by Jeff Kaster, LYTN Coordinator
In 1998 the Lilly Endowment announced the Theological Programs for High School Youth initiative to support theological schools in establishing or sustaining programs for high school youth that 1) stimulate and foster an excitement about theological learning and inquiry and 2) identify and encourage talented Christian youth to consider vocations in the ministry. The immediate goal of these projects is to nurture in young people ways of thinking, practices and disciplines essential to the Christian life and to encourage youth to think theologically about contemporary issues. The long-term goal is to recruit a cadre of theologically minded Christian youth who will become ordained ministers and committed lay leaders in their churches and society.
Over the last twenty years the Lilly Endowment has invested nearly one hundred million dollars to support seminaries and schools of theology in their efforts to develop programs that meet these goals. Currently thirty-seven youth theology programs are operating.
In 2013 the Lilly Endowment invited Dr. Jeffrey Kaster of Saint John’s University School of Theology·Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota to coordinate the Lilly Youth Theology Network with the primary aim of providing ongoing support for the youth theology programs and secondary aim of sharing key insights from the youth theology programs with wider audiences.
Lilly Youth Theology Network is a collaborative effort of Lilly Endowment initiated and inspired Theology Programs for High School Youth located at seminaries, schools of theology, universities, and other church serving organizations across North America. Its mission is to advance the engagement of high school youth and their adult leaders in theological thinking about contemporary issues and vocational discernment. This network seeks to support youth theology programs in recruiting a cadre of theologically minded youth and adults to become committed Christian leaders in church and society.
Goals: Lilly Youth Theology Network seeks to…
1. Provide ongoing support for the Theological Programs for High School Youth.
2. Foster conversations about effective pedagogies that form committed Christian leaders.
3. Share resources developed by the youth theology programs with the wider church.
4. Share insights gained from research by the youth theology programs.
5. Advocate for the establishment of new youth theology programs at seminaries and other like-minded organizations.