Answers to your questions about !Explore
+ Who is !Explore for?
!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.
+ How does !Explore help participants discern God's voice?
!Explore provides young people an opportunity to explore various leadership roles within their own congregation, as well as a space for discernment during the 16-day group experience. !Explore 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 of !Explore are not expected to know definitively their vocational future and are not pressured to do so while in the program.
+ How does !Explore provide congregations with a concrete opportunity to encourage youth in leadership?
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.
+ How is !Explore designed to develop leadership skills?
Both in the congregational internship and the 16-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.
+ How does !Explore engage young people in theological reflection?
Explore is a theological program. Participants discuss theological questions that interest them with their pastoral mentor and take part in theological discussions with AMBS professors during the 16-day group experience in both formal and informal ways.
+ How does !Explore expose youth to spiritual disciplines?
During the 16-day group experience participants are introduced to various spiritual disciplines. Participants are asked to practice these disciplines in their devotional life throughout the entire summer experience.
+ How is !Explore designed to gather together youth who can offer mutual encouragement and mutual discernment with each other?
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.
+ How does !Explore foster relationship between youth and adults?
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.
+ How does !Explore work at shaping participants perceptions of the church?
!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 16-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 the broader Mennonite church in new ways.
+ How does !Explore introduce young people to seminary life?
The time spent at AMBS is an important part of the 16-day group experience. Participants interact with AMBS professors, attend practical ministry workshops, and are introduced to the vast resources the seminary has to offer.
+ How does !Explore cultivate a commitment to Jesus Christ and dedication to the church?
!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 16-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.
+ How does !Explore raise awareness to the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit?
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.
+ How does !Explore help participants become more confident in God's love for humanity and design for the kingdom?
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.
+ Is !Explore open to youth who are not Mennonite?
Yes, AMBS is an institution of the Mennonite Church which trains leaders with an Anabaptist vision for continuing the reconciling work of Jesus Christ.
"It was really exciting to see strong congregational support for me to go to !Explore both financially and spiritually. I felt affirmed and appreciated by my congregation throughout the entire experience." — Ben Borne, !Explore 2008, Wildwood Mennonite Church, Saskatchewan, Sask and Sarah Yorence of ICF Maranatha, CA.