Reboot Youth Ministry Blog Series: Making Room for… | UMC YoungPeople
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March 2021

Reboot Youth Ministry Blog Series: Making Room for the Other

By Chris Wilterdink

The Perkins School of Theology, through a grant from the Lilly Endowment, began the process of creating “Reboot” several years ago. The purpose was to come alongside a diverse group of churches within three hundred miles of Dallas to connect and train leaders to help the whole church do innovative youth ministry. Due to this excellent work, a free resource to help youth workers engage their churches in youth ministry conversations is now available.

One of the many meaningful topics that emerged through the Reboot process had to do with exclusion and inclusion and what it meant to truly belong or be a part of a community of faith. This conversation took many turns, from larger societal exclusion due to things like economic differences, racial divisions, and political beliefs, to more personal stories of exclusion like, “I just moved here.” “I’m the new kid and I’m not coming to church unless I have a friend there,” and questions related to hospitality and culture.

A three-part blog series with entries by Priscilla Pope Levison, Bart Patton, and Chris Wilterdink explores the theological and practical importance of making space for the new, for strangers, for what some might call the “other.” I encourage youth workers to read this three-part series and become familiar with discipleship strategies and processes that can help turn strangers into friends and unfamiliar outsiders into cared-for peers.

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.