The following is a transcript of an interview by Tiffany Malone of the Center for Youth Ministry Training with Lisa Vegors, taken from our admissions newsletter sent November 2nd, 2020. Some of the questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Lisa Vegors serves at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Franklin, TN, and brings 20 years of ministry experience to share with the graduate residents in CYMT. In college, Lisa decided that working with teenagers would be a good fit for her while interning at a cultural diversity camp. She loved the age group and wanted to be able to be “open and upfront with her faith.” As a result, Lisa pursued her call to ministry by interning under some youth ministers and attending Vanderbilt Divinity School.
What do you love about CYMT’s ministry model?
“I was so fortunate in my early years of ministry to have been able to get to walk the road of ministry with some knowledgeable youth ministers. They often helped me solve problems or served as spiritual and moral support. I often wondered how anyone would go into youth ministry without this unofficial network surrounding them. It seemed to me that those who lucked into these networks had much more successful ministries. I LOVE that CYMT has formalized this unofficial network. CYMT has been intentional in supporting experienced youth ministers, and CYMT has also added in education, relationship building with teens, coworkers, volunteers, and church members. They give training on almost all of the ministry aspects that older youth ministers encounter and learned how to handle with a series of trial and error. I am impressed with how CYMT did not adopt a model 10+ years ago and stick with it. They are constantly adapting and improving to prepare their students to handle whatever challenges our churches are facing today in this ever-changing climate.”
What do you love about coaching?
“I love that I get to do for someone else what others did for me in my early years of ministry. It allows me to not only use my expertise in my church but to offer my knowledge beyond my current faith community.”
What are some of the challenges you see Graduate Residents face that you get guide them through?
“The honest answer for today is that a pandemic does not mean youth ministry is doomed. Students need God, their community, and faithful people more than ever. Is it strange when those relationships turn to the digital world or when they must happen 6 feet apart? Yes. There is no doubt that COVID-19 has challenged us all in ministry but the opportunity to remind our residents and myself that no matter how bad it gets, we are a people of hope. Our faith is a source of joy. We are all thinking creatively to reach our students. Helping them through what so many of us in years past did when Safe Sanctuary/Safe Environment rules came into effect. We had our normal ways of interacting, and it seemed like all these new rules would keep us from our students, but we all adapted and thought creatively and figured out how to reach our teens and follow the new guidelines at the same time.”
Please share your favorite coaching moment with us.
“I remember my first few weeks with my resident seeing how green she was in ministry. I spent time trying to support her with resources, prayers, advice in ministry. Then when we were in our first few months of the pandemic, we were going over her virtual lesson. While looking at what she had written and prepared, I was impressed. So much so that I asked if she could send some of her content my way because I planned to use it soon in my student ministry. Isn’t the goal of all teachers and coaches to see your students move to a place where they are becoming the teacher themselves?!”
What are attributes that make for a good youth minister?
What advice would you give to someone looking to apply for CYMT vs. going to another seminary program? Why?
“When I left seminary, I had a lot of knowledge about the Bible and other perspectives of theology. CYMT offers to prepare you theologically and with the practical skills you need to be successful in ministry. I had a professor once ask me, ‘What class do you think would have been beneficial that we did not offer?’ I told the professor, ‘Practical Ministry 101. Resources to make liability releases, basics on what we should and should not post on social media, what are effective ways to reach students or church members that are not regularly attending… and the list goes on.’ His response was, ‘Well, that will never happen.’ CYMT has made that happen. You get both at CYMT. If youth ministry is what you want to do, why would you go to a place that only teaches you half of what you need to know?”
What do you hope this next generation of youth ministers will do differently than the last?
“I hope they do a better job of making a place for all of God’s people in our churches. I am already seeing that trend begin. When we give our all to our faith we need to remember to love each person where they are first and hope that they will eventually understand and embrace our faith’s truths. We need to hold tight that God did not call us to welcome and love people who are only like ourselves. God called us to welcome and love all people.”
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