Facebook Instagram Youtube LinkedIn Twitter

About Us

  • About the Institute
  • Our Team
  • Contact Us

What's in a name?

The church has always struggled to fulfill Jesus' call to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28). In fact, on our own, it is an impossible task. Jesus, however, not only calls us, he also gives us every gift we need to follow his call! The Passage Institute for Youth and Theology was formed both in recognition of the difficulty the contemporary church has making our youth into disciples and in gratitude for God's good gifts.

The name "Passage" indicates our goal: to partner with churches to chart a course through the largely pathless wilderness that lies between adolescence and adult discipleship. The primary way we do this is through our year-long "Passage Fellowship."

The "Institute for Youth and Theology" indicates the way we pursue our goal: using the resources of LeTourneau University, a Christian institution of higher learning, to discover and share the gifts God has given His people for making disciples: 1) resources ranging from scripture to strategies, from God's promises to Christian practices and prayer; and 2) relationships with others who are committed to responding faithfully to God's call.

Please let us support you and serve you as you seek to respond faithfully to God's call to make young persons into disciples of Christ!

Our Mission

To equip youth and those who minister to youth for participation in God’s mission to reconcile and restore all creation through Christian study and practice.

Our Partnerships

Our work is funded by a generous grant (2016-2019) from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and supported by LeTourneau University and the School of Theology and Vocation. We thank them for their generosity! To support our work, click here.



Patrick Mays joined LeTourneau University in 2003, but he is quite familiar with the area, having grown up in Longview and graduated from two local institutions: Pine Tree High School and University of Texas at Tyler. For almost two decades, though, Pat and his family traveled and lived in several places around the United States and the world pursuing ministry opportunities. These included teaching and coaching high school in Texas, youth ministry in Louisiana, recreational ministry in Alabama, and mission work in Asia and Europe. For four years, Pat, his wife, Kathleen, and daughter, Sarah, lived and ministered in Prague, Czech Republic as academic missionaries in secular universities.

He uses this experience and his education in theology and intercultural studies in helping students develop biblical models of ministry that reach across generational and cultural barriers. Pat's interests are increasing the effectiveness of youth ministry, developing a missional focus for the church, and helping Christians engage with popular culture.

“I am excited about Passage because of the youth ministry leaders who poured into my life when I was in junior high and high school. These mentors journeyed with me and helped me grow my faith. Passage is a way I can pass on what I learned to today’s youth.”




I recently joined LeTourneau University after working on my doctorate in St Andrews, Scotland. I have bachelor degrees in marketing and finance from Cedarville University, an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School, and I am currently finishing his Ph.D. in theology at the University of St Andrews. I also have ministry experience in a variety of contexts. I worked for several years in The Navigators Campus Ministry at the University of Vermont and the University of Dayton. I served in pastoral ministry in Presbyterian and Methodist churches in North Carolina and in a nondenominational church in the Midwest. Currently, I am a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA). My wife, Amy, and daughter, Hazel, and I live in Longview.

My research and teaching work arises out of his belief that theology is performed in service of the church and its mission to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a theologian and teacher, I want to challenge students to wrestle with the claims that the Christian gospel makes on every aspect of their lives. I try to help students develop a theological imagination—a habit of mind shaped by Scripture, theology, and Christian practices—in order to live faithfully.




Why am I involved with Passage? 

My first exposure to the Lilly Endowment was while I lived near Los Angeles in graduate school. One of my professors was working on a grant for a program designed to help first-year college students explore vocation. He invited the whole class to help him think about how to do this. At the same time, I was studying urban ministry and seeing how churches were participating in the mission of God by living with, serving, and reaching out to the poorest folks in L.A. These overlapping experiences forced me to consider Christian vocation as something rooted in God’s mission to the world and relevant for all people, not just those who get to attend a Christian college. Little did I know that I would one day help coordinate a Lilly-funded project inviting high school students for the exploration of vocation!  

What does it mean to be “director of theology”? 

“Theology” is best described as “faith thinking” (P.T. Forsyth) or “faith seeking understanding” (Anselm of Canterbury). Based on God’s own gracious word to us (especially Jesus Christ, the word made flesh, God with us) and working under the authority of the Holy Bible (God’s written word), theology seeks to speak beautifully and truly of God as part of our walking in the way of the Lord Jesus. Theology did not begin as an academic discipline, but as a spiritual discipline by which the early Christians tried to conform their whole lives (praise, prayer, counsel, evangelism, service, etc.) to Jesus Christ. Continuing this work and inviting more Christians into it is my dream job! I thank God for the opportunity to work with you.