Southern Story: Temple pursues calling for youth ministry

Communications Staff — September 15, 2010

As a future engineer, he really “had what it takes” to make it as a light for the Gospel in that professional field. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte seemed the perfect place to train for such a vocation. But he didn’t.

“I [couldn’t] get away from God calling me to the full-time youth ministry.”

Troy Temple, associate dean for master’s studies; assistant professor of youth and family ministry; School of Church Ministries youth ministry coordinator; and associate director of the International Center for Youth and Family Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary could not shake his burden for adolescents as a high school senior looking to attend college. Because of his decision to pursue a life teaching and training youth, Temple chose to enroll at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., to train for youth ministry.

Prior to coming to Southern, Temple spent 18 years in local church ministry. And even now, he balances his time in the academy by serving in interim capacities as a conference and retreat speaker as well as other outlets for serving the local church. But now teaching at SBTS, Temple certainly has not forgotten his original passion, and thus he teaches theology and method of youth ministry to future youth and family pastors.

“Teaching youth ministry has been tied to my calling in youth ministry,” Temple said.

“Ultimately, I teach because it’s an extreme expression on the discipleship mandate we’ve been given. That’s what has always driven me back to the to the academy and back to the institution for training is the deep impact and the multiplicative result and fruit that you see in discipling leaders and training leaders for the church.” 

Temple strongly believes in the “multiplicative” results of teaching. By training students who then faithfully teach and train adolescents, some of whom will also desire to work with youth, the first teacher has the opportunity to impact multiple generations toward learning and embracing the Gospel.

“The end of youth ministry is to equipping leaders who are able to develop culturally appropriate methods and programs whereby every adolescent in their community can hear the Gospel and have the opportunity to spiritually mature and respond,” Temple said.

As a ministry coordinator and Center for Youth Ministry director, Temple maintains various administrative roles and responsibilities. And though these tasks may seem tedious to some people, Temple embraces his work as a direct result of his mentors’ advice.

“One of the things I have learned from several of the mentors in my life is that if you’re going to be involved in something, and you have an opportunity to lead it-you might as well lead it, which is one of the reasons I enjoy being in the administrative side of what I do,” Temple said.

Among those influences, is David E. Adams, professor of youth ministry and executive director of the International Center for Youth and Family Ministry at Southern Seminary, who taught Temple as an undergraduate student at Liberty. Adams and Temple now serve the seminary as colleagues. And like many people, Temple strongly benefits from reading and studying some the impactful twentieth century Christian thinkers.

“A lot of who I am is shaped by Francis Schaeffer [and] C. S. Lewis,” Temple said. “[There is also a] deep impact on my life by Jerry Falwell.”

Unlike thinkers Schaeffer and Lewis, Falwell has affected the Temple family in profound ways that shape who they are as a family.

“It’s no secret to anyone around me, how God has blessed our family through the miracle of adoption – our two daughters,” Temple said. “It was through the ministry there in Lynchburg.”

Through one of the organizations established by Falwell and Liberty University, Temple and his wife had the opportunity and privilege of adopting their two daughters. Temple pointedly attributes the work and ministry of Falwell as the means by which God brought the Temple family together.

When not spending time with his family or obsessing about all things youth, Temple has time for only one thing: University of North Carolina basketball. As a native of North Carolina, and a lifelong Tarheels fan, Temple’s office is seasoned with baby blue tributes to his favorite sport. Beyond office decorum, UNC basketball even finds its way into Temple’s classes.

“My students know that an extra credit question is going to come that has something to do with Carolina basketball,” Temple admitted.

In addition to studying and teaching youth ministry, and of course following UNC basketball, Temple also possesses keen insight into life after death.

“I think Third Day will probably play in heaven,” Temple said.

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