How can teenagers who use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram share their faith with their peers?
That’s the focus of the March 17-20 Lutheran Youth Fellowship (LYF) Teen Leadership Training, “Teens Reaching Teens in the Digital Age.”
The annual training event sponsored by LCMS Youth Ministry at the Pallottine Renewal Center in St. Louis is open to congregational teams, as of Dec. 15. Participants from Synod districts were invited to begin registering earlier, in November, for the 75 available spaces that are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Each team must include at least one teen (two is recommended) and one adult from an LCMS district or congregation, according to the Rev. Dr. Terry Dittmer, youth ministry specialist with LCMS Youth Ministry.
“The idea is that teenagers, first of all, can be leaders,” Dittmer said of the annual LYF training. “But they can also train their peers to be leaders.”
Adults are trained so that they can encourage and support the teens as they share what they’ve learned in their home congregations, circuits and districts. Adult team members — laypeople and church workers alike — typically are involved in youth ministries.
The four-part curriculum includes video segments, discussion questions and processing activities, along with a guide designed to help teens develop their own personal strategy to implement what they’ve learned.
The four main sessions and their presenters are:
- “Why Jesus? Colliding Worldviews,” with Dr. Bernard Bull, assistant vice-president of Academics at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon.
- “Use the Tools: Personal Witness and Social Media,” Philip Gruenwald, communications coordinator at the Lutheran High School Association of St. Louis.
- “A Winsome Witness: Youth Culture,” the Rev. Jeff Cloeter, senior administrative pastor of Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in St. Louis.
- “Developing a Personal Strategy,” Jessica Bordeleau, LYF coordinator with LCMS Youth Ministry.
Presentations on leadership and vision, respectively, will be led by the Rev. Mark Kiessling, interim director of LCMS Youth Ministry, and Dittmer, who served as Youth Ministry director from 2001 to 2014 and has announced that he plans to retire after this summer’s Youth Gathering, July 16-20 in New Orleans.
The Pallottine Center has an indoor swimming pool, a fully equipped gymnasium and a chapel. The LYF training includes free time to “play games, shoot hoops and go swimming,” Dittmer said, and “the spiritual opportunities of the weekend” — with worship and Bible study — “are an important part of the schedule and always something that teens evaluate as a highlight.”
This year’s participants also will elect the five regional members of LYF’s executive board as the current board members complete their three-year terms. All teens attending the LYF training in March will be eligible to serve on the board.
Interested congregations are encouraged to register as soon as possible before the Feb. 1 deadline, since space is limited.
The $375 registration includes all materials, training, lodging and meals.
Leadership training — part of LYF since 1981 — brings teens ages 15 to 19 together from far-flung states, and Dittmer says he knows of some participants who still keep in touch some 25 years after meeting at the event.
“Teenagers are a wonderful group of people to work with — they have incredible energy,” he told Reporter. “This group has always had amazing faith — [they’re] just faithful, Jesus-oriented kids who want to make a difference in the world.”
To register online, visit lcms.org/lyf.
For more information or to confirm your team’s space at the training event, contact Renee Lorenz at 314-996-1168 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted Dec. 23, 2015