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.
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.
That every local church Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF) make at least
one outreach ministry project one of its major annual objectives.
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.
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
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
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
The CYF Guide and The Youth Ministry Manual
Other resources recommended for Christian educators and Youth Workers are:
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.
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.
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.