Linzi Anderson hails from Northern Ireland and is a graduate of the School of Chemistry at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “After college I did an internship with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) which resulted in me being on staff at Greystones Presbyterian Church in Ireland for four years,” Linzi says. “There isn’t a whole lot of opportunity to train in youth ministry in Ireland, especially at a graduate level, so the board of Youth and Children for PCI suggested I look into CYMT.”
CYMT matched Linzi’s gifts, skills, and potential with FPC Lewisburg, a small church of just under 150 members and a youth group of 12. The community, in a small town an hour south of Nashville, welcomed her warmly, and Linzi has spent most of her first four months getting acquainted with the kids, parents, and volunteers; planning programming and curriculum into 2016; and getting a crash course in Southern accents, church potlucks, and county fairs.
Linzi wants to see Lewisburg’s youth more integrated with the wider church body. “It would also be great to set up a Parents’ Sunday School class alongside what the middle and high schoolers are learning,” she says. Linzi and the church plan to reach this goal and to do impactful work in the community.
Linzi is part of a cohort of youth ministers that walk beside each other during their three-year journey in CYMT. They experience community and create relationships that encourage each other and become those where “iron sharpens iron.” Each resident receives one-on-one coaching from a veteran youth minister who also works directly with the local church. Linzi and her coach meet regularly with FPC Lewisburg leadership and parents to shape the vision for the church’s youth ministry. Additionally, Linzi is earning her Master of Arts in Youth Ministry through CYMT’s partnership with Memphis Theological Seminary.
An anonymous grant was given to CYMT to help PCUSA churches in the middle Tennessee area who can not afford the full cost of CYMT. This grant will have a lasting effect on this church and will help its youth ministry become sustainable. Too often, churches see the need for a youth minister, but small congregations in rural areas cannot always afford to hire this position as full- or even part-time. This grant alleviates the pressure that so many of our small churches feel in knowing what they need but not having the financial resources to bridge the gap.
If your PCUSA congregation would be interested in being a CYMT Partner Church but could use a little help with funding, please contact Dietrich Kirk, our Executive Director.
CYMT is proud to announce the expansion of our original initiative into Theology Together 2.0. CYMT aims to develop a curriculum to be used in local congregations and ministries. Taking what we have learned about engaging youth in deep theological reflection during missional experiences and embedding those processes into congregational youth ministries.
"I hope students come away from my courses with the ability to think more deeply, richly and theologically about their youth ministry practice. I think a lot of what happens in youth ministry happens unreflectively and can be deforming to young people, and my courses are intended to give students a theological framework for evaluating and reforming their youth ministry practice."
Of course, I want students to drink deeply from the academic readings, lectures and discussions, and I want them to be informed by the academics. But more than that, I want them to see that youth ministry is a calling of God, an important part of God’s mission in the world, one that should give them pride and evoke humility at the same time.