Our featured presenters include:

Andrew Root Lauren White Chris Gonzalez
Andrew Root, PhD
The Olson Baalson 
Associate Professor of 
Youth and Family Ministry
Luther Seminary

Lauren Smelser White
PhD Candidate
Vanderbilt University

Chris J. Gonzalez, PhD
Family Social Scientist
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Lipscomb University

Schedule

8:30-9:00am Continental Breakfast Ezell Lobby
9:00-9:30am Introduction & Worship Swang Chapel
9:30-10:15am Dr. Andrew Root
What is the Theological Turn in Youth Ministry?
What exactly does it mean to make a theological turn in youth ministry?  It is turning away from a technological perspective that sees youth ministry providing solutions or as a means to a goal, but it doesn't necessarily mean turning to "theology."  Rather, the theological turn in youth ministry turns to the "theological."  It seeks for the act of God in the lives and concrete experience of young people.  We will explore why and how this turn matters immensely.
Swang Chapel
10:15-11:00am Lauren Smelser White
Taking Theology to Youth Ministry ... in Churches of Christ?
Andrew Root poses the question, “What is youth ministry for?” along with his firm answer that, like all Christian ministry, youth ministry is primarily to be about participating in God’s activity. “And if this is true,” he points out, “then theology—understood as reflection on the action of God—is essential for [youth] ministry.” If we are compelled by Root’s key claims, we must consider how they apply within our practical context in Churches of Christ—a fellowship that has traditionally been deeply skeptical of the notion of “theology.” However, all is not lost. I highlight what I believe are some of the distinctive challenges and strengths that we have inherited from our ecclesial heritage toward the goal of bringing theological depth into the heart of our youth ministries.
Swang Chapel
11:00-11:10am Break  
11:10-11:50am Breakout Classes #1  
  Dr. Walter Surdacki
A Theology of Technology
Technology is moving at a thousand miles a second and yet it has subtly invaded our lives and changed us, our interactions and our rhythm of life.  What might it look like to approach our use and consumption of technology from a theological perspective?  Gain language to help speak to your parents and teens about how to best use technology in your life.
Ezell 363
  Dr. George Goldman
A Theology of Salvation, Hell, and Altar Calls
Are your teens afraid of Hell? Recent discussions of the theology of Hell (think Rob Bell's Love Wins) have not only raised fundamental questions about the nature of God, but also called us to think about what salvation really means. A brief review of theologies of Hell that differ from "eternal conscious punishment" will lead us into a discussion of a Christian message that goes beyond the gospel of pardon to a gospel of transformation.
Swang Chapel
  Dr. Chris Gonzalez
Positive Youth Formation - Part I
Saying "youth are the church of the future" is like a mom saying to her daughter, "when your grown up, you might get to be part of the family." It doesn't make any sense. Youth are the church right now. Youth are not a problem to be solved, a demographic to be managed, or a responsibility to be outsourced. Youth are brimming with loads of positive assets that are awaiting a legitimate context for expression. This session will explore what is going right with youth and why they need to be considered the church of now.
Ezell 301
12:00-1:00pm Lunch Paul Rogers
Board Room
  Graduate Theology Information Session Ezell 224A
1:00-1:45pm Dr. Andrew Root
Youth Ministry, Church, and the Melting of Identity
One of the greatest pursuits for late modern people (especially those of younger generations) is to construct an identity for themselves.  But as we have seen recently, the fluidity of our culture does not allow for our identities to be carved in stone.  Instead our identities are always transitioning.  This makes a faith committed made in high school, for instance, always open to being reconsidered.  This fluidity of identity makes a theological turn in youth ministry all the more necessary.
Swang Chapel
2:00-2:45pm Breakout Classes #2  
  Dr. Andrew Root
Talking About Sin with Young People
What is sin and how do I know when I’m doing it?”  This is not an unusual question to be asked by a young person.  But too often what we’ve said in response has been confusing or unhelpful, tending to push kids into shame and guilt, (or to avoiding these feelings; disengagement).  In this presentation we’ll look at sin, explore what it is theologically and how it functions in our lives.  We’ll then discuss how to speak about sin with young people, and how this theological understanding can make a difference for your youth talks or children’s sermons.
Swang Chapel
  Lauren Smelser White
Theology and Intergenerational Youth Ministry
Increasing attention has recently been given to the fact that the typical youth group is often herded away from the rest of the congregation, its members treated as a population whose concerns and interests need not overlap with those of older generations’. This discussion session will explore why this trend is troubling, both immediately and from behind-the-scenes theological perspectives. We will primarily consider two questions. First: might a lack of intergenerational involvement not only isolate youth ministers and parents from the larger church body as they try to form youth for discipleship, but also perpetuate an unhealthy (functioning) ecclesiology? Second: their separation from older church members may unnecessarily juvenilize the youth; could that juvenilization easily carry over into teens developing self-centered rather than Christ-centered understandings of adult discipleship?
Ezell 363
  Dr. Chris Gonzalez
Positive Youth Formation - Part II
Saying "youth are the church of the future" is like a mom saying to her daughter, "when your grown up, you might get to be part of the family." It doesn't make any sense. Youth are the church right now. Youth are not a problem to be solved, a demographic to be managed, or a responsibility to be outsourced. Youth are brimming with loads of positive assets that are awaiting a legitimate context for expression. This session will explore what is going right with youth and why they need to be considered the church of now.
Ezell 301
3:00-4:00pm Final Session with Keynotes
This is your chance to ask questions and get answers from our panelists.
Swang Chapel