Tag Archives: youth ministry education

an open letter to my niece, upon her high school graduation

rachel, it’s amazing to realize that you’re graduating from high school. i have very rarely met a young woman with so much drive and personal discipline. i am confident that god will use you to impact the world.

i have a sense that you could have gotten into any college or university you wanted to attend. and i think you could succeed wildly in a wide variety of careers. so that reality that you’ve chosen to pursue youth ministry is an amazing thing. so many who pursue youth ministry, unfortunately, do so because they think it will be “fun”, or because they’re not sure what else to do (and know that they enjoyed their own youth ministry experience). but you could do anything, and you have the brilliance and discipline to make it happen. we need more people like you in youth ministry.

you’re in a very unique place, being a female evangelical pursuing youth ministry, and being a white suburban young adult sensing a calling to urban youth work. you know there will be plenty who will try to limit you – because of your gender or theology or background. but i know you will face that opposition with a strong sense of resolve and a twinkle in your eye. i want to encourage you to remember that your calling comes from god, and that other peoples’ opinions of what you can or can’t do should not distract or discourage you. the trick — for which you will need a healthy dose of grace and patience from god — will be to follow your calling while not dismissing or dismantling the naysayers. confidence blended with compassion and grace is a powerful mix, and with christ in you, is a well you’ll need to draw from.

north park university is such a great fit for you, and i’m stoked about how you’ll be challenged and stretched there.

it makes this youth ministry uncle’s heart very proud to have a third family member pursue vocational youth ministry (yo, zack!). but i know you’re going to do this in your own way, and that totally rocks.

i’ll look forward with great anticipation to talking about your courses and what you’re learning. and i can’t wait to see how you join up with the work of the kingdom in the world of youth ministry. i love you, and i’ll be praying for you.

soft launch: youth pastor coaching program

for the past 9 months, i’ve been in a wonderful leadership coaching program with dr. john townsend. we meet one day a month, for 12 months, and there are 7 others in the group with me. the 360 process has been one of the most valuable features.

as i’ve thought about what god is calling me to next, i’ve considered lots of options (and even turned down a few gracious offers that didn’t feel like the right fit). sometime in the next week or two, i’ll try to write a longer post about my discernment process, as well as a post about what i’m sensing is next for me. but one of the things that struck me is how much i would love to offer a coaching program, much like the one i’m in, but tailored specifically for youth workers.

i expect to finalize plans for this in the next couple weeks, and hope to open it up for registration. but i wanted to blog about it first to get some responses from you.

here’s some of what i’m thinking:
– i think once a month for one day is not ideal for youth workers (especially if there’s any chance of someone flying in). so i’m thinking we’ll meet for two days, every other month, for a year. so, 6 meetings of 2 days each.
– i’m going to host this first round in san diego to test it. if it fills up and goes well, i’ll consider hosting one or more in other parts of the country. in other words, i have no idea at this point if this will be the one-and-only time i offer this, or if i’ll be doing more of these.
– i’ll be limiting the group to 12 participants, and will likely go ahead with it if i have at least 6. the “cohort” aspect of this process is a key factor, and i want us all to become friends and family.
– our 2 days (each time we meet) will be combination of youth ministry discussions, personal coaching, spiritual growth stuff, and personal development. i expect that we’ll offer spiritual direction for all participants at each meeting, as well as individual meetings with me. participants will have the opportunity to present stuff to the group (plans, ideas, talks, problems), and receive loads of feedback. i’ll bring some topics to the table, and other topics of discussion will be decided on by the group.
– we’ll meet in a comfortable room at a local church here in san diego, and i’ll get some kind of discount set up with a hotel for those who need to spend the night. our schedule would run all day for two days, including hanging out the evening of the first night (so, something like 8am – 9pm the first day, and 8am – 5pm the second day).
– the meetings will all be mid-week (tues/weds, or weds/thurs), so it won’t take anyone away from sunday commitments.
– we would have a closed social networking site for regular communication between meetings, as well as scheduled phone calls with me between meetings and assigned “homework partners”.
– there will be homework (a book for each meeting, as well as homework you and the group will choose for your specific situation).
– i’m toying with launching this officially in the weeks to come, with a potential start of march or april of this year.

as for the cost: well, i’m thinking i can offer this for something around $2500, per person, for the year. that might sound like a lot to some, i realize; but i don’t think i can afford to do it for less than that. i tried to figure out a price that wasn’t completely prohibitive, but would still work for me, considering the time investment (and the other costs i’ll have). i’d really love to consider bringing in some guest speakers also; but i think i’d have to charge something more like $2900 to make that work. all other costs (transportation, meals) would be on your own.

i love that there are so many fantastic undergraduate and graduate youth ministry programs at accredited schools these days. but i also think there’s a level of personal and professional development that can be offered in a program like this that goes beyond what a school setting can provide.

my questions to all of you:
– what do you think? would you be interested in considering this?
– what’s your response to the basic parameters i’ve laid out? any suggestions?
– any ideas for me on how to get the word out about this?
– if you’re interested in being a part of this program, would you rather keep the cost to $2500 for the year, and not have guest speakers, or bump it up to $2900 and have some world-class youth thinkers join us each time to further our thinking and discussion?