Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord" (Lamentations 3:21-26). 

Have a Blessed 2013!
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Monday, December 24, 2012

We are There: Happy Christmas!

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

God bless you at this Christmas time. May Christ be born anew in our hearts.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Are we There Yet?

 Sometimes we're like children on a long journey: Are we there yet? No. It's almost Christmas but we are not there yet.

Advent comes before Christmas, though many would like to skip it and get right down to the business of Christmas. That's right: The business of Christmas. But Advent bids us pause, take time and prepare; prepare for the coming of our Lord, past and future. It is a great time to remember God's promises as we are filled with hope and expectancy. It is also a great time to reflect on the difference Christ's coming has made in our lives and how we live in the face of rampant greed and consumerism. It is a God time.

So we're at the threshold of Christmas, a promise fulfilled. And thank God for Advent, we are not quite there. It's still time to have Christ at the center.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Collective Loss

We extend sympathy to the parents of the victims in our most recent outbreak of gun related violence. Our prayers are with those parents and the children who experienced such a traumatic incident. The concept of innocent children is becoming a thing of the past as the weak and the greedy prey upon the young ones. And still we recall Jesus' words:
If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. . . . Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.’ Matthew 18:6, 10
This type of violence does not solve problems. It creates greater problems and leaves behind shattered lives.We all suffer. We all lose.

It is our prayer that those who have suffered loss may find strength and comfort in the death and suffering of Jesus Christ and hope in his resurrection. God will make all things new.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Friday, December 7, 2012

Questions Without Answers

Violence leaves us shocked; at least I hope so. These days there seems to be a lot of violence. Further afield there are wars and unimaginable horrors committed by human beings against human beings, especially against women and children.  And here. Murder-suicide is becoming too familiar in our news stories.

Why do arguments lead to death? Murder and suicide seem to be huge and final "solutions" to seemingly small or at least solvable issues. What intervention could have prevented this? More support? Perhaps, counseling or the help of a mediator? What? Always questions. We do not see in the minds of the perpetrators.

But then there are the bigger questions. Is there no value for human life? Why does violence seem like a solution? What is going on in society that causes people to explode in such devastating ways?

There are theories about the cause of this type of violence which, coldly it seems, inflicts tremendous loss and suffering. Theses theories are related to morality, the pressures in society, diet, technology's role, etc. Most likely, all of these have a place somewhere in the equation. One thing comes out though, is the loss of a moral compasss.

Some people may disagree with this assessment. However, a moral compass helps us to discern right from wrong and to have a sense of proportions and perspective. Moreover, we learn to respect  and value others.

As Christians, we believe God has given us such a compass and that Jesus embodied the way God intended us to live. Here is an important question as we continue to ponder and seek answers in the face of violence that leaves us with more questions than answers: How do we live out and enable others to live out what Jesus identified as the greatest commandments:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:37-39)
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thank You!

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Lots of people are spending the month stating things that they are thankful for and we should work with our youth to appreciate all that God has given them.  Let’s make sure WE are also saying Thank You to all those that make our ministry possible:

  • To the youth (as it is difficult to have a Youth Group without any youth)
  • To parents, volunteers, Sunday School teachers, teachers, coaches, Scout leaders & other adults (like it or not, they are your partners and they each play a crucial role in the lives of youth)
  • To the church secretary (they can make your life much easier or much more difficult; personally, I’m really fortunate here and do not express my appreciation near as much as I should)
  • To the cleaning crew (and say an extra thank you the next time you have one of those really messy meetings and the church ends up clean once again)
  • To the Senior Pastor (especially when you’re fortunate enough to have one that “gets” youth)
  • To the Staff Pastor Parish committee (don’t forget to thank those that determine your salary)
  • To the church members that support your youth and put up with your craziness
  • To those that have served as mentors to your youth or to you

And on behalf of youTheology, I’d like to say Thank You to …

  • The current class participating in The One-Year Journey as well as our alumni
  • Youth that participated in “One God, One Day, One Love” in 2010, 2011 or 2012
  • Adults that participated in any of the years of the Youth Workers’ Gathering
  • The current set of Advisory Board members
  • Past Leadership Team and Advisory Board members from our first 10 years; they helped us get to where we are today
  • Future Advisory Board members that will help us as we take the next step forward in ministry
  • The members of the Program Committee that help create special events
  • The members of the Development Team that help us figure out how to fund the program
  • All of the donors (past, present, future) including those that participated in “Send Me A Mile” earlier this year or that supported the Movie Benefit & Auction earlier this month
  • Our partners in ministry whether through grants, resources or ideas
  • The Director, Support Staff and all those that help make our ministry possible
  • And of course, Saint Paul School of Theology, for hosting/housing us for the past 10 years!

