatever you do — live your life for the cause of Jesus Christ,” he says.

Fulfilling this piece of the Great Commission will entail “a first-generation focus,” Mooney says. “God’s going to ask me one question: ‘Did you do what I asked you to do? I asked you to make disciples who make disciples.’ ”

In 1996 Mooney envisioned a multitude of young disciples. He’s pursuing that vision, trusting God to make vision a reality.

TPE contributor DEANN ALFORD is a senior writer for Christianity Today. She is a member of Church of Glad Tidings, an Assemblies of God congregation in Austin, Texas. 

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