Youth Ministry Certification Process Educates and Empowers
Ask any church youth worker, and they will be the first to tell you that they have one of the most amazing jobs in the world. That’s the mantra of Amanda Grissom Boyd, Youth Worker at Woodville UMC who believes youth ministry workers’ positions are unique in the field of church work and that many will openly admit they often times feel blessed to march to the beat of a slightly different drummer. “However,” says Amanda, “Once a year, their beat aligns with others as they and other United Methodist Youth Workers converge for the Perkins School of Youth Ministry.”
She says the week overflows with the opportunity for youth workers, volunteers and even senior pastors to be replenished and refreshed. “Worship includes inspiring music and messages brought by those that love youth, youth workers and youth ministry. Bible studies are enriched with contemplative prayer and intentional lessons to motivate each of us to renew our desire to serve Christ’s church alongside the youth of our congregation and communities. Classes taught by some of the best and brightest in our field challenge youth workers to dig deeper into subjects strongly significant to today’s youth ministry. We are equipped to inspire vision within our congregations and communities as we share ideas and challenge one another to be the best youth worker we can be.”
Peer-to-peer training has many rewards for the participants. Adds Amanda, “Evenings are filled with opportunities of fellowship and networking as we build important connections and friendships across districts, conferences, and states in the celebration of oneness in the body of Christ. After an incredible week, we return home inspired and excited to continue answering the call to serve Christ’s church as United Methodist Youth Workers.”
The Perkins School of Youth Ministry (PSYM) brings United Methodist Youth Ministers from around the country to explore the Bible and theology, discuss developing ministries, and share in personal and spiritual development, while focusing on the art of youth ministry. Typically held in January, PSYM is a multi-faceted event for youth workers. The Certification program offers CEU credits needed for full certification as a professional youth worker, and involves a 5-year process if the course load is done fully through Perkins.
According to TAC Youth and Young Adult Ministries Director Reverend Thera Freeman, participants can choose from three different tracks based on their experience level in youth ministry: beginning with Foundations (for new youth workers) where the offerings in classes range from Wesleyan Theology, to being organized, to finding and keeping volunteers and how to maintain personal spiritual care. All classes at PSYM are taught by youth workers, sermons in the worship services are offered by those who work with youth, and the program is built by those who work with youth. PSYM is a peer-to-peer learning and sharing experience that offers space for learning, networking and rest for all manner of youth workers.
Reflecting on his own certification training experience earlier this year, Shawn Welling, Director of Youth Ministries for Holy Covenant UMC- Katy, says this year’s track in Perkins School of Youth Ministry’s United Methodist Certification in Youth Ministry “taught all things theology, as in, embedded vs. deliberate, systematic, liberation and other flavors such as evangelical, reformed, Orthodox, Wesleyan, Calvinist, and so on. It sounds like a daunting subject to tackle in only a week of lectures and discussions, however, the practices and aims of certification classes are to teach us how to more effectively formulate our thoughts and beliefs.”
Adds Shawn, “What I came away with from this year’s session is a reinforced reminder that John Wesley was a really great thinker about God, and he gave us (today’s United Methodist Church) timeless, biblical, practical methods to understand and grow in faith in God through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (grace!) for the purpose of fulfilling our call to make disciples. Though weary from a grueling week, I, returned refreshed and renewed in the firm belief that – in pursuit of fulfilling our calling as people redeemed by the promise of God (the life of Jesus Christ, our Exemplar, His atoning sacrifice, and resurrection) -- we not forsake the thoughtful, Spirit-breathed methods of John Wesley, and we continue to search for new, more effective ways to teach these to our youth.”
Notes Thera, “I think PSYM is important because it provides a space for distinctly Methodist learning and sharing in regards to youth ministry. This was my first year to attend and I really enjoyed learning with all the gathered workers. Our TAC youth workers gathered for some tasty burgers, and a great time of talking, laughing and networking that allowed youth workers working in close proximity to one another to connect and begin dreaming on expanding the connection of young people in the Texas Annual Conference.”