So, one more time …

Thank you!

by Mark Whitaker, youTheology Advisory Board Chair
Youth & Communications Director @ Avondale United Methodist Church in KC North
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Whatever You Do, Support

How can you, how can I best support our youth who face enormous stress and pressure? On a daily basis, they are confronted with sickness, violence, death, and uncertainty. Many are expected to assume adult roles and make adult decisions prematurely.

The pressure to excel to satisfy adults, be it coaches or parents, etc, takes the fun out of many activities. Competitiveness and the giving of grades have taken over many extra curricular activities and events. Coupled with this is the lack of security. Even as simple an act as going to school is no longer safe. A 13-year old dies after being shot on a school bus on the way to school. you can read about it here.

This was not our world, but it is theirs, the students with whom we work. And there is so much more. It means we cannot use the same standards to assess them as would have been used on us. It also means that we need to be compassionate in our attitudes toward them, loving them with God's love.

We do this while pointing them and seeking to help them connect in meaningful ways with the God who loves them so much that this God send Jesus Christ for our sins and our salvation; this God  who walks with them in their life and through their stress.

We need to be loving presence. We need to listen, care and support, and pray.

How do you support the youth in your ministry?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Monday, October 29, 2012

Developing Leaders

As you might already know, youTheology is all about “Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World, Now and In the Future” but what about today’s leaders?

As we approach Election Day, how should we speak to our youth about the process and the people?  Churches and other non-profits are not allowed to officially endorse a candidate and deciding whom or what to vote for is a very personal decision.  Still, we should encourage our youth (especially high school seniors that might be voting for the first time) to be informed about the issues and to find their voice.

Also, whether your candidate wins or loses, keep the leaders of our church, community, state, nation and world in your prayers.  We need to lift them up and ask for God’s guidance to make the world a better place.

We also should look at our own leaders and our place within the church and community.  When we select leaders for our church, is there a place for our youth?  Look at their talents and see if there’s a way to realistically have them play a role in your congregation.  You just might be surprised by the great ideas that our youth bring to the conversation.

Would you like to know more about youTheology?  To find out how it is developing faithful leaders for a diverse church and world, now and in the future, please attend our Movie Benefit & Auction (on Tuesday, November 13 @ 6:30 p.m. @ Barrywoods AMC) or visit one of these links: 

Videos at or or watch “youTheology: The Journey” by clicking here.

Thank you!

by Mark Whitaker, youTheology Advisory Board Chair
Youth & Communications Director @ Avondale United Methodist Church in KC North
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

youTheology Lessons

Recently, I was privileged to hear from youTheology alumni how God has been using the youTheology ministry in their lives. It was a real blessing. Their experiences spanned a number of years. As I listened the following themes emerged as to what gave meaning to this time in  youTheology:.

  • Becoming part of long-lasting community of peers who took faith seriously.
  • Interacting with adults, including seminary professors who took them seriously and engaged them at a deep level.
  • Learning more about the Methodist heritage, including what it believes.
  • Being able to exercise their gifts in ministry, including preaching their first sermon.
  • Having a place to be heard.
These are the things that endure and are so much a part of who we are as Christians. We are called to love one another with Jesus' love. This means taking each other seriously and honoring each other's gifts, regardless of age. It means entering into each other's stories and listening. It means working through what it means to live faithfully, with the help of God and others who are walking this Christian road, some having been on the journey for a longer time. It is also learning more about the faith context out of which we are called to live out our Christian lives. Ultimately, it's about loving God and loving our neighbors.

What gives meaning in your youth ministry? What do the young people say?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Present . . . all but

Occupying space, that is physical space, can be easy sometimes. We just show up, sit down, or sometimes stand up. We're present. But are we really?

