NextGen Ministries

What is NextGen Ministry?

Children’s Ministry + Youth Ministry combine to create a brand new vision for the ministries of this church. 

Up until this point we have run these ministries as a completely separate entity, but had both meet on the same night.  The idea behind the re-brand is to really hit home that our ministries for school aged students is all done right here with the same mission.

The Youth Group has been run as its own group separate from the Children’s Ministry – the students often get annoyed when “lumped together” with the kid’s ministry.  And there has been some confusion of when “Youth Group” actually starts.  By re-branding, we can call the entire ministry one title, and be able to create classes by age.  Instead of feeling separate, it all feels together still!

So how does that look?

NextGen Kids

The NextGen Kids Ministry will have a focus for students 3rd Grade and Below.  This group will now be meeting on Tuesday Nights at the church from 6:00-7:00pm.  The idea behind moving this group away from Wednesday Night was to free up some space in the classrooms for social distancing, while also being able to provide the best ministry we can to the age groups.  

On Tuesday Nights we will have 2 classes to offer our kids – K-1st Grade and 2nd-3rd Grade.  We will be referring to these groups as the Younger Kids and the Older Kids for now (our curriculum splits them up this way to provide for better learning based on age).

One perk of having this group meet on Tuesday’s is that it frees up space to be able to offer an activity to each age group separately.  Instead of trying to find an activity that can work for 3rd graders but also for Kindergartners, we can offer 2 separate activities!

If we have any resources for parents or students of this age group it will be posted below!

NextGen Middle School

The next group we have is designed for our 4th-8th Grade students.  This group faces the toughest task of going from a “Kid’s Ministry” mindset to a “Youth Ministry” mindset.  With NextGen, we are creating ways to transition for the stereotypical kid’s ministry to youth ministry.  One of the toughest ages to teach in the church is 6th Grade.  That is our big transition year where a lot of maturing happens.

NextGen Middle will meet on Wednesday Nights from 6:00-7:00 or 7:30, utilizing multiple buildings and classrooms to house all 3 of these classes.  We have split them up like this:  4th-5th Grade is what we call our Middle School Group.  6th Grade is its own Transition Group. 7th-8th Grade make up our Junior High Group.

4th and 5th Grade will have the flexibility of using the large classroom in the church, and the Fellowship Hall for their group activities.  

6th Grade will have a classroom TBD based on the size of the Group.

7th-8th Grade will have the Annex to meet and unlike the other two groups, they will meet for an extra 30 mins (until 7:30).  This group puts an emphasis on Small Group breakouts and will utilize the whole building for group discussions after lessons.  This group centers on trying to help connect younger students to their faith and find ways to introduce them to the topics and themes from the Bible that connect with them.  This is a great place to start out your faith journey most of the students here are coming from little to no Christian education background.  This is as much about learning the stories, as learning about yourself and how Jesus is a part of your lives.

If we have any resources for students in this age group it will be found below!

NextGen High School

The Senior High Youth Group is designed for High School aged students.  This group works to expand on the basics they learned as Junior High Students in a way that brings the whole thing home for them.  We do a lot more group discussion and encourage students to talk to one another about God and how He works in their lives.  This group is a little more serious, but doesn’t lack in fun!  Most of these students are here because they want to have a relationship with God, we hope to help guide them to a strong and healthy relationship with Him.  We make a point of tying activities (or as Michelle might say: activitays!) to each lesson, making the experience memorable.

This group will begin meeting on Sunday Nights from 6:00-7:30 when school starts.  It will give them the freedom of having the space they need for lessons and activities.  This is a big change in how we have done ministry before, but it gives us more classroom flexibility.

If we have any resources for these students, they will be found below!


For over 20 years Downs UMC has taken high school students on a trip in the winter time to enhance their relationship with God.  Camp Timber-Lee; located near East Troy, Wisconsin, is a memorable place full of activities and deep spiritual discussions.  Over the last 5 years we have averaged taking 40 students from the Tri-Valley community to TL.  We have a fantastic group of students who take the time out of their busy school schedules to spend a weekend with God, in a way that feels special.  We leave after school on Friday afternoon and return home Sunday evening.

Every year there is a guest speaker who will share experiences in scripture and tell stories to the students in Chapel sessions (4 sessions throughout the weekend).  Each session is connected to a point in scripture and a theme is followed throughout the weekend.  Sessions are for the whole group, usually 5-10 total church groups from around the Midwest.  After each session, groups are sent to small group discussions where each individual church group gets a chance to dive deeper into the session message.  These breakouts are a great way to encourage conversation between the students about how God works in their lives.

This trip offers a lot of fun and neat activities for the students as well:  there is a small rec center with ping pong, carpet ball and a snack booth.  The students can go tubing, tobogganing, cross country skiing, zip-lining, horseback riding, among other cool things.  There is also a pretty sweet nature center, that offers students a chance to get up-close and personal with some of the wildlife and offers a really cool Creation Walk experience that takes students through the beginning of the book of Genesis and how God created everything!  Oh, and there’s a little thing called Broom-ball that we have some fun with as well (we currently have a pretty solid 9 year winning streak of claiming the Broom-ball Championship – full shelf of trophies on display in Kyle’s Office).