12 Values of NYWC for a Youth Ministry Professor
Did you know that we have partnerships with youth ministry programs at Christian Colleges and Universities all across the United States? We call it YSASN. Kevin Turner is one of our YSASN professors, leading youth ministry majors and other college students through the NYWC experience. If you’re a professor, check out all the YSASN benefits at NYWC.COM/YSASN.
For the last 10 years Colorado Christian University has been involved in sending students to the National Youth Workers Convention. In 2005, a “special topics” (YTM 397) course was developed based loosely on the model developed by a Fuller Seminary NYWC class. This experiment proved so successful that after review by the CCU curriculum committee the class was added to the catalog in 2008 (YTM 315). The syllabi is unique in that the class can be taken for 1, 2 or 3 credit hours depending on the student’s need and can be repeated for credit multiple times.
Key Value Areas
Having led these trips and taught these classes in Atlanta, St Louis, Nashville, Austin and San Diego (2x) I have identified 12 clear areas of value that are common every year. This list of value areas is not exhaustive but consistently observable.
Diversity of Youth Ministry Perspectives
As a professor of Youth Ministry I am committed to providing a well-rounded diverse perspective on the disciplines that impact ministering to students. The reality however, is that more often than not, I do not have access to a diverse resident YM faculty. The NYWC provides diversity of gender, ethnicity, age, theological traditions and philosophy of ministry in its vast array of content specialists.
In each and every interaction with perspective parents and their students I highlight the opportunity to participate in YTM 315 National Youth Workers Convention: Praxis. I focus on the bonding opportunities with others in the YM dept. and highlight how the class makes CCU distinctive in the field of YM education. I am consistently sharing about the additional educational value of the NYWC and YTM 315. It has become the most frequent topic of follow up inquiry over the last 5 years.
At this point the number one indicator of whether a student who is enrolled in the YM dept. at CCU will finish their academic career at graduation is participation in the class. In the history of the class only 4 of over 70 total students have wound up transferring to another institution or dropping out before graduation.
The opportunities for students to explore personal spiritual formation outside of their particular church tradition have been extremely significant. The access to confidential convention pastors, spiritual directors, YM consultants, prayer chapel services and diverse corporate worship experiences provide opportunities not easily replicated in a campus context.
I place a high value on linking students with alumni who are serving faithfully across the country. It has been a joy to introduce current students to speakers and delegates from CCU in years past who are committed to a life time of ongoing youth ministry education and development. I save lunch times to meet with recent alumni and get their post-graduation assessment of their CCU youth ministry experience and thoughts for improvement, which greatly aids my ongoing task of formal assessment.
The job placement boards at the convention continue to provide our students with opportunities to get noticed and in some cases actually meet and interview on site. These meeting have facilitated internships and needed interview experience. The class requirement to interview someone with at least 10 years of ministry experience to glean from their expertise has provided significant mentoring moments.
This last year two students during the course of the convention traveled to Mexico to help build houses and gain their first exposure to cross cultural ministry service. In years past students have participated in city food drives, winter clothing collection/distribution, the packing of medical supplies and city prayer walks. Every year students look for opportunities to serve their fellow youth workers by helping existing YS staff to distribute resources on seats, tear down the main stage or hang signs for late breaking events.
I have observed a significant increase in interest in reading text books after interacting personally with the authors. Reading assignments for the class that represent the writings of academics like Dr. Chap Clark, Dr. Les Christi, Dr. Kara Powell, and Dr. Duffy Robbins provide a basis for Q & A following workshops and other interactive contexts (like the food court).
Cutting Edge Scholarship and Research
During the 2010 NYWC research titled “Sticky Faith”, produced by the team at Fuller Youth Ministry Institute, was presented in a variety of contexts. Christian Smith’s ground breaking research which formed the award winning book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers has been presented in recent past years. Also in 2010 Dr. Robert Epstein Harvard Ph.D. former editor of Psychology Today and visiting scholar in residence at UC San Diego presented research from his controversial book Teen 2.0 .This access to cutting edge research is invaluable to the educational development of students.
Youth Ministry Dept. Community Building
In my experience nothing builds community like a road trip. Trips to favorite restaurants like In-N-Out, Steak & Shake, Skyline Cincinnati Chili provide photo opportunities and great memories. Breakfasts at the café at the end of the San Diego wharf become almost instant Facebook posts. New relationships are formed, old friendships deepen and departmental traditions are formed on the trip because getting to the event is ½ the fun of community building. The other ½ is enjoying the NYWC as a group experience.
It has been my pleasure to have extended one-on-one conversations as well as group discussions on the trip. These have ranged from serious to hilarious, spiritual to ministry consultation, relational to vocational. I meet with students regularly on campus but look forward to the NYWC trip because of the level of communication interaction with its opportunity for depth and significance.
Fun/Exposure to Resources
There is a restorative element for faculty and students who participate in the NYWC. In addition to all the content items some scheduled activities including comedy clubs, poets and artists are just plain fun. Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine” is as relevant today as it was when it was written especially in the middle of an academic semester. The exhibit hall has the potential to open student’s eyes to the wide variety of ministry resources and services available for their critical appraisal and potential utilization
For these reasons and many, many more I am committed to YTM 315 National Youth Workers Convention: Praxis at CCU and invite others to join us and make use of this unique yearly educational experience. If I can clarify or expand on any of the ideas presented or just share specific helpful hints please do not hesitate to contact me.
Dr. Kevin Turner is Professor of Youth Ministry and Theology at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood Colorado. His book Learn Before You Leap:101 Case Studies of Youth Pastors? was published in 2012 as part of the Youth Specialties/Zondervan Academic partnership. Kevin is again looking forward to traveling with a class of CCU youth ministry students this fall to NYWC in Cincinnati.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.