What is Christian Youth Theater?

Christian Youth Theater (CYT) is an after-school theater arts training program for students ages 4-18. Since its founding in 1981, CYT has grown to be the largest youth theater program in the nation with Branches across the country training thousands of students a year.

Each Branch’s yearly calendar is comprised of three ten-week sessions: Fall, Winter, and Spring. These sessions involve after-school classes in theater arts with the opportunity to audition and perform in a Broadway-style musical or work behind the scenes. Additionally, CYT offers a Summer session consisting of camps, workshops, and performance opportunities.

CYT stands at the forefront in its commitment to the highest ethical, moral, technical, and artistic standards of excellence. Instructors are professionals, qualified in teaching and/or performing, who understand our mission statement, values, objectives, and goals.

Mission & Values

Christian Youth Theater develops character and creativity through quality theater arts training that brings families and communities together while reflecting Jesus.

  • Character over competition:  Our intentional focus is on knowing Jesus and becoming more like Him. We earnestly desire growth in love for God, in the knowledge of His love for us, and in a humble life that pours out love towards others.

  • People over programs:  We exist for our communities: those we know and those we have yet to meet. The people. We were created for companionship, and at CYT we long to see strangers become neighbors and neighbors become community. This is our calling. We love God, and we love and value His people. We see and welcome people for who they uniquely are and not just what they can do for our organization.

  • Service over spotlight:  We believe in serving others in sacrificial and tangible ways. CYT exists for opportunities to know and see needs, and to meet them as the body of Christ. We see leadership through the lens of servant leadership, as best demonstrated in the person and work of Jesus. We aim to work slowly and mindfully to see the needs that walk through our doors. We would take servanthood over spotlights any day.

  • Excellence over ego:  We value giving God our first and our best. Excellence is our simplest expression of giving the gifts and talents God has blessed us with back to Him. We don’t seek perfection as a means of outward praise, but excellence as a form of worship from a heart of gratitude and diligence. Being excellent in all we say and do is a way we can be faithful to God’s calling on our lives and in our work.
CYT is passionate and committed to supporting, sustaining, and encouraging a safe, creative community where all are welcome, seen, and valued. All those participating at CYT are charged to hold to their personal convictions while simultaneously demonstrating grace and compassion to ALL they encounter, regardless of religious or political differences.

CYT is an educational nonprofit not associated with any specific church or denomination. All are welcomed and encouraged to participate and are not required to adopt any specific religious beliefs.

CYT is committed to creative and diverse programming, the continued development of
practices and strategies that serve many unique needs, and the continued improvement and
expansion of diversity in and for the CYT community.

“There are a lot of kids learning integrity who will bring it into their communities later in life.”

CYT Director


Every year CYT National works with local communities to bring Branches to new cities. As CYT grows, so does the impact of our organization on future leaders of our nation and world.

Current Staff Members:

Joe McArthur

National Director
My name is Joe McArthur and I currently live on the Texas coast in the windy city of Corpus Christi. Whatever free time I have is spent outdoors, usually fishing, exploring or cooking a large piece of meat on our wood-smoker while enjoying every minute with my wife and two kiddos. To me, food is a recreational activity (aka, I like to eat) - so, I enjoy any food that doesn’t bite back. I love CYT because it’s a place where kids and youth can belong, create, perform and discover Christ in a safe place. Not only does CYT impact kids, but it impacts the entire family and community. There’s simply nothing else like CYT, and the world desperately needs more of it. Every city needs a CYT!

Paul Stine

National Marketing & Programs Director
My name is Paul Stine and I currently live in San Diego, CA. My favorite thing to do on the weekend is most likely dancing or performing in a show...(when not in a pandemic)...or choreographing something! I also love a good Netflix binge watch. My favorite food is definitely pizza. I hope you don’t think I’m basic. I joined CYT over 20 years ago and I love it because it has transformed me into, not only the performer I am today, but the person I am today. I hope to continue to help transform performers and people in the future of CYT.

Karen Smith

National Administrator
My name is Karen Smith and I currently live in Jacksonville, FL. When not at the beach, my family and I can be found riding bikes around the Navy base we live on or playing in the backyard with our Goldendoodle, Dunkin. I love CYT because CYT’s mission is distinctively different from any other youth theater program. CYT provides a safe, loving family environment where through the arts, kids can learn more about the Creator who created them and loves them. I feel blessed to be able to support CYT Branches across the country to complete that mission.

Kristen Downing

National Brand Marketing and Communications Lead
My name is Kristen Downing and I currently live in Kansas City, MO. One of my favorite activities to do over the weekend is taking my precious pups to the dog park with my husband. When not choreographing a show, I love watching a good docuseries while knitting. My favorite meal is steak and mashed potatoes. It’s truly a shame I can’t eat that every day. I joined CYT as a student over 20 years ago and have built wonderful lifelong friendships. I even met my husband through Improvathon! There are too many reasons why I love CYT, but one of them is watching students grow in their theatrical skillset while strengthening (or starting) their relationship with the Lord in the same space. It is truly an honor and privilege to be serving CYT on the national level. I can’t wait to see what God will do next!