Resource, Article
Mark Matlock recently posted on the Youth Specialties website the "5 reasons why the church NEEDS youth ministry". The video in the posting captures a bit of his passion for this, but for those of you who do not have time to watch the video, below are his reasons why the church needs youth ministries.
July 29, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event
“Doing Ministry with Youth on the Margins,” a training on August 8, 1 to 5 p.m., at the Prince Conference Center in Grand Rapids, will explore ministry with students living with autism; hearing, visual, and mobility impairments; mental health challenges; and other disabilities.
July 28, 2014 0 0 comments
Often we spend time reviewing what we have done and making plans for what we need to do in the coming season. It is a time of getting feedback, trying to figure out how we can do things better and what changes could or need be done.
July 18, 2014 0 1 comments
When we make changes in ministry, is it proactive and calculated or is it reactive?
July 7, 2014 0 3 comments
As we find rest from a busy season, how are we preparing to refill our cup?
June 27, 2014 1 3 comments
Discussion Topic
Looking for bible studies that focus on specific books of the Bible for teens.
June 18, 2014 0 0 comments
Try these four strategies for implementing Sabbath a bit more effectively.
June 17, 2014 1 2 comments
Telling others about Jesus does not have to be scary.
June 17, 2014 0 0 comments
I recently read an article that stated how important it was for youth workers to have patience. I immediately thought: “uh-oh, I’m in trouble”. Patience is definitely a virtue I did not receive in plenty.
June 6, 2014 0 1 comments
A young adult told me the other day that maybe we should look at the Sabbath differently. She said, “Instead of saying that the Sabbath is for the Lord and acting as if the rest of the week is for ourselves, maybe we should look at it as if the Sabbath is for humankind and the rest of the week is for our Lord.”
June 4, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Job Opening

River Terrace Church, located next to Michigan State University, is looking to hire a Director of Youth and Family Ministry who will facilitate the growth of students to be formed in Christ and maintain their faith and church involvement into adulthood. The individual for this full time position...

May 28, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet
“Can you recommend a good devotional for teens?” “Good” is completely subjective: a devotional that connects with one teen ends up collecting dust for another.
May 15, 2014 0 0 comments
A video compiled remembering Jake Hiemstra
May 12, 2014 0 0 comments
The words we use to describe what we do has a direct relationship to how our ministry is perceived by the congregation and the people we serve.
May 5, 2014 0 2 comments
There is a room in God’s Kingdom somewhere in northern Alberta where His children tried something quite radical.
April 28, 2014 0 4 comments

Where to go with Doubt

   From time to time, everyone who has been taught or has embraced the Christian faith will go through periods of doubt. 
   One approach is to quit church, abandon Christian friends and plunge into a way of life that presumes God does not exist.  With that...

April 23, 2014 0 1 comments
My name is Ron deVries, and I will be your next Youth Ministry guide. I am privileged to walk alongside incredibly gifted Youth Leaders from across Northern Alberta, and have engaged in conversations about youth ministry with passionate people in many corners of the denomination.
April 17, 2014 1 2 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording
Webinar recorded March 5, 2014. This webinar will explore the current youth ministry landscape and the challenges of developing a contextual approach to discipleship that is good for the local church.
March 5, 2014 0 0 comments
She can’t believe it! Relationships are actually work? How can this be possible. Love is, after all, an emotion… right? That’s what Google tells me.
February 11, 2014 0 0 comments

Hi! I am hoping to lead my youth group on a mission trip this summer in our city of Seattle (our church is in Shoreline which is 20 minutes outside the city). I have never lead a mission trip before, so I am starting to feel a bit overwhelmed with all the componants.

1) Does anyone have a...

December 27, 2013 0 1 comments
Let’s be honest: Youth Ministry has been messy. It’s a new focus in the life of a congregation, arising less than 150 years ago, gaining significant momentum in the last 50 years. Recent changes in culture are also redefining what it means to be youth pastors – social media and technological advances challenging even the simplest means of communication. So what is the way forward?
December 17, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

This is a very interesting film regarding Youth Ministry:

We don't segegrate in the Church based on race or sex (male/female) so where did the idea come from to segegrate based on age.  You don't find it in the Bible.

