Spring 2016 Lunch and Lecture Series

Youth Ministry Institute Lunch and Lecture Series 2016

Join us for the Spring 2016 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 to joy@yale.edu.

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

Spring 2016 Line-up

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Dr. Amanda Drury

Amanda Drury (PhD Princeton Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Indiana Wesleyan University with teaching interests in: youth ministry, homiletics, and spiritual formation. She is author of Saying Is Believing: The Necessity of Testimony in Adolescent Spiritual Development. She lives in Marion, Indiana with her husband and three kids.

January 6, 2016
Inside Jokes in an Outside World
The verdict is out: when our teenagers talk about their faith, they are formed into more faithful people. But being a “more faithful person” doesn’t necessarily lead to a joy-filled life. In fact, in many cases, we see evidence of God-talk resulting in loneliness and guilt. Why is it that some conversations about God increase our joy and intimacy while others simply leave us feeling isolated and miserable? What if the teenagers within our ministries could find their conversations about God to be life-giving? What if articulating their faith was a meaningful experience? Throughout this lecture we will explore various factors of testifying that contribute to a joy-filled life.


Dr. Rodger Nishioka

Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary. He focuses on equipping pastors to be teachers and leaders in the church’s educational ministry. Dr. Nishioka is particularly interested in building congregations’ youth and found adult ministries. His publications include Sowing the Seeds and Rooted in Love.

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Rev. Dominique Ayesha Robinson

Rev. Robinson is the Staff Associate for the Contextual Education Department and Doctorate of Ministry candidate at Columbia Theological Seminary, and is the Youth Minsitry Coordinator at New Life Presbyterian Church. She is the author of Unspoken Praise: A Manual on Liturgical Praise Dance.

Date: February 3, 2016

Resilience and Joy: Helping Adolescents Bounce Back in the Face of Adversity
There is any number of significant factors that help adolescents live in joy.  One of the most significant factors is resilience - the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity and to maintain and nurture one’s core identity and purpose as marked as Christ’s own even when challenged.  In this next YMI lunch conversation, we will…
* name and define resilience
* show how resilience is essential in living a life of joy
* explore how Jesus gives us a vibrant witness of this resilience
* share four methods to help young people hone and strengthen their resilience as individuals and as a community.

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Dr. Frederick Edie

Associate Professor of the Practice of Christian Education at Duke Divinity School. Dr. Edie’s research interests include exploring the relationships between Christian worship and Christian identity, and creating rich contexts for the formation of Christians. He is the author of Book, Bath, and Table and Time: Christian Worship as Source and Resource for Youth Ministry.


Alaina Kleinbeck

Alaina Kleinbeck has served youth ministries and organizations in suburban St. Louis, urban Houston, and Norway. She holds degrees from Concordia University Nebraska and Duke Divinity School. She is passionate about including young people in all aspects of life in the church, developing faithful Christian practices within communities, and listening to and empowering the voices of those who are silenced in society.

Date: March 2, 2016
Youth, Christian Worship, and Joy: Deeper Soundings

Youth ministry is sometimes tempted to turn youth worship into liturgical lollapaloozas. Balloons, bands, smoke machines, and sub-woofers all conspire to jolt kids into a joyous transcendent buzz.  While some of our best friends play in rock bands plus one of us even owns a subwoofer, we wonder about the long term effects of worship as lollapalooza for forming disciples of Jesus. How, for example, do youth learn to imagine the Spirit redeeming the very ordinary hurts and hopes of their daily lived realities? Surprisingly, Duke Divinity School’s Youth Academy for Christian Formation has found youth to be hungry for basic liturgical faire: the Word proclaimed and interpreted and the Feast shared at Christ’s Table. They tell us that practicing word and sacrament in worship is critical for their imagining and getting involved in God’s saving work beyond the sanctuary. Many now report living into Christian vocations as adults. They have discovered that joy is more about living than buzzing. 


Dr. David White
C. Ellis and Nancy Gribble Nelson Professor of Christian Education and Professor in Methodist Studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Dr. White’s recent publications include Dreamcare: A Theology of Youth, Spirit, and Vocation and Awakening Youth Discipleship in a Consumer Culture.


John Leedy

Associate Pastor for Youth and Family Ministries

John graduated from Abilene Christian University with a B.A. in Youth and Family Ministry and completed a Master’s of Divinity degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 2011. John was ordained and installed as the Associate Pastor of Youth and Family Ministry at UPC in December of 2011. John cares passionately about Christian education, worship and liturgical ministry, and the ancient spiritual disciplines.

Date: April 6, 2016
The Fire that Burns at the Heart of Creation: Joy and Beauty as Foundations for Youth Ministry

Too much of youth ministry has focused on teaching young people true ideas or right behaviors. Many young people are no longer convinced by good arguments about the rightness of Christian faith, yet they respond to beauty in its many forms.  Moreover, theologians are learning of the ubiquity of beauty throughout early Church writings and reclaiming the centrality of beauty in faith. Seen through the lens of this third transcendental (truth, goodness and beauty) God created the world and called it “kavod” or weighted with beauty; John’s gospel asserts that Christ is the “art” of God; God’s fulfilled Kingdom involves diverse voices unified in beautiful song; the life of Christian discipleship is beautiful as it reflects God’s own beauty; and the Word of God is not desiccated, but is the fire that burns at the heart of creation. Not only is beauty a fitting category for theology, but adolescents, according to developmental theorists, are deeply attuned to beauty—it is fundamental to identity construction. This lecture will consider what it means to feature beauty as a means of proclamation, worship, Christian practice and vocation.  It should be evident that beauty as expressed in Christian faith occasions a constant and abiding joy.


Dr. Anne E. Streaty Wimberly
Professor Emerita of Christian Education at the Interdenominational Theological Center and Executive Director of the Youth Hope-Builders Academy, a youth theology program funded by the Lilly Endowment. Dr. Wimberly’s publications include In Search of Wisdom: Faith Formation in the Black Church and Soul Stories: African American Christian Education.

Date: May 4, 2016

Topic: Hope – grounding a sense of the possibility and reality of joy and flourishing in the midst of the challenges of this life, as well as in the life to come.​