Introducing YS Thought Partners

Youth Specialties
November 16th, 2011

One of the challenges leading a youth ministry community is staying on top of all that is happening in the field. We know that in order to keep up YS must partner with strategic thought leaders in youth ministry. I'm well aware that we are “better together.”
Inviting Doug Fields and Kara Powell to join the leadership team was the first of many steps to expand the voices speaking into the YS community. The next project was developing a team that we affectionately will call the “YS Thought Partners”. The idea is simple–I've asked a few long time youth ministry leaders, who are familiar with YS, to voluntarily partner with us and help speak into the direction of YS.
I'm pleased to announce our first round of participants:
1.     Jeremy Del Rio – Founder and Executive Director of 20/20 Vision.
2.     Ginny Olson –Director of Youth Ministry for the Northwest Conference of the Covenant Church and an adjunct professor at Bethel University in Minnesota.
3.     Walt Mueller – Founder and  President of Center for Parent/Youth Understanding
4.     Allen Jackson – Founder and Director of Youth Ministry Institute, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
5.     Mike King CEO, Youthfront, Kansas City
These five individuals will serve a two year term as a YS Thought Partner. Each year we will ask an additional 3-5 others to join the team.  The group doesn’t vote or have any fiduciary responsibilities, so any bad decisions will still be mine to own, but they will have tremendous influence as they share their youth ministry wisdom so we can better serve the growing community of youth workers throughout the world.
Doug Fields, Kara Powell, Marv Penner (ED for YS Canadian), Lucas Leys (ED of Especialidades Juveniles), [and] Terry Linhart (Director ofYouth Specialties Academic Network), will join the team as non-rotating members. To have this team available to me as a leader is humbling to say the least.
If you have suggestions for other voices you think might be wise for us to include as we add Thought Partners next year, please send your suggestions our way (and yes, it’s uncool to suggest yourself )
Join us in welcoming these familiar friends to their new role in the YS community.

Jeremy Del Rio, Esq. advises businesses, schools, community and faith-based organizations, and leaders on sustainable education reform, coalition building, and youth and community development since 2000. He also co-founded and directs 20/20 Vision for Schools, a movement to transform public education that launched in New York City in 2008. Jeremy serves as an adjunct professor of urban leadership at Fuller Seminary, Alliance Theological Seminary, and City Vision College; and connects, trains, and mentors youth workers regionally through Urban Youth Workers Institute. He directed Generation Xcel, a holistic youth center in Manhattan, from 1996-2006; was the founding youth pastor at Abounding Grace Ministries (1994-2004); and also worked as a corporate attorney in New York. He has contributed to four recent books, including Deep Justice in a Broken World (Zondervan/YS 2008) and The Justice Project (Baker Books 2009), and his articles have appeared in CharismaWillowThe Journal of Student MinistriesRelevant, and elsewhere. He and his wife Diana have two sons, Judah and Cyrus.

Mike King is in his 36th year in youth ministry and serves as President/CEO of Youthfront. Youthfront works to bring youth into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ by creating environments where spiritual transformation occurs, by working with those who are involved in the spiritual formation of youth and by providing church-assisting events, programs, services, resources and training. Mike also serves as the Executive Editor of Immerse: A Journal of Faith, Life and Youth Ministry, serves on several boards and is an adjunct Professor at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City.  Mike’s book Presence Centered Youth Ministry: Guiding Students into Spiritual Formation (InterVarsity Press) has received widespread critical acclaim.  Mike and his wife, Vicki, live in Blue Springs, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City. They have two sons, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law and a granddaughter.

Ginny Olson is the part-time Director of Youth Ministry for the Northwest Conference of the Covenant Church and an adjunct professor at Bethel University.  Prior to moving to Minnesota, she was one of two co-directors of North Park University's Center for Youth Ministry Studies in Chicago, IL, where she also was an assistant professor of Youth Ministry, working with both undergraduate and seminary students. Before entering academia, she was involved in hands-on youth ministry for over 10 years at various churches and camps, including serving on staff in the junior high ministry at Willow Creek Community Church. She is the author of Teenage Girls: Exploring Issues Adolescent Girls Face and Strategies to Help Them, as well as the co-author of Youth Ministry Management Tools. She recently worked with Andrew Marin to develop the participant’s guide to the new dvd curriculum, “Love is an Orientation: Six Practical Ways to Build Bridges with the Gay Community.”

Dr. Allen Jackson is the Founder and Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where he serves as Associate Professor of Youth Education. Allen holds the B.S. degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi and the M.R.E. and Ph.D. degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to joining the faculty of NOBTS, he served as a student minister in churches in Louisiana and Georgia. Dr. Jackson is a highly sought after youth ministry speaker and an accomplished author with six books and numerous articles about youth ministry to his credit. He is married to Judi and they are the parents of two children – Aaron a junior at LSU and Sarah a freshman at FSU. 

Dr. Walt Mueller is the founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. Walt has been working with young people and families for over 30 years. He is a recognized authority on youth culture and family issues, and has appeared on numerous media outlets internationally to discuss teenagers and their world. He has written extensively on youth culture and family issues including the following books: 99 Thoughts For Parents of Teenagers (Group, 2011); The Space Between: A Parent's Guide to Teenage Development (Zondervan, 2009); Opie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Where Faith, Family, and Culture Collide (Standard Publishing, August 2007); Youth Culture 101 (Zondervan, June 2007); Walt Mueller's commentary and analysis on youth culture is heard daily on over 750 radio stations across the United States andCanada on CPYU's daily radio program, Youth Culture Today. 

Terry Linhart teaches youth ministry at Bethel College – Indiana where he also chairs the Department of Religion and Philosophy.  He has authored numerous YS books, most recently co-authoring What Can WE Do? and Global Youth Ministry.  Before coming to Bethel College, Terry served full time in youth ministry for 15 years in parachurch and local church ministry, in both urban and rural contexts.  He earned his PhD from Purdue in multicultural Curriculum Studies and has been active in AYME and IASYM.  He and his wife Kelly have 3 teenage children.

Youth Specialties

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