I am a man that loves to further my education. I know that I do not know it all and have weaknesses and have found that education in some form or another has enabled me to improve on those weaknesses as well as further my strengths. Yet, many would say that they do not need it or simply do not have the time. Unfortunately, with stagnation can come “pond scum” and getting stuck in ruts that can make our faith bland or seemingly fake. We need to keep ourselves on our toes and challenging ourselves.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. – Henry Ford
This week I will be headed to Youth for Christ’s Regional Conference for the central states. While here, I will be able to hang out with like-minded people who have a unique perspective on youth ministry and Christian faith. In this time, I hope that I will be refreshed, renewed, and learn a few things.
I don’t know about you, but my stack of “need-to-read” list of books is immense and I’m constantly reading something. Currently, I have three different books I am going through at one time: The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation by Thom Rainer and Jess Rainer, The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson, and Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation by Jonathan McKee. Keep reading to be inspired, encouraged, and learning for your own faith and your ministry.
I am in my first year at Denver Seminary and loving every minute of it. Honestly, in the last twenty-one years of my life, I have not been in class for one year. This education is not for everyone, but the teachers and professors that challenge your thinking and community of learners to grow with is inspiring and spurs on creativity and passion. If you have not been in a classroom as a student for years, it might be scary. But do not let that scare you and prevent you for at least looking into this adventure.
Conferences are a great idea for those that can only commit a week to their professional development. It provides the community and courses for those that are willing to take the four to seven days and invest in the events. As I shared before, I will be going to Youth for Christ’s Regional Conference along with our biennial national conference’s MidWinter in February 2012. Two great conferences for youth workers are Simply Youth Ministry Conference and Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention.
Mentoring and Accountability
While all of these things are great ideas, they should all be done within accountability. This might be in the form of other youth workers or a mentor that is investing in you. In the end, learning does have great benefits but is still work. We need to have people who are our cheerleaders encouraging us on and at the same time a coach pushing us when we do not want to go any further. This encouragement and support can only make us better and improve our ministry.
Jeremy Smith is a 26-year old youth pastor at the Air Force Academy chapel, working for Club Beyond, and attending Denver Seminary for his Master”s of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He has been involved in Youth for Christ for eight years and absolutely loves sharing the life of Jesus with teens. Check out his blog at Seventy8Productions.