Young Adult Leadership Development


Co-Creating Spaces with and for Young Adults

NBA’s Young Adult Leadership Development program area co-creates spaces with and for young adults ages 18-30 focused on self-identity, leadership formation, capacity building, and justice and equity. We support young adults in cultivating healthy and wholistic identity formation, understanding that young adulthood is a complex journey from primary dependence on family and community to independence and interdependence in a multiplicity of communities (family and friends, faith community, higher education or work environments to name a few). We support young adults as they lean into the process of discovery and affirmation of their own leadership potential and invite them to explore and expand that potential through ministries centered on health, social service, and justice-related issues.


Core Values

These values represent our focus within the Young Adult Leadership Development program area. They are born out of the discovery and work we’ve done alongside young adults since the 1990s.

Build Legacy

We invite and welcome young adults into spaces that allow for intergenerational learning and leading.

Vocational Exploration

We initiate networking and resource connections for ministry inside and outside the church.

Leadership Development

We co-create communities with and for young adult leaders that identifies leadership qualities, builds leadership capacity, and allows young adults to explore new possibilities, particularly in areas of service and justice.

Transform Church & Communities

We engage in active listening, planning, and implementation of ideas and collaborative efforts.  We connect young adults to congregational, churchwide, and community initiatives to engage at all levels of leadership and mentoring.

Equity in Leadership

We prioritize historically unserved and underserved communities of young adults to ensure every area of church and community has access to resources, support, and opportunity.

Residential Opportunities

Black Women's Leadership Experience

The Black Women’s Leadership Experience (BWLE) supports Black women, ages 23-30, in their spiritual and vocational pursuits by creating a community of compassion and care that fosters: Self-Love, Authenticity, Creativity, and Healing. The BWLE provides two opportunities for the growth, support, and development of young adult leaders:

Residential Program
This 24-month residential leadership development program provides a platform for young adult Black women to discover their path by supporting their identity formation and leadership development. The program offers full-time paid work in a local service or justice organization, a facilitated program curriculum centered in Womanist studies, wellness support, and mentorship. Read our FAQ to learn how you can support this program area.

Applications are open through March 29, 2024. Learn more and apply here. 

A unique space for exploring what it means to be an intergenerational community of Black women journeying through identity exploration, as well as vocational reflection and discernment through service, the arts, education, and public policy. Retreats are 3-4 day in-person gatherings followed by ongoing support and engagement opportunities. Stay tuned for more information on these events in the future.

Focus Areas

Leadership Experiences

  • Black Women’s Leadership Experiences— Retreats and a 24-month residential program to support the identity formation and leadership development of young adult Black women ages 23-30.
  • XPLOR—A 10-month residency program offered from 2013-2020.
  • Other Affinity Groups—as we continue exploring with young adults their needs, we have shaped our leadership experience model to branch out into new group experiences.

Peer Learning & Wellness Groups

Educational Workshops

Visit our Resources page to find a multitude of articles, recorded webinars, and videos, on a variety of topics that benefit young adults such as:

Visit for more info.

Young Adult Leadership Development Grants

NBA offers leadership development grants for Disciples-affiliated young adults, aged 18–30. These grants will be available for areas such as:

  • Professional Development/Continuing Education
  • Leadership Development
  • Special Projects/Idea Exploration

Applications open two times a year. 2024 applications will be open January-February 2024 and June-July 2024. Click here to learn more and apply. 


Meet the Team

Dr. Tene Davis


Rev. Virzola Law

Young Adult Leadership Development Mission Specialist

Stories About Young Adults

Meet NBA’s New Director of Young Adult Leadership Development

We’re so excited for what’s next in our young adult program and proud to introduce Dr. Tene Davis, NBA’s new Director of Young Adult Leadership Development.

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2023 NBA Town Hall

There have been so many exciting resources, initiatives and partnerships at NBA recently, hear all about it!

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The Zillennial Experience: Faith, Justice, and Community

As younger Millennials and the first of Generation-Z are being ushered into adulthood, NBA offers a panel discussion with young adults and young adult leaders, influencers, and supporters.

