Practical theologians and youth ministry practitioners offer advice on how to build and sustain thriving youth ministries.
Skip Masback is the Founding Director of the Yale Youth Ministry Institute and the former Associate Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He came to Yale after serving for 19 years at The Congregational Church of New Canaan. Skip retired from Yale in December 2018 and currently serves as Chair of the Advisory Board for the Center for Continuing Education at Yale Divinity School.
In addition to the customary responsibilities of preaching, teaching and pastoral care, Skip’s ministry has always included substantial emphasis on deepening and broadening youth ministries both in the church and beyond. He has lectured and consulted on youth ministry issues in denominational settings and at Yale Divinity School, where he serves on the school’s Dean’s Advisory Council and the school’s Ministerial Studies Committee Working with Dean Harry Attridge, Skip developed the Yale Divinity School Bible Study program for local churches. He has contributed essays on preaching texts from Paul’s Letter to the Romans for publication in Feasting on the Word, Volume XI.
Skip came to the ministry after practicing law for fourteen years. He graduated from Williams College and Columbia Law School before joining the Washington law firm of Hogan & Hartson in 1976. His national litigation practice included representing major corporate clients and public interest clients such as the National Wildlife Federation, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Democratic National Committee. Skip helped start the National Endowment for Democracy in 1983 and was the founding general counsel for the Commission on Presidential Debates. Skip founded the Legal Services Board for the Whitman Walker Clinic and started a legal services clinic there for people living with HIV/AIDS. After resigning from Hogan & Hartson in 1983, Skip and colleagues founded the firm of Ross, Dixon & Masback, a firm which grew to include 115 lawyers in four cities across the country.
Skip left the practice of law in 1991 to enter Yale Divinity School, graduating with a Masters of Divinity degree in 1994. While at Yale, he was the founding chair and president of “I Have a Dream,” New Haven, Inc., an after school enrichment program. Skip and his wife, Amy, have three children, Owen, Katrina and Elisabeth.
Fred Edie grew up on the Isle of Hope just east of Savannah, Ga. He holds a B.A. degree from Furman University, an M.Div. from Vanderbilt University, and a Ph.D. from Emory University. Edie is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and has served congregations on both coasts in youth and educational ministries. At Duke Divinity School, Edie teaches courses in Christian Education, youth ministry, and practical theology. His research interests include exploring the relationships between Christian Worship and Christian identity, creating rich contexts for the formation of Christians, and constructing “full-bodied” epistemologies.
Edie’s book, Book, Bath, Table and Time, explores what goes on at Duke Youth Academy and, in particular, suggests how congregational youth ministries may benefit from attention to corporate worship as a crucial zone of formation for youth.
Edie is married and a parent to two teenagers. He professes something of an addiction to cycling.
Tim Walsh is Director of Experiential Learning at Newport Academy, a teen rehabilitation center with the mission to provide teens and their families with care and treatment for trauma, mental health issues, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Walsh is a mental health professional, outdoor educator, certified recovery coach trainer, and recovery expert. He has more than 20 years of experience leading programs for young adults, adolescents, and families. Particularly, Tim has spent decades cultivating his expertise in program development. He is a thought leader in adventure-based counseling and recovery. However, his main areas of expertise include youth mentoring, outdoor leadership, prevention, and recovery coaching.
He is cofounder and director of Adventure Recovery, an outdoor education and mentoring group. As one of the founding members, Tim spent five years as Executive Director of Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, Connecticut. At Mountainside, he created the center’s adventure-based counseling program. Also, prior to this, Tim spent 10 years at the Mountain Workshop, an outdoor leadership school, as Program and Staff Development Director. In addition, he is a consultant and former youth director for the New Canaan Congregational Church youth programs since 1998.
Tim develops and facilitates awareness programs for private schools, youth development agencies, and national conferences. Hence, his unique model of engagement draws young people in. As a result, Tim generates a dynamic, solutions-based conversation on mental health and substance use awareness.
Kenda Creasy Dean is an ordained United Methodist pastor and the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is the author of Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church and What Theological Education Can Learn from Youth Ministry—If We Let It (co-editor with Christy Lang Hearlson), among many others. A graduate of Miami University (Ohio) and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, Kenda served as a pastor and campus minister before earning her doctorate at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1997. In 2013 she founded Ministry Incubators, Inc. with Mark DeVries, a consulting and teaching organization to help churches turn hare-brained ideas into joyful, sustainable ministries. Kenda was blessed by incredible youth leaders and camp counselors as a teenager who saw God at work in her before there was any real evidence that they should, and she’s spent forty years trying to pay that forward. She and her husband Kevin love hanging out with their two grown children, Brendan and Shannon, and to binge-watch every beltway drama on Netflix. You’ll find her hanging out at the beach as much as is humanly possible.
Rev. Lillian Daniel is a preacher, teacher and writer in Iowa. While she has taught preaching at a number of schools, including Chicago Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School, she can’t be held responsible for everyone who falls asleep in church. Her new book, Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To is generating international conversation about the changing religious landscape. It continues the theme of her 2013 book When ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Is Not Enough about the growing number of people who claim “none” as their religious preference.
Lillian Daniel has spoken at the National Cathedral, Duke Chapel, Kings College, London and Queen’s College, Ontario, but on Sundays you can find her preaching at First Congregational Church in Dubuque, Iowa.
Roland Martinson came to Luther Seminary in 1977 and has held numerous academic and leadership roles. Now Professor Emeritus, he most recently served for five years as Luther Seminary’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean. He was ordained in 1968. “Rollie” was the project director of the landmark Exemplary Youth Ministry Study and a participant the Search Institute’s original “Effectiveness of Christian Education” study. His works include: The Spirit and Culture of Youth Ministry (2010); OMG: A Youth Ministry Handbook (2010); Coming of Age (2006); Gearing Up for Youth Ministry in the 21st Century (1992); Effective Youth Ministry, A Congregational Approach (1988); Bringing Up Your Child and Ministries with Families (1986); and A Joyful Call to Ministry (1982). He serves on the Board of Directors for Vibrant Faith. Rollie lives with his wife in New Brighton, MN.
The Rev. Dr. Gregory C. Ellison, II joined the Candler School of Theology faculty in 2009. His teaching draws primarily from his work with the organization he founded called Fearless Dialogues, a non-profit organization that creates unique spaces for unlikely partners to have hard, heartfelt conversations on taboo subjects like racism, classism, and community violence. Ellison’s research focuses on caring with marginalized populations, pastoral care as social activism, and 20th and 21st century mysticism. He is the author of Cut Dead but Still Alive: Caring for African American Young Men, and has two books in progress with Westminster John Knox Press – Fearless Dialogues: The Civil Rights Movement of the 21st Century and Anchored in the Current: The Eternal Wisdom of Howard Thurman in a Changing World.
Mark R. Gornik (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is the director of City Seminary of New York. He and his wife, Dr. Rita Aszalos, live in New York with their sons, Peter and Daniel. He is the author of, To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City, and Word Made Global: Stories of African Christianity in New York, and is completing a book about his friendship and ministry with Allan Tibbels.
Pastor Jorge Gonzalez is one of the Founders and Directors of Power House Youth Ministries.
Maria Liu Wong is the Dean of City Seminary of New York.
Dr. Anne E. Streaty Wimberly is Professor Emerita of Christian Education at the Interdenominational Theological Center and Executive Director of the Youth Hope-Builders Academy, a youth theology program funded by the Lilly Endowment. Her publications include In Search of Wisdom: Faith Formation in the Black Church and Soul Stories: African American Christian Education.