Evolving CCYM Structure & Purpose | UMC YoungPeople
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December 2011

Evolving CCYM Structure & Purpose

By Chris Wilterdink

Here in the Western Jurisdiction, and indeed across the whole of the US, Annual Conferences are reorganizing and restructuring themselves – to become leaner, more efficient, and highly cost effective. While each Annual Conference sets up their new structures and roles, some young-people specific staff now find themselves either without jobs or with revamped portfolios that have dropped their young-people specific duties. This creates a challenge for some Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM) teams, as some of them have relied on conference staff positions for leadership and guidance.

If conference staff are no longer available, how then can CCYM’s structure and purpose evolve under the guidance of volunteer leadership? What questions will be important to ask if a CCYM needs to reinvent itself?

- What is our purpose in gathering together? What events must we plan? What issues must we address? Do we know why we exist in the first place?

- How are we put together? When and how do our elections happen? What groups does each individual on the team represent? Do we have quality and balanced representation from across our Annual Conference? How do adults on the team earn their places?

- How do we relate to each other? How often are our in person meetings? How do we connect with each other when not in person? How do we support our shared goals and initiatives? How do we overcome geographical distances that separate team members?

- How do we remain connected with conference leadership? Who are the people at the Conference level that need to be kept informed of our choices and decisions? Who can support our causes and amplify our voices to the rest of our conference?

- How do we connect with districts, sub-districts, and local churches? Are there local church leaders or district leaders that we can connect with to deepen our impact? What places currently exist where we connect? What places need a stronger connection? How can we reach out and build connections at this level?

- How do we evaluate ourselves? What ways do we use to find out if we are doing a good job? How do we find out if we are doing what is needed for the people we represent? How do we keep each other accountable for our roles on CCYM?

As leadership transitions take place, opportunities do pop up to reimagine the structure and purpose of groups, and CCYMs are no exceptions. If the trend continues for volunteer leaders to guide these teams in place of paid conference staff, the need for accountability, consistency, and transparency increases. The need for CCYM leaders to connect with each other for support and resourcing may also increase, as the experience of volunteer adult leaders may be at the local level as opposed to district or conference level work. The above list of questions is by no means exhaustive, but it may be able to give CCYMs a place to start discussing their structure and purpose for being – one that goes beyond the definitions offered in the Book of Discipline.

Chris serves as Director of Young People’s Ministries for Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Chris has a BA in English Education, and an MS in Project Management, and over 15 years of local-church youth ministry experience. He is passionate about leadership and faith development in young people and helping ministry leaders understand their value in the lives of young people. A Stephen Minister, Chris is a native of Colorado living in Franklin, TN with his wife Emily, 2 children, and sausage-shaped beagle.