Changing the Climate of Youth Ministry
MISSION & VISION
Theology Together is an experience-driven paradigm for youth ministry that positions teens as theologians. The power of youth as theologians leads to innovative, relevant, and growth-minded youth ministries because youth have the space to enter into robust theological dialogues. We help you enter into this paradigm through a robust set of tools—curriculum, training, events, and resources. Theology Together is an initiative of the Center for Youth Ministry Training.
WOW THEOLOGICAL METHOD
Theology Together created and uses the Wow Theological Method. The Wow Theological Method is a 5 step process that provides the framework for deep theological reflection:
Meet our Theology Together Director
Dwight has dedicated the last 10 years to youth and family ministry in both Mississippi where he is from and now Nashville, Tennessee where, for the last 8 years, he served as the director of youth at Preston Taylor Ministries. Having served both in the local church and in parachurch organizations, Dwight loves working with teenagers, specifically middle schoolers, and enjoys seeing youth see and reach their potential. He is the author of Black Boy Soar, a children’s book written to help inspire and encourage young people of color to dream big, know who they are and what they are capable of!
Dwight also partners with other organizations throughout the South as a curriculum and content developer and speaker, helping to create theological content for workshops, retreats, and conferences aimed to guide youth to think critically about their faith and where their personal creation collides with greater purpose with the hope to inspire the next generation of the church to be world changers. Dwight is a graduate of Millsaps College where he received the Bachelor of Arts in music and is also a cum laude graduate of Memphis Theological Seminary through the CYMT where he received his Master of Arts in Youth Ministry.
Dwight’s Work at CYMT
I am responsible for overseeing the curriculum and content development for the Theology Together program. I represent CYMT in a relationship with City Service Mission to ensure curriculum and content is written to equip youth to know Jesus through service to the community.
WHERE WE STARTED & WHO WE ARE
In 2013, Dr. Andrew Zirshcky and Rev. Dietrich Kirk developed the Theology Together project. Theology Together was devised to be a theology program that values all youth as theologians. Through the generous help of the Lilly Endowment, CYMT was granted $240,000 to develop this initiative. Theology Together began with a three-year pilot program named Collide. Collide brought church youth groups and leaders together for seven-day summer immersion experiences each June or July. The program placed youth in immersion experiences that:
- combined robust theological and vocational exploration for youth in the context of relational service work,
- equipped youth workers to conduct theological discussions with young people, and
- fostered the development of creative and theologically rich youth ministry practices within congregational youth ministry.
At Collide, youth were engaged in theological discussion and reflective action with their youth leaders. Therefore, through Collide, not only did youth expand their theological knowledge and conceptions, but youth leaders trained in the art of engaging young people in theological dialogue.
Theology Together 2.0
In 2020, CYMT announced the expansion of our original initiative into Theology Together 2.0. Theology Together 2.0 will further the objectives of the original initiative.
Through Collide, CYMT inspired new insights for youth ministry. However, sometimes it was difficult to enact and maintain change based on these insights. Through Theology Together 2.0, CYMT aims to foster systemic change in congregations with additional resourcing and tools. Moving Theology Together from an event-based experience to a part of the ministerial fabric of local congregations.
To learn more about Theology Together’s history and leadership please read our 2.0 press release: CYMT launches Theology Together 2.0, seeking to bring theological exploration and transformation to local youth ministry congregations.
*CYMT is no longer hosting Collide. To participate in a mission trip using our curriculum for theological reflection, please visit our partner ministry City Service Mission (more info below). To hear more about future events, please subscribe to the Theology Together newsletter.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR TODAY’S YOUTH MINISTRY?
Theology Together is a different way to experience and do youth ministry. It seeks to educate youth workers in tandem with the teenagers with whom they minister to change the climate of congregational youth ministry as they together introduce theological dialogue, vocational discernment, and reflective action into the flow of youth ministry in the local church and youth development spaces. By creating an environment in which youth are engaged in theological discussion and reflective action with their youth leaders, not only are youth expanded in their theological knowledge and conceptions, but youth leaders are simultaneously trained in the art of engaging young people in theological dialogue. An added benefit is that youth and adults are prepared to return to the congregational context together to further expand the theological repertoire and engagement of the entire youth ministry. Rather than focusing on discrete youth drawn from congregational ministries, Theology Together seeks to form a cohort of youth and adults who experience robust theological thought and dialogue together. Theology Together initiatives serve to instigate, energize, and support ongoing transformational practices in the congregation rather than being the primary site of transformation for youth.
IMMERSIONS & PARTNER MINISTRY
Summer Mission Experiences
Every Theology Together immersion experience: (a) combines robust theological and vocational exploration for youth in the context of relational service work, (b) equips youth workers to conduct theological discussions with young people, and (c) fosters the development of creative and theologically rich youth ministry practices within congregational youth ministry. By engaging a cohort of youth from a congregation in theological reflection, spiritual practice, vital service, and vocational discernment, while also equipping youth workers to come alongside youth as co-creators of new theologically robust forms of youth ministry practice, we believe that Theology Together can become a vehicle for long-term transformation of both youth and congregational youth ministries.
CYMT partners with City Service Mission to put on summer mission experiences. CSM’s mission is to connect young people to urban experiences that transform lives. CYMT is going to be developing the curriculum for all CSM trips. Each trip will enjoy CSM’s experience in organizing the missional experiences and logistics in each city and CYMT’s curriculum that engages participants in theological reflection to give youth a voice for what they are seeing and experiencing.
We hope you will visit the CSM website and choose a summer mission experience whenever works best for your church.
If you would like to attend a CSM week with other CYMT churches, we want to encourage you to consider: June 13-18 in Nashville or July 11-16 in Kansas City. Or talk to your CYMT friends and pick a week that works best for you in any city.