There's this big difference between being  physically present and being really present to those around us. Really present as in, I'm here, my mind is focused on what you're saying, I'm attending and actually getting who you are and where you're coming from; at least as much as is humanly possible in my journey at this point in time.

It's easy for our minds to wander, consumed with details of pressing issues and activities; easy to become absorbed in ourselves.

And yet . . .

And yet the teens we serve need more, deserve more. So many people are brushing them off with activities and toys (gadgets. etc.) Yes. Teens need our presence more than our programs, our God-centered presence. A presence that taps into God's guidance and attends fully to those around us, all present. It's easy and it's not.

Jesus was present; very present. He got what people were saying and so much more. He got who they were and what they needed. As a result they received life.

God-centered presence can be life-giving.

How are we giving life to the teens we serve and/or others around us? How are we all present?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Friday, September 28, 2012

Seeing, Hearing, Doing

Nothing beats learning by doing when it comes to practical skills. We can listen, we can look, but when we're able to do, ah, the difference! Now we're learning in a whole new way and importantly, we are owning the skill.

This is no less true for teens. They welcome and value hands-on experience.

Below are two examples of teens getting the experience they need to excel and be better citizens, one in the kitchen and one in court. They are learning and understanding in a whole new way, growing and developing long term skills.

 Student-Run Restaurant Gives Tulsa Teens Practical Experience ...
Nathan's Bistro is a student-run restaurant and is back in business for the school year.

 Staten Island Youth Court: Teens get involved in justice system ...
Says one participant: "We're not tough or lenient. What we're trying to do is help the teen."

We see this in youTheology when the youTheologians plan and lead worship. They come alive in a different manner. This is important as we develop leaders.

  • What opportunities are there in your ministry for your students to actually do and lead versus listening and watching? 
  • How can you shape this "doing" so that it qualitatively impacts their life so they grow and develop new skills that will undergird their faith?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teenage Stress

Michael Jastremski for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike
Sometime ago I asked someone if high school students were more busy now. I asked this question because it seemed to me that there were more activities in terms of number but also the schedules were starting earlier and ending later. School were demanding more as extra-curricular activities that were just fun offerings were graded. In addition, I noticed a tendency to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope more quickly than before.

In responding, the person I spoke with noted the expectancy of perfection in everything along with the inability to choose a smaller amount of activities and do those well. It seemed they were not aided in this task by the adults around them.

I'm not sure what you're noticing, but Chap Clark talks about it in Hurt 2.0. He has witnessed it first hand. He sums up his chapter, "Busyness and Stress" as follows:
At the core, they long for the safety and freedom of childhood and have no clear vision concerning what adulthood will be like. As a result of the abandonment they have faced throughout their lives, most midadolescents carry inside them a powerful defense mechanism that keeps them running as fast and as hard as they can. They know no other way to cope with life. The quicker they move, the less vulnerable they are to ridicule, critique, or even examination. Midadolescents know they must put on a mask of confidence, even arrogance, or they will be chewed up by those who would find them out. May we, the adults who love and care for them not be fooled. They are busy, yes, and stressed, but they want someone to demonstrate in word and action, "You matter to me" (Clark 2011, 140).

Chap Clark is noting the limbo situation of teens who have a desire for the carefree safeguard of the early years without a clear notion of the postadolescent period. Midadolescents have reacted to being let down and left to fend for themselves by constantly being on the more to avoid being an object of derision. This is how they handle life. Caring adults need to go behind the front and show them their significance by what the adults do and say.

This is important. Whatever we see as the cause of the stress, there is not doubt that teenagers are plagued with insecurity and treated too often with a zero tolerance approach.  They need unconditional love, the kind we get from God, from the adults in their lives.

  • Have you noticed the stress in the teens you serve?
  • How are you addressing it?
  • How are you letting them know that they have significance that is not performance based?
  • How do you share with them their inestimable worth in God's sight?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse CyouTheohurch and World Now and in the Future

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What Do We Know?

Whenever I read Chap Clark's recent work, these questions surface: What do we know? How much do we know about the youth we serve? It's not that we know nothing. Of course we know  something; quite a bit in fact. But, what remains hidden from us because deliberately and/or because we are only seeing what we are looking for and/or because we don't know what to look for and/or because of a lack of trust and/or because of the spaces in which we interact? Quire a range, I know.

