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Youth Ministry Convention this Weekend

This weekend I’m going to a youth ministry convention with all of our youth ministry students here in Mexico.

It’s a convention put on by our friends at DimensiĆ³n Juvenil, and I’m excited that our students are going to get to attend. Many of the breakout sessions that will be given are exactly what they need to help them with their ministries. I’m hoping to learn some stuff, too.

I’m also going to network and meet new prospective students. Please pray that we have opportunities to connect with people who might be interested in the youth ministry training we offer.

Seminary Freshman

From left to right: Deborah, Josue, Kareni, Huberto (professor), Gerson, Victoria

As I posted before (click here for earlier post), we have the largest freshman class of youth ministry students in the history of the program.

We worked really hard last year to promote the youth ministry program at the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary by going to various conferences, camps, and youth events.

While five new students may not seem like many, it is a pretty good sized class considering that our seminary welcomed 13 new freshman this year (only 8 students weren’t youth ministry students).

I’m excited about this year. We now have 14 total students studying youth ministry in Mexico City. Please keep praying for us.

Opportunities in Latin America

You wouldn’t believe the amount of opportunities we have to minister in other parts of Latin America. God is opening doors and giving us new contacts everywhere we turn. It’s a great thing.

Today, we got word about more ministry opportunities, and Huberto, part of our team in Mexico, told me last week about all of the invitations our Center for Youth Ministry in Mexico is receiving to train youth workers throughout central Mexico.

We need wisdom to decide what God wants us to do in each of these situations. It’s a great situation to be in, but it’s also an important time for us to establish some guidelines as to how we will advance the work that we have been given.

We’re also always looking for new members of our team. If you’re a youth pastor and feel God calling you to train other youth workers or to missions, I’d love to talk with you about possibilities with Youth Ministry International.

(Thumbnail by alfon18 on flickr)

Youth Ministry Degrees

Josh and Danny have written some stuff about youth ministry education, and since it’s something that is close to my own heart (I’m a youth ministry professor), I felt the urge to write about the subject.

Josh brings up some great points about business principles that are used in youth ministry. Management, Budget and finances, public speaking, and other business practices are important in youth ministry.

He says that many of these things may not be included in a typical youth ministry degree, but I know they are included (at least partially) in the youth ministry degree program I teach at the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary (and in the Master’s in Youth Ministry program in Cuba). I also know many professors and directors of youth ministry programs throughout the world whose programs include many of those principles.

Now, I know that Josh isn’t bashing youth ministry degrees, and I’m not against business degrees. I walked into a Christian bookstore the other day and told Janell that there wasn’t really anything in there on my list of books to read because most of the books on my wishlist are about business, marketing, or culture. But that might be because I feel I need to “self-educate” in those areas. Or maybe it’s because those are areas I feel need attention in ministry. Diversity is key.

Danny talks about the benefits of his psychology degree, and I agree that it helps to understand why people do what they do as we minister to them. He makes a great suggestion to serve in a church while going to school. I agree. That’s why most good youth ministry programs require that you serve in youth ministry alongside an experienced youth worker who will mentor you and share with you everyday experiences as we strive to disciple young people.

Overall, I believe in youth ministry education. My youth ministry degree has served me time and time again in real-life ministry as I walk alongside young people. I have also seen results of youth ministry training programs in the lives of my own students. Let’s not throw out the options for youth ministry degrees.

Business principles, psychology, Biblical and theological studies, and even missions courses are all essential for youth workers. The key to education is to realize that it’s never finished. You can’t say, “I’ve finished my degree so I can stop learning.” Good youth workers will always seek ways to keep improving themselves. Good youth ministry programs at seminaries and Bible colleges are always seeking to improve and adapt curriculum to stay up to date with the needs of youth workers.

What do you think?

(Photo by: My New Winter Coat)

The Last Three Years – Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I talked about a little part of the graduation last week. It was the result of 3 long, hard years of work.

Today, I wanted to write about some of the results that we’ve seen because of the Master’s in Youth Ministry program that we completed (in part) last week. All of this is what is happening in youth ministry in the country of Cuba and beyond.

It’s just a small slice of what is happening, but I hope it gives you an idea of what this incredible team is doing.

What can you do with a Master’s degree in youth ministry?

  • One student has seen his youth group triple in size since he started taking the courses in the program.
  • One student says that the training from the program is the backbone of what they are doing in youth ministry for his entire denomination.
  • One student has seen his youth group grow at a record pace, both in numbers and in depth.
  • One student is using the principles he learned to begin a ministry to university students.
  • One student feels that God wants him to be a full time youth pastor and plans to seek a youth ministry position as soon as he fulfills his obligations as a senior pastor.

What can you do as a youth ministry trainer?

  • There is a Center for Youth Ministry in 3 different seminaries throughout the country. There’s another one that will be started in another seminary this year.
  • There is talk about starting a program at another Bible institute in Pinar del Rio in the western part of the country.
  • In the Eastern Baptist Convention, they have begun to train trainers. There are 22 students preparing to be professors of youth ministry.
  • Many of the students have expressed interest in carrying the vision to other nations by training in other countries, using the same modular format that was used with them.
  • One of the students has begun a “national network of youth workers,” uniting youth workers throughout the country.

There are many other things that have happened to all of us on a personal level. In the next part of this series, I hope to write about how I have changed as a result of being a part of this incredible journey.

Picture: The team on top of the seminary

The Last Three Years – Part 1

The last three years of my life have been invested in a project that has grown very dear to my heart. Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to see thirteen of my favorite people in the world graduate with a Master’s Degree in youth ministry.

It has been a long journey. Personally, it has been an exhausting three years, traveling each January and June, arranging for visas, charter tickets, domestic tickets, raising awareness, translating, planning, preparing, and teaching classes. I personally taught 6 and a half of the 12 courses for the Master’s program in youth ministry.

For the students, it was 3 years of reading, pre-class assignments, post-class assignments, weeks away from family, amidst personal and professional struggles. Every student involved in the program is also involved in full time ministry, leaving little time for anything else.

But the culminating moment came on Wednesday, June 11, 2008, when they called the name of 13 of my friends, associates, and students to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas from the Santa Clara Seminary, or the Baptist Seminary of Havana, or the Baptist Seminary in Santiago, or from New Pines Seminary. To see the look of accomplishment and joy on their faces gave me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and joy.

The investment of three years has more than paid off. We are seeing a mighty work of God in Latin America, and I’m humbled to be part of it.

In part 2 of this series, I’ll write about what these students are doing with their degrees. It’s amazing.

Click a thumbnail to see a larger version.

Just a Quick Note

I’m writing this note from the office of the Center for Youth Ministry at the Baptist Seminary in Santa Clara, Cuba. We’ve had a great time with the team here, and we’ll be finishing up tomorrow morning with classes.

Everyone’s family is coming in for graduation that takes place tomorrow night. It is the graduation for the entire seminary, and the graduating class of 13 Master’s Degree students in youth ministry will be the largest group graduating.

It’s been 3 years of hard work, but it’s been great. I’ll write more later, but I wanted to let you know what’s going on.

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