As the United States hit a massive economic crisis around 2008, few areas were affected more than the industrial powerhouses of Michigan. It was in that era that Josh Wellborn, the newly appointed national director of Assemblies of God National Youth Ministries, found himself serving as youth pastor in a booming church just outside of Flint, Michigan.
“My grandfather worked for Ford for years and years,” Wellborn recalls. “Seeing the crisis roll out in Flint was heart wrenching.”
As Wellborn stepped into district leadership as the district youth director (DYD) for the Michigan District Council, he took with him a new understanding of what spiritual leadership in a rapidly changing culture looks like.
One of the first steps he took as DYD was to bring local youth pastors front and center at district events.
“At our first youth convention, I had 20 different youth pastors on the stage at one point or another,” recalls Wellborn. “Every element of the youth convention was led by a youth pastor. They each felt a level of ownership”
It’s that hands-on level of forging relationships and recognizing local ministry efforts that have been hallmarks of Wellborn’s leadership as a DYD.
“Josh has demonstrated as a DYD that he has a deep love for the church, local youth pastors, and missions,” notes AG General Superintendent Doug Clay.
Wellborn’s focus on collaboration among youth ministers in Michigan was further noted by his “Better Together” initiative that started with his district tenure. The initiative was eventually adopted by all age levels of the Michigan District.
“Superintendent Clay brought his experience as a previous national youth director to the search process,” says Assistant General Superintendent Alton Garrison, who also serves as the executive director of AG Church Ministries. “We see the challenges facing our teens today, so we knew how important this position would be.”
Wellborn will lead National Youth Ministries, which helps develop strategies to reach teenagers — a group which comprises one in five of the Fellowship’s adherents.