I enjoyed lunch today with John Perritt. John works with RYM – Reformed Youth Ministries (more about that in a minute). He writes for The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God (among other places) and served as youth pastor at Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland, Mississippi. He is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson) and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (DMin). John has authored two books (so far), both from Christian Focus Publications: Your Days are Numbered and, the provocatively titled study of faith, What Would Judas Do. You can follow him on Twitter at @johnperritt and read his blogs on film and theology at reelthinking.us.
I asked John a bunch of questions about good resources for youth ministry, and I want to share four or five that may be helpful to you (whether you are a parent, and youth minister or worker, a pastor, an elder, a volunteer or just interested in youth ministry and culture.
1. Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (CPYU) — Helping parents, youth workers, educators, pastors and others understand and reach today’s youth culture.
The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding is a nonprofit organization committed to building strong families by serving to bridge the cultural-generational gap between parents and teenagers. At a time when an already confusing youth culture is changing quickly, CPYU helps parents, youth workers, educators, and others understand teenagers and their culture so that they will be better equipped to help children and teens navigate the challenging world of adolescence. Founded in 1989 by Walt Mueller, CPYU has developed an international reputation as a voice providing cutting-edge information, resources and analysis on today’s youth culture. The mission of CPYU is to work with churches, schools, and community organizations to build stronger relationships between young people and those charged with helping them grow into healthy adulthood. This mission is accomplished by: Helping parents understand and respond to the complex world of their children and teens from a distinctively Christian point of view. Equipping teenagers to deal with the challenges of adolescence. Raising the youth culture awareness of youth workers, parents and educators, thereby helping them increase their effectiveness with parents, children and teens.
Walt Mueller is the founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and has been working with young people and families for over 35 years. As a result of his work with CPYU, Walt has become an internationally-recognized speaker and author on contemporary youth culture. He has written extensively on youth culture and family issues and is the author of the following books: 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers (Group Publishing, 2010); The Space Between: A Parent’s Guide to Teenage Development (Zondervan, 2009); Opie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Where Faith, Family, and Culture Collide (Standard Publishing, August 2007); Youth Culture 101 (Zondervan, June 2007); I Want to Talk With my Teen About Movies, Music & More (Standard Publishing, September 2006); Engaging The Soul of Youth Culture: Bridging Teen Worldviews To Christian Truth (InterVarsity Press, February 2006); and the critically acclaimed Gold Medallion Award winner, Understanding Today’s Youth Culture (Tyndale House, 1994). He is also a regular contributor to numerous journals and magazines. A graduate of Geneva College (B.A.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Walt earned his doctorate at Gordon-Conwell in “Ministry to Postmodern Generations.” Walt has served in ministry with the Coalition for Christian Outreach and as a youth pastor in churches in Johnstown, PA and Philadelphia. Walt’s wife Lisa has served behind the scenes since day one as CPYU’s secretary. A graduate of Geneva College who has a background in radio, Lisa’s voice can be heard on CPYU’s daily Youth Culture Today radio spot. Walt and Lisa live in Elizabethtown and have four children.
2. Reformed Youth Ministries (RYM) — RYM seeks to reach student for Christ and equip students to serve through conferences, training, internships and resources.
RYM exists to reach youth for Christ and equip them to serve. For over 40 years we have fulfilled our mission by providing conferences for youth that are word driven, God centered and gospel focused. God has blessed RYM, growing us from our original one conference to now six conferences that are reaching and equipping students in the South, Southeast, West and Mid-Atlantic. We give all praise to God for the abundant grace He has extended to us, and the 4,000 students and youth leaders who attend our conferences.
However, we are only scratching the surface of what needs to be done for the sake of Christ’s kingdom through RYM. We have a growing burden that the youth culture of our cities and nation be transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have a growing burden that the disintegrating family be restored by the gospel of Jesus Christ. How can we serve the church in extending His kingdom in these ways? Our plan of action focuses on three primary areas: conferences, training, and resources.
Joey Stewart, who leads RYM, and John Perritt, Resource Coordinator, are both Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson graduates.
3. Rooted Ministry — Rooted Ministry exists to transform student ministry by fostering grace-driven and cross-centered leaders through rich theological and contextual engagement. Rooted Ministry creates space for theological reflection on the Gospel and Scripture by educating, equipping, and encouraging student ministry leaders through conferences, communications, and connections.
After reading Michael Horton’s book, Christless Christianity, which describes the absence of the Gospel in the American church, Rev. Frank Limehouse, the Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent, had a simple vision: a youth ministry conference that focused on the message of the crucified Christ and nothing more. Rooted Ministry has been simple from the beginning. What started with a small gathering of people ministering to youth from around the country has grown into a movement to see the Gospel of grace serve as the only core of student ministry. This movement takes place through our conferences; our blog and other publications; and a community of people in ministry to youth working and praying to see teenagers liberated by and enamored with Jesus and His Gospel.
Rooted Ministry espouses a simple approach to youth ministry, based on our understanding of scripture and validated by research on effective models for cultivating sustainable faith in young people. Therefore, we emphasize the following foundations for youth ministry:
(1) Gospel centrality– faithfully proclaiming the good news of God’s unconditional love for sinners through Christ.
(2) Theological depth through expository, biblical teaching– equipping students with a biblical worldview.
(3) Relational discipleship– pursuing all facets of ministry in the context of caring relationships with students.
(4) Partnership with parents– educating, equipping, and collaborating with parents in the discipleship of their kids.
(5) Intergenerational integration– not segregating students from the church body but including them among all the generations of the church.
4. Reel Thinking — Reel Thinking exists to establish a biblical framework for appreciating God’s gift of film and technology.
Film reviews and more, by John Perritt.
The lights dim . . . the smoke rises . . . the band starts playing. It’s a familiar scene, as youth ministries everywhere use entertaining and trendy approaches to draw in teens. But when the lights come on and the fog clears, what do we find?
Far too many teenagers raised in Christian homes drift away from the church after high school. Why is this true? Could it be because youth groups, in seeking to elevate experience over truth, have left teens dissatisfied and hungry for that truth?
Brian Cosby demonstrates a ministry approach that nurtures teens and brings them back for more — one solidly grounded in Christ and patterned after the means of grace: the Word, sacraments, prayer, service, and community. Learn how much teenagers not only need a deeper ministry, but want one too.