November 26, 2013 0 3 comments
The truth is, I don’t know what to tell them. I think “finding your identity in Christ” is a starting point, but the particulars of how that looks in everyday life are a very different story—which isn’t a very pretty, wrapped-with-a-bow answer to hand middle and high schoolers.
November 25, 2013 0 2 comments
What books reflecting the Reformed world-and-life view might you recommend for teens?
November 14, 2013 0 0 comments



I wonder about "what" change?  It seems to me that there is so much change is desired? talked about? needed? in almost every area of youth ministry - it is a little daunting.  The perceived exodus of young adults have pushed most youth ministers to examine the programmatic way we have been doing youth ministry - change!  Recently Mark DeVries in his article in Group Magazine has suggested that we need to change the "youth pastor" model in most North American Churches - change!  Many churches continue to struggle with the rapid transitions often associated with youth pastors tenure in the local church - change!  I don't think Ron is wrong - change is coming, always.  The question I have is where to look for guidance when it comes "what" changes and "where" to change?  As your illustration suggests - the change was a great one in the Netherlands / Costa Rica match.  Did that change have intentionality to it or was the coach simply trying to "throw something at the wall" to see if it would stick?  What if the Dutch lost? Would the change still be praised?  Likely not.  I think churches need to have the same type of "stones" as the Dutch coach - to take a chance, to risk criticism.  Often the safe place of "normal or usual" shows up when the pressure is on.  Youth Pastors & Directors need to take risk change within their own walls - which might bring the critics, but it might bring a win - you might look like a genius!

Hello Ken. At first I struggled with telling people or congregations that I pray for them, but from my experience when I do, there seems to be a sense of gratefulness and relief to know that "someone is in their corner" when at times it can otherwise feel lonely. When we walk alongside those in ministry (or in life), letting them know can often be that extra support they may need to carry on.

The other reason is a somewhat selfish one but it helps to keep myself accountable in this discipline of prayer. It is easy to not do it when I am the only one who knows.

These are only my experiences. Are there any who can suggest other thoughts on this?

Thanks Ron but just to continue the discussion, here is a further question: Why is it important that we tell people that we are praying for them?

Thanks for sharing this, Ron. It is a great reminder that we need to commit to "discipline and practice" in recharging over the summer months!

Thanks for these helpful ideas, Annika. I especially liked the idea of making a list of activities that refresh you and looking for ways to incorporate those things into Sabbath. I hope to make such a list, not to restrict myself but to remind me of what it is that refreshes my soul and draws my heart to God. It's so easy to bogged down in everyday stuff without getting the Sabbath rest we need.

The physical Sabbath rest God required of the ancient Israelites under the Old Covenant foreshadowed the spiritual rest New Covenant  believers enjoy thanks to Christ's saving work. Because of Calvary we do not have to seek God's approval of our good works for salvation. All that's necessary has been provided through Christ's precious blood shed on Golgotha's hill. Let's not put new wine in old wineskins.    

I take time, this season of the year, to remember the accomplishments throughout the past year, even the tiny ones, and the strengths of those leaders that are working alongside me in the ministry. These little bubbles of joy are a reminder of why I have been called to participate with God in youth ministry. The "tank is empty" feeling can hijack us at any point of the year, but sometimes we are our worst enemy as the school year winds down, relationships are seperating and we start to already anticipate what is/may be in store for us in the Fall. Take some time to Praise God for the opportunities that He has given you throughout the past year and experience a renewal of that will welcome in a Summer filled with Rest and Peace.

