As the year 2021 comes to a close, from all of KAM (Josiah Venture Czech Republic), we would like to send you our warmest wishes and heartfelt greetings. With that, we invite you to look back on our ministry over the last year.
As in the previous year, the year 2021 was significantly affected by the Covid pandemic. The long-term lockdown meant a great deal of pressure for leaders and youth teams and often a loss of motivation and perspective. Therefore, the support of youth groups and help with their restart in these Covid times has become a primary focus for the majority of KAM’s activities. This topic was reflected in the personal guidance we provided to the youth leaders as well as our training events. Additionally, the majority of KAM’s programs needed to be constantly adjusted to alternative forms in response to the ever-changing restrictions. Thankfully, many of these programs have been able to return to their previous forms with the release of the restrictions.
At the end of the summer, we organized a retreat for youth leaders in the Krkonoše Mountains: Frontline – for those who serve others. 60 participants from six denominations had the opportunity to draw inspiration for the next school year, build relationships and rejuvenate after a challenging Covid year. Based on very positive feedback from participants, we have agreed to host this event every two years.
Together with the country’s denominations, we entered into two major projects this year. The first surveyed 112 youth groups on the Current State of Czech Youth Groups. We want to repeat this survey every year as it provides valuable insight into the current situation and ever-changing needs and trends of young people. The second project is an online resource and material collaboration to make youth ministry materials readily available to the public.
During Covid, our team for personal support and guidance to young leaders increased to 14 (10 Full-Time Equivalent) staff members. The team is now actively working with 70 youth leaders across the country. To help better prepare them for the new school year, our team engaged 200 youth leaders at 16 Youth Ministry Recharge events that took place at various locations across the Czech Republic.
The pandemic also accelerated the move of KAM Training to social networks and other digital forms to better train young leaders. As part of the COVIDÍŠ project during the spring, we found out through personal online interviews and a social network questionnaire what young people and leaders see and how they feel during the covid period. We subsequently dedicated a series of talk shows on the KAM YouTube channel and an inspiring campaign on the KAM Instagram channel to the most often repeated topics from the survey. These topics included: Fear and Uncertainty, Acts of Love, Prayer, Spontaneity, and Vision.
We have recently created a BASELINE e-learning course – 11 foundational interactive lessons led by leaders from different denominations, which serve as basic training for youth workers. As part of KAM’s internal staff development, we organized the first training day for KAM leadership and the first training day for all KAM employees.
The pandemic situation affected our outreach programs the most. To respond to the changing dynamics, the KAM program teams shifted their capacities to support young leaders, worked on alternative and innovative programs, and participated in the preparation of the summer season. There were 23 camps with various specializations during the summer – English, sports, music, discipleship Ignite camps.
After the summer, we turned to the restart of our outreach programs. We are pleased to say that 10 of the 12 Fusion choirs were able to restart which greatly helped our uniquely designed EuroFusion event that streamed live at the beginning of October. Additionally, 8 of the 9 EDGE Ultimate Frisbee clubs previous groups could restart plus one new EDGE team has started in Havířov.
Our EDGE Sports Ministry also organized two Ultimate Frisbee tournaments with more than 100 players attending each event. While not organizing Ultimate Frisbee tournaments, the EDGE team also hosted ten e-gaming tournaments as an alternative contact ministry during the pandemic lock-downs with an average of 45 players (250 total unique players) at each tournament.
Despite the positive news from our Music and Sports outreach programs, our school ministry programs are still being complicated due to the current state of the pandemic. However, we are rejoicing that amid almost complete lockdowns, the EXIT Tour program could take place in two cities / at 5 schools, where almost 600 students attended preventive lessons and some of them met at afternoon parties with youth in co-organizing churches.
In March 2021, The School for Life ministry completed their Komensky2020 project by announcing the winner of the Project of Transformation competition, which was attended by a total of 34 school classes and groups of young people (video summarizing the project). The theme of Komensky has impacted several other programs conducted in-person at schools and at youth groups, in-person and online. Through the Komensky project, 1,609 students across 41 schools were impacted. Despite the restrictions, we hosted the following events for teachers and lecturers: Recharge (55 participants), Teachers of Hope Anchored in Heaven (175 participants), Online Academy of the School for Life (420 participants), Daniel Weekend (12 participants), Teaching Conference (40 participants). We have also launched a new program in the School Ministry group called the Spiritual Heritage Ministry, which also began the new school year to help local churches build contacts with schools through spiritual and ethical programs.
Last year, ministry previews and testing of the new Quest experiential ministry program took place. This outreach ministry enables teenagers to build relationships with new people based on strong shared experiences (theater, LARP or Live Action Role Playing, psychological activities, storytelling, etc.) followed by a discussion. It can be used to supplement existing youth activities or as a separate contact ministry for the local church.
Additionally, Our Worship.ko innovation project focuses on the practical development of worship leaders and their teams and provides resources for the worship ministry. This year, they hosted several worship cohorts and recently translated the book Worship Matters (Bob Kauflin) as a resource for deeping the impact of Worship in the communities.
We have also used the Covid period to improve our internal systems and tools. We have completed a new KAM website to better communicate with our various target groups. The website now also includes an e-shop with discipleship materials for ministry and KAM merchandise.
At our Malenovice Conference Center, we used the time during lockdown to renovate and upgrade our kitchen and restaurant facilities and converted the outdoor terrace into a beautiful extension of the restaurant seating area. We can’t wait for you to see it!
I am grateful to all of our KAM staff, our donors, youth groups, and churches, who continue to trust us and partner with us in God’s work in our country.
Thank you for the support and financial donations you have made to our staff and projects over the past year and for contributing to the formation of young leaders and healthy youth groups in the Czech churches.