The Eastern University Department of Youth Ministry is committed to training and equipping men and women who will take the whole gospel to this broad and significant people group.
A Program Shaped by a Vision
We read in Proverbs 29:18 that "without a vision, the people will perish". The Eastern University Department of Youth Ministry has sought to develop a curriculum that is true to the biblical mandate of making disciples of all nations. With that in mind, the youth ministry curriculum is shaped by the following imperatives:
- Our training must be biblical. The entire youth ministry curriculum is anchored in the Word of God. Our philosophy of ministry is based on the biblical model of our Lord and the apostles (cf. The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman, Fleming H. Revell). Even the particulars of training in practical matters, whether it be a lecture on how to give a youth message, to lectures about how to develop a youth ministry team, or how to design a youth ministry program are based on biblical precepts and principles.
- Our training must be culturally sensitive. If our message is firmly moored to biblical truth, we are free to explore an unending variety of strategies and methods for reaching an audience with the kind of unique characteristics of the adolescent. Our training is designed to equip graduated to walk into various cultures and adapt the basic principles of youth ministry to their particular situation.
- Currently, we have Eastern University youth ministry graduates serving in widely varying cultural situations that range from working with "at risk" Maori teenagers through Youth for Christ in New Zealand, to inner-city ministry in Lancaster and Chester, Pennsylvania, to doing youth evangelism in the Phillippines, to a more traditional parish youth ministry in suburban Philadelphia.
- To prepare these students for their varied ministries, Eastern University offers a wide range of courses including Ministry in the Urban Setting (YM 303), Youth Ministry Programming Skills (YM 207), Youth Ministry and Evangelical Strategy (YM 202) as well as various courses in Sociology and Missions.
- Our training must be theoretically sound. One of the major weaknesses of the church's ministry to youth through the years has been that we have not taken advantage of the insights to be gained from various academic quarters in the areas of adolescent psychology, educational theory, sociology, communication and the processes of cognitive and moral development. Because all truth is God's truth, and because information from these disciplines can inform us in our mission, we are committed to making these insights an integral part of our youth ministry training.
- There must be an emphasis on the intentional spiritual nurture of our students. The Youth Ministry program is not a youth group or a substitute for local church fellowship. However, we cannot ignore the fact that training people for ministry goes beyond information. The best ministry is born out of transformation. In short, one of the most significant factors in preparing our students for ministry with teenagers is taking very seriously the nurture of their own spiritual growth
- Our training must be practical. Karl Marx once said, "Philosophers have interpreted the world. The point is to change it." We are not content to provide youth ministry training that stays on the theoretical level. If our graduates are not able to use their training to actually touch the lives of teenagers, then it is of little value. Unlike some college youth ministry programs, we have decided to weigh our program on the side of practical, how-to training. That leads us to some very clear directives:
- Our professors must be proven practitioners with a track record ministry with students.
- Our courses will move beyond theoretical issues so that students are given training in the kinds of real-life questions that arise in the course of ministry with students (we will include lectures on topics like: budgeting, staff relationships, dealing with conflict, using media in ministry, planning retreats, organization, preparing Bible studies for youth, working with parents, etc.)
- Our students will not be able to complete the Youth Ministry major without completing four credit hours of Field Placement credit (totaling at least 320 hours of field placement experience working with teenagers).