I'm not sure you can have one with out the other. I think we are drenched in a poor theology of play. ie: Play second to partaking in the word. I tend not to think about one over another. Scripture calls us to be faithful in all things... In prayer, partaking in the word, partnering in his work and in play..p. Many yp's spend considerable time trying to do theological connect the dots to tie the game and the study together. Why? Play is Gods gift to us... It engages community (if it engages all) it engages justice (if the boundaries are graciously adhered to) it engages non-professional unstructured re-creation (something our students desperately lack) it engages identity (who am I at  unstructured play with no college scouts watching?) One of the reason it will never be far from our program is because it offers us as adults an incredible medium to build attachments with youth. To play with and even just to observe youth at play is a significant opportunity for us as leaders to sit on the steps of their subculture. With open eyes and open ears as we engage play we get a powerful glimpse into how they are answering the question who am I? Where do belong? And what is my purpose? We do have a duty to schedule these things well. Some nights we play and we play hard... Other nights we partake in scripture and we partake hard.  

Thanks Harriette for your post on doubts that some Christians may have on their faith journey.  It’s my guess that this questioning pastor, who relayed the story of the street preacher and the heckler, didn’t have serious doubts about his faith but was only looking for something (anything) to confirm his already grounded faith.  If he was serious about his doubts he would look beyond this one example of this heckler who got what he prayed for to the thousands who didn’t receive what they prayer for.  Thousands pray for the healing of a husband, wife, or child, thousands pray for the just outcome of a war, thousands have prayed for the healing of a broken marriage, and on and on, without receiving what they have sincerely prayed for.  And yet Jesus teaches that we can pray for whatever we want and we will receive it.  Does this one example really exemplify a loving God answering what we pray for?  This pastor really wasn’t very objective in pitting the one example of answered prayer against the thousands of examples of unanswered prayer.  And that is even if this one example is even verifiable or just a good story.  Your post is suggesting that Christians should be more gullible when grabbing for straws.  Thanks, anyway, for a good attempt.

When I think about the "language" we use, one miscommunication that happens often is the "language" of expectations. And this doesn't just apply to Youth Ministry, (which is where I hear it most) but in all areas of church in leadership. Our job descriptions as we read them and the congregations expectations of Youth leaders might be very different and this causes considerable tension.

I think, that until each generation thinks and processes things exactly the same (which, BTW, will NEVER happen), you will always need 2 languages to perform and promote youth ministry. The key is finding leaders who can communicate to both sides of the pew. Whether you hire/commission, a youth leader that is young - more charismatic with lots of energy - and knows the youth lingo really well, but not so hip on the older generations' way of speaking, or, an older more experienced maverick, that can't keep up with the undulating twists and changes of the youth movement(s), when it comes right down to it, they will need to understand and speak two different languages to either side and when they are able to balance those two languages intelligently and with expert precision, you will begin to see an unprecidented understanding between the goals and mission of the youth ministry program. 

We have 4 specific fundRaisers each year. (1) A Valentines Dinner (Feb) where we hire a real chef to cook the meal and decorate to feel romantic - we limit the seating so that it fills up entirely, (2) A Pancake Breakfast April/May - Self Serve, (3) Serve/Cook/Coordinate the food at the Church Picnic (July) and Apple Pie Making (250 pies) - Nov. Then mix in a few new ones that become available throughout the year. Our biggest money-maker, though, is the Apple Pie Making during the holidays. No matter what the fundRaiser idea, though, the key is getting the kids to come out and help. That's what makes it easy and enjoyable. No great insight here, but we do see success in consistently doing some common fundRaisers each year; plus, you become more efficient at doing them, as well.

Hi Shirley, thanks for your comment. There was no official name for the event. The weekend was hosted by Neerlandia CRC and the auction took place in Barrhead, Alberta. The planning team tried this event as an experiment to see if we could gather a few rural CRC's together for community building and outreach. 

Is it a problem to name the community of the event? Strange. But great that you posted the event.

Two come to mind. First, the "free" car wash. Get businesses to sponsor your car wash. Make pamphlets to advertise those businesses. When customers offer to pay, tell them its free. We made over $3000 in one day.

Second is the non-dinner fund raiser. Everyone's busy, right? To busy to go to a fundraising dinner? No problem! Sell tickets for a non-event that won't be held on February 30. Make a fake menu that won't be served. Take a night to make a creative video of your students preparing for no one. Hilarity, and a quick $3-400.

Thanks Jolanda.

Welcome Ron! I'm looking forward to hearing more about these "rooms" around North America where ministry is happening in exciting ways!

