Resource, Website
Anima: The Forum for Worship and the Arts is a project concerned with including our youth and young adults in worship leadership. Training videos available on their website could be used as discussion fodder at worship committee meetings or planning groups.
October 20, 2014 0 1 comments
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I believe that many of our churches can still turn the tide on the youth and young adult exodus--even though these feel like anxious times.
October 20, 2014 2 0 comments
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Listening to others and what they experience in their lives makes us better and more productive tools of God; ones that can carry out His purposes.
October 13, 2014 1 2 comments
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Christians are often perceived as hypocrites. How can we reverse this impression and squash moral superiority in our lives?
October 6, 2014 0 18 comments
Discussion Topic

On October 1st, Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC posted and article entitled "Social Justice and the Gospel: What is the Core Mission of the Church?" Here is the link:

...
October 2, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
Much like a race car driver needs to slow down through the corner enabling him to go faster in a different direction, so to a youth worker who is making changes needs to go about it at a slower pace...
September 22, 2014 0 0 comments
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No one wants to be a volunteer drop out. One tool I use to make sure volunteers feel successful in their roles is a chart of the volunteer lifecycle specifically with youth ministry in mind.
August 20, 2014 1 0 comments
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Over 100 ministry leaders from across North America gathered in Grand Rapids, MI, for an afternoon of discussion and learning about doing ministry with students living with autism; hearing, visual, and mobility impairments; mental health challenges; and other disabilities.
August 18, 2014 3 0 comments
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
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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
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When we make changes in ministry, is it proactive and calculated or is it reactive?
July 7, 2014 0 3 comments
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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
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Try these four strategies for implementing Sabbath a bit more effectively.
June 17, 2014 1 2 comments
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Telling others about Jesus does not have to be scary.
June 17, 2014 0 0 comments
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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
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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
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A video compiled remembering Jake Hiemstra
May 12, 2014 0 0 comments
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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
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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
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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
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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

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I am trying to understand, over the last several years, I have read "every man's battle" and "the pornography trap" as well as numerous articles and testimonies of people affected by porn.  About a year ago, some Christian friends very openly shared with my husband and I, about the husband's struggle with porn and we've witnessed him doing a 180, speaking boldly to other men about this issue as well as other significant changes that he attributes to the Holy Spirit.  My husband and I have talked about it often, and I have directly asked him about it, and his response was incredibly beautiful to me (If it's ok with you, i might pass this thread on to both of them and see if they would be willing to write a response from their "guy" perspective as well)...  there is hope...  but it's through the HOLY Spirit!

I believe this is a spiritual issue...  as believers of Jesus Christ, He has made us new creations, and the old is gone and I'm not going to disregard the work He has done in your life or mine, but I'm going to acknowledge Him for what He has done and is doing sanctifying each of us... not saying, we will never struggle with lust, but at this level?  many on a daily basis, with addiction rates to match?  mmmm... something else is going on here... that indicates no genuine repentance or ????, at least can we agree it indicates something very serious is wrong?

prayer is the first weapon we have, and God reveals His heart to us as we spend time with Him in prayer (and the Word)...  can I explain it?  how does one explain the Living and active Word of God, infused with the breath of the Holy Spirit... is it "mystical"?  not in the sense of eastern mysticism, but yes, in the sense that we can't explain with our intellect and logic how He works...  it's super rational, not ir-rational...  yes, He does supernaturally break into our lives and make changes... I have had numerous "experiences" that were so powerful and life changing, I cry just thinking about them...  He has orchestrated statistically improbable/impossible (ie miraculous) connections and events numerous times as well.  There is no way I can deny the Holy Spirit and His life changing work in my life, not only through the "experiences, connections, etc" but also through how He has made His Word Living and Active...

I understand our denomination does not have a great historical tradition when it comes to the Holy Spirit (we were cessationist on paper until 1973, when it was refuted by Synod on paper, but not so much in practice, and we are still struggling in this area, if we will be honest about it).   Several books that helped me were Jack Deere's Surprised by the Voice of God and Surprised by the Power of the Spirit... Jack has a cessationist background, so we can relate to that...  (quick disclaimer, read it with discernment, as at least one of the people he mentions have had some serious moral issues since the books were written).  Just yesterday someone alerted me to a book called "Holy Fire" by RT Kendall...  that will be one of my next readings...

I think one of the ways to fight this thing is to get a better understanding of the Holy Spirit, hungering for God and His Word.  I feel I've only scratched the surface so far in my journey and for the last 7 years or so, the Holy Spirit has been one of the primary focuses of my studying and discussions with people and I will testify that Scripture has become significantly more living and active in the last 7 years than I had ever experienced in the 25 years before that.  I've been very blessed in how God has connected me with other believers from different Christian "streams" to help me grow in this, but it will always take discernment and knowing His Word and spending time with Him.

one more point for now (and by the way, thanks for being willing to engage in discussion... I truly believe iron sharpens iron, and sometimes we avoid doing so because we don't want to offend anyone)...  that was a great point that sin in general objectifies people, I had never thought of that before...  however, I will submit that porn has a way of doing so at a far more rapid pace (which leads to abuse and violence), and there have been studies to show this.

and here's an article from 2012 as one example of some of the material I've read on this...  and it's written by a guy who has worked with these types of issues for 20 years...

http://blogs.christianpost.com/guest-views/sexual-sin-in-the-ministry-8613/

again, thank you for being will to share your thoughts... this is a HUGE issue, and so, yup, the responses get long...

