Teens face their future in Calvin seminary summer program

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Every summer, high school students from across North America join in a common quest: to discover whether Christian ministry might be their future vocation.

Last July, as part of Calvin Theological Seminary’s “Facing Your Future” (FYF) program, 33 11th- and 12th-graders tackled topics such as understanding Scripture, the problem of evil, infant baptism, forgiveness, family, and relationships.

They gained knowledge about major world religions; explored elements of worship, pastoral care, and missions; and learned about the ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. In addition, each participant spent seven days at a ministry site in Canada or the United States.

Throughout the program, students explored the connection between theology and ministry and found themselves growing spiritually in the process.

Each year in December, pastors, youth pastors, high school Bible teachers and principals nominate students they believe have gifts and abilities for ministry. From this pool of applicants, 35 students are chosen and invited to participate in FYF.

The program challenges high school students to consider pursuing ministry as a vocation and serves to help them discern how God is calling them. For some, FYF is their first exposure to ministry work. For many it is a life-changing experience. For all it opens eyes to see the diverse opportunities for work in the church and the kingdom.

Over the past eight years, more than 240 young people from Canada and the United States have participated in FYF.

Sarah Steen is one of 35 participants from FYF 2001, eight of whom are now studying at CTS.

Steen says she never really thought about ministry as a vocation while growing up in Holland, Mich. But her participation in FYF “opened my eyes to all the possible avenues for ministry,” and gave her a greater appreciation for all the different gifts and ministry experiences of others from around North America.

The experience enabled her to see the breadth and depth of ministry and “to experience program leaders and CTS professors modeling what it means to be a pastor.”

When Steen returned to Holland Christian High School for her senior year, she took on a greater role in spiritual leadership among her fellow students. After graduating from Calvin College last May, she began studies in CTS’s master of divinity program.

Many FYF graduates go on to attend CTS or other seminaries; others have served mission or aid agencies in North America or around the globe; and still others take leadership roles in their congregations.

Facing Your Future is one of the many ways Calvin Seminary is forming people for ministry. If you know high school students who might be interested in the program, encourage them to contact their pastors for information.

To learn more about the program, visit www.calvinseminary.edu/fyf/index.php. The application deadline for FYF 2007 is February 1.

About the Author

Greg Janke is the director of admissions at Calvin Theological Seminary.
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