Whose heart will not have been touched by this tribute in honor of a man who loved the Kingdom and the youth of the church. Jake Hiemstra left a trail of goodness and spiritual health. His family will so miss him; so will the Christian community and a large number of young people, whose friend and mentor he was.

It is heart-warming to read these lines of appreciation and praise. Church communities will grow in quality and integrity when experiences of love and unity are also voiced, even written down. The Tribute to Jake above is a splendid example.


posted in: Jake: A Tribute

thank you for sharing because I believe you speak for many of us who have been touched by Jake

posted in: Jake: A Tribute

Thank you for sharing this moving tribute about Jake! I only met him a couple of times, once staying with he and Wilma in Goderich, but was profoundly impacted by his heart for youth and the model of Christ-likeness that he was to so many. His loss is a huge loss for the denomination.

posted in: Jake: A Tribute


God recently put me as the youth leader at my church. Before I read your comment and article my plan was to focus on God's Word. Your comment and article were confirmation to me to focus completely on God's Word. At first I was indecisive on completely focusing the youth ministry on God's Word because I was not sure of the response that I was going to get. Last friday was my first service with the youth and the sermon was great. Now I know for sure that I'm heading the right direction. To God be the glory. Thank you, keep up the good work.

Over three years ago we changed the way we did youth ministry. Prior to this change our Wednesday evenings were primarily focused on games and hanging out. Of course we threw a message in there, but it was always THROWN in there. After one of our meetings one my leaders came up to me and said, "That message was OK, but it was really light on scripture." The Holy Spirit convicted me in a large way. I went home that night determined to rethink how we do ministry. 

Through a lot of prayer and conversations with our leaders we decided that games could still be a part, but we had to give God's Word that main focus. We completely changed the way we did ministry. Games were now the "side dish" and worship and God's Word were the main dish. It was cool to watch how this tranformation took place. It took time for the youth to come to grips with it (we all know youth have the hardest time with change :-) but three years later our ministry has been transformed. We literally have a group of teenagers that are excited about digging deeply into God's Word. 

Some didn't want to see the switch because they were afraid that we would alienate and "unchurched" youth from coming. We've actually experienced the opposite! We've had a large group of "unchurched" youth attending and have had various baptisms and professions of faith made over the last couple years. When I ask why they come, they always tell me they come because they are having questions answered. Their wrestling with some of the big questions in life and want to have an opportunity to discuss them. God's Word is truly transfomational!

All of that said, you guys are definitely heading in the right direction. Keep up the good work and run the race. If your leadership team is excited about God's Word and experiencing Jesus Christ, your teenagers will catch it too. 

Here's an article I wrote about this transition period from a different angle. 

See these postings on the Network:

Contact ServiceLink staff:

Read the following books:
"Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence" by David A. Livermore
"When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself" by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, especially chapter 7: "Doing Short-Term Missions Without Doing Long-Term Harm"

Hi Marc, Could I possibly also see some of those documents? We're hoping to do a similar thing out here in Seattle with all the CRC churches in the area. Right now we're just in the drawing and idea stage, so any direction or focus would be of help.

For some thoughtful unpacking of the film,  have a look at Walt Mueler's blog post on it, as well as Mark Oestreicher's.  Both were in the movie (each for about 5 seconds).  Both are people I deeply respect for their love of youth and youth ministry.

Walt's blog:

Marko's blog:

Hi Joy,

I appreciate you bringing forward the movie, but I would challenge you to look stronger at current trends in youth ministry, or as you've grouped it, "Modern Youth Ministry." As a youth pastor in contact with many other youth pastors, we acknowledge the history of age segregation, and adamantly apologize for it, but we're also pressing forward in inclusive youth ministry. I appreciated what the film said, but it threw youth ministry as a whole under the bus. Youth ministry has moved beyond "event" and "show" and has morphed into a more inclusive, multifaceted ministry which is getting healthier. 

