I was welcomed into the youTheology family in the spring of 2006 as a mentor for one of the youth participants who was a member of the church I serving as a youth pastor. After speaking with Claire and a few others I decided to heed the call to take a more active role in youTheology as a small group leader in the fall of 2007 and then did so again the next year. I had the unique opportunity to serve as a small group leader for a youTheology class who ended their year with a Wesleyan Pilgrimage to the United Kingdom, and the next year serve as a small group leader for a youTheology class who ended their year with a Pan-Methodist Pilgrimage to the East Coast of the United States. Because I have served in different roles in youTheology and been fortunate enough to have a wide range of experiences within it, I believe I can accurately attest to how important it is for the educational, social, and spiritual development of the youth participating in it. I also believe this can be done by relating my personal experience with youTheology and its impact on my life and ministry.
While serving as a small group leader for two years in youTheology, I was able to witness the power that intellectual and spiritual exploration has on a young mind. As the youth progressed throughout the year, and became more aware of the world around them and the nature of God within it, it became very humbling for me to see the level of impact that adults have on the lives of teenagers. By virtue of witnessing their transformation and their spiritual evolution through the process, it has had a lasting impact on me to be aware that my presence, words, and actions are witnessed very closely and should always reflect the highest ideals.
However, more than just a sense of humility, the youth within the youTheology program also taught me very valuable lessons about life itself. Listening to their experiences and how they relate to God and the social dynamics of their world has given me great insight into how younger generations approach life and faith. Although I am still in my twenty’s, the relatively small gap in age carries with it a substantial weight and has given me a new outlook on the future of theology.
The final means of transformation for me has come from the youTheology program itself. As a theology student I was obviously interested in the subject matter of youTheology and as a small group leader I was able to learn a great deal from the structured programs of youTheology. The wide variety of learning tools - from the variety of speakers, professors, teachers, pastors, and leaders, the innovative worship services, communal activities, and projects - within youTheology not only had an important impact on the life and ministry of the youth, but on myself as well.
By Adam Leathers
Pastor, Wellston UMC, Wellston, OK
Loving God, Loving Neighbor