1. Life After Life After Death
Joe Deegan | Music Resources Coordinator | RYM | Houston, TX
No, that’s not a typo; it’s the actual title of the class. For years human beings have pondered the question, “Is there life after death?” Christians have said yes but have sometimes oversimplified it by saying, “Believers go to heaven; non-believers go to hell. End of story.” Is that really the end of the story? Could it be that the Bible teaches us there’s more? Could it be that there is a life after life after death? The answer is yes! The resurrection wasn’t just a really cool miracle that Jesus performed on himself. It was actually the beginning of a revolution. It was the deep magic, as C.S. Lewis said, that would cause death itself to start working in reverse. It is the promise of a hope that we hold fast to—a hope that one day Jesus will come back and bring heaven with him, down to earth, where we will live in the light of his glory and in the wake of his resurrection forever and ever. If this is true, then oh man, do we have a lot to look forward to! And I’m sure you have a lot of questions. I do too…so let’s talk about it.
Joe grew up in the small town of Tuscumbia, AL near the banks of the Tennessee River. He started playing guitar when he was 15 on a cheap, old fender he borrowed from a friend. A year later, he started banging around the old piano that sat in his living room. He fell in love with both and quickly discovered he had more of an interest in music than he realized. Joe found ways to play for churches and gatherings and friends throughout high school and college until he moved to Houston, TX to work as a youth pastor at Christ the King Presbyterian Church. He has since found a home in Houston with his wife Leah and his three kids Ellie, Sam, and Will and joins the RYM staff as the Music Resources Coordinator. Joe wrote and recorded his debut album in March of 2015 called "The Risen King," an eleven song project that tells the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Joe's second album "Cover and Title Page" is now available too.
2. The BODY of Believers
A Theology of the Body & Exercise
John Perritt | Director of Resources | RYM | Ridgeland, MS
We live in a world that is focused on the human body. In fact, it’s impossible to make it through one day without seeing some image of a human body. Whether it’s on Instagram, the magazines we see in the checkout line, or the body we see in the mirror – we are flooded with varying images of body types. But it doesn’t stop there. We are also being taught by these images. The world is often telling us our bodies should look a certain way. For the Christian, we need to know that the Bible is not silent on this issue. We also need to know that there may be some ways we agree with the world. That said, there are ways we need to challenge the world’s view of the body. What is the body? How are Christians supposed to view their bodies? How do believers take care of their bodies? Should we be concerned with our physical appearance? This is a class that will assist students in a theology of the body and how we should care for the body God has given to us.
John Perritt (MDiv RTS ’09 & DMin SBTS ’16) served in youth ministry at Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church for over 12 years. Prior to that, he served in youth ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, MS. He published Your Days Are Numbered (2016) & What Would Judas Do? (2017). He has also published articles with The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God. He and his wife, Ashleigh, have five children and live in Ridgeland, MS.
3. Why Can't We Be Friends?
Joel May | Youth Conference Coordinator | RYM | Charlotte, NC
Everyone knows what it’s like to walk into a room and think, “Will these people accept me?” What we really want to know is that we have a FRIEND in the room who knows us and accepts us, no matter what the circumstances are. That’s because we were made for true friendship - with God, and with each other. Sin has made this hard at times, but through Jesus we can again be restored to the friendships we were made for.
Joel is the youngest of six children born to a pastor and elementary school teacher. During his childhood and teenage years, Joel quickly discovered that he was passionate about a few things - the gospel and people. Throughout his adolescence he participated in and led music in his youth group, FCA, and "Big Church." While attending the University of Georgia, Joel was involved in RUF during the school-year, and during the summers worked as an RYM Summer Intern.
After meeting and marrying Maddie (a real stroke of luck) he was placed as an RUF Intern at UGA while Maddie finished her undergraduate and Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. After spending the last 3 years working full-time with RUF and leading music at a local PCA church, Joel plans to earn his M-Div at RTS in Charlotte, NC. He is very excited to further learn and grow during the next few years, both in the classroom and through his work with RYM as the Youth Conference Coordinator.
Joel loves the outdoors, the body of Christ, traveling, Georgia football and meeting new people. Joel does not particularly love baseball and writing personal bios.
4. The Story of My Life
Ashley Wilkinson | St. Louis, MO
Standing in the doorway to her new classroom her stomach tightens as the looks and whispers begin.... looking in the mirror all she can see are the flaws... sitting in church she wonders if the congregation would kick her out if they knew what she did last night... every day, everywhere, the voice whispers, “You are not enough; no one will love the real you; you are worthless.”
This story sound familiar? How often has this voice bullied you, whispering ceaselessly until you believed what it said? What if I told you that wasn’t the only story out there? That there was another voice, another narrative, more powerful, more beautiful more true than anything. Come join me as we learn to listen, and ask, “Which one is the story of my life?”
Ashley lives in St Louis MO with her husband Dave and new son Clark (why yes he is the cutest baby in the world thanks for noticing!). She graduated from Covenant Seminary in May 2017 and now works as a pediatric/adolescent counselor with some of the most fabulous people in the world at Generations Counseling in Cottleville. She loves sushi, The Greatest Showman, Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road album, and her firstborn pup Nemo. Ashley grew up going to RYM conferences and is very grateful for this opportunity to return “home”.
5. Binge Watch
A Look at Our Lives Through the Lens of Scripture
Darrell Jones | Director of Student Ministries | Southpointe Community Church | Nolensville, TN
Our lives tell a story. Some of them are comedies. Some are tragedies. All of them mean something. Stories are among the primary means in which God reveals truth to his people. So what does He want us to learn? How do the biblical themes of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation help to make sense of our own stories? Join us as we take a deep dive into God’s chosen method of speaking to his people and how the Divine Author has written us into the story of redemption.
Darrell is the Director of Student Ministries at Southpointe Community Church in Nolensville, TN. A Native born Virginian, Darrell received a B.A. in History from Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, TN and his Mdiv from Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. He has a lovely wife named Makenzie, and an old black lab named Samson. When not teaching or hanging out with the students of SPCC, Darrell enjoys lifting weights, meat, sweet tea, fishing, Braves baseball and Professional Wrestling.
6. The Kingdom vs. "Screendom"
A Gospel Approach to Technology
Trip Smith | Director of Youth Ministry | Peace Presbyterian Church | Cary, NC
We have a complicated relationship with technology. At this point, that's not saying anything revolutionary. We know it's true, but what should we do about it? More importantly, why should we even care? This elective is designed to offer a new perspective on the screens and social media we love (and also kind of hate). We don't need to rehash tired, guilt-oriented demands to "just put down your phone for a minute!" We need a biblical, practical approach to use technology as a means to the end of joy. We need to discover that, in Jesus, our loving Father offers something better.
If you find your eyes fixed on your phone more than you'd like, if your mood fluctuates based on Instagram likes and Snapchat streaks, if "binge" is a fair word to describe your normal Netflix usage, if you've played more than 20 hours of Fortnite this week, or if you judge other people because they do these things and you don't (allegedly), this elective is for you.
Trip Smith is the youth director at Peace Church in Cary, NC. Before he worked in youth ministry, he was the social media marketing manager of an international Christian nonprofit, and he can vividly remember the first time he saw an iPhone. He loves his wife Brently, his dog Scout, the Black Panther, walking in the woods, podcasts, and any movie, book, or song that hints at the Kingdom. His life calling is to talk to people about what the Bible says in a way that inspires joy and growth, and with the Holy Spirit's help he sometimes does a pretty good job at it.
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