Age segregation for youth can be beneficial or harmful Joy, depending on how it fits into the overall picture within the church.   It is absolutely necessary for youth and adults to worship together in order to discover the commonalities, to provide a point of communication of the gospel between generations, and to recognize that the faith of the child and the knowledge of the olders fit together to bring glory to God.   But there is also a need for a type of segregation of classes in order for various ages, knowledge levels, and people types to more fully explore the gospel within their own context.   For adults to go over and over the elementary milk of the gospel will not lead to their becoming more mature.   For children to be immersed in Calvin's institutes or the finer points of the geological or anthropology of the history of Israel may be simply too overwhelming.    So spiritual sense and common sense would indicate that there ought to be a place for both? 

Great question. Firstly, yes of course youth ministry is terrifying - you're talking to people who simply won't stand for jargon, badly thought through arguments, or falseness of any kind. They let you know where you are. We don't always want that, but how refreshing it is for someone like me - having taken on youth group leadership at 63 after teaching the Bible to adults for 40 years!

As far as identify is concerned, we've set out to help with just that question. We started with Psalm 139 and then moved into Genesis 1-2. We're exploring the idea of being made in God's image, being His "Masterpiece" - custom-made with a plan that goes back to the beginning of Creation. Eyes are opening. Next we're going into a look at Jesus - the One who not only demonstrated what it means to live fully and truly as the image-bearer of God, but who also freed us from the power of evil that holds us back from living this amazing life God intended - unique in gifts, experiences, personality, and passion, and perfectly suited for the eternally significant purpose God planned for us. I'm not settled on an approach yet, but looking at things like TImothy Keller's new book (Encounters with Jesus) - anyway looking at what the gospels tell us about how Jesus lived out being "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15).

It's just one approach - but so far it seems to be going pretty well. The kids are about to make a video about what it means to them to be "God's Masterpiece" - their idea, not mine. I still approach each week with trepidation, but it's a pretty thrilling ride.

Well put. I think it's better for students to see that we aren't perfect, that we make mistakes - and then, hopefully, see what it looks like to try and make things right in how we respond. Nobody's perfect, and trying to be perfect in front of those we lead can give them the idea that they have to strive for perfection one day. All too quickly that can become twisted into a belief that we must be perfect before we come to Jesus, rather than trusting that it is his work in us that brings righteousness. 

I recently started volunteering with our High School students, and I'm pretty much counting on making a lot of mistakes along the way. I just hope and pray that by showing up, showing love, and doing my best, God will bless us all as we learn together. So in other words: "Yes" is the answer to your final question. :)

Last year we changed things up because there wasn't enought time in the two hours to do justice to both the serious side and the fun/social side.  We meet weekly, with middle school meeting on Wednesday evening and high school meeting on Sunday evening.  They both follow the same basic format.

On the 1st and 3rd weekly meetings of the month, we dedicate this meeting to our study on WDJD - What DID Jesus Do?  We have a meal together, have our "Yeah God" sharing, worship time (usually 3 songs),  then on to the lesson overview as a large group, small group time as a more intimate discussion of the topic, and close in prayer and blessing.

The 2nd weekly meeting is our game night.  We start off with the meal, "Yeah God" time, a shorter worship time, play at least an hours worth of games, and close in prayer and blessing.

The 4th weekly meeting is our service night.  We will eat, have a "Yeah God" time, might have a worship time depending on what the activity is, and then we leave the church to do some type of service in the community.  Some things we've done this year is: rake leaves, hand out water on a trail, made and handed out "tie" blankets, and prepared and participated in a meal for one of our local ministries. 

We've kept this format for this year because we noticed that doing service nights helped keep the students attention during our lesson nights.  And having just a night for games gave everyone a chance for fun and catching up while also providing a non-threatening event to bring friends to.


I have just put together an Evangelism Training Seminar called Go and Tell-an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men based on the Heidelberg Catechism. This tool has equipped many in our church to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Philemon 7 says, "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ Jesus." I have ha a great response to the Go and Tell seminar based on the Heidelberg Catechism.

For me, "success" isn't instantaneous.  Numbers are nice, especially big numbers.  Even if you know that your students are "taking something home" after a great discussion can be considered successful.  But it's easy to think that because you've finally got 100 students to one of your events, or you can declare to your board that 50% of your students are "actively involved," that you've succeeded.

