Answers to your questions
Pastors and potential participants seeking to know more about the program can start investigating here. Additional questions can be directed to the [email protected] or via phone at 574.296.6225.
Explore is for the young people in our midst who have heard God's voice in their lives, as faint or bold as it may come, encouraging them to be leaders among God's people in the Mennonite church. It is for the young people in our midst who have budding leadership talent and spiritual understanding.
Equally important, Explore is for entire congregations, and especially pastoral leaders, who are willing to put time and energy into mentoring young leaders. Congregational encouragement and discernment is crucial in the nurturing of faithful leadership. Please note that in many of the biblical call stories, God calls young people who are either personally unsure of their abilities, or who are widely considered unlikely leadership candidates due to age, gender, or some attribute that is perceived to be lacking.
Yes! Explore welcomes participants from other denominations who are interested in joining God's reconciling mission in the world.
Explore provides young people an opportunity to explore various leadership roles within their own congregation, as well as a space for discernment during the 17-day Group Experience. The program is designed to nurture young people through an experience that opens up for them the possibility of a life of ministry in an environment that is safe. Participants are not expected to know definitively their vocational future and are not pressured to do so while in the program.
Congregations are seeking ways to affirm young leaders in their midst. Explore is designed to partner with congregations in this important task by providing structure and opportunity.
Both in the Congregational Experience and the 17-day Group Experience, participants in Explore are offered opportunities to lead and to reflect on leadership. Participants attend practical leadership workshops and engage in activities that promote self awareness about their leadership styles, strengths and weakness.
Explore is a program for the theologically curious. Participants discuss theological questions that interest them with their pastoral mentor and take part in theological discussions with AMBS professors during the 17-day Group Experience in both formal and informal ways.
During the 17-day Group Experience, participants are introduced to various spiritual practices. Participants are asked to practice these disciplines in their devotional life throughout the entire summer experience.
Youth report that one of the most powerful components of Explore is the rich friendships that are formed among participants. Many youth reflect that these relationships have added voices in their life that will continue to offer them spiritual friendship for years to come.
Explore is designed to foster a primary relationship between participants and a pastoral mentor. Many youth also report that the experience brought a new level of respect for denominational church leaders, event pastors, professors and other adults in their congregation.
Explore seeks to introduce participants to the diversity of the church both by including diverse participants in the program and by experiencing a wide range of congregational settings during the 17-day Group Experience. The wide range of theological questions that participants bring to the program also serves to broaden the perspectives of participants and introduces them to the broader Mennonite Church in new ways.
The time spent at AMBS is an important part of the 17-day Group Experience. Participants interact with AMBS professors, attend practical ministry workshops, and are introduced to the vast resources the seminary has to offer.
Explore seeks to promote faith that is expressed in all areas of life. Prayer, Bible study, Corporate worship, and small group sharing times are central to the 17-day Group Experience. Also, participants are introduced to various leaders within the Mennonite church and are encouraged to explore with them how their faith informs their work.
Participants practice spiritual disciplines both individually and corporately. Time is given for participants to reflect on these experiences together and to hear from one another how they sense God is present and leading in their lives.
Participants are challenged to connect theology to the everyday work of the church. They are exposed to settings which give rise to conversations about justice, ethics, and biblical interpretation.
The congregation provides a $500 stipend to the youth participant after they have finished their 100 hours of congregational experience.
As !Explore will be taking care of the airfare, lodging and food during this experience, congregations will be asked to contribute $500 to AMBS for program expenses.
"!Explore is a safe space to be vulnerable and come with a passion. It's incredible." — Scott Litwiller (MDiv 2019), Wichita, Kansas; 2006 participant and 2018 event pastor
"Through !Explore, I've come to see that God is working in the world." — Hannah Brubacher Kaethler, Elkhart, Indiana, 2017 participant