BY: The Center for Youth Ministry Training

 

There are many great reasons to choose CYMT’s Graduate Residency in Youth Ministry, and the fact that our alumni still choose to engage with CYMT events and curriculum is another testimony of CYMT’s training outcomes.

CYMT’s new partnership with CSM, City Service Mission, opens doors to impact more students across the country, and this is only the beginning. Continuing to believe that we are better together, CYMT has partnered with CSM to bring a “Collide-like” experience to cities across the nation. This partnership allows CYMT to live into our gifts of developing a theologically rich curriculum that enables students to reflect using the WOW Theological Method, ultimately creating a mission trip experience that is much more than a week of community service.

CYMT alumnus and Youth Director at St. Mark’s UMC, Sean Orr, had the opportunity to lead his youth group on an immersion experience in Nashville earlier this summer. Sean was already a fan of CSM, as he had led a group to Denver through CSM in the past. We had the chance to sit down with Sean to learn both about his experience and how he saw CYMT’s relationship with CSM already making a difference in the conversations he was able to have with students.

One of the highlights of the trip for Sean was a conversation he shared with a middle school student. This particular student was going into 7th grade and hadn’t been into Nashville before, even though they live 24 miles away. The 7th grader said, “I hear about people serving in these shelters and always thought that the shelters run themselves. I didn’t think about how these shelters need people like us who want to come and serve.” This particular student served in a shelter for a few days by putting together hygiene kits and handing them out to the guests who came to shower. “If we hadn’t been there, the shelter would still operate. However, it would be a lot more difficult for the shelter to operate and for the people to get what they needed. Why isn’t there always someone there, filling this hole in these people’s lives?”  “I feel like God wants us to do this kind of stuff.”

This type of dialogue is what youth ministers live for. The experience this 7th grader had demonstrated the WOW method at work. This student had a hands-on experience that forced him to have a disorienting dilemma, leading him to think about why a situation exists and how God might want us to participate in bringing wholeness to the situation. Further, this experience will continue to transform this student’s perception of the world and how God calls us believers to step in the gap, bringing hope and light.

Regarding the direct impact CYMT is having on CSM trips, Sean noticed a difference in the ability of students to interact with people who look different than them but connect with the people as well. Sean saw that students were now tackling racism, unity, and equity, all subjects not discussed on his previous trip. Further, his students witnessed inequity within their hands-on experiences and recognized it, leading to further discussion within their group times.  

Sean said, “I was blown away by our middle school students when we did our theological readings during the day. They were intently listening and wrestling with stories they heard Dwight talk about, and then when we did our theological readings, they were making connections between Dwight’s stories and the readings. They were able to recognize kingdom ideas like equity and then realize the inequity that they saw within their serving experiences.” They were able to wrestle with the gap that they saw between the kingdom idea and how things were. They asked, “Why isn’t it that?”

Sean had many “wins” from this trip, but perhaps one of the most incredible wins was how the discussions and experiences allowed the students to draw their own conclusions. Sean felt that the curriculum provided students with the freedom to experience new things, build new skills, and yet create opportunities for theological reflection that didn’t force Sean to clarify any theological differences with his group. Sean felt that the group was purposefully guided and always encouraged along the way. This trip will continue to be a launching pad for Sean’s group throughout the summer and into the school year.

Becoming part of CYMT’s Graduate Residency will connect you to a lifelong network of youth workers who intentionally and thoughtfully engage students in ministry throughout the United States. Set up a call today and start your youth ministry training soon.

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