Alliance News Feed – Two NEXT Ministry Conferences Coming This November

by John Brandon

Six years ago, Ken Castor, a professor of youth ministry at Crown College in Minnesota, started NEXT Ministry Conference as an innovative, affordable one-day training for youth and children’s workers, their lead teams, volunteers, and key high school students. The event has since grown, taking place in six locations including Minnesota, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio and reaching 1,600 people.

Ken is one of NEXT’s featured speakers and is living proof that God can open and close doors at the exact same time.

After the opportunity to start a new church plant dissolved in 2010, he felt a door to serving in a church was closing. At nearly the exact same time, another door opened out of the blue and changed everything.

That year, he moved with his family from Calgary, Alberta, back to the Twin Cities in Minnesota. His ministry plans came to a screeching halt. A church plant is never an easy endeavor, but the pieces just didn’t come together and it was time to move forward. While preparing for another job interview, Ken received a call from Rick Mann, who at the time served as the president of Crown College.

“Do you want to start training the future generation?” he recalls Rick asking at the time.

Fortunately, Ken was fully prepared for the role.

Even at the ripe old age of 16, he had stepped into an unofficial ministry position at his youth group, noting how many teenagers were asking questions about life and faith.

“I had some friends die in car accidents in high school,” Ken says. “I remember how some students and teachers would break down in the hallway after another friend had died. My peers had some big questions about God. I was faced with the reality that I really wanted to help people and help them through tough times. I felt compelled to care for my friends and help them get to know God and understand that God is loving and wants to be present with them.”

Ken Castor speaks at a NEXT Ministry Conference (Photo by Katlyn Giberson)

By 18, he had secured his first summer job as a youth pastor in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “I was a terrible youth pastor at first,” he says. “I had no idea what I was doing.” Later he decided to seek more training, always with a focus on next-generation ministry.

Ken obtained a bachelor’s degree in History and Christian Education at Taylor University and worked with InterVarsity for two years. He went on to seminary at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada, for his master’s of divinity. Since then, he’s served in various next-generation pastoral roles across North America, even as an interim senior pastor for a short time. He also holds a doctorate in ministry from Trinity Western University in British Columbia.

At Crown, he started teaching Youth Ministry courses in the fall semester of 2010. During this time, he thought about how the Christian life has to be firmly rooted.

“My first book Grow Down came out of diagramming what it means to grow spiritually to a group of teenagers and young adults,” Ken says. The book came out in 2014. He started writing for Group Publishing and speaking at national youth ministry events.

He’s also written the devotional book Make a Difference and edited a Bible for youth called the Jesus-Centered Bible, which won the Christian Retailers Devotional Study Bible of the Year award in 2016. It’s filled with unique “blue-letter” commentary about how the Old Testament points to Christ.

He’s also done a fair amount of ghostwriting for nationally-known voices in the Christian scene. Ken lives in Minnesota with his wife, Katharine, and their three kids: Zachary, Benjamin, and Eliana.

Adapted from an article first published at

Upcoming NEXT Ministry Conferences

Lancaster (Pennsylvania) Bible College, November 3, 2018

Dover (Ohio) Alliance Church, November 10, 2018

Learn more and register today!

Source: Alliance News Feed – Two NEXT Ministry Conferences Coming This November

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