The Master Guide (MG) class is the top level of class achievement. It is the "Ph.D." of Youth Ministry in the field. You cannot earn your Master Guide, without taking at least one BST (Basic Staff Training) course. The Master Guide is the expert, the advisor, the promoter, for Adventurers, Pathfinders, Ambassadors, Youth Emergency Service Corp and Youth. As such, MG is NOT a Pathfinder Program, it is a Youth Ministry Leadership Program. You now have in the step of one click one of the most current leadership development program for youth ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This concept uses the Master Guide as the foundation for youth ministry leadership, then builds two levels of continuing education that will help keep youth leaders sharp, up-to-date and focused on why we are in this business anyway.
Part One-- Master Guide
This continues to be the highest level of leadership within the Adventurer/ Pathfinder programs of the church. It focuses on one’s personal spiritual life and growth first and foremost. General leadership skills are then woven into the sharpening of those skills, which are specifically geared to leading youth in God-ordained areas of development: understanding God’s world of nature, outreach ministry, service to others and a life-style that denotes healthy living. As one church leader of the past put it so simply: “You can’t teach what you don’t know, and you can’t lead where you won’t go.” As leaders we must not only be good at spouting theory if we expect to see success with our youth ministry; we must live what we preach and demonstrate it.
Part Two-- Pathfinder Leadership Award (PLA)
Once the Master Guide level has been completed, most leaders feel they “have arrived” and now have the necessary tools to properly guide their youth through the varied programs the church has for its youth. This feeling of adequacy may last a short time or for quite awhile, but sooner or later one begins to sense that unnecessary mistakes are being made, that the world continues, but somehow “I got left behind.” Also, in many areas of the world there are now in place laws that require continuing education on the part of anyone who works with young people, be they paid employees or volunteers. Generally, this expected continuing education can be in the form of youth-related workshops/seminars to be attended on a periodic basis.
There is also a growing group of persons who have put in many years of service to local clubs and are now being asked to share those years of experience and expertise with other clubs as “Area Coordinators” (or other similar titles). It becomes easy for these people to begin living in the past and get out-of-touch with the realities of the present. Getting out of touch is even easier for church-paid employees– namely, youth department directors– at all levels, from local fields to the General Conference.
The purpose of this level of continuing education is to 1) continue equipping leaders for a sharper Pathfinder ministry, and 2) enable those who are finding themselves removed from reality to keep pace. Again, there is a refocus on personal spiritual growth, which must be a never-ending upward path. There are several seminars of advanced-level leadership development and opportunity for practical application of lessons learned.
Part Three-- Advanced Pathfinder Leadership Award (APLA) (Pathfinder Instructor Award– PIA)
This level is heavy on training the trainers– Area Coordinators and others who will be involved in helping local club leadership be as focused and sharp as possible. Persons who attempt this level must be approved by the local conference/field youth department, which would imply that these persons are already living exemplary Seventh-day Adventist Christian lives. They qualify as true role models in their daily living, in leadership and in all Pathfinder-related skills. The skills learned during this level of continuing education will enable the candidate to clearly present the very best of knowledge in the very best of ways so that club leadership will gain the maximum benefit-- implying, therefore, that the children receiving the actual development process might truly become the very best youth in the world. It should be true indeed at every investiture that “these symbols presented represent the very highest ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for its youth.”