  • I think the main question for me, though, is what kind of spaces do we inhabit in our youth ministry? 
  • Are they real enough relationally? 
  • Does the content intersect with and draw on life as it is for students as against life as we imagine and/or would like it to be? 
  • Is it safe enough physically and emotionally, etc? 
  • Importantly, does it go beyond the confines of the youth group room into the world that teenagers inhabit? 
  • What do we know?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Early to Rise

It's that time of year again! The time where we have to get up early, no matter what. School starts bright and early each weekday, and both parent and student are usually forced to abide by that crazy idea of getting up with the chickens.

It has been said (over and over, in fact) that "early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." It was Benjamin Franklin who said that, actually. But scripture seems to iterate the same idea over and over. Psalm 88:13 "But I call to You for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer meets You." Psalm 92:1-2 "It is good to sing praise, Lord, to sing praise to Your name, Most High, to declare Your faithful love in the morning." Psalm 119:147 "I rise before dawn and cry out for help; I put my hope in Your word." The Old Testament talks about giving sacrifices in the morning, and rising early to praise him.

So there must be something special about taking time in the morning to acknowledge God and commit our day to him. It wouldn't be talked about so much in the Bible if it weren't important. In fact, I can attest to the importance of giving time to God in the early morning. It's the beginning of the day. There are no excuses, if you're already up. Life hasn't gotten in the way yet. What better time to center yourself on God? It's just like giving the firstfruits of our labors, our tithes; this is the firstfruit of our day. I remember when I was growing up, I would get up with my dad before he had to go to work, around 6:00 in the morning, and every day we would read a chapter of Proverbs together. That was really special for me, and I will never forget that not only did he take the first part of his day and give it to God, but he also gave it to me. He gave me that time and attention, and together we honored God. I think that's important. Beyond everything else we have to do with our days, that's important.

Think about it. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, and 30-31 days in most months. And it's an easy step to connect with God and to grow a parent-child relationship. We're going to be up anyway. Why not make it something to look forward to?

Thomas Myers
youTheology Intern
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's a Journey

 About a week ago, youTheology Journey 2012-2013 began with Orientation at Saint Paul School of Theology and Lydia Patterson Institute. It was a great time of learning, worshiping, serving, and bonding. In the video below, Ashley shares her impressions of Orientation 2012.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Perspectives from the Field: Its a Small World After All

Right now, the world is in the midst of the summer Olympics while youth are coming to the end of summer and MY youth group just finished a week-long Youth Mission Trip in Joplin.  We were among more than a dozen different youth groups working in Joplin that week.  Much work has already been done yet quite a bit remains for future teams of volunteers.  

Our theme was "Something Beautiful" and we reminded our youth that ...
  • God is the Potter.
  • You are the Clay.
  • He makes something beautiful.
  • YOU are God's Masterpiece.

During breaks and once I returned home, I heard stories from the Olympics as life-long dreams were fulfilled and the world comes together to set aside our differences and celebrate all that we can accomplish.  Still, it's important to remember that it is through God that all things are possible.  On Tuesday, our world became even smaller as NASA landed on Mars.   As we explore our community, our nation, our world and even OTHER worlds, how can we show and share God's love?

How do you show your youth how to Love their Neighbor around the corner and on the other side of the world?   Consider bringing your youth group to join us at "One God, One Day, One Love" - details are at and it's only $12 per person!

Thank you!
Mark R. Whitaker 
Director of Youth Ministries @ Avondale United Methodist Church
Chair, youTheology Advisory Board @ Saint Paul School of Theology
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We're Close

youTheology has begun another year. It started with our Refresh, Rejuvenate, Re-engage with adults working with youth on July 7, 2012. And now, in just a couple days, we will begin our 2012-2013 Journey with High School Students.

It is an exciting time, as we prepare to spend a year together learning from experts, other members of the community and each other how to grow in love for God and neighbor. It is also a fun time as the creativity of the youth unfolds before us in worship, new games, and lots of laughter.

