"Memory and Joy"
The lecture by Dr. Anne E. Streaty Wimberly and Dr. Almeda Wright provides historical material and pedagogical perspectives on nourishing youths’ joy by connecting them with the past in ways that foster truth-telling, communal and personal identity formation, agency, lament, and a vital life of faith and hope. The lecture draws on findings from research undertaken by the lecturers entitled “Finding Joy in Adolescence: African-American Stories from the Past for the Present.”
"Nurturing Relationships that Truly Transform: Self-Empowering Love and Adolescent Joy"
In this presentation, Dr. Andrew Root and Mr. Christian Gonzalez explore how faith is passed on and what, if anything, this has to do with theology. We’ll ask specifically, what exactly does it mean to take a theological turn in youth ministry? Looking at the biblical theme of kenosis, we’ll turn away from a technological perspective that sees youth ministry as providing solutions, or faith-formation as getting the knowledge of theology in young people’s heads. Instead we will explore how faith-formation, theology, and ministry are held together, drawing particularly from the life and youth ministry of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to see how youth workers today can be kenotic guides.
"Moved to Joy: Purpose, Awe & Wonder"
To live the life of a young person is to live a life in motion. Propelled by a frenzy of activities, the young people in our care long to be “moved” beyond their selves and situations. Every day, the lure of achievement and the spectacle of entertainment promise to elevate them to new levels of joy and importance. Meanwhile, Christian theology promises a different kind of movement—the movement of God towards us, revealed when we do the unthinkable in our culture of perpetual motion and “wait” upon the Lord.
"Holding Lightly: Cultivating Playfulness in Youth"
In this presentation, Dr. Courtney Goto and Lakisha Lockhart explore playfulness as holding lightly, a spiritual practice that is both purposeful and necessary for the faith and flourishing of adolescents. We investigate what playfulness means and how the practice can help young people cope with everyday challenges and reflect deeply on questions such as: who am I, what are my gifts and passions, who has God created me to be, and what is my purpose. We offer ways in which, we, as ministers and educators can provide adolescents spaces that not only allow for playfulness but welcome it.
"Gritty Sabbath Rest: Shaping a Keystone Habit for Adolescent Faith & Joy"
When our experience of joy is tethered to an identity-centering relationship with Jesus Christ its promise is assured by Christ’s resurrection. Learning how to live more fully in the presence of Jesus helps us to experience resilient joy, inextinguishable in the face of untimely or chronic adversity. As Brother Lawrence taught in the 17th century, joy from the ever present Christ is accessible even amidst life’s tedious tasks, like washing dishes. Today’s fast-paced lifestyles may exacerbate the natural challenge of capacity limitations but they need not hijack the promised joy of Christ’s indwelling presence in our lives. Learning to live with Jesus is joyfully transformational, but it takes deliberate practice. Gritty Sabbath rest, shaped as a keystone habit that works for spiritually unsophisticated adolescents, may be just what we need to learn how to flourish with Jesus in joy.
"Sing for the Joy of the City"
In this presentation, Mark Gornik and Miriam Acevedo discuss the role of “singing the sacred story” in learning and transmitting Christian faith across generations and cultures. To make their case for the sacred story of Christian Faith through the practice of singing, as well as reading Scripture, praying, dancing and testifying in a church community, they will share stories from New York City and of the Taizé Community in Europe.
"The Joy of Untamed Friendship: Rescuing Youth Ministry from The Little Prince"
Youth ministers have long placed the practice of friendship at the center of youth ministry. But what makes our relationships with young people in church any different from their relationships anywhere else? In this session, Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean and Mr. Wesley Ellis dive headlong into the practice of holy friendship with teenagers, and whether being “tamed” by another is what Jesus had in mind. Is joy the end goal of friendship in youth ministry? Are church relationships “special”? Is this dangerous territory—or precisely the terrain we are on?
"Joy on Purpose"
Joy vs. Happiness. Given that feelings of happiness are fleeting and the complexities of youth culture today, joy does not happen on accident. Dr. Pamela King and Dr. Steven Argue contend it occurs on purpose. Joy is dependent on knowing what matters most in life and making a meaningful contribution to something beyond the self. Purpose is forged through encountering God’s grace and discovering one’s role in God’s ongoing work in this world. Stories define us. When we know our story and our role in the story—we discover our purpose. God’s ongoing story of creation, redemption and perfection is the ultimate story. Drawing on their backgrounds in ministry, theology, psychology, and education, Pam and Steve, offer insights and practical suggestions for enabling youth ministers to nurture a sense of purpose through discovering one’s place in God’s story. Faith lived on purpose is flourishing.