I am blessed to be the Executive Director of the Center for Youth Ministry Training. My daughters occasionally ask me what I do at work. This question has an easier answer for folks who sell things or make things or help people or teach. My typical response when my girls ask me is, “I answer questions.” Answering questions is the primary role of my job. I work with the CYMT staff to answer questions. I answer residents’ questions. I answer partner church questions. I answer donor questions. Hopefully at the end of the day, the answers have moved the ministry forward.
However, my favorite part of my job is being a youth minister to youth ministers, because part of running a graduate residency in youth ministry is ministering to youth ministers. All of our key staff members (Executive Director, Director of Coaching, Youth Ministry Professor) are former full-time youth ministers. God called us from the ranks of ministering to teenagers to minister and train those who do what we love. We all still volunteer with youth ministries, and we still have a “youth group” as well, they are just older.
We have just returned from another CYMT retreat. Residents were in class eight hours a day for three days. But between classes, at lunch and dinner, and in the evening, we are a family … the CYMT family. A family of ministers who love and care for each other. During these times, I am privileged to:
Occasionally, we find ourselves as staff referring to “our kids” when talking about our graduate residents. We correct ourselves, because we know that they are adults. We don’t mean it in a demeaning manor, but instead in an endearing way. As former youth ministers, we loved “our kids.” The same is true for our graduate residents!
This year, we have 37 graduate residents in the CYMT program, which is a pretty good-sized youth group. What a joy to be a youth minister to youth ministers!
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.