I’ll be honest, when I started the FORMA Certificate for Youth and Family Ministry, I was skeptical. It wasn’t that the classes and discussion weren’t interesting or helpful, I just couldn’t see how it applied to me. I worked in children and family ministry last year, but this year I’m working in campus ministry, and while I can see myself continuing that in the future, I don’t really see myself working in youth ministry. On top of moving to a new house and starting a new job, the added stress of an online course was seeming less and less like a good idea.
But these things have a funny way of proving us wrong. Despite my misgivings, I was enjoying the course. I was learning a lot from the readings, and the online discussions were providing new perspectives. The thing was, there wasn’t as much direct discussion about youth as I had expected. It was almost as if, shocker, the things we were studying and discussing were relevant to all kinds of ministry.
Still, even as I began to have a much more positive outlook on the course, I was worried about Albuquerque. I couldn’t help but feel that, being with a group of people who worked in youth ministry, I wasn’t going to have much to offer them, nor they me. Again, these fears were unfounded. True, our discussion involved a more specific focus on youth ministry now that we were all together, but I was still learning. I was still taking in those other perspectives. I was also making friends, putting names to faces, and finding almost everyone easy to relate to in ways that I didn’t always expect.
I’d never been to Albuquerque before. I’d never been west of Alabama before. I saw the Continental Divide for the first time and saw a roadrunner up close. Sometimes you need to be in a new place to see your own circumstances differently. I was instantly taken with the beauty of a place that was the complete opposite of the east coast where I've lived my whole life. Being in a new, different, and beautiful place helped me lose that skepticism I'd started with in August. I had opened up to the possibilities, rather than just keep dwelling on my doubts, and now I can actually focus on what's important about this program - better, more inclusive, more formative ministry.