Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012, A Time of Transition for youTheology

On Saturday, January 28, 2012, the Advisory Board of youTheology of Saint Paul School of Theology met and I was honored to be elected as the new Chair for 2012.  I am joined on the Advisory Board by Deputy Chair Charity Goodwin-Rosario, Secretary Gail McClenton, Finance Liaison Joyce Hancock and Marketing Coordinator Jason Wimberley.

I admit that I have some big shoes to fill as Arionne Williams did an outstanding job as the Interim Chair; and we as an Advisory Board are now approaching a key moment in the evolution of youTheology as an organization.

A little history … The one-year program (now known as “youTheology: The Journey”) began in 2003; in 2006 youTheology changed into a Pan-Methodist program (including not only United Methodist Church but also AME, AMEZion and CME); a year later the Youth Workers’ Gathering was added in 2007; and we held the first “One God, One Day, One Love” event in 2010.  Last year, we saw two books published: Youth Ministry in a Technological Age and The 411 on Life and Love.  We also held our first “Meet and Greet” and, as a result, have a few new board members. 

Throughout our history, we have been fortunate to receive major financial assistance from Lilly Endowment grants. As we move into the future, youTheology is seeking to become self-sufficient so that we can continue to touch lives without being dependent on outside organizations for funding.  It’s also important to make sure we spread the word about youTheology so more people have an opportunity to participate in this life-changing ministry.

If you are reading this blog, that means you are a part of youTheology and can help spread the word through your Circles of Influence.  I’m sharing several links below as ways to help tell others about youTheology:
·         www.youtheology.org
·         http://blog.youtheology.org

If you know of a church or an organization that might be interested in learning more about youTheology, please let us know so we can help spread the word.  The best way to reach us is through our director, Dr Claire Smith, and she can be reached at 816.245.4865 or by email at claire.smith@spst.edu

by Mark Whitaker, youTheology Advisory Board Chair
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

Friday, January 27, 2012

There's Got to be More

There's got to be more: You know it and I know it. Yet, a quick look at some of the main stories suggest that the primary activity of teens involves acts of violence. Here is a sample:

Teen Beating Video Has Teens Concerned About Their Safety At ...
About the authors: Julianne is a senior at Elk Grove High School and Erik Martinez and Salomon Navarro are senior and sophomore students, respectively, at Curie High School. All students are reporters for The Mash, a weekly teen publication distributed to ...

Students say teens didn't stand out at high school
ROY -- Joshua Hoggan, 16, one of the two teens arrested on suspicion of plotting to bomb Roy High School, had a Facebook page that opened his life to...

Teens Charged With Stabbing Garland Man & Setting Van On Fire ...
Police in Garland say what began as a wild night of partying quickly got out of control and now two teenage girls are being charged with Capital Murder.

Of course, that's after the big buzz about Google+ allowing teens on their social network.

You and I know that many teens are engaged in actions that are helping to improve lives and build a better future for many. They are contributing citizens. We've blogged about them on the blog, for example in this post. I meet and interact with them at churches in youTheology and on the road. I read about them. You do as well. There are more students in our world than violent teens.

And yet violence is a reality. One person involved in violent acts is too many. A group is far too many. How do we expand our reach to provide meaning and alternative ways of dealing with life and anger to the teens who are involved in violence? How do we go beyond our circle to include all and help them to know that there is more?

What are you doing?

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

Monday, January 23, 2012

Repetition Has Value

Life is real! Life is earnest!         5
  And the grave is not its goal; 
Dust thou art, to dust returnest, 
  Was not spoken of the soul. 
I cannot tell you how many times I heard those lines growing up, as well as some other favorite stanzas from that Longfellow poem. I can say two stanzas from that poem by heart, long before I ever read the whole poem much less knew where they came from. It seemed that the older people around me had to commit this poem to memory at school. The teachers did a good job, and those older folks never failed to use it to remind us that that we should strive for excellence, there is a serious side to life and actions have consequences. Like the constant dripping that wears away the stone, the constant repetition made an indelible impression.