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Where Are They Now: NBA XPLOR Resident Lauren Frato

Seven years ago, Lauren Frato embarked on a 10-month experience with NBA that served at the catalyst for her career.

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Announcing the Fall 2022 Mission & Ministry Grantees

Meet our newest group of Mission & Ministry Grantees. These ministries represent 22 different Disciples regions and will serve a multitude of generations in topics of mental health, entrepreneurship, and creative endeavors.

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NBA XPLOR: A Retrospective

Since NBA began it's work with young adults in the 1990s, our work with young adults has grown in many ways. NBA XPLOR co-founder Rev. Ben Bohren shares his take on how it all came to be.

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NBA Invites Three New Organizations to Become Incubate Partners

Meet our newest Incubate Partners for 2022!

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Wellness, Rhythm & Balance: A Retreat for Peer Groups

In the spring, NBA brought together members of our Peer Learning and Wellness Groups for a weekend of fellowship, reflection, and healing.

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Get to Know Rev. Rae Karim: NBA’s Interim Program Coordinator of XPLOR/Young Adult Leadership Development

NBA has been engaged with young adults across the denomination for more than a decade. Get to know Rev. Rae Karim, the woman leading this work at NBA.

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Juliette Fowler’s Ebby House Provides a Place for Young Women to Heal and Gain Independence

NBA’s Mission & Ministry grants support young women like Amy who was a homeless teen taken in by Juliette Fowler’s Ebby House and has blossomed ever since.

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Mission & Ministry Grants Help Young Adults Gain Life Skills

Mission & Ministry Grants help support young adults like Tonya, who earned her driver’s license and secured a scholarship for college with support from NBA grantee Child Saving Institute and their Independent Living Skills program.

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Peer Learning & Wellness Groups Create a Place to Connect, Be Seen and Heard

NBA is in the process of launching several Peer Learning & Wellness Groups that center voices of color. Meet the conveners leading the charge.

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Focusing on the Future: An Update on NBA XPLOR

NBA XPLOR update! The traditional residential model will stay on hiatus for 2021 with NBA’s team putting energy towards three exciting new ventures.

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Rev. Dr. Ben Bohren on the Heart of NBA XPLOR

Before the end of 2020, we asked Ben to reflect on “the heart of XPLOR,” the Four Cornerstones of the program, and what being part of young adult leadership development has meant to him personally.

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All People’s College Corner Program Successfully Helps Teens Afford College

All People's Community Center shares how receiving a 2019-20 Mission & Ministry grant impacted their ministry.

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NBA Honors Rev. Margie Pride of Memorial Boulevard Christian Church

The National Benevolent Association celebrates the ministry of and congratulates Rev. Margie Pride on her recent retirement from more than 30 years of ministry as pastor of Memorial Boulevard Christian Church in St. Louis, Missouri.

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XPLORing the Creation of the NBA Voting Rights and Registration Resources

Alex Keys, Resident of the 2019-20 NBA XPLOR St. Louis House shares why created NBA's voting resources and the importance of faith communities involvement in elections.

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Former St. Louis NBA XPLOR Residents Reflect on the Novel Coronavirus

Residents from the St. Louis XPLOR House chose to stay in the house until the end of their residency. They’ve shared how it felt when they first heard about the novel Coronavirus and what the remainder of their time in the XPLOR program was like.

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Artistic Expression as a Form of Resilience

Residents created art as a way to navigate their feelings in adapting to life under social distancing.

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How Hiram Christian Church Faithfully Used the COVID-19 NBA Response Grant

When news of the COVID-19 pandemic began to emerge, a small group of concerned members of Hiram Christian Church (HCC) gathered to prayerfully discern how the church could offer care to the community through this time. This is what came of those meetings.

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NBA XPLOR Announces Hiatus for 2020-21 Program Year

After considerable discernment, the National Benevolent Association (NBA) has made the difficult decision to place our young adult residential program, NBA XPLOR, on hiatus for the 2020-21 program year.

