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Youth & Family Ministry Cert School

Wartburg Youth Leadership School (WYLS)

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Center for Youth Ministries (CYM)
Certification School

The Wartburg Seminary Center for Youth Ministries Certification School consists of three components which together provide an opportunity to significantly enhance one's capacity for congregational youth and family ministry. The three components of the program are:

  • Participation in an Adventure Expedition for four days.
  • Participation in a specially designed sequence of classes focused on content, skills and awareness of issues needed for effective youth and family ministry.
  • At the close of each classroom sequence each participant will be asked to present a congregational long range plan or design for youth and family ministry. The presentation should demonstrate awareness of and growth in the skills and content necessary for implementing youth ministry in the congregation.

The Adventure Expedition Week
Goals for the Adventure Expedition Week: 4 days
The adventure expedition is designed to strengthen the candidate's:

  • Ability to integrate with small groups, understand small group dynamics, form and facilitate both small and large group activities and guide or accompany groups through a wide variety of adventure education experiences.
  • Awareness of safety and responsibility issues for themselves, the organizations they represent and the group's participants.
  • Appreciation of and capacity to work in a variety of cultures and settings.
  • Sense of personal integrity and faith commitment.
  • Openess to his or her growing edges as a disciple of Jesus.
  • Awareness of the dynamics of effective leadership.

Approach and Content of the Adventure Expedition:

Participants experience an intensive, sequenced adventure based expedition including low and high team challenge course and rock climbing. During this time fundamental concepts for youth ministry leadership development are introduced. These currently include:

  • Hand in Hand: Partnering Home and Congregation and The Child In Our Hands Initiative Models.
  • A basic Theology of Youth Ministry: Jesus, Paul and New Hope.
  • An overview of the principles and practice of adventure education.
  • Developing a scope and sequence for youth ministry programs.
  • Using the authoritative democracy to establish a vital Christian youth and family culture.
  • Using covenants to handle difficult areas in youth and family ministry programs.
  • The concept of family meetings.
  • A look at what is a youth leader and what is a program manager.
  • A tool for thinking theologically: D.R.A.G.Bi.G. and how to use it.
  • The Four Keys as a faith formation foundation.
  • The youth ministry program diamond.
  • Various guidelines for youth ministry, including the 70/30 rule, co-opting and turf visits.
  • Youth ministry as evangelism.
  • The multicultural dimensions and possibilities for youth ministry.
  • Practice in incorporating daily worship and Bible study into the life of the community.
  • The use of journaling to deepen spirituality.

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The Sequence of Class Sessions

Goals for Sequence of Class Sessions: 12 days

The sequence of class sessions are designed to strengthen the candidate for certification in four areas.

I. Awareness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the biblical and theological underpinnings for youth ministry, and the capacity to use a variety of methods to convey this biblical message to young people.

  • Candidates have an understanding of the message, form and content of the Scripture.
  • Candidates can clearly articulate the gospel of Jesus Christ in a variety of settings utilizing a variety of methods.
  • Candidates develop a sense of, and commitment to, the larger Lutheran church and its historical and current mission.
  • Candidates design Bible study programs utilizing the principles of adventure education and multiple intelligence.

II. Enhanced capacity for developing ministry directions in outreach to youth, and working directly with youth in different situations.

  • Candidates understand and are sensitive to contemporary issues and cultural tides as they relate to youth ministry.
  • Candidates understand the multicultural nature of youth ministry and its implications, and develop awareness to issues of diversity and expansiveness.
  • Candidates understand the growth and development issues of youth.
  • Candidates explore the variety of meanings for the word family and the role of family in faith development of youth.
  • Candidates develop awareness of issues relating to youth at risk.

III. Growth in practical program planning and implementation skills.

  • Candidates continue to design youth ministry programs and models.
  • Candidates are able to identify, recruit and train lay volunteers for youth ministry.
  • Candidates develop appreciation and skills for both long and short range planning.
  • Candidates develop awareness of the church networks that are effective in youth ministry including camps, retreats, national youth gatherings, etc.
  • Candidates understand and can develop a peer group ministry.

IV. Development of a strong sense of leadership for youth ministry in the congregation.

  • Candidates continue to develop their own theology and philosophy of youth and family ministry.
  • Candidates are theologically and programmatically able to incorporate youth in worship.
  • Candidates understand and develop a congregational, team-based, "youther" friendly and holistic youth ministry approach.

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Content and Method for strengthening candidates in these areas.

Throughout the certification school, the following guidelines are used to construct presentations and discussion in the four areas.

I. Awareness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Biblical and theological underpinnings for youth ministry and the capacity to use a variety of methods to convey this biblical message to young people:  14-20 hours

  • The Bible: Its Content and Presentation
  • Lutheran Confessions and Ideas

II. Enhanced capacity for developing ministry directions in outreach to youth and working in the context in which youth find themselves:  20-36 hours

  • Our Culture and Our Youth: 12-14 hours
  • Family Ministry: 8-12 hours

III. Growth in practical program planning and implementation: 40-50 hours

  • Christian Education for Youth Ministry: 3 hours
  • Community/Small Group Development

IV. Development of a strong sense of leadership for youth ministry in the congregation: 10-20 hours

Certification Presentations


At the close of every classroom sequence each participant will be asked to present a congregational long range plan or design for youth ministry. The presentation should demonstrate awareness of and growth in the skills and content necessary for enhancing youth ministry in the congregation.

In order for the candidate to be certified by the Center, the presentation should meet these criteria:

  • Satisfactory understanding of the content, skills and processes which comprise the certification program.
  • The capacity to envision, plan, execute and evaluate a long range plan or design for youth ministry.
  • Sensitivity to the variety of needs found in a congregation or agency, and a capacity to work with others in accomplishing difficult goals.
  • Creativity insight, flexibility and responsiveness in planning and execution of a ministry design.
  • The skills necessary to manage groups of young people.

Certification means candidates have attended all classes, participated in the activities and satisfactorily completed their presentation, turned in three references, completed their backqround check and have a congregational pre-certification interview. Certification is not the equivalent of an undergraduate or graduate school degree. Credit for attending can be applied to Associates in Ministry certification or a baccalaureate degree.

Cost is $2,500 for the entire school. This includes weekday lodging and meals and weekend lodging. (This price is guaranteed through 2007.)

If you cannot attend the whole training, come for a day or a week and take classes that meet your needs.

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