Podcast / young Baptists

Creating a Healthy Space for Youth Vocational Discernment: A Conversation with Jodi Porter of Youth Theology Network

By Andy Hale

Do you remember that moment when you knew your calling for the rest of your life? 

For some, it is an instantaneous moment for clarity. For others, it is more of a process of discernment. And still, for others, they are still trying to figure it out. 

At summer camp, when I was 14 years old, I sensed a calling to ministry. When I came home, telling my pastor about it, he responded by having me lead Bible Study that Wednesday. Over the next several years, my home church gave me various opportunities to experience the diversity of ministry expressions, whether through music ministry, youth ministry, missions, pastoral care, and preaching.

I realize that my experience is unique. However, I credit my home church as a significant influence in clarifying my vocational call. 

“The Youth Theology Network (YTN) exists to see the next generation thrive and serve God,” said Jodi Porter, the coordinator for the Network. “Between navigating high school, being begged to clean their room, and exercising their driver’s license, students are asking big questions like, ‘What is God’s Will for my life?'”

We sat down with Porter, a leadership doctoral candidate, to talk about this new initiative from the Forum for Theological Exploration. YTN works with churches and higher education institutions to provide peer learning relationships and on-campus experiences to help clarify calling, including several CBF partner schools. 

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This podcast episode is brought to you by The Center for Congregational Health, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, and McAfee School of Theology Doctor of Ministry program.

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Andy Hale is the creator and host of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Podcast. Hale is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following eight years as the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Clayton and five years as CBF’s church start specialist. Follow on Twitter @haleandy

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