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. Paralyzed by Doubt
How Can I Have the Assurance of Salvation?
Joey Stewart | CEO | RYM | Signal Mountain, TN
The most miserable person in the world is the one who doubts the certainty of his/her salvation. “Am I really a Christian?” “Can I be sure that God has saved me?” “Is it possible for me to lose my salvation?” “Is there really forgiveness when I keep struggling with the same sin over and over again, and it seems like I just can’t give it up?” If you’ve ever asked any or all of those questions, if your doubts are haunting you to the point that you feel spiritually paralyzed, if you want to know the true freedom and confidence that the gospel DOES provide, then this class is for you. Come and join us as we seek to “make our calling & election SURE.”
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 RYM. Joey has served as a member of the RYM Board of Directors since 1990 and possesses a resolute zeal and passion to serve the church 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.
3. 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.
4. In Dependence
Michael Hall | Director of Training | RYM | Charlottesville, VA
While for the first part of our lives we grow up mostly dependent upon our parents (or others) to meet our needs, as we get a little older we start reaching for independence. Something almost instinctive inside us longs for it and so much of our cultural and daily experience promotes it - independence. It’s in our history and part of what it means to “be an American”...for we celebrate our Declaration of Independence! To be sure, there is plenty of truth and health involved when you begin to grow into your own person and take responsibility for your life...your own thoughts, words, and deeds. However, as we do this we often begin to experience a great deal of stress and anxiety because we are all too aware of our weaknesses and limitations. In contrast, the Bible has a lot to say about our lives being marked with joy, peace, and purpose even though we are weak. Is it possible to become more independent and experience this joy and peace at the same time? Yes! Join us in this seminar as we consider how the quest for independence, without a proper understanding of what it means to be human, will actually restrict freedom, joy, and peace. For to be truly human we must remain dependent upon God through each and every day. Join us for some fun and encouraging content helping us better understand what it means to live in dependence!
Michael lives in Charlottesville, VA with his wife Kirby and their three kiddos - McKenzie (16), Carter, (15), and John Thomas (13). He’s served in youth ministry since 1996 in churches in SC, MO, and VA and is now the Director of Training with RYM. He was born and raised in Louisiana so he’s a big LSU fan, but he knows God loves him in a special way because he graduated from Ole Miss! He loves being with people, enjoying the outdoors, laughter, good books, good food, and because it deserves it’s own category, bacon.
5. 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.
6. Dont' Just Stand There, Do Something!
John Stone | Youth Leader Advancement Coordinator | RYM | Knoxville, TN
We are always learning and being taught about what we believe about God and the Bible so let's explore in this class in very, very specific ways what Jesus would have us do. Where is it that the teaching of Jesus sends us and what are some of the actions all Christians are expected to do? This will be a class where we explore who we are to be (through action) in Christ!
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 22, Katherine 20 and Mary Simpson 18. 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 was the Assistant Coordinator (VP over ministry) (03-17) for RUF for 15 years. John is currently the part time Associate Pastor at Redeemer church in Knoxville, part time with RYM serving as the Youth Leader Advancement Coordinator RYM and also the CEO of a small consulting firm. John and Marisa were married in 1992 and live in Knoxville, TN. John is also passionate about golf!! Very passionate.
7. "I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends"
Creating Genuine Connection in a Superficial Age
Christina Maxwell | Fort Worth, TX
One of the greatest joys in this world is deep and meaningful friendship. Songs, movies, books and TV shows have all been written about how wonderful it is to be loved by a friend. Having been created in the image of the Triune God, each of us longs for friendship and community. But if you’ve had any real friendships you know it can be very hard to be a friend. People can be messy, stubborn and challenging and that can make friendships difficult and confusing.
In this elective class we are going to examine friendship as we try to answer several questions together. Why do we need friendships? Why is it so hard to make and maintain good friendships? What does it mean to be a friend? How do we become a good friend? How do we befriend people who are different than us? How does social media bring unique challenges to friendships in this digital moment? What is the difference between being someone’s follower or fan and being a friend? How do we deal with bullies and judgment? How do we create genuine connections in a superficial age? We will look to scripture together to find some practical answers for how God might have as live together as we walk through life!
Christina lives in Fort Worth, TX with her husband Phillip and their children, Jack (3) and Eloise (2). After college at SMU (Pony up!) Christina worked for RUF Campus Ministry for several years before attending Redeemer Seminary and then moving to Fort Worth. She loves to volunteer and spend time with the high school girls at her church. She also LOVES watching TV, cooking, fashion and being active.
8. It Feels Like God's Not There, So Why Pray?
Why It's Hard To Pray & What To Do About It
Phillip Maxwell | Pastor to Youth | Fort Worth Presbyterian Church | Fort Worth, TX
Do you find it hard to pray? Almost everyone does. I mean what do you say? Are you supposed to hear something? Why does it feel so weird to be alone, disconnected from your phone, alone with God? Everyone struggles to pray and a lot of us feel bad about it. So what should we do?
Some say that prayer is simply practicing the presence of God. So why’s it so hard? Because most of the time it feels like God isn’t there, like you’re talking to empty air. In this elective we’ll look at the obstacles to living a praying life and how prayer is a lot easier than we’ve been making it.
Phillip has been the youth pastor at Fort Worth Presbyterian Church for 2 years. He has worked in college ministry (RUF) and youth ministry since his time at Southern Methodist University in Dallas where he had a deep experience of God. He’s married to Christina and together they have two children, Jack (3) and Eloise (2). He loves blues and motown music, eating fish tacos and watching SMU Mustangs basketball.
