2014-2015 Lunch and Lecture Series

Youth Ministry Initiative Lunch and Lecture Series 2014-2015

Join us for the 2014-2015 Lunch and Lecture Series!

All lectures will take place at:
Yale Divinity School
409 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Lunch is available beginning at noon and the lecture begins at 12:30 in the common room. RSVP by emailing Allison at allison.vanrhee@yale.edu.

If you are unable to join us in person, catch the lectures on Livestream. Recordings of each session will also be available.

2014-2015 Line-up


Dr. Evelyn Parker
Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

October 1, 2014
The Elephant in the Room: Conversations about Race with Youth
What’s on a youth pastor’s list of tough topics to talk about with teenagers? Teen suicide? Sex? Violence in dating relationships? While pastors struggle to find words for these tough topics with teens, occasionally race and racism surface when youth speak about interracial dating, hate crimes at schools, and growing up biracial. What is the tacit message about the church, the congregation, and its leaders when a youth pastor avoids talking with teens about race? What are best practices that maintain ecclesial and communal integrity? This lecture will focus on ecclesial, anthropological, and practical ways to tackle the tough topic of race with youth.

Click here to download the lecture handout!


Special Event: The Yale Divinity School Ensign Lecture
Dr. Christian Smith
Professor Smith specializes in the sociology of religion and social theory. He joined the Notre Dame faculty in fall 2006, coming from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he served as the Stuart Chapin Distinguished Professor of Sociology. 

The recording of this lecture is now available online.

October 22, 2014 at 2:30 in Niebuhr Hall
Parents, the REAL Pastors: The Absolute Centrality of Parenting in Passing on Religious Faith and Practice to the Next Generation

Professor Smith is the author of several books, including Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood (Oxford University Press, 2011), What is a Person? Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and Moral Good from the Person Up (University of Chicago Press, 2010), Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults(Oxford University Press, 2009) and Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture (Oxford University Press, 2003). Smith earned his doctoral and master’s degrees from Harvard University.


The Rev. Dr. David C. Mahan
Director of the Rivendell Institute at Yale University and a Lecturer in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School.

The recording of this lecture is now available online.

November 5, 2014
The Youth Minister as [Cultural] Diagnostician
The difficulties of connecting young people with faith requires every minister to become an able diagnostician of contemporary culture. With the glut of generational profiles, however, we often strain to figure out how to make that connection with the individuals in our churches and ministries. This talk will offer a different model, called “Faultlines,” that will help us not only to make faith relevant, but resonant with young people today.

Click here to download the Faultlines Workbook!

Tim Walsh

Tim Walsh
Tim Walsh is a seasoned addictions professional and educator with 20 years of experience developing and leading programs. He recently completed more than a decade of service in leadership roles at Mountainside Rehab Center in Canaan, CT where he was the founder of the adventure base counseling program and the executive director. His areas of expertise include youth mentoring, outdoor leadership, prevention and recovery coaching.

The recording of this lecture is now available online.

December 3, 2014
Awareness, Prevention and Empowerment: A Discussion on the Role of Ministry & Teenage Substance Abuse.
In a time when substance abuse is being declared an “epidemic,” let us gather to learn more about the facts, the fallacies, and most importantly, the role youth ministry plays as a part of the solution. 

Matt headshot

Dr. Matt Croasmun
Director of Research & Publication at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture and Staff Pastor at the Elm City Vineyard Church (ECV), a multiethnic urban church in the heart of New Haven, CT. Before planting ECV, Matt spent five years in youth and campus ministry.

The recording of this lecture is now available online.

January 7, 2015
Engaging Music in Youth Ministry
Music is an important component of the lives of our youth and of our congregations. And yet, music is often a point of disconnect for youth in our churches. Matt Croasmun describes practical ways that music can become a powerful nexus of connection through corporate worship, songwriting, and mentorship. The lecture will involve examples of music created in a modest, local youth ministry, as well as opportunities to engage together in musical worship.

Lillian Daniel

The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel
Senior Minister, First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn and author of When Spiritual But Not Religious Is Not Enough: Seeing God In Surprising Places, Even the Church.

The recording of this lecture is now available online.

February 4, 2015
Rigorous, Reasonable, and Real: Youth Ministry
With the rise of the “nones” and the “spiritual but not religious,” it often seems that the church is answering questions no one is asking.  Many churches are still defining themselves in terms of what they are not (“We’re not like those other Christians who….”) in a world where people don’t know or care who those “other Christians” are. In an age of individualism and personal choice, how do we do youth ministry in community, within a tradition older and larger than ourselves? How do we make a claim for religious community that is respectful of other paths but compelling enough to warrant a young person’s time and attention?


Dr. Nadja Reilly and Kate Hyde
Dr. Reilly is the Associate Director of the Freedman Center for Child and Family Development at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) and directed the Swensrud Depression Prevention Initiative (SDPI) at Boston Children’s Hospital . Kate Hyde is the Lead Collaborator for the YMI Zoe Project and provides individual, group, and family psychotherapy through a school-based health center in Connecticut. While both were working at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University with SDPI, their team developed the renowned “Break Free from Depression Program.”    

The recording of this lecture is now available online.

March 4, 2015
Nurturing the Emotional Lives of Adolescents: Identifying and Ministering to Youth at Risk for Depression
Approximately 1 out of 5 adolescents will struggle with depression before the age of 24. Youth ministers are critical sources of early identification and support for adolescents dealing with mental illness. During this lecture, participants will learn about adolescent depression, how to identify symptoms, and how to access services. We will also discuss how to foster open communication and healthy coping in support of a flourishing life.

Click here to download the presentation handout!


Dr. Anne Wimberly
Professor of Christian Ethics at Interdenominational Theological Center, where she also serves as the Director of the Youth Hope-Builders Academy.

May 6, 2015
The Church’s Role in Reaching Disconnected Black Youth
This session will include an overview of meanings assigned to the term “disconnected youth,” also called “unchurched youth,” and will highlight profiles of disconnected youth, internal and external relational challenges churches face in reaching these youth, and examples of effective ministry paradigms that build bridges of connection between these youth and churches.   The lecture will draw on preliminary data uncovered in the Youth Hope-Builders Academy (YHBA) research project entitled “Building Bridges of Hope: The Church’s Role in Reaching Disconnected Youth.”