Lauren Gilliland (front row, center) serves as the youth minister at Munford First United Methodist Church in Munford, Tenn. She graduated in May 2013 from Memphis Theological Seminary and CYMT.
I first became introduced to CYMT through Kris Konsowitz, CYMT’s Memphis Regional Director. We had several mutual United Methodist connections, and she was also working with the church in which I served at the time. The opportunity came available to be placed at Munford FUMC through CYMT and I’m now in my fourth year of ministry there.
God is doing wonderful things at MFUMC and working in surprising ways. The majority of my group is between seventh and 10th grade, so almost none of them drive yet. Our church is a little country church, so driving anywhere is a pretty good trek. The moms decided that instead of driving 15 minutes to drop off their youth and then 40 minutes later driving 15 minutes to pick up their youth again that they would start a ladies Bible study during that time. They meet in the room that is adjacent to the youth room and on top of saving all of the moms gas money, I am always guaranteed to have a “floater” adult to meet safe sanctuary requirements.
Even though I’ve graduated from CYMT, I’m still connected to the larger CYMT family, and I believe that’s everything. Through the formation in ministry and practicum pathway, I am now assimilated to working with the larger body of the church: committees, parents, school systems, legal systems, and more.
I’m connected to people who have been there, done that, seen that, and survived, like my coach—who I still check in with, even after graduation. That’s inspiring and refreshing. I’m connected with other CYMT churches in my area, churches that are about the same size and demographic, and their leaders may be experiencing or have experienced some of the same ministry struggles and joys that I am facing, and that’s wonderfully supportive.
CYMT is a beautiful program and has equipped me to identify my ministry strengths and help me adapt those into programs for my youth.
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.