I've been here long enough to know that lessons or programs or activities that are "successful" one time might flop the next time.

In terms of "short term success", I'd rather ask the question, "Am I being faithful to my calling as a youth leader?" For me, this is far more measurable on a day by day, or week by week basis.

But, you might find an answer 10 years down the road.  Are the students I interacted with 10 years ago still passionate about their faith in Christ? Are they actively participating in a local church? 

Well, that's a short answer to a big question...

HI Danae, I sent you a message last week.  Send me an email -  We've had a combined ministry here for about 20 years. I can forward our combined ministry documents and help field a lot of your questions!

Thanks Shannon. I look forward to seeing where God takes this new initiative and the CRCNA into the future.

posted in: Taking a LEAP

Thanks for articulating the purpose and vision of LEAP so well.

posted in: Taking a LEAP

Thanks Shane for this post.  The Network is a community and we love hearing from everyone. So if you are logged in and you have an idea send to Shane don't hesitate.

You can also send us your blog ideas for any of our Network guides via our Blog Ideas Form

Shane, Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Our church is definitely considering all sides of this issue, so your thoughts about segregating rather than integrating different ages are helpful, as is the comment about volunteer issues trying to have many ministries at one time. The prompting for asking these questions at our church was based on the observation that we have 4 different ministries (all serving students/kids) that are meeting on 3 different nights. The question that started this for us was, "Can this be simpler?" Naturally, one simple question has given way to many more questions, but it's been good discussions so far. Thanks again!

Hi Rebecca! 

This is such a great topic to dive into, though I'm afraid that there isn't really space to unpack it here. I guess a few reflections and thoughts can contribute, though:

1) I will start by saying that our church doesn't currently do this, though we've considered this specific transition in the past. 
2) My primary concerns with doing an evening like this becomes primarily segregation. I believe that a part of our objectives as leaders is to include different age groups into our ministry, and if you tie everyone else up at the same time during the same evening (parents in one classroom, students in another, children in a third, and elderly in a fourth) you're creating distinct and specific divisions amongst age groups. I'm more about intergenerational ministry that contributes as a whole to the church, and doesn't like to see division. 
3) Finally, you could run into volunteer issues when trying to include everyone at the same place at the same time. 

I know it's not an ideal model, but the division of programs could actually contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive ministry in terms of others (beyond youth). It's definitely not as convenient, but it is a more inclusive approach (in my mind). 

The book "Forgive Me For Waiting So Long To Tell You This" is a great one to give to friends and family. It was written specifically to be given to non-believing family and friends. And best of all... it is FREE on amazon! Here is the link to it:

Talking about tough issues together came up in a recent faith formation team meeting at my church. Someone pointed out that many of the issues that turn teens off to the church are the same issues that adults in the church are struggling with--how does the church respond to homosexuality, climate change/environmental issues, science and creation, etc. We expect that our church would be quite divided on these issues and wondered if it would be helpful to have an intergenerational time for teens through adults to sit around tables and discuss tough topics.

First, though, we would need to focus on creating sacred space and preparing ourselves to listen to others and value their perspectives, acknowledging that we are all trying to figure out how to honor Christ and love our neighbors in real life. We would need to be deliberate about helping people learn Christian civility--how to agree and disagree while still remaining calm and having mutual respect for one another. We thought that bringing together teens and adults might open everyone’s eyes to real situations we are facing as individuals and as a church, and help both teens and adults learn how to wrestle with these topics in a health way that strengthens their faith instead of harming it.

I'm not sure where we will go with this, but I'd be interested to hear if others are doing something similar and how they have approached it.

Just a coment on how Youth for Christ works in our small town of Listowel. They mostly work with unchurched youth and young mothers. As a supporting church, some of those youth some times end up coming to our church. I see them working in partnership with local churches. In Nicaragua, World Renew works closely with the YMCA, I do not believe  CRWM does, at least not the one in Santa Lucia. I do not know how or if our partership with the YMCA reinforces the local church. I hope to find out more about that when we go back next March.

