Youth may apply for !Explore: A Theological Program for High School Youth when they are in grades 10, 11 or 12 for the summer program that immediately follows that year in school. Up to 12 participants will be selected for the program, which is divided into two parts.
In consultation with their home pastors, participants identify five areas they want to pursue. These learning goals are integral to the Group Experience and the Congregational Experience.
- a theological question or issue they want to wrestle with and discuss
- a spiritual discipline they want to practice to draw closer to God
- three ministry skills they want to test or practice more fully
During the 17-day Group Experience (approximately July 13 – July 29, 2021; June 27 – July 13, 2022) the !Explore group will participate in robust content on campus as well as experiential learning opportunities off campus. Applications will be accepted until March 15, 2021.
Worship and prayer are the bookends of each day, offering new ways to connect to God. In between is time for reflection and activities that build relationships, develop leadership gifts and foster spiritual practices. Faculty, staff, seminary students and !Explore participants are conversation partners for the theological study that !Explore fosters. In-depth discussions about God, the Bible, culture and faith encourage participants to ask tough questions and exchange ideas with others who share a commitment to the church.
The Congregational Experience comes before, after, or on both sides of the Group Experience. Participants give 100 hours of work in the congregation over five or more weeks, working alongside their pastor in a mentoring relationship.
During this time, participants test gifts for ministry while church members can discover new, vibrant leadership in the congregation and practice their role of encouraging young people to hear God’s call on their lives.
Each participant joins in ministry assignments in the context of the congregation, observing, interacting with the congregation, practicing leadership skills, receiving and giving counsel, and further engaging in spiritual disciplines and theological reflection.
The pastor-mentor, the congregation and the !Explore participant collaborate to shape ways for new ministry gifts to emerge and grow, and for new perspectives and vision to be valued.
- The congregation contributes $500 toward the student's stipend.
- Youth receive an additional stipend of $500 from AMBS.