“I’m all about teenagers; they’re so capable, so excited about life … I think it’s cool how receptive they are about faith, and how you can be so honest with them.” – Amanda Weitzel
Amanda Weitzel wears two hats as a senior Master of Arts student in the Youth and Family program at Luther Seminary. She is both a student and a mentor of students. This is what brought her to Luther Seminary in 2003, and it anchors her learning now.
Amanda described how she decided to go into youth ministry: “I was working after college but didn’t know whether I wanted to apply for law school or get a graduate degree in English to teach at a university, and I was praying all the time about it. Then one night I found a book about a girl who converts to Orthodox Judaism, then Christianity. The last chapter was about listening for God. I read it and said, ‘Okay, that’s what I’m going to do; I’ll just lay off and listen for a little bit.’
“I woke up the next morning with an idea that I should be doing something in youth ministry. That afternoon I got an e-mail from our church, asking for chaperones. My sister looked at me and said, ‘We can do that!’ So I started out helping with events and chaperoning. The more I did, the more I knew that this was what I was supposed to do; but I also wanted to be good at it, and I had no background in education or youth work.”
So Amanda began researching graduate programs. She liked what she found out about Luther. “The first thing that appealed to me was that you do the internship while you’re in classes, so you get paid!” she said. “The minute I got on campus … I knew this was the right place for me.”
The concurrent youth and family internship not only helps pay the bills, it also provides context for her coursework, Amanda said. Moreover, through internship she has discovered a personal theme for her ministry: “We don’t need to be at camp to do great things!”
Amanda appreciates the youth and family ministry faculty at Luther for being so approachable. “We hang out together, we have lunch, we talk about golfing. They are good about being available. Like partners in education, they want you to succeed at what you do.”
As Amanda completes her M.A., and the candidacy process for associate in ministry, she finds her call as a youth mentor getting stronger. “Teenagers want to know God and have a relationship; and if nobody helps them figure that out, then they aren’t going to do it!”