Thanks, Ray.  Helpful information and perspective.  Allow me some commentary and reminisences....

Bsides my three-word "missiology" (Word and Deed) I have a corallary: Christ-centered, Church-based."  Hence in part my question about this.  Next, I suppose I work out of some old paradigms - I've already been retired 10 years!  When I grew up Youth for Christ (and I understand your equivalence; fine) was frowed upon for a couple of reasons - it was para-ecclesiastical, and worse, it took young people away from the churches.  OK, granted; other times, other places now. And I like when the churches can work together and if it takes a para-church group to make that happen, fine.  But I still wonder if the local churches are seeing a reinforcement of holistic growth in their ministries...which leads me to ask:

...about the last part of my response: are both CRWM and World Renew working with the YMCA on this? 

Hey Lou, Sorry I was gone and missed your comment. The community I am talking about in Nicaragua is not bassed in any one church, but the local YMCA in Santa Lucia. The YMCA in Nicaragua is a Christian organization, unlike the one in North America. Any of the work we have done has been done thru them. From what I have seen of the YMCA's work, it seems a lot like Youth For Christ here in Canada, only they work with the whole community, not just teens.


Hi Lou! 

Thanks for your feedback, and for credit for the article. But, unfortunately, this was put together by Ray Heeres, and you'd have to follow the link above to his profile to have your question answered. Thanks!

Thanks for this piece, Shane; my ambivalence about short term missions continues after having looked at that phenomena for many years.  I have a question: you mention "community" but not really "church."  Is there coordination with some local church group, or what form does the "community" take in this?  Additional information, please, and your comment about the role of the church - and our Mission also present in the country - when you go with World Renew?

Great post. Favorite line, "We are not bringing Jesus to Nicaragua, he's already there."

I work for a community development organization that works in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Mexico. Check us out at This post is definitely getting bookmarked as an example of how to do STMs - Thanks for writing it!

In your case, Paul, it sounds like a good decision to plant with a youth leader on staff. This confirms my belief that if God wills something it comes about naturally and the path he desires us to take is obvious.

On the flip side, your experience should serve as a lesson (if not warning) for churches who are considering a new direction or the addition of a new staff position. If a ministry just isn't clicking with the community or if church leadership is forcing an agenda upon the congregation, that might be God's way of saying, "not yet" or "no" to a course of action. I'm not suggesting we appease the status quo, but we need to be willing to admit something didn't work and then set our thoughts on what God has gifted our churches to do.

It's good to hear a story about something that "just works." I hope that continues in all areas of your church plant.

Mark VanDyke, Sumas CRC, Sumas WA

Not to be overly picky, but Pope Francis becomes "Pope Francis I" when there is a Pope Francis II."  Until then he's plain and simple Pope Francis.  Some of my Catholic friends have harrumphed about our Protestant errors (good naturedly, but I got the point).

I'm sorry no one ever responded to this.

I don't think you should feel bad recognizing where you see growth and enthusiasm and focusing on that area.  When Jesus said, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces,"  certainly this can include young people as well who have absolutely no interest in hearing what you have to say.

I think the real issue at hand is the whole church has become more focussed on attendance instead of lifechange.  I think we all mourn the loss of a young person who leaves the church.  But i don't think it's your fault that the kid was not interested in being a participant in the youth program.  We should not allow a person to disrupt the group, group time is group time.  I may try to engage more personally over a visit, when focussing on him or her is the whole aim.  But if you're not able to get through to someone who is rejecting the church it's not you they are rejecting and it's not your fault.  You only have so many hours in a week to minister, you can only put so much into one person who is not interested.

I doubt you were truly happy when that kid didn't show up.  More likely you were recognizing that they didn't show up even when their body was there.  You probably pray holes in your knees for these kids, that's not giving up.

God bless you as you continue to discern where your efforts are making a difference and don't beat yourself up when a kid leaves or never really was there.  God is the one who changes lives working in hearts, not our talks and programs, anyways.

Sorry, John! I agree that I've worded that wrong. It should say "Protestant Church".