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1. You Can Change
Director of Youth
First PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Adam grew up in northwest Alabama and graduated from the University of North Alabama in 2002 with a degree in secondary education. He worked with Campus Outreach Ministries at the University of North Alabama for three years before taking a job at Fort Payne High School in northeast Alabama where he taught 9th-12th grade English and coached basketball and golf. Adam came to First Presbyterian Church in Dothan, Alabama in 2013 as the director of youth. Adam has been married to Katie for 13 years, and they have three children: Annabelle (9), Brock (6), and J. Thomas (4). Adam is a seminary student at Birmingham Theological Seminary, and if he has any free time, he usually goes fishing or binges The Office on Netflix.
Often we feel as if all we ever do is sin, and so many times, we fall to the same temptations over and over. It’s a frustrating cycle – sin, repent, sin, repent, repeat….over and over and over. This agonizing déjà vu leads to giving up on change and giving in to sin, but our struggle with sin doesn’t have to end that way. There is hope. There is power to overcome. We really can be more and more conformed to the image of Christ. This elective will discuss the seriousness of sin, motivations to fight our sin, and tactics for overcoming the sin that seems to derail our relationship with God. If you want to learn to fight (sin, that is), this is the elective for you!
2. Idolators Anonymous
Minister of Students
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN Church
Ben is the Youth Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, MS, where he's served for nine years. His wife and three children are the best thing about him, he's a big fan of RYM, he isn't spectacular at anything, and is learning to be ok with that.
We are all idolators. You may not worship a little statue on your bookshelf every night (if you do, we need to talk), but chances are there's a goal, a person, a desire, or something else that has taken on god-like proportions in your life. Idols are good things or bad things that we turn into ultimate things; they're "counterfeit gods." We're very good at making them, and they're very good at ruining us. A Christian writer once said, "the secret to change is to identify and dismantle the counterfeit gods of your heart." Join us as we discover how true this is, and how the Gospel is good news for idolators.
3. Who We Are Changes Everything (GIRLS ONLY)
Jaquelle Crowe is a 19-year-old writer from eastern Canada. She’s a graduate of Thomas Edison State University and the editor-in-chief of TheRebelution.com. She is the author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years. You can find more of her writing at jaquellecrowe.com.
These are the three questions that haunt the heart of every human – especially young ones. Teenagers long for an identity that gives them meaning, direction, and purpose. Culture pressures them to find that identity in the world – in sex, sports, fashion, school, possessions.
But there’s only one place that gives teenagers the identity they crave – Christ. And living “in Christ” means the teen years are radically transformed. Everything from going to church to posting on social media is changed because of who you are in Christ. And it’s this that will give you true happiness.
4. Welcome to Eternity
Trinity Presbyterian Church
Michael is from Hartselle, Alabama. He holds degrees from Jacksonville State University (BA), and Reformed Theological Seminary (MCE and Mdiv). He and his wife, Frosty, have four adult children and six grandchildren. His hobbies include hiking, camping, hunting, and reading.
What happens one minute after you die? One minute after you slip behind the parted curtain, you will either be enjoying the personal welcome of the Son of God or catching your first glimpse of gloom as you have never known it. Either way, your future will be irrevocably fixed and eternally unchangeable. Those who find themselves in heaven will realize that every description of the wonder of heaven they have ever heard will pale in the light of eternity. Others will be shrouded in darkness and unending regret. For them, death will be far worse than they imagined. In this class, we will focus on the wonder of heaven & will glance at the horror of hell.
5. God's Will For Me
First Presbyterian Church
Mike is the youth director at First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, TN. Mike and his wife, Mary, have three rowdy, blonde boys, who are just the best. He has worked in youth ministry for 15 years and is so thankful for God calling him to work with middle school and high school students.
If you are reading this, you are probably wondering, “What seminar does God want me to take at RYM this year? Should I take the one on studying the Bible or on dating? Speaking of dating, does God want me to date or wait ‘til college, and who does He want me to date? Thinking of college, is it God’s will that I will go to State or the U? Ahhh! What is God’s will for my life, anyway? Does He have one? Am I in it or out of it? How do I make sure I am in God’s will?” Ok, you probably didn't think all that just from looking at these topics. But most of us have struggled with trying to find and know God’s will for our lives. Whether deciding on colleges, dating, summer plans, friends, class schedules or burrito toppings, in things big and small, we want to know what God has planned for us and wants us to do. So come to this seminar, it’s God’s will so that I will tell you God’s will for your life. Seriously. He told me.
