Zac Workun (M.Div ‘14), our community practices ministry coordinator, is the associate pastor at Southern Hills Baptist Church, Tulsa, Okla. His work focuses on youth and student ministry.
Faithfulness in the 21st century is going to require more honesty, more intentionality, and more effort than I, as a Student Pastor at a church in Oklahoma, alone can give to my students. If you are someone who works with young people, I think you can sense the immensity of our work, too. You may feel hesitant to outsource some of the theological and spiritual formation of your young people, but let’s face it: there are just some experiences and wisdom that our individual church communities cannot teach our students.
If you want your students to experience something radical for their worldview, their concept of theology, or what it means to be the church, I invite you to partner with Duke Youth Academy this year. Encourage your students to apply and then you, too, consider what it might be like to partner with us in building a bright future for the Church as a staff person or a community mentor.
Duke Youth Academy (DYA) occupies a special kind of space in the realm of youth ministry. DYA is both a week-long residence and an online year of study for rising high school juniors and seniors who are sensitive to questions about God, church, theological study, and justice. DYA is both theologically instructive and spiritually formative in ways that I rarely get to be with my students on a weekly basis. Just like the pastoral staff of a church needs seminary, your youth ministry needs DYA for spiritual and theological formation.
The high gravity intersection of top-notch seminary learning and the faith enrichment found only in worshipping with a new and diverse community is unique and beyond comparison. Your students will experience the worship life of liturgical, contemporary, and free church traditions. DYA challenges every student to stretch beyond what is familiar and preferred. DYA is richly experiential and grounded in the history of the church’s many traditions. Your students will encounter like-minded peers from varying theological, denominations, geographic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds.
DYA is a special kind of community that intentionally works toward bridging gaps in church as we know it. I am grateful for the wide range of diversities that compose DYA’s community year in and year out. The team of leaders, mentors, and ministry apprentices serve to model and exemplify the beauty and wisdom that stems from a diverse choir of voices. As a staff person and as a pastor to young people, DYA is vital for the life of my ministry and my own vocation.
Will you share DYA with your youth ministry?