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What I’ve Learned as an NBA XPLOR Resident and Why You Should Apply to Join

Why should young adults apply to be part of the NBA's XPLOR cohort? 2019-20 Bloomington, Indiana Resident, Adrian Griffin explains what he's learned during his Residency.

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XPLOR Responds to Coronavirus with “Virtual” Residency Model

NBA XPLOR has been a nexus of change and transformation for young adult Residents and local communities since it began in 2004. This spring, COVID-19 brought changes to our program, here's what we're doing.

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Life of the Beloved

XPLOR Resident Evan Gough joined this program for many reasons, but one specifically was to find what was missing in his life, here's what he's learned so far.

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My Leap of Faith Crossing the Midwest

2019-20 Hiram Mantua, OH XPLOR Resident Courtney Sharp shares some snapshots from her time in the XPLOR program.

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XPLOR is a Roadway

Natalie Langham, 2019-20 NBA XPLOR Resident in Hiram Mantua, OH shares what the last year has meant to her since hitting a low point and learning about XPLOR.

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My Experience on NBA’s 2019 Immigration Detention Immersion Trip

2019-20 St. Louis XPLOR Resident Alex Key's shares his experience at the 2019 Immigration Detention Immersion Trip.

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Reflections from Spokane

Three months into his XPLOR Residency in Spokane, WA and resident Tristan Cole is loving how he's grown in his faith.

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XPLOR Residents, I Believe in You

XPLORmore Resident Mady McColm shared a heartwarming letter with her fellow XPLOR Residents. #CalledtoCare

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Camp Sunflower’s Experience at 2019 SENT Seminar

Grant recipients Camp Sunflower from Witchita, KS have come a long way since they began in 2016.

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Events and Opportunities for Young Adults

May 1, 2024

2024 imPACT Partner Applications

Apply to be a part of our imPACT program and receive salary assistance, benefits, coaching, and consulting so that you...

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May 1, 2024

Apply for the API Young Adults Peer Learning & Wellness Group

Apply to join a two-year hybrid Peer Learning and Wellness Group for Disciples-affiliated Asian-American and Pacific Islander (API) young adults...

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May 1, 2024

Apply for the Executive Leaders Peer Learning and Wellness Group

Apply to join a two-year hybrid Peer Learning and Wellness Group for Executive Leaders of health and social service ministries...

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May 1, 2024

Apply for the Prison and Jails Ministries Peer Learning and Wellness Group

Apply to join a two-year hybrid Peer Learning and Wellness Group for leaders engaged in spiritual care and advocacy ministries with...

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May 1, 2024

Apply for the Chaplains Peer Learning and Wellness Group

Apply to join a two-year hybrid Peer Learning & Wellness Group connecting individuals serving in various forms of chaplaincy across...

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May 21, 2024

NBA Innovative Conversations: Older Adult Ministries Webinar on Meditation and Contemplation

Join the Older Adults Ministry Innovative Conversation Group as Rev. Dr. Paul Koch guides us through contemplation strategies. There is...

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May 29, 2024

NBA Innovative Conversations: Older Adult Ministries Webinar on Creating Support Groups

Join the Older Adults Ministry Innovative Conversation Group as Rev. Kimberly Weir, Pastor Sandy Roberts, and Jan Aerie, Gerontologist, offer...

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Our History

NBA XPLOR Residency Program

The NBA has engaged with young adults in a multitude of ways throughout our history. Whether via our Leadership Scholars Program in the 1990s, our work alongside congregations and nonprofits that serve young people, or hosting the NBA XPLOR Residency program — intentionally and thoughtfully working with young adult communities has been an important part of NBA programming.

After much discussion, research, and reflection, the NBA XPLOR Residency program concluded after seven tremendous years of impact. In that time, we and so many Disciples churches and communities who offered their generous support, nurtured and accompanied over 100 young adults, many of whom are now ordained clergy, chaplains, social workers, and nonprofit professionals, just to name a few areas that they went into. We give thanks to these XPLOR alums! View the historic NBA XPLOR webpage and get to know some of the alumni.