Daniel Bradley, second year graduate resident, has been given the opportunity to serve as the full-time youth minister at St. George’s Episcopal Church after a year and a half of serving there as a CYMT graduate resident. He shares his thoughts on coming to CYMT, his church, and ministry.
Growing up at Brentwood UMC, I was given the opportunity to see Deech transition from his position as my youth minister into the role he holds now as Director of CYMT. Throughout college, I kept one eye on the program and my interest grew to action as I graduated college seeking seminary and some guided practical ministry experience.
During my first year at St. George’s Episcopal Church, I served as an intern on a staff of four. After some staffing transitions and growth in the ministry overall, I now serve as the director on a fully formed, seven-person team.
St. George’s is a very unique setting in which to minister to youth. Similar to growing up in Brentwood, the intensity of teens is matched only by their heavily involved schedules. This has required our team to explore creative means of meeting our youth with formative opportunities for community and fellowship.
I count my experience growing up in the BUMC youth ministry as a blessing and see many similarities to life and work in Belle Meade; however, St. George’s brings with it a unique challenge compared to what I remember happening just down the road in Brentwood. Through its liturgical tradition and diverse base of leadership, I have seen a huge opportunity to learn and grown in my own ministry.
The greatest effect CYMT has had on St. George’s youth ministry is the guidance it provides, both day to day and in the essential pivotal moments of the ministry. I have become an advocate for the rhythms that CYMT has helped me develop in my personal life and share their benefit with the staff I currently lead. Also, in the larger transitions with the ministry staff, the assistance that I received from both the CYMT staff and my own coach, Hank Hilliard of Franklin FUMC, allowed for a healthy outcome and an opportunity for development to take root in our youth ministry. Though those times were the most difficult, it was the support of CYMT that provided the essential tools and advice that helped us find success in the challenges we faced.
My gratitude for participation at CYMT and placement at St. George’s is something that I see as an important landmark in my own journey of faith and something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
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.