February 2, 2024

Guest Writer: Dane Martin: Sabbatical, PART 2 of 2

Through sabbatical I had the privilege to travel to Pasadena, California. This trip allowed me to visit the Fuller Youth Institute. FYI as they are known is an organization our youth ministry has been in relationship with for the past 3+ years. Their research is at the forefront of youth ministry innovation and education. I was able to meet with some of their faculty and sit in on some Doctor of Ministry classes. The time with them was invaluable, as it opened my eyes to new perspectives and pushed me to think outside of the box. One of the most powerful moments was when each person in the doctor of ministry cohort shared about their hopes and dreams for youth ministry.

“youth seeing a relational God that can transform them”
“Jesus captivating young people who are in a state of wondering”
“paving the way for young women to see their role as pastoral leaders too”
“bridging the gap and making freedom in Christ reality”
“seeing the importance of community ministry, not so church focused”
“working together beyond difference”
“the dreams of young people matter”

These are just a few of the amazing and inspiring desires of this doctor of ministry cohort that came from literally all over the world. Some of these words continue to sit with me. In their sharing, some of these words broke my heart, and many others were things that I had thought about as well. It was a reminder that I am not alone in this journey.

In meeting with the FYI faculty, I was reminded that some walls are meant to be broken down, some walls are there for you to walk around and show people what’s on the other side. Their wisdom was a reminder that we all are meant to journey with each other, understanding that each person along the road might be in a different place. It is important to seek to understand another perspective, even if you disagree.

I then traveled to San Francisco, California to meet with two youth ministers; one from the San Francisco city center area and one from the Oakland area.  As I drove up the Pacific Coast I couldn’t help but be in awe by seeing the ocean on one side and the amazing hills of California on my right. Too many times I drive from one place to another without notice. I am usually too busy and thinking about too many other things to notice what is around me. On this drive in California there were no to-do lists, there was no agenda except to embrace what was before me. As I drove I wondered about the people, who are they and what are they like?  At times it felt like I was wandering in a vast wilderness of nothingness. In other moments I felt crammed and compacted amid crowds of cars. Each moment was a gift to see and observe, to embrace the moment and not wish for something else. The journey was long and a bit tiring but I arrived in San Francisco with a sense of being filled up along the way.

Meeting with each of these youth ministers was a gift in and of itself, and quite different. One of the youth ministers worked in a more suburban area and has lots of experience. The other youth minister worked in more of the inner city and had a little less experience than me. Both conversations brought valuable and challenging insights. While none of us had ever met each other there was still an openness to sharing and a connection that is hard to describe. Out of these conversations I was able to dream a little differently about the youth ministry, live into some challenges, and be reminded of pivotal pieces to the ministry.

I could share so much more about sabbatical and would be happy to do that over coffee or tea at another time. Beyond these takeaways, I also received a certificate in servant leadership from Cornell University, took a social media intensive from Digital Congregations, and developed a draft for a youth ministry handbook.

I continue to be appreciative to the congregation of Ardmore Baptist Church for this gift of sabbatical. That time was invaluable and it is amazing how quickly it went by!

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123, New Lenox, Chicago IL 60606

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