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Sticky Faith

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Over the past five years, I have been blessed to get to know Kara Powell and Brad Griffin from the Fuller Youth Institute.  In 2006, I got my first glimpse of the initial findings from the College Transitions Project research when Kara presented at AYME (Association of Youth Ministry Educators).  Since then, I have followed closely FYI’s findings as they relate to what they have coined Sticky Faith.

The College Transitions Project followed the lives of youth from youth ministries similar to yours as they journeyed to college.  The project sought to learn how this transition affected a young person’s faith.  I am grateful to FYI for taking on such an important project and for the practical ways in which they are sharing their results.

If you have not picked up a copy of Sticky Faith, then you need to buy it today.  No one is claiming that the project was a perfect analysis of all the teenagers in this country, however FYI has researched, investigate, interviewed, and faithfully sought to learn and share as much as they can on this subject.  I believe their findings will hit close to home for most of you.

The research itself did not provide shocking results, but instead confirmed many youth ministers’ hunches.  It provided evidence.  Then, FYI has faithfully sought to learn what they can from the research about what makes Faith Stick.  When is the tape or glue holding a young persons identity in Christ together to weak?  How can we recognize this?  What practices can we implement that make Faith Sticky?

You will find insights into the research and practical responses inside the pages of Sticky Faith.  They provide insights into what you can do as a youth worker, how you can help families, and what the church can do to build lasting faith in young people.  I personally was blessed by the chapter on helping parents both in thinking about my own parenting and thinking about how to better equip parents.

Thank you to Kara, Brad, and Cheryl for your investment in this project on behalf of youth ministry over the past 8 years.  We look forward to continuing to learn together how to make Faith Sticky!

After you read the book, check out FYI’s new Sticky Faith Teen curriculum that just came out last week.  You can also try out a sample lesson from the curriculum called How do I see myself after Graduation? by Kara and Brad.  Finally, don’t miss out on FYI’s new parent curriculum either made up of 5 great lessons to help parents

YM Think Tank 2010 Preview

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

The Center for Youth Ministry Training was blessed in 2008 to receive a grant from the Lilly Foundation to enhance our program, develop a youth ministry resource site (www.ymtoday.com), start a second campus, and to host an annual think tank where some of the leading practitioners and academic leaders in the field of youth ministry could gather and discuss.  We invited folks from the East Coast and West Coast from the North and the South and everywhere in-between to talk about how we could better educate and equip youth workers.

The immediate impact of the first two years of the Think Tank is the camaraderie of the participants.  New friendships have developed that will have a long term impact on youth ministry and the work of each individual and institution represented.  These new friendships creating new collaborative efforts as participants invite others to join in their individual efforts.

Long Term success of the Think Tank will be tied to developing new projects to accomplish the initiatives set forth by this group and by the group’s ability to draw the larger youth ministry community into the conversation.  We would anticipate several future grant proposals coming from this group as soon as the conversation continues.

2010 may be better described as a “Do Tank” as the clear outcome of 2009 was “let’s stop talking and get to work.”

The Think Tank is posed to move from reflection to action in 2010 as we seek to bring together individuals and institutions with a vested interest in three primary areas:

  • Formation of a Youth Ministry Foundation to provide funding and resources for the development of theological and practical education and training for youth workers.
  • Coaching/Mentoring program development that can be used in a variety of forms
  • Curriculum matrix and online tool to educate youth workers

Our “Do Tank” starts tomorrow.  Please keep the our group in your prayers as we prayerfully put into place actionable plans to help accomplish the Think Tanks dreams (may they be Godly dreams).

Here is a list of those who have been in collaboration with the CYMT in this process (folks in bold are coming in 2010):

Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary – Dayle Rounds and Channon Ross

Princeton Theolgical SeminaryKenda Creasy Dean and the Timothy Scholars

Timothy Scholars (YM PH.D Students) – Amanda Drury, Drew Dyson, Jason Santos, Stephen Cady, Blair Bertrand

Luther Theological Seminary – Andy Root and Terri Elton

Fuller Youth Institute – Kara Powell and Brad Griffin

Center for Youth Ministry TrainingDietrich “Deech” Kirk, Lesleigh Carmichael, Andrew Zirschky, Mindi Godfrey, and Will Penner

Youth Ministry ArchitectsMark DeVries and Sara Bailey

Truett Theological Seminary – Amy Jacober

Duke Youth Academy & Duke Divinity School – Fred Edie and Katherine Smith

Seattle Pacific University – Jeff Keuss

Memphis Theological Seminary – Virginia Lee

Garrett Theological Seminary – Reggie Blount

Northwest Nazarene UniversityMike Kipp

Youth Ministry InstituteSteve Schneeburger

Division on Young People – Hank Hilliard

Youth Ministry Guru’s – Jay Cousino, Lars Rood, Virzola Law, Mike King, Anne Taylor, Kathy Rexroad, and Jim Hancock

YM Think Tank 2009 Rewind

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

As we gathered again in 2009 with our original group and even expanded it to include other leaders, it was good to see hugs instead of handshakes as the group had grown in relationship to each other over the year! Acquaintances had become friends.  This second gathering of individuals who share a common call led to some new insights and a strengthened focus, but the clear outcome of this year’s Think Tank was “let’s stop talking and get to work.”

The 2009 Think Tank explored “gaps” in youth ministry that need to be addressed and then looked for ways to address them.