6. Something's Missing - The Search for Satisfaction
Assistant Pastor for Youth
Cahaba Park Presbyterian church
Justin is the Assistant Pastor for Youth at Cahaba Park Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL. He is a native Texan who split his college years between TCU and Texas Tech. After college he spent 8 years as the director of student ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS. He got his Masters of Divinity degree from RTS Jackson. He has been to RYM for over 10 years! He has been married to Caroline for almost 13 years and has two boys, Jay and Mac.
At some point all of us have wondered what would life be like… if I had a lot of money, if I was more attractive, if I had more likes or followers, if I was the best athlete in school, if I dated him or her, if I was Taylor Swift or LeBron James. It’s our natural bent to think, "if I had this, was more like this or could just fix this about myself,” then we would be satisfied and our lives would make sense. The author of Ecclesiastes reminds us there are many routes the world offers in the search for satisfaction, but they will lead to further emptiness, brokenness, frustration, and pain if lived apart from the God who made us.
7. From Sinners to Saints: A Beginner's Guide to Holiness (GUYS ONLY)
First Presbyterian Church
Jonathan is the Assistant Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Belzoni, MS, a farming town in the Mississippi Delta. He enjoys history and science fiction, is married and has three children.
Over 5,000 teens attempt suicide every day in America. Are you considering it? According to research, 93% of boys have seen porn by the time they're 18. Are you one of them? 75% of all boys in the USA play on a sports team. Is that what you live for, or perhaps you live for the next Snapchat selfie?
Who are you, and what are you doing? We sometimes forget not only that Jesus was God, but also a genuine human guy, and Christian men following Jesus have a clear identity to confess, pursue, and fight for.
You may be addicted to many things (some sexual, some not), but Christ calls you to be holy. You may feel an itch you just have to scratch in the "next big thing", trophy, or TV show—or to be the big man on campus and get respect—but holiness is more vital. Guys often believe they need "this" or "that", but without holiness, no one will see the kingdom of God. You are more than your addiction, what you consume, and what you achieve. Join this class. Come hear the Scriptures, see Jesus, learn what holiness is, and how to have it. As men, nothing matters more.
8. Insecurity: Fighting Our Lesser Fears with a Greater One
RYM RESOURCE COORDINATOR
John Perritt grew up in Laurel, MS, and moved up north to Ridgeland, MS, after marrying his wife, Ashleigh in 2003. While he initially worked at Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance, the Lord would call him back into youth ministry on a full-time basis, shortly after their move.
God had used Reformed University Fellowship and a summer at Alpine Camp for Boys to plant the seed of youth ministry in John’s heart. After working at SFBLI for a year, he was hired as a Youth Intern at Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland. While working at POPC, John graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary with his Masters of Divinity in 2009 and his Doctorate of Ministry in Family Ministry from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2016.
Growing up, John never read a book – he despised reading (unless the book had pictures…lots of pictures). As the Lord has matured his faith, he not only enjoys reading, but has a growing desire to write. John had zero aspirations to write for the majority of his life, but has sensed this desire growing with each passing year. In fact, he published a book entitled, Your Days Are Numbered, in the Spring of 2016 and has a forthcoming book entitled, What Would Judas Do?, set for release in 2017.
In the midst of wrestling with a desire to write, Joey Stewart approached him about becoming the Resource Coordinator for RYM. That conversation at Starbucks solidified many of the callings John had been praying about, so he came on staff with RYM in 2017. Although John will be stepping away from his role as Youth Director, he carries with him the same zeal to minister to teenagers, parents and youth workers, simply in a different context.
John and his wife, Ashleigh, have five children: Sarah, Samuel, Jillian, Will, & Amber.
It’s there when you look in the mirror. You’ll find it roaming the halls of your school. It’s on the athletic field and the stage in your school auditorium. It’s there when you take the ACT or SAT. You’ll see it sitting in the classroom when you give that oral report. It tucks you in at night and greets you as you roll out of bed. You’ll read it in text messages & tweets. See it on Snapchat and Instagram. It’s in our conversations and is always rattling around in our minds.
What is it? Insecurity.
Insecurity is something all humans struggle with. Young and old, male and female, across the globe – insecurity has no boundaries. While it is a commonality among humanity, it doesn’t mean it’s something you have to live with. Insecurity is painful for many, but there is a greater fear to drown out this lesser one. Scripture tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is in this greater fear, that we learn how to grow, live, and, possibly defeat, our insecurity.
