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.


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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




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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


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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

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