  1. Gap between Youth Worker and Education/Training
  2. Gap in youth ministry support for Urban and Rural Youth Ministries
  3. Gap in ministry to late adolescents – Emerging Adulthood
  4. Gap in youth ministry national resources – National Association for Youth Ministry or Foundation

Our exploration of the gap between the youth worker and education and training pushed us to think creatively about how to reach those who attend episodic youth ministry events and those both professional and volunteer leaders who never receive any training.  We faced the reality that few youth workers are actually trained and we questioned whether the training the received was what they need.  We brainstormed ideas about how to use technology to fill this gap as well as how to create CYMTish ministries in collaboration with or through other institutions.

We believe that there is a lack of resourcing available for youth ministry in the country, but that even the limited resources available are a huge pool compared to the resources available to rural and urban churches.  The need for resources that meet the contextual nature of these communities is great.   We acknowledged that suburban middle class resources (vast majority) would only be somewhat helpful or effective in these contexts.  We believed the need to create opportunities for these communities to develop resources for each other was a key.  We concluded that an upper middle class group of folks who work in suburban churches were kidding themselves if we thought we had the answers, therefore we committed ourselves to creating opportunities and developing support for rural and urban resource development.

Fuller helped us further understand the gap in the church related to young adult ministry.  We explored ways that churches could develop ministries to fill this gap and talked extensively about the need to train youth workers with the knowledge to help youth transition to young adults and maintain an active faith.

We also spend some time looking at the national youth ministry scene and identified a need to funding and resources.  We clearly see a need for a Foundation or organization that brings together youth ministry leaders to do more together than they can apart.  We see a need for funding to help youth ministry leaders continue to develop the youth ministry vocation and to provide funding for the dreams of todays leaders.  We see a need for a group that can give youth ministry a voice to national, denominational, and local church leaders.

The most humbling moment of the 2009 Think Tank came when the academic leaders concurred that one of the best things that they could do is to help support organizations like CYMT (www.cymt.org) and YMI of Orlando (www.yminstitute.com) to fill the gap in training and reach the local churches!

About half way through the 2009 Think Tank, it was evident that we were ready to stop thinking about the need for these things and start doing something about them.  Below are our 2009 thinkers:

Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary – Dayle Rounds

Princeton Theolgical Seminary – Kenda Creasy Dean and the Timothy Scholars

Timothy Scholars (YM PH.D Students) – Drew Dyson, Jason Santos, Stephen Cady, Blair Bertrand, and Andrew Zirschky

Luther Theological Seminary – Andy Root and Terri Elton

Fuller Youth Institute – Kara Powell and Brad Griffin

Center for Youth Ministry Training – Dietrich “Deech” Kirk, Lesleigh Carmichael, and Will Penner

Youth Ministry Architects – Mark DeVries and Sara Bailey

Truett Theological Seminary – Amy Jacober

Duke Youth Academy & Duke Divinity School – Fred Edie and Katherine Smith

Seattle Pacific University – Jeff Keuss

Memphis Theological Seminary – Virginia Lee

Garrett Theological Seminary – Reggie Blount

Youth Ministry Institute – Steve Schneeburger

Youth Ministry Guru’s – Jay Cousino, Lars Rood, Virzola Law, and Mike King

What is a Think Tank?

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Wikapedia says A think tank is an organization or individual that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategyeconomyscience or technology issues,industrial or business policies, or military advice.[1] Many think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax exempt status. Other think tanks are funded by governments, advocacy groups, or businesses, or derive revenue from consulting or research work related to their projects.[2]

This made my head hurt so I almost clicked the this article is confusing button to add what a Youth Ministry Think Tank is to help others understand better, but most people don’t live in a youth ministry world and it may have only added to their confusion.

For the Center for Youth Ministry Training’s purposes, a Think Tank was an ingenious way to get the Lilly Foundation to support our desire to get some of the leaders in youth ministry in the same room to talk about how we can educate youth workers better.

In 2007 when I was writing a grant proposal to the Lilly Foundation for our ministry, I received some advice about putting something in the grant that could be cut from the project.  So I asked for permission to bring together 18-24 leaders in the youth ministry academic and practitioner world together to dream of ways to better equip youth workers.  It was expensive and felt like a dream, so I anticipated this would be my cut item.  Instead Chris Coble with the Lilly Foundation told me that were very excited about our Think Tank.  I was so stunned that I confessed that I expected it to be cut.  Chris explained that Lilly was curious.  Lilly had funded other youth ministry think tanks but they had always been convened by the academy (inviting each other or inviting practitioners to inform their research).  Lilly was curious if anything different would happen if the practitioner invited the academy to the table.  We were pumped – Kenda Creasy Dean, Kara Powell,  Andy Root, and others along with some of the best youth ministers in the country coming together to help us with our ministry and to dream big dreams.

In the Spring of 2008, we gathered at Princeton for the first time.  You know that feeling of getting to hang out with other great youth ministers and dream.  Youth workers are so creative and we believe that God wants more for young people and the church.  This group had that kind of shared passion that allowed for relationships to grow quickly and for shared dreams to emerge.

I was shocked that folks seemed to know of each other, but not really know each other.  It became quickly apparent that one of the best things that the Think Tank would do was build relationships of laughter and shared dreams among these national leaders.

Next week, 24 leaders in youth ministry will gather at the Center for Youth Ministry Training offices to continue the conversations that began in 2008 and begin to put feet to some plans to make some dreams a reality.

Over the next two days, I will recap the 2008 and 2009 Think Tanks and share the topics/goals for 2010.  We will be using Twitter and Facebook to get some feedback.  But I wanted to answer the question that will be on everyone’s mind when they see folks posting about a think tank first – “What is a think tank!”

You can follow our conversation at YMtoday.com, at YMtoday’s Facebook fan page, and #ymthink on twitter.