'YM 2009' targets teaching faith amid spiritual diversity

“Youth Ministry 2009 (YM 2009)” — set for Jan. 9-11 at the J.W. Marriott Hotel at the Galleria in Houston, and geared toward all lay and professional youth workers in any LCMS setting — will concentrate on the theme “Teaching tym09.gifhe faith in a spiritually diverse age.”
Hosted by LCMS Youth Ministry — District and Congregational Services, YM 2009 “promises to help you confront the vagaries of teenage spirituality in an age that pretty much wants nothing to do with organized religion,” according to information in a conference brochure.
The brochure states that the symposium will feature “two keynote presenters and a process for applying what is presented in congregational settings,” with worship and fellowship rounding out the program.
Keynoters are:

  • Dr. Lisa Kimball of St. Paul, Minn., who will present data and analysis resulting from a recent major study on adolescent spirituality conducted by Search Institute, for which she serves as a lead researcher.

  • Dr. John Oberdeck, a professor at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, who will address the study from a Lutheran perspective.

  • Dr. Craig Oldenberg of Seward, Neb., will facilitate discussion of how participants might apply what they’ve learned from the study as they work with youth back home.
  • “It will be a practical, no-frills conference where the focus is on the message and how to apply it,” said Dr. Terry Dittmer, director of LCMS Youth Ministry.
    “In today’s teenage world, all things are tolerated and little is debated,” Dittmer said of the symposium’s topic.
    “[Our] teens may be happy being Lutheran Christian teens, but very few would likely tell their unchurched friends about Jesus or why faith in Christ is important, and much less that they should become a Lutheran,” he continued. “People simply aren’t sharing the faith in today’s world. They would rather say, ‘If you are a Buddhist, be a good Buddhist,’ than to tell someone why Jesus is the only way to heaven. Indeed, in this day and age, salvation, eternity, and heaven would most likely draw a blank stare from an unbeliever. These are not terms people use much any more.
    “This whole idea of an unspecified spirituality is controversial with those of us who truly value saving faith in Jesus Christ for all people. We need an understanding of this post-modern phenomenon if we are to help our young people grow in the faith and share the faith,” Dittmer said.
    Concerning the Search Institute study, Dittmer said that “using research that literally stretched around the globe, Search will reveal “what they have found about what makes an adolescent spiritual and how that spirituality may be manifested in an adolescent’s life.”
    Dittmer said he anticipates that Kimball will “share information and data about why religion and specific faith systems are not important to young people.
    “These days, nearly everyone is or can be spiritual,” he told Reporter. “But religious systems such as Christianity itself, Lutheranism, Catholicism, and even non-Christian systems hold very little value for many young people.”
    Dittmer said that in that context, the symposium will address “how those of us who value our Lutheran confessional system teach that to our young people as an important part of their faith and life, and how we equip them to share that with their peers.”
    Registration for the symposium is $200, which covers some meals.
    For more information or to register, go to www.lcms.org/youth and click on “Youth Ministry Symposium 2009” under “Youth Ministry Areas,” or see the symposium brochure with a registration form which was expected to be mailed in late September to all Synod congregations, youth-ministry chairpersons, district executives, and past symposium participants.
    Lodging for symposium registrants is available at the J.W. Marriott for a special rate of $99 per night, plus tax.
    A youth ministry practicum led by Dr. Jim McConnell of Concordia University, Austin, Texas, is being offered on-site at no extra cost for the morning of Jan. 9, before the symposium begins at noon. The symposium is scheduled to end by 11 a.m. on Jan. 11. 

    Posted Oct. 2, 2008 

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