Wesley's new youth minister look to lay new foundations

Feb. 4—Reaching kids with the Gospel can be a challenge in the best of times. Keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of youth culture can be like trying to translate a foreign language, but Wesley United Methodist Church's new youth minister figures she has as good a shot at it as anyone.

Kaylin Curry, 22, said it's going to be a lot of going to where they are. Hanging out, getting lunch or dinner, attending games — "going into their world."

She hasn't been out of high school that long, and already feels like she's having to catch up with the kids.

"I can't grow up for a while," she laughed. "I'll have to learn as I'm doing that and listen to them. ... The purpose of this is to get youth to hear the Gospel and get to know Jesus in any kind of way."

The Gray, Georgia, native moved to the Golden Isles in July last year to take a position as assistant manager at Gather Café and Thrift. This was just after earning her bachelor's of business administration from Middle Georgia State University.

"I saw myself in a business setting," Curry said. "I always wanted to do ministry, but I never saw myself doing it in a church."

She knew of the Golden Isles before moving here, but most of her life kind of centered around the Middle Georgia-Macon area. Any trips to the Isles were usually just for fun.

"I don't know if you'd call them vacations or wild-hair trips," she joked.

Curry has helped organize church events since she was a junior in high school. In fact, she says she basically grew up going to church. Curry never really broke with the ministry, having gone on to serve as a worship leader and interned in youth programs through college while she maintained a job as an event planner at a pharmacy.

One wouldn't necessarily connect a business management major with the skills of a youth minister, but Curry says both her education and experience in event planning and church organizing intersect in her new role.

That isn't to say it's going to be a cakewalk. She started at Wesley on Jan. 3 and already sees that actually taking the reins of a youth program is a lot more work than simply organizing the events.

"Anything is different when you're doing it as opposed to just being in it," Curry said. "I can't just assume what worked for me will work here, (but) I think there's a lot of business management that plays in here."

That's why she's basically rebooting Wesley's youth program to lay a new foundation in two senses. One is getting to know the kids and parents and having a solid relationship with them, and the other is the practical side — age group structure, meeting times, the leadership hierarchy, etc.

But it's all in service of being a mentor to kids who are on their journey to learning what it means to be a Christian.

"My heart is to be genuinely good friends with them," Curry said. "My hope is they can understand what it's like to love Jesus through a relationship with me."

Building friendships and establishing a student- mentor relationship doesn't happen overnight. It'll take work and perseverance. And sometimes, rather than delving into the scripture, what the kids might need is a little fun and bonding time.

"We don't have to dig deep into the spiritual side of things, sometimes it's just playing a game," she said.

On Sundays, middle schoolers meet from 5-6:30 p.m. and high schoolers from 6-8 p.m.

She's still working part-time in her job at Gather, but Curry says she doesn't consider this to be a short-term detour in her business career. It's going to take a few years to get the program established and growing, she said, and she plans to be there long enough to see it through.

"Lord willing," she added.