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LCU Graduate Presents Research At National Youth Ministry Conference

A 2014 Lubbock Christian University graduate recently had the opportunity to present research at the national level.

James Masterson was selected to present at the 21st Annual National Association of Youth Ministry Educators (AYME) Conference held from Oct. 18 through 20 in Washington, D.C. AYME is a professional organization for those who teach youth ministry at the undergraduate or graduate levels and currently has 224 members who represent over 60 Christian colleges from across the nation. The organization also publishes the Journal of Youth Ministry, which is a leading academic youth ministry peer reviewed journal.

And, while most presenters at the conference are teachers, or graduate and Ph.D. students, Masterson’s research was accepted while he was still an undergraduate student, making him the first undergraduate to present at the conference. The exception was made with the condition that LCU Associate Professor of Youth Ministry, Dr. Steven Bonner, co-presented with Masterson, but, Bonner said that he was merely Masterson’s mentor.

“I made it clear to the audience that this was James’ research. I was his mentor. James presented the research,” Bonner said.

Masterson centered the focus of his research on the short-term youth ministry internships utilized by undergraduate institutions for academic credit, skill development, and vocational discernment. He argued that undergraduate summer internships allow little time for authentic relationships to develop between interns and the youth groups. Through research and interviews, Masterson brought forth better alternatives, such as lengthier internships, that would allow for interns to flourish alongside youth groups. Bonner said that this subject was well received by those in attendance at the conference.

“Our session had one of the largest attendance of all the breakout sessions. We had some fantastic conversations,” Bonner said.

Bonner added that, prior to James’ research, only two other articles on youth ministry internships had been published in the last 20 years.

“This research adds a considerable component to the field,” Bonner said.

Masterson’s research has been received well beyond AYME. He previously presented at various conferences such as the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and LCU’s Scholars Colloquium, where he won the Qualitative Undergraduate Research award. Bonner also said that he will be working with Masterson to rework the research and submit the paper for publication.