Merry Christmas from all of us here at the Yale Youth Ministry Institute!
We’re excited to announce that we now have several courses available on our website as resources for your youth ministries. The courses are designed to help you “Prepare, Engage and Reflect” on a variety of topics, including: Creating a Vision for Youth Ministry; Recruiting, Training and Supervising Staff and Volunteers; Cultivating Student Leadership; Studying the Bible with Youth; Spiritual Practices; and more!
Additional courses will come online in the new year as will curriculum and other resources. All at no cost. And we will continue to update and supplement courses as we develop new material. This is just a start to what we plan to provide and we hope it will be helpful. Visit the Courses section of our website to see what’s available. We welcome your feedback!
News from Oasis
YMI is in partnership with Oasis, a multi-church youth group comprised of churches in the New Haven area. Each month, one of the Senior Pastors will provide a short piece on what’s happening in this ministry – the joys, the challenges and the learnings from bringing different communities together. This month’s contribution comes from Jack Davidson, Senior Pastor of The Spring Glen Church in Hamden:
In some ways, it’s baffling that we hadn’t thought of it before. The math just makes sense. Your church can’t put together a sustainable youth program with only 3 kids. The church down the street can’t doing anything with just two teens who don’t even really like each other. The church one town over sort of has 5 youth on the roles, but only sees them at Christmas. Our church can put together a half-hearted program with our 10 adolescents with varying degrees of interest. But if we partnered up, we could have 20 youth.
A lot of churches have been wondering, “where are the youth?” Turns out they are in the most surprising place. They are in our churches! They are just so diluted that we’ve convinced ourselves and they’ve convinced themselves that we don’t have any teens in our churches.
To be fair, there are churches that do more meaningful ministry with their 3 kids than churches could ever do with 100 teens. Nothing beats relational ministry. However, relational ministry has a built-in expiration date with youth ministry, either the youth moves away or becomes an adult. Just because you have a really good pastoral relationship and communal integration with the 3 youth you currently have, there’s no promise that you’ll be able to do that with the next 3, if there even are another 3 coming up through your Sunday School.
In my current church, we had 8 solidly involved high schoolers my first year as Senior Pastor. They all wanted to participate in every event. But you know how life/sports/family/performances/school/etc/etc/etc get in the way. We would plan events for 8, assuming we’d get 6, but we’d only have 2 RSVP and one of them would get sick on the day of the event. So we started having conversations with a number of churches around us imagining what it would look like to have a shared youth ministry. Some of the churches had done Confirmation Class together, but none of these churches had successfully built a systematic multi-church youth ministry.
Fast Forward: We are now in our third year of what the kids have self-named the OASIS Multi-Church Youth Group. We will write future posts, reflections, and articles about how we got to this point, the struggles and the successes and the pivots. But for now, suffice it to say, that our “we have no teens” has multiplied like the loaves and the fishes. When 8 kids can’t make an event, we still have another 8 showing up, bringing their friends with them too.
There are all sorts of reasons why you can’t do multi-church youth ministry. There are endless excuses, complications, obstacles, anxieties, disagreements, denominational divides, theological divergences, you name it. But beyond all of that, for me, it all comes down to this truth: the math just works.
YMI Lunch & Lecture Series
Finally, if you missed Andy Root’s lecture on December 4 it is now available on our website here.
And be sure to join us on February 5, 2020 for our next YMI Lunch & Lecture program with Professor Mary Moschella for a primer on the fundamentals of Pastoral Care. RSVP via EventBrite.