Happy 10th Birthday to the Center for Youth Ministry Training!
On March 1, 2006 the session of First Presbyterian Church, Nashville officially voted to join Brentwood United Methodist Church in launching a ministry to train and equip youth ministers. Like a proud parent of a 10-year-old, those of us who have been involved from the beginning look at each other and say, “Can it really have been 10 years?” Then we stop and think about all that God has done and we marvel, “Yes, look at how we’ve grown!”
The Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT) is the product of a godly vision, faithful leadership, hard work, and committed donors. Your investment in CYMT has produced tremendous dividends for the Kingdom of God.
Here are 10 reasons for us to pause and give thanks:
In 2006, CYMT was just a vision, a dream, and an untested plan. Ten years later, we can say without a doubt that we are effectively equipping and empowering youth ministers and churches to develop theologically informed and practically effective youth ministries.
In 2006, Deech was asked in preparation for a fundraising event to share what would be accomplished if CYMT was created. He estimated that we would have trained 90 youth ministers that would be serving 90 churches. He was also able to determine that there were only approximately 75 full-time mainline youth ministers in the state of Tennessee at that time.
Since 2006, CYMT has been privileged to walk alongside 75 churches working with their leadership and our graduate residents to develop healthy youth ministries.
CYMT trains youth ministers and equips churches so that they can create space for youth to encounter the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Our best estimate is that these 95 youth ministers and 75 churches have touched a combined total of 8000 youth so far. We have faith that the seeds planted in their lives through their youth ministry experience will grow into a lifetime of discipleship.
CYMT began as a two-year certificate program out of necessity. In 2009, we partnered with Memphis Theological Seminary to develop a three-year Master of Arts in Youth Ministry. Every CYMT graduate resident since 2010 has graduated with a seminary degree which is significant because only 17% of youth ministers nationally have such a degree.
In 2010, CYMT hired Dr. Andrew Zirschky as our Academic Director and to serve on the faculty of Memphis Theological Seminary. Dr. Zirschky is one of only a few people in the country to hold a Ph.D. in Practical Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Zirschky has raised CYMT’s academic profile and reputation across the country.
In 2008, the Eli Lilly Foundation awarded CYMT a $925,000 grant to develop, grow, and expand our program. This grant gained national notoriety for CYMT and began the expansion of our ministry to where we are today!
Since 2008, CYMT has been expanding to meet the demand and need of the church. CYMT has now expanded from Middle Tennessee to West Tennessee, North Alabama, Southern Kentucky, North Mississippi, and Eastern Arkansas. CYMT has partnered with Bethany UMC and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas to launch a Texas Regional Campus beginning in the Fall of 2016. From Austin, we will be able to minister in San Antonio, Houston, Waco, and the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
During some of the most challenging financial times in recent history, CYMT has been able to grow and thrive thanks to investors like you. None of this would have been possible without your prayers and gifts.
So, have dessert tonight and when you do thank God for the miracle of CYMT, pray for the birth of our Texas Region, and try to imagine what the next 10 years will bring!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Galatians 3:20-21)
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.