We thank God for this time of becoming. We pray for God's wisdom and God's grace in our hearts. We stand ready to be awed by God's amazing work.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Saturday, July 28, 2012

More Than Just Car-Washes...

Isn't working with youth the best? Better yet, isn't being a youth the best? Some of my favorite memories from high school came from youth group. I remember when I was finally at the age where I could start participating in the youth group (my church called it "Teen Club"). I felt so cool, like I was part of the 'in' crowd, just being that age. I even got to play in their worship band, even though I wasn't the best of guitarists. We took fun trips, had bonfires, played ultimate frisbee and, in general, made a ruckus in the church. We went on mission trips all across the country and raised money for those trips in all the usual ways, washing cars and flocking the congregation with flamingos in their yards. All around, youth group was a  great experience for me.

But when I graduated, all that changed. I didn't go straight to college, so I wasn't really a 'college kid'. And at the same time, I wasn't really a 'youth' anymore, at least as far as church programs were concerned. I was in what you might call limbo. Church Void. Young Adult Purgatory. You get the idea. The church had done great things for me, as a youth, to make me feel included and make me feel like a part of the church. But once I was past the traditional youth age, it was either the college group or the adult group. And I didn't feel like either.

Many churches have run into the same problem. They've created great programs where youth can learn and grow together in discipleship, and they're encouraged to succeed in high school, celebrated as they graduate, and then pushed right on out the door. They send nice care packages to the ones who are in college and encourage them to find a church or some kind of college ministry to become part of. And that's about the extent of it. We've drawn the wrong finish line. Youth group and youth programs are great. College ministry is great. But somehow we've got to connect the dots. Don't leave the youth, who are quickly becoming young adults, hanging. Remember, we're all in this together. We all live under the grace of God, as Christians, both young and old. Let's keep the fire going!

- Thomas R. Myers
youTheology intern
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Better Late Than Never

 Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel like nothing is going right? You wake up late, miss the bus, and forget your papers at home. Then you wait through the never-ending line at lunch only to realize you're a dollar short of being able to afford what you want to eat. So you settle for less. And then to top it all off, as you're walking to your seat you drop your drink all over your shirt... yuck!

I have definitely had my fair share of those days. Days where I just wish I could hit the 'reset' button and try again. Days where I feel like I just keep missing the mark; like it's right in front of me but I just can't quite get it. That happens to all of us. No matter how old or young we are, we all have days - heck, even weeks or months, sometimes, where we just don't feel like we're getting it right. Times when it seems like the only thing left to do is throw your hands up in the air and say, "I give up!"

Historically speaking, people have been missing the mark since the beginning of time. I mean, look at Adam and Eve; separation from the Creator and getting kicked out of the garden of Eden was definitely not on their list, the day they tried out the forbidden fruit. And it wasn't on God's list either. I can just picture God throwing his hands up in the air in frustration and saying, "Seriously?" when he looks down and sees his children disobeying him. It was just one of those days. The first of many.

Take a look at Samuel. His mother, Hannah, had prayed for a son, and when she finally gave birth, she gave him up into the service of the temple. So Samuel grew up serving God with the elderly priest, Eli. The priest had gotten so old that he could no longer see. Samuel was laying down to sleep one night, when he heard a voice. (1 Samuel 3)

The Lord called to Samuel. “I’m here,” he said.

Samuel hurried to Eli and said, “I’m here. You called me?”

“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go lie down.” So he did.

Again the Lord called Samuel, so Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?”

“I didn’t call, my son,” Eli replied. “Go and lie down.”

(Now Samuel didn’t yet know the Lord, and the Lord’s word hadn’t yet been revealed to him.)

A third time the Lord called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?”

Then Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go and lie down. If he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down where he’d been.

Then the Lord came and stood there, calling just as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel said, “Speak. Your servant is listening.”

 Samuel was just a young boy. And he had one of those times, where he just couldn't seem to figure out what was going on. The answer was just beyond his reach. But he asked for help. And he listened. And when it comes down to it, what more can we do? Youth and adults both need to listen closely to the direction of the Lord. We can often mistake it for something else, when we keep ourselves too busy. Let's make it our goal, this week, to open ourselves up, through prayer and reading of the Word, that we might hear the voice of God, and do his good will.