Repetition is important in the growing years. We easily forget. Teenage brain research helps us to understand that among teens, executive function is still developing and often decisions are made from the more emotionally driven part of the brain. The repetition of precepts, ongoing and repeated discussions about life and consequences, the repetition of Scripture verses and Christian principles all help to reinforce positive attitudes and behaviors and to give a larger view of life than the immediate and too easily achieved. They remind us and the teens we serve that God has a purpose for us and that waiting and delaying gratification are an important part of life. This can help to counter some of the risky attitudes and behavior seen below.

New Study Finds Teens Sharing Their Passwords
New Study Finds Teens Sharing Their Passwords. January 23, 2012 - Angela Skinner Mullen. Some couples in love share everything — from food off each other's plates to toothbrushes (ugh), and apparently even their passwords. A friend of ...

Some Teens Unaware Sex Can Cause Pregnancy | Being Pregnant
I hate to admit it, but one of my guilty pleasures is watching the MTV show, Teen Mom. It follows the lives of girls who were featured on another MTV show 16.

We need to constantly teach and discuss the same things, have the same conversations about life, safety, sex, etc, again and again, even if we seem redundant. Teach, discuss, converse about them in the context of Biblical values, using real life examples and images that help to flesh out what we are saying.

What are the issues and principles you find it important to teach and discuss repeatedly in your student ministry?

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

Friday, January 20, 2012

Perspectives from the Field: Hope Centered in God

How do we teach hope that is centered in God in the midst of uncertain times to our students?

“I hoped her with her problem.”

My 82-year-old grandma is from Yazoo City, Mississippi. I’m not sure how much schooling she finished, but sometimes she uses words in what appears to be the wrong way. I have never heard her say the word help. It’s always hope.

Can we "hope" people in these uncertain times? What might that look like in student ministry?

Testimony is one way to teach hope in these uncertain times.

In Revelation 12:11 it speaks of overcoming by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony. Through the testimony we share stories of how God is providing materially, emotionally, and spiritually. We evaluate our life and see where God is actively moving, showing Godself, and accomplishing the word of God in our lives.

The testimony encourages the speaker and the hearer. It reminds us who God is in Christ and renews our hope. 

My Hope is Built, the hymn offers an image of hope that we can affirm. To sing it or read it even is a way to testify to the goodness, mercy, and faithfulness of God in troubled times:
              When Darkness veils his lovely face,
              I rest on his unchanging grace.
              In every high and stormy gale,
My  anchor holds within the veil

              On Christ the solid rock I stand,
              all other ground is sinking sand;
              all other ground is sinking sand.

These uncertain and trying times are the sinking sand. They will not last.

Teach youth to testify, to tell the story of how God's story is shaping their lives and giving them strength and hope. Remind them that sharing where our story intersects with God’s story is not a competition but it is for the edification of the body of the Christ.

A caution: Sometimes when people begin to share they intend to share God’s faithfulness but it turns into a sob story or pity party. As you lead testimony time be sure to remind people to focus on God’s grace and provision.

Testimonies "hope" us in times of uncertainty.

by Charity Goodwin-Rosario
Pastor, Blue Ridge UMC

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

Monday, January 16, 2012

On Martin Luther King Jr day, it is only fitting that we remind ourselves of his written words and prayer. Here we go:

His religion reveals to him that God loves all His children and that the important thing about a man is not 'his specificity but hid fundamentum'—not the texture of his hair or the color of his skin but his eternal worth to God (King 1958, 180).
0 thou Eternal God, out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence the whole universe has come into being We humbly confess that we have not loved thee with our hearts, souls arid minds and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved US. We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ. We often give in order to receive, we love our friends and hate our enemies, we go the first mile but dare not travel the second, we forgive but dare not forget And so as we look within ourselves we are confronted with the appalling fact that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against thee But thou, 0 God, have mercy upon us Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be Give us the intelligence to know thy will. Give us the courage to do thy will Give us the devotion to love thy will. In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray. Amen.

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