Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

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Graduate student applies personal growth to learning, ministry
Kenneth Sylvia describes advantages of youth ministry master's degree program at Huntington University, a Christian college.

“Every person I’ve ever met or talked to at HU has given me a positive view about the campus. But definitely, having that class time and being with the professors is my favorite part of the program.”

With the tools given him through Huntington University’s Master of Arts in youth ministry leadership program, Kenneth Sylvia has gained both practical and theological insight for his ministry.

“Taking courses that are designed to help you think theologically in the midst of understanding child development in addition to having some basic counseling skills and techniques truly helps you to walk, in process, with hurting students,” Kenneth said.

Based in Modesto, Calif., Kenneth serves as the director of mentoring for Central Valley’s Youth for Christ and was encouraged to enroll in the youth ministry leadership program by Dr. Dave Rahn, vice president and chief ministry officer for Youth for Christ/USA.

Kenneth values the flexibility of Huntington’s hybrid online and face-to-face program. He said he can spend more time at home and save money on travel to and from the nearest seminary. In the youth ministry leadership program, students have one month of online study followed by three days of intensive face-to-face training and then another two months of online study.

The in-person interaction in the classroom is what Kenneth treasures most.

“Every person I’ve ever met or talked to at HU has given me a positive view about the campus,” he said. “But definitely, having that class time and being with the professors is my favorite part of the program.”

He said that spending three consecutive days with his classmates and professors — as opposed to a couple of hours twice per week — helps to strengthen relationships and deepen discussions.

Through this face time with the graduate professors, Kenneth has developed his ministry skills as well as taken an in-depth look at his own attitude toward ministry. He credits two classes in particular, “Thinking Theologically” and “Adolescent Development,” which allowed him deeply examine his own spiritual life.

“I realized that some of the mental and emotional ‘junk’ I had gone through growing up affected the spiritual side of me, and I found some deeper healing through a class on adolescent development,” Kenneth said. “Honestly, there hasn’t been a class yet that I’ve taken where I haven’t gone home just completely changed and renewed in regard to my faith and my approach to ministry.”

Kenneth encourages those considering Huntington’s Master of Arts in youth ministry leadership program to pace themselves with discipline and focus as well as be willing to face some of their own personal issues.

“Sometimes you hear, learn, or are told things that either stretch you or make you re-think what you believe about youth ministry,” he said.