9. Power and Practice of Prayer: Making Something Really Awesome Seem Less Difficult
Director of Youth Ministries
Young Meadows Presbyterian Church
Adam currently serves as the Director of Youth Ministries at Young Meadows Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, AL. He and his wife (Stephanie), are coming up on being married 10 years. They have three children. Adam also coaches varsity girls' basketball at a local Christian school and previously served as Athletic Director and Bible teacher there.
Is prayer hard for you? Do you struggle to find the words to pray? Is there never any time to pray? Do you feel like you don't know how? Many Christians feel this tension that they really think prayer is important and they should be praying, but it's just a missing component of their Christian walk or they just don't really like doing it. There is incredible power in prayer and great joy to be found in the practice of prayer! Let's spend a few days looking at some really practical ways to grow in prayer using the Lord's Prayer, Psalms and some other prayers of Scriptures as a guide for us!
10. Can and Should We Take the Bible Seriously?
John Stone was born in South Carolina and attended Clemson University, graduating in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education.. John graduated in 1992 from Covenant Seminary. John is married to Marisa Tate who graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Arts in English. They have three wonderful children, Sarah 21, Katherine 18 and Mary Simpson 16. John was a campus minister for 11 years, 4 at Belhaven College (92-96) in Jackson Mississippi and for 7 years in Knoxville, TN at the University of Tennessee (96-03). John has been the Assistant Coordinator (VP over ministry) for RUF for the last 14 years but is now transitioning to a new job. John and Marisa were married in 1992 and live in Knoxville, TN.
What should we believe about the Bible? In a world where the Bible is increasingly put down, ignored, mocked and scorned what do we do with the Bible? What do we do with so many scientist who say the bible is not true? What do we and what does the Church believe about the Bible? Is it even reasonable to belive in the Bible any more. Come to this class and learn what the Bible believes about itself and what Jesus believes about the Bible. Come see how Jesus shows us to be the word and shows us the truth of the word.
11. Making Sense of the Struggle
RYM Executive Director
Signal Mountain, TN
Joey graduated from the University of Mississippi with a BA in Psychology where he also became heavily involved in the ministry of Reformed University Fellowship. After college he attended Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS and graduated with a Master of Divinity in 1992.
After spending several summers ministering to youth at camps such as Alpine Camp for Boys in Mentone, AL and Twin Lakes Camp in Florence, MS, he became the director of youth and educational ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Yazoo City, MS where he ministered for nearly 5 years.
In 1993 he accepted a call to become the assistant pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Crossville, TN with the responsibility of planting a PCA church in Cookeville, TN. Grace Presbyterian Mission was immediately formed and he remained in Cookeville as the organizing pastor and later senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, PCA for 14 years. He then accepted a call in February of 2007 to become the Executive Director of Reformed Youth Movement (RYM).
Joey has served on the TN Area Joint Presbytery Committee on Campus Ministry (RUF) since 1994 and as chairman of that committee since 1998. He has also served on several General Assembly RUF committees. Additionally, he has been a member of the board of directors for Reformed Youth Movement since 1990 and possesses a resolute zeal and passion to serve the church and extend the kingdom through the expanding mission of RYM.
Joey is married to the beautiful Connie Cawthorn and together they have four children: Ashley Grace (Wilkinson), Joseph Wesley, Hannah Faith and Jennifer Cawthorn as well as a Hungarian Sheepdog, Maggie.
Do you feel like you never measure up spiritually? Do you feel like your day is shot if you neglected to have your devotional that morning? Do you constantly live under a load of guilt and shame? Do you feel like you don’t belong in the presence of God? Do you see God more as a harsh Drill Sergeant rather than your loving, compassionate Father? If so, then this class is for you. We’ll take a look at who God is, and what he has actually accomplished for every one of His children in the act of His free grace called: Justification. Then we’ll see how that changes our lives forever especially in regard to our struggle with sin. This is a class for strugglers…like me. Has He called you into a life of guilt and bondage, or to a life of freedom? Come and join us as we seek together to make sense of the struggle.
12. Finding Your Way in the Wilderness
RYM Training & Church Intern Coordinator
Michael is a Shreveport, LA, native, graduate of Ole Miss and Covenant Seminary, who has a distinct fondness for all things pork. He has served as a Pastor for Students in three churches (SC, MO, & VA) over the past 20+ years and currently serves as the Training and Church Internship Coordinator for RYM. He loves Jesus, His Church, and laboring that middle and high school students would as well! Michael lives in Charlottesville, VA with his wife Kirby. They have three children: McKenzie (15), Carter (14) & John Thomas (12).
