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Troy Temple brings lifelong youth ministry calling to Southern Seminary
April 03, 2006
By David Roach

Troy Temple teaches at a past Vision Conference at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Temple said that "there's a huge open field out there" for missions work to youth. Photo by David Merrifield

Out of all the people groups on earth, which one is the largest and the most receptive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

According to Troy Temple, it's not a geographic, national or ethnic group. It's youth.

That's why Temple, assistant professor of youth ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and associate director of the International Center for Youth Ministry at the seminary and Boyce College, has devoted his ministry to working with teenagers.

"We know that what we've been given to here is training people to reach the most receptive group on the planet, which is also the largest single people group on the planet," he said. "It is estimated that 52 percent of the world's population is under the age of 20. If any of the stats prove true that those who make decisions for Christ do so at an early age, there's a huge open field out there."

Temple's call to youth ministry came when he was a high school senior in Charlotte, N.C. After hearing several Christian speakers, he felt God leading him to ministry and went to see his youth pastor. The man urged Temple to try another career, but when Temple couldn't get youth ministry out of his mind, the youth pastor knew Temple's call was genuine.

"[My youth pastor] said, 'I knew if you had any inkling to do anything else, I wanted to encourage you to pursue that," he said. "My prayer has been that God would not let you go in your call to youth ministry but that He would strengthen it.' And he said, 'I think that's what He's done.'"

So Temple enrolled in the youth ministry program at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., where he earned a degree and eventually became a graduate assistant in the university's Center for Youth Ministry. After completing graduate work in youth ministry, Temple began teaching at Liberty.

Throughout his education, Temple served in several youth ministry positions, but in 1999 he felt God drawing him to full-time youth ministry in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"I had been doing equipping and training for four or five years, two years full time on faculty, and God gave us a new fire and a new passion for serving in a local church," he said.

Temple's focus on working with teenagers eventually captured the attention of Southern's youth ministry program, and he was hired as the second faculty member in the International Center for Youth Ministry in 2002.

As a person with a lifelong call to youth ministry, Temple urges students to see youth ministry as an important job in the church rather than a stepping-stone to other ministry opportunities.

"As we continue to hold up the call and the standard and sound the call to reach students and do local church youth ministry more effectively, we will still see some that do it for a time and then move into other areas," he said. "But I think we'll see an increase, especially on our campus, in those coming who are committed to a lifelong call for youth ministry."

Training a new generation of youth ministers is particularly important today because Southern Baptist churches are increasingly seeking full-time youth ministers, Temple said. He also emphasized the need to train youth ministers to minister to teens on the international mission field.

"Internationally we are seeing more and more opportunities in different countries where local church leaders and missionaries are expressing needs for those trained to work with adolescents around the world," he said. "We've got to jump on the opportunity."

Regardless of where they serve, all youth ministers must honor God by remaining faithful to their calls, Temple added.

"If we go into it with the mindset of ministering with integrity and doing what God has called us to do, I think we honor Him by following what He's put in our hearts," he said.

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