Sherpa Legend — Walt Mueller

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It was 1989. The internet wasn’t invented yet. George HW Bush was president. The Berlin Wall came down. The Cosby Show, Rosanne, and Cheers held the top spots on TV. Madonna, Phil Collins, and the Bangles topped the charts. Morgan Freeman was Driving Miss Daisy. And a little-known youth pastor from Pennsylvania got a crazy idea to start a resource ministry to help youth workers and parents navigate the travails of youth culture.

That was Walt Mueller, and his brainchild was the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (CPYU). For the past 30 years–through books, podcasts, workshops, speaking engagements and tons and tons of online resources–CPYU has been a key player in the youth ministry world. For many veteran youth workers, Walt and his team at CPYU have been like a soundtrack to a life in youth ministry. 

During our talk with Walt, we learned about his call to begin CPYU, the spiritual challenges of being a researcher into an often discouraging and even depressing youth culture, and his heart to bring solid theological and practical help to today’s youth workers. We also heard some great stories from Youth Specialties conventions of the past, including a near-sparring episode that ensued one year during a panel discussion on rock music.

Through it all, Walt has remained relevant, faithful, and available to all of us, and for that we are thankful.

Walt Mueller is the founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and has been working with young people and families for over 35 years. As a result of his work with CPYU, Walt has become an internationally-recognized speaker and author on contemporary youth culture. He has written extensively on youth culture and family issues and is the author of the following books: 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers (Group Publishing, 2010); The Space Between: A Parent’s Guide to Teenage Development (Zondervan, 2009); Opie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Where Faith, Family, and Culture Collide (Standard Publishing, August 2007); Youth Culture 101 (Zondervan, June 2007); I Want to Talk With my Teen About Movies, Music & More (Standard Publishing, September 2006); Engaging The Soul of Youth Culture: Bridging Teen Worldviews To Christian Truth (InterVarsity Press, February 2006); and the critically acclaimed Gold Medallion Award winner, Understanding Today’s Youth Culture (Tyndale House, 1994). He is also a regular contributor to numerous journals and magazines. A graduate of Geneva College (B.A.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Walt earned his doctorate at Gordon-Conwell in “Ministry to Postmodern Generations.” Walt has served in ministry with the Coalition for Christian Outreach and as a youth pastor in churches in Johnstown, PA and Philadelphia. Walt’s wife Lisa has served behind the scenes since day one as CPYU’s secretary. A graduate of Geneva College who has a background in radio, Lisa’s voice can be heard on CPYU’s daily Youth Culture Today radio spot. Walt and Lisa live in Elizabethtown and have four children.  

Mentioned on today’s episode:

Center for Parent/Youth Understanding CPYU has too many resources to mention. Check out their podcasts, blogs and nearly limitless articles of interest on youth culture and trends. It will make you look smarter than you are!  

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