We recently celebrated the class of 2021 and interviewed them about their experience. Listen to what they had to say:
Q: How does it feel to have graduated with a Master of Arts in youth ministry?
- It feels great. I don’t know if I would have survived a role in ministry without this school and training. I am much more prepared to do my job and do it well now that I have this degree. (Jonathan Creekmore)
- Amazing! It was a long hard journey, but during it I got to see all the people who support me and love me. I had the best coach and the best friends to walk this journey in seminary, I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. I feel more confident in my ministry and have a drive to continue in learning ways to best serve our youth. Before CYMT, I never got affirmed in my calling in youth ministry by others, but after I feel affirmed in my calling and supported in it. (Stephen Racine, Professional Education Track)
Q: What are your plans for after graduation?
- I’ll be working as the Student and Family Ministry Director at Church of the Palms in Sarasota, FL. (Conor Peters)
- I will be serving at the same church and will be investing more time into my youth and into my calling. (Brett Bucklin)
- I will continue my new job in Cullman. I plan on learning guitar to provide my students with worship, and learning Spanish to better connect to my hispanic students. I will also start working on getting licensed in the UMC. (Jonathan Creekmore)
- I plan to continue serving my current church, Columbus First United Methodist Church, in Mississippi. I also plan to take time to breathe and spend time with my family. I would also like to assist in any way helping train other youth pastors. I am indebted to CYMT for supporting me, I would like to give back that support. (Stephen Racine)
Q: What is the biggest thing you learned from being in CYMT?
- Every situation is unique and requires careful thought and prayer to navigate in a healthy and supportive manner. (Conor Peters)
- Patience, grace, and hard work. Also that the people are incredible! (Brett Bucklin)
- How to be a better youth minister. (Jonathan Creekmore)
- That I am not alone and that I can rely on Jesus. So much of ministry can feel lonely, CYMT shows you that you are not alone. It gives you a community of support and accountability. Through my courses I learned how to not rely solely on my own work but to rely on the action and voice of God. This allows me to listen and understand that ministry is not all on me and showed me ways to better serve our youth without burning myself out. I learned how to take care of myself and my family while doing ministry, not neglecting my personal care. All these things together help me be a healthier person for myself and the people around me. (Stephen Racine)
Q: How will your ministry be different because of being in the program?
- I’ll be able to bring a more well rounded leadership approach to our students and families. Due to my time in CYMT I understand the importance of investing in families and not just students. (Conor Peters)
- It will be a ministry that is not solely relying on myself. I learned how to teach volunteers and help lead my church in doing youth ministry, so now I serve with a team, not by myself. Also, I found ways to get our youth involved in listening to God’s voice, not just mine, and that changes a lot of what we do and allows us to ask ourselves why we do or plan something. Also, I will continue to be more intentional with the things we do and how we do them. My ministry will be healthier for myself and all involved. (Stephen Racine)
Q: What advice would you give those already in the program? and considering CYMT?
- Enter in with an open mind and always be eager to learn. Understanding that you can learn something from each person will help you enter into relationships from a humble position. (Conor Peters)
- Keep up the hard work, keep to your rhythmic week, and have fun! (Brett Bucklin)
- CYMT will equip you with everything you need to succeed, but you actually have to put in the work. Don’t expect things to just happen, you have to get out there and make it happen. (Jonathan Creekmore)
- Don’t be afraid to be wrong or afraid to ask questions and receive feedback. We learn from mistakes as well as from asking questions and getting feedback from our peers and teachers. If you want to grow and be the best minister of youth, CYMT is the place, but you have to be willing to be uncomfortable at times. CYMT will push you to be the best you can be, but in a loving and supportive way. (Stephen Racine)