While there is certainly a lot to learn in the great outdoors, this class isn't primarily concerned with finding your way home if you get lost in the woods! While some of us have known the wilderness as a real place with various challenges and difficulties, we all experience “the wilderness” in the challenging and difficult seasons of our lives. When we are “in the wilderness” we find ourselves feeling out of control (I can’t seem to do anything to change things! I can’t fix this!), without clarity (Why is this even happening? How did I get here?), and also feeling a lack of consequence (Where is this going? What’s going to happen next?). Come to this class and hear how God meets His people “in the wilderness” and fills them with Himself...offering peace under His control, comfort amidst tons of questions, and courage to press on knowing He is with you. Life is hard y’all...God wants you to know that He get’s it and to experience Him right in the middle of all of it.
13. Mercy: Jesus & Outcasts
Minister to Youth
Trinity Presbyterian Church
Kurt was born in Charleston, South Carolina, but calls Tupelo, Mississippi, his hometown. He is married to Marty, also from Tupelo, and they have one son, Campbell. Kurt received a B.A. in business administration from Mississippi State University, and his M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary. He serves as the Minster to Youth at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, AL.
Let's get awkward. Jesus wasn't afraid to get a little awkward. What can we learn from him about how to treat others...especially people who we don't understand or those that make us uncomfortable? Let's find out together.
14. Sex and the Teenage Years: What Is God Up To in the Midst of Sexual Temptation and Struggle?
Nate & EMily Smith
Riveroaks Reformed Presbyterian Church
Nate and Emily Smith live in Germantown, TN with their four kids Clay, Thomas, Henry, Amelia and a black British lab named Walter. Nate has been pastoring at Riveoaks PCA for 13 years. Emily works as a marketing executive for a large online health and wellness company. Nate and Emily love to help students, adults and couples find God's smile in the struggle of life. In their spare time you can find Nate on the golf course or doing hot yoga which Emily loves too along with a good long run!
Have you ever asked God "why did you give me all these feelings and desires and I can't do anything about them?" You are not alone! Since the very good beginning God made us "male" and "female". Sin promptly brought corruption, confusion, distress and distortion of sex and our sexuality. But God in Christ is renewing all things including sex and our sexuality!
So come join us for biblical, honest, and frank discussion of what the Bible teaches us about fighting sexual temptation and struggling well. This is a co-ed class taught by a married couple who "get it".
15. Engaging the Soul of Today's Youth Culture (ADULTS ONLY)
Founder & President
Center for parent/youth understanding
Walt Mueller is the founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and has been working with young people and families for over 35 years. As a result of his work with CPYU, Walt has become an internationally-recognized speaker and author on contemporary youth culture. He has written extensively on youth culture and family issues and is the author of the following books: 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers (Group Publishing, 2010); The Space Between: A Parent's Guide to Teenage Development (Zondervan, 2009); Opie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Where Faith, Family, and Culture Collide (Standard Publishing, August 2007); Youth Culture 101 (Zondervan, June 2007); I Want to Talk With my Teen About Movies, Music & More (Standard Publishing, September 2006); Engaging The Soul of Youth Culture: Bridging Teen Worldviews To Christian Truth (InterVarsity Press, February 2006); and the critically acclaimed Gold Medallion Award winner, Understanding Today’s Youth Culture (Tyndale House, 1994). He is also a regular contributor to numerous journals and magazines. A graduate of Geneva College (B.A.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Walt earned his doctorate at Gordon-Conwell in “Ministry to Postmodern Generations.” Walt has served in ministry with the Coalition for Christian Outreach and as a youth pastor in churches in Johnstown, PA and Philadelphia. Walt's wife Lisa has served behind the scenes since day one as CPYU’s secretary. A graduate of Geneva College who has a background in radio, Lisa’s voice can be heard on CPYU’s daily Youth Culture Today radio spot. Walt and Lisa live in Elizabethtown and have four children.
Whether you know it or not, if you are ministering to and/or parenting children and teens, you are a cross-cultural missionary. We live in a rapidly changing world. Their youth culture is not the youth culture that shaped you. The pressures, problems, challenges, choices, and expectations have changed. Your efforts to lead students to a life-changing and fully-integrated faith in Jesus Christ must be steeped in both a growing knowledge of The Word, and a growing knowledge of the mission-field of the world. Over the course of this week, Walt will walk you through a host of youth culture issues, along with offering practical and hope-filled ministry responses.