- Thomas R. Myers
youTheology Intern

Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Now is the Time!

There are some who would say that today's youth are the leaders of tomorrow. While that may be true, I must ask the question: Why wait until tomorrow? All too often, we let the boundaries of age get in the way of God-given leadership. That's why youTheology is all about training young people to be godly leaders. Leaders today!

1 Timothy 4:8-15 says, "Train yourself for a holy life! While physical training has some value, training in holy living is useful for everything. It has promise for this life now and the life to come. This saying is reliable ad deserves complete acceptance. We work and struggle for this: 'Our hope is set on the living God, who is the savior of all people, especially those who believe.' Command these things. Teach them. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young. Instead, set an example for the believers through your speech, behavior, love, faith, and by being sexually pure. Pay attention to public reading, preaching, and teaching. Don't neglect the spiritual gift in you. Practice these things, and live by them so that your progress will be visible to all."

Embrace God's call to leadership! Don't wait until tomorrow. Don't wait until you're 'older', 'wiser', or 'smarter'. Those things come with time. Remember, we're all human and we're all here for a short time, relatively speaking. "Indeed, people shouldn’t brood too much over the days of their lives because God gives an answer in their hearts’ joy. (Ecc. 5:20)" Let's make the most of it. There is nothing that says you can't do great things just because you're young. Now is the time.

- Thomas R. Myers
youTheology Intern
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Friday, July 6, 2012

Perspectives from the Field: All Stars

Here in Kansas City, we’re about to host the All-Star game (on Tuesday, July 10) and that’s an opportunity to bring the best of baseball together in one place.  How can we apply the lessons of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game to our work with youth?

The All-Star game honors the top players by recognizing their talents but it’s done through a combination of fan votes and the manager of each of the two teams.  This should remind us that it’s important to have other perspectives.  You might not be aware of some of the unique talents of your youth or members of your congregation.  Having others involved in your program and turning to a variety of people for insight can help you to improve the overall youth ministry.

The All-Star game takes people from each of the teams and puts them together where they work towards a common objective.  Some youth programs pull youth from different schools or neighborhoods.  Or you might go to youth events that have kids from a variety of churches.  One of the great things about “One God, One Day, One Love” is that it has youth from different denominations and congregations come together to worship God, serve the community and grow in their faith together.

The All-Star game is the focus of the week but it’s surrounded by a variety of other activities.  In Kansas City, we are having the All-Star Fan Fest and lots of other activities leading up to the big game.  When we have a Mission Trip, we make sure we also include some time for fun activities that can help build fellowship.  Often, a church will hold a Youth Rally, Revival or Event but instead of having everything on one night they will spread it out over several nights.  This can give youth multiple opportunities to interact and learn about the love of God.  When youTheology holds The Journey (year-long program for high school students) they meet in the Fall and Spring before going on a week-long Pilgrimage that visits different locations.

How can you make your youth feel like All-Star’s & work towards the ultimate goal?

by Mark Whitaker
Chair, youTheology Advisory Board
Youth & Young Adult Director @ Avondale United Methodist Church in KC North
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The End?

And so it ends, youTheology Journey with High School Students 2011-2012; some tears, many smiles and definitely joy. A year of learning about the Methodist heritage among other things, theological reflection, worship, service, and discerning vocation has come to a close.We held our celebration and sending forth service this morning at Old Mission UMC.

It has been a good year. The youTheologians have worked hard, asked questions, and contributed their gifts. They have encouraged each other. We have had very good, caring leaders. God has been good.

And so it continues, for this is just another stage on life's journey. We give God thanks for all that God has done in and through our lives and youTheology and commit the rest of the journey to God.

To God be the glory!
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pan-Methodist Pilgrimage - So Close

youTheology's Pan-Methodist Pilgrimage is almost here. On Friday, June 8th we will travel to the East Coast to learn more about the Wesleyan heritage and our theme, "Loving God, Loving Neighbor." We do this by visiting historic churches and learning how they have been living out this theme over the years. We also listen to specific presentations on various subthemes.

Each day during the pilgrimage, participants will post their reflections on line. We will also share photos and videos. Beginning Thursday evening, you can join our journey at Updates will also be posted on Facebook. Don't miss a chance to be part of this exciting event.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future