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Department of Christian Education

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Youth Ministry

Formation + Nurture + Leadership = Mission

Our youth may very well be the best teachers we have in the church.  They certainly have just us much to teach us as they have to learn from us.  They are most definitely co-participants in the ministry of Christian education inasmuch as we are called to form and nurture them in the faith. 

We need to be aware of the psycho-social development of adolescents and the cultural implications which has major impacts upon their lives.  This means we must be acutely aware of how the adolescent years can be very fragile.  Adolescents are highly impacted by entertainment and media, peers and the surrounding culture which includes hip-hop, communication devices, etc.

As Christian educators we are concerned about the future of black youth concerning their faith development and witness within the context of the local church and the larger global society.    The Department of Christian of Christian Education is convinced that the nurture and faith formation of youth in the CME Church is dependent upon those who have expressed a desire to work in youth ministry and have been placed in positions of leadership to lead youth and engage them in Christian Discipleship and the biblical mandates concerning the mission of the Church.

 The 2002 General Conference of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church mandated ten actions for the Department of Christian Education, three of which are related to youth ministry.  They are:

1.  That the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, through its program of Christian Education at every level, provide teaching and training opportunities for members to discover, develop and implore their spiritual gifts. 

2.  That every local church Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF) make at least one outreach ministry project one of its major annual objectives.

3.  That focus groups be composed of children, youth, young adults, and those who lead youth.   These focus groups would provide an opportunity for Christian educators and church leaders to hear the concerns and issues facing our youth today.

The General Secretary and staff continue to work towards carrying out these action items by creating and developing curriculum, resources and events that promote the development and faith formation of our youth.

One of the major responsibilities of the Department of Christian Education is planning and coordination of the National Youth and Young Adult Conference which is held every four years.  This conference has been in place since 1939, and is the largest conference that takes place in the denomination.  Youth from the ages of 12-17 and young adults between the ages of 18-35 attend this conference.  This conference is the only venue that brings all the youth from across the denomination together.  Presently it is also the only venue where youth leaders have an opportunity to interact and engage with other youth leaders in the denomination.  The conference, held in 2004, hosted approximately 3500 youth and 875 youth leaders, and the recent conference, “Doing a New Thing,” held in Orlando hosted over 2500 youth and total registration of 5000 plus.

In line with the mission of the Department, “making disciples through events that form and transform, the goal continues in 2010 to instill in youth and leaders the understanding of mission through teaching and spiritual formation.   Another goal is to highlight the accomplishments of local CYF groups’ involvement in service projects and mission.  One of the anticipated outcomes of this Dr. Willa Ross’ Doctoral Ministry project is to highlight and share seminars and training with Christian Educators throughout the Connectional Church as a possible teaching model of ministry for youth leaders.

Black adolescent youth are by far the majority of youth situated in the CME Church and are the focus of our concern as we attempt to develop a model of ministry that prepares and equips those who are called to make disciples.  Disciplemakers, are needed to lead today’s black youth into ministries and mission that usher in God’s kingdom and liberation for all humankind. 

Evelyn Parker in Trouble Don’t Last Always:  Emancipatory Hope Among African American Adolescents raises challenging questions concerning racial injustice, violence, the relevancy of the black church, and black adolescent spirituality.  She examines African American adolescent spirituality with regard to these challenging questions and offers a theological framework of ministry that offers hope in the face of injustice and hopelessness.

Reflecting on the spirituality and faith formation of youth in the CME Church affirms the need for serious thought and intentionality of leadership concerning models of ministry that provide nurture in the faith, and transformation for our youth in a culture that teaches prosperity and lifting up of self.  We must not only be concerned about youth being who they want to be, but we must insure that who they are striving to be is in line with God’s purpose for them and all of humankind.  The teachings of Jesus and his compassion for the marginalized and liberation from oppression is primary in leading youth to a faith that seeks understanding and participation in the kingdom of God. 

We continue to seek to suggestions and input of youth workers and Christian Educators across the Connectional Church as we strive to produce and create resources, activities and events for use in local churches to help form and nurture our youth.

Several resources have been produced by the Department for use in Youth Ministry.  Two of them which we strongly recommend each local church use as guides in carrying out youth ministry are:

The CYF Guide and The Youth Ministry Manual

Other resources recommended for Christian educators and Youth Workers are:

Dean, Kenda Creasy and Ron Foster.  The God Bearing Life:  The Art of Soul Tending For Youth Ministry.  Cleveland:  Abingdon Press, 1998.

Baker, Dori Grienenko.  Doing Girlfriend Theology God Talk with Young Women.  Cleveland:  Pilgrim Press, 2005.

Fausbaugh, Edward M., III.  Creating an Authentic Youth Ministry.  Nashville:  Discipleship     Resources, 2005.

Parker, Evelyn L:  Trouble Don’t Last Always, Emancipatory Hope among African American Adolescents.  Cleveland:  Pilgrim Press, 2003.

The Sacred Selves of Adolescent Girls.  Hard Stories of Race, Class and Gender.  Pilgrim Press, 2006.

Smith, Christian and Melinda Lundquist Denton.  Soul Searching:  The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2005.

White, David F.  Practicing Discernment with Youth, a Transformative Youth Ministry Approach.  Cleveland:  Pilgrim Press, 2005.

Wright, Almeda and Mary Elizabeth Moore.  Children, Youth and Spirituality in a Troubling World.  Challis Press, 2008.