9. Walking with God when Life Hurts
Matthew Icard | Pastor of Youth & Families | Clemson Presbyterian Church | Clemson, SC
Life in a fallen world is…well…hard. You experience confusion, loss, or disappointment every single day. You get a stain on your favorite shirt, you fail the quiz, or you don’t make the team. And that’s just a “normal” day. What do you do when life gets real? What do say when your mom or dad loses their job? Where do you turn when you endure rejection or get made fun of again and again and again? How are you supposed to feel when your grandma dies? And where is God in the middle of all that stuff? Join us in this elective as we discuss the answers to these questions and look at the way that Jesus deals with sorrow, grief, and pain.
Matthew loves plain poundcake, live music, old books, khaki shorts, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. He also loves working with students and parents as a pastor at Clemson Presbyterian Church. When he’s not hanging out with teenagers, he’s usually cooking, driving his old Jeep, or playing the bagpipes. He’s been married to his wonderfully creative and amazingly intelligent wife, Rachel, for 8 years.
10. Seeing Christ in All of Scripture
Shane Whelan | Pastor of Student Families | Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church | Lynchburg, VA
How are people in the Old Testament saved? Why do the Old and New Testaments seem so different? How do the Old Testament and the New Testament relate to one another? Did God come up with a new plan for salvation since people kept breaking the Old Testament law? We will answer these questions and more and see that all of Scripture points us to Christ. The gospel of John tells us that Jesus is the Word, so from Genesis to Revelation we will see the Word in every word.
Shane is the Pastor of Student Families at Rivermont EPC in Lynchburg, VA. He is from Marietta, GA and received a B.A. in Communication from Mississippi State University. After graduating from college, Shane worked as a Video Editor for four years. He has been in student ministry for 16 years and is married to Laura and has three sons Luke, Jackson, and Sawyer. He enjoys spending time with his family, good food, sunsets, porch swings, playing sports, and chasing ocelots and platypuses.
11. What Should I Do with My Life?
Understanding the Biblical Doctrine of Vocation
Scotty Anderson | Associate Pastor to Youth & Families | Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church | Simpsonville, SC
Remember when you were eight years old and you knew exactly what you wanted to be when you grew up? Being a race car driver or comic book illustrator probably doesn’t have the same appeal it once did, but that doesn’t mean you really know what you want to or should be doing for the rest of your life. While the Bible has some clear limits, it also opens up a world of opportunities. This seminar gives you a way to think carefully and critically about your future, college, career, and more.
Scotty has been the Pastor to Families and Youth at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, SC for the past 13 years. He’s from small town Texas, graduated from the Air Force Academy, and used to protect nuclear weapons for a living before becoming a PCA pastor. He’s been married to his fabulous wife, Kerry, for 23 years, and has two current RYMers, Clay (an RYM intern) and Avery (at her last RYM), and also 9 year old, Grace.
12. Double Vision
When Worldviews Collide
Kurt Cooper | Minister to Youth | Trinity Presbyterian Church | Montgomery, AL
You have won a prize. The prize has two options, and you can choose either (but not both). The first option is a year in Europe with a monthly stipend of $2,000. The second option is ten minutes on the moon. Which option do you select? Why? There’s no wrong answer here, just an opportunity to see how you (and your friends) view the world. How you answer this question – and many others – depends on your worldview. What do you value? What is important to you? In this elective we’ll try to figure out how God views the world and how He wants us to view it as well.
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.
13. Faith & Works
A Match Made in Heaven (or Hell?)
Adam Comeens | Youth Director | First Presbyterian Church | Dothan, AL
If salvation is by grace through faith, is there really anything I have to do as a Christian? Do works play a part in our salvation? Do works serve any good purpose? Jesus’ brother, James, thought works were important. He said, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14) Can it? Can a faith that does not produce any works be true faith? You’re invited to this elective to explore if your faith is dead or alive!
Adam was blessed to have Christian parents who taught him about the love of Christ, and Adam came to Christ during the summer before he began 6th grade. He attended college at the University of North Alabama (UNA) in Florence, and he received a bachelor of science in secondary education in May of 2002. He married Katie O’Daniel of Louisville, Kentucky in 2004, and after three years of work in college ministry, Adam went to teach and coach at Fort Payne High School in Fort Payne, Alabama. Adam and Katie were involved at Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Fort Payne where Adam served as a ruling elder and Katie taught children’s Sunday school. All three of their children were born in Fort Payne, and after seven years of teaching and coaching, Adam came to Dothan in 2013 to be the director of youth at First Presbyterian. A current student at Birmingham Theological Seminary, Adam enjoys the outdoors with his wife and children: Annabelle (8), Brock (6), and J. Thomas (4).
14. Equipping Kids to Follow Jesus in Today's Youth Culture
YOUTH LEADERS & CHAPERONES ONLY
Walt Mueller | President | Center for Parent/Youth Understanding | Lancaster, PA
Youth Culture is changing at breakneck speed. No matter your age, your adolescent experience looked nothing like the adolescent experience of kids today. Whether you’re four years or four decades removed from your high school years, the landscape has changed! Over the course of the week, Walt Mueller will walk you through some of the major changes taking place in youth culture, helping you to understand the changes and then respond in ways that equip kids to navigate life to the glory of God. Topics we will address will include Teens and Anxiety (that’s a big one these days!), Helping Teens Think Christianly about Advertising (They are seeing 4,000 to 10,000 marketing messages a day!), and Life Wisdom for Youth Workers (how to tend to yourself in order to be used by God in ministry.). Finally, the week will end with some interactive discussion with Walt on the biggest cultural issues you are facing with your students, along with strategies for addressing each.
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.
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