Ryan (he/they) never planned on being a youth pastor. They had volunteered at summer camps and youth-serving organizations, but also had a full-time job that provided a life they were comfortable with. 

He and his wife weren’t even really active church attendees. As they started their family, however, they both recognized the church had been a positive influence on them growing up and wanted the same for their own children. 

So their family started attending a small church in their hometown of Lawrence, Kansas. Shortly after, Ryan noticed a listing in the bulletin – the church was hiring a part-time youth pastor. He recalls reading the listing and, although he didn’t have ministry experience, something in him said, “You could do that.”

Although he didn’t have ministry experience, something in him said, “You could do that.”

Ryan loves young people and is just the right combination of curious, smart, and playful that makes for an incredible pastor to teenagers. They applied and were offered the job, but had two major hesitations.

First, it couldn’t get in the way of his full-time job which supported his family. Second, he had no theological training whatsoever. 

Fortunately, the church had a partnership with Ministry Leadership Initiative (MLI), which is now a part of CYMT. MLI gave Ryan the opportunity to attend intensives where he learned from seminary professors and experienced professionals, without interfering with his full-time job. Over the course of the two-year program, he says he learned the tools to respond to the challenges his youth face. 

As a graduate of the program and recipient of a Ministry Leadership Certificate in Youth and Children’s Ministry, Ryan says the most valuable part of the experience was the community they gained — 

“What really stuck with me, to this day, were the relationships built and the network of support and trust formed between our cohort. I know that for the rest of my career, peers and mentors are only a quick phone call or email away, and that level of care can’t be taught in a classroom.”

“That level of care can’t be taught in a classroom.”

Through MLI, CYMT creates systems of support for bi-vocational pastors like Ryan who are both deeply called to ministry and pursuing other roles. For Ryan, holding both roles is a faithful execution of his calling, not just to ministry but to family.

At CYMT, we believe young people need healthy, well-supported ministers. That’s why we equip youth ministers with the theological training and tools they need to thrive. Learn more about CYMT’s certificate program for youth and children’s pastors here.