 

 

 

 

 

posted in: Hypocrisy

Thanks for the response Bev.  I don’t think my first response was all that helpful in your mind. But I would still stand by the final comment in my response, “begin with understanding, and then work on the problem from there.”  Understanding goes a long way in trying to tackle any problem, otherwise the solution may be completely misdirected.  

Understanding the male psyche is very important in tackling this problem.  That’s where the problem lies (in the male psyche), more so than in the growth of the  porn industry.  The problems you associate with pornography have been around since biblical times and I doubt that the porn industry has made it any or much worse.  The problem lies within people themselves.  The fact that men are more open to reveal their secrets today is probably due to the more open society that we live in and this has spilled over into the church.  In the past, Christian men would have seldom (if ever) admitted to viewing porn.  Young teenage boys in Christian families were severely punished if they were caught with porn magazines (which were always well hidden) or caught masturbating.  The guilt inflicted by parents was enough to keep a young person from ever again admitting to a sneak peek at porn.  The past still affects Christian men today (perhaps your figures are conservative).  So whether pornography is available or not, the problem of the male psyche is still there.  The natural instinct (psyche) for men is different than for most women.  And this male wiring is not so easy to change, even among Christian men, as is obvious from your statistics.  Men, more so than women, look for instant sexual gratification.  That is why men can so easily fall asleep once that gratification has been met.  Mission accomplished.  Men are wired differently.

You mentioned being created in God’s image, but you have to remember the fall has greatly marred that image.  The human race has not only been credited by God with Adam and Eve’s original sin, but he has imputed to all of humanity a fallen sinful nature that will naturally gravitate to sinful actions.  All people come into existence with this sinful nature apart from their own request.  The apostle Paul talks about his own enslavement to sin, apart from Christ, and thinks of himself as totally miserable and helpless to remedy his situation.  His thanks is to Jesus Christ, because he has forgiveness in Christ, and can move on from there.  Recognize that just because a Christian is forgiven, it doesn’t mean he won’t still have problems with his sinful nature.  The record of New Testament writing is a testimony of how prevalent sin continued to be in the church after Christ.  So whether created in the image of God or not, we are stuck with a sinful nature that isn’t going away.  Men, for the most part, are still stuck with a male psyche that craves instant sexual gratification.  And perhaps porn helps to alleviate this craving.

You mentioned that porn contributes to the objectifying of women/people.  You do realize Bev, that all sin objectifies its victims.  Whether it’s lying, stealing, gossiping, slandering or murdering, sin always reduces the victim to a level below the victimizer.  In one way or another the person committing the sin does not respect or look up to his/her victim.  So to accuse pornography of contributing to  the objectifying of people, then it is no different than other sin.  So you may be right, but that is not a special characteristic that makes porn unique and more heinous than other sin.  The church has been more guilty than most in the past at objectifying women with the degraded regard that it has placed on women (the women in office issue or voting issue in the more distant past, the submission of women to men in the church and home).

You suggest if we are wired that way (helpless fallen sinners) then something is seriously amiss.  Of course it is.  But what will help in dealing with this problem?  Begin with some understanding of the problem.  Then ask what is the most constructive ways others have dealt with this, whether in the church or outside.  What will lead to the greatest good for the greatest number.  In the past (within Reformed Churches) church discipline might have been the answer, but (with the numbers) that isn’t likely to be helpful at all, unless a greater sin (than looking at porn) has occurred.  Perhaps the church needs to do better at being an encouraging community, a place where sinners can still feel secure, rather than having a alarmist mentality.

You suggested, as leading to a cure, perhaps we are not listening to the Holy Spirit or have quenched the Spirit.  What does that mean?  Does it mean that in some mysterious way the Holy Spirit will step in and change hearts and desires, if only we pray correctly or appease his wrath in some way?  I’m always a little mystified when Christians talk about the Holy Spirit, as though he is going to supernaturally break into our lives and miraculously make changes.  In our circles, we often talk about primary and secondary causation.  God is always the primary cause, but most often natural means are the secondary cause.  We go to a doctor or hospital to deal with cancer and when healed, we thank the doctors.  But as to primary causation we give thanks to God.  Are you looking for the Holy Spirit to work in some other way? Do you think that if we offer sacrifices to God, as did the ancients, then we can appease the Holy Spirit’s quenching?  God wants us to look for honest and realistic ways for dealing with abuse that comes as a result of porn or a fallen male psyche.  And then give him thanks.  So the church needs to put its thinking caps on, maybe even look over the fence to see what is working elsewhere.

What do you suggest Bev, for getting to the bottom of this problem?  What are some good starting points?  What might be a God honoring way to get us started?  Sorry for being so lengthy.

posted in: Hypocrisy

I do try to understand what is driving this, because it is so rampant and the fruit is horrific and includes objectifying women/people, the human trafficking of women and children and many other types of abuse and violence, destroying how we are made in God's image, and so it is not only a holiness issue, but also a justice issue...  one possibility for these stats is our lack of listening to the Holy Spirit, 1) because scripture says He will always give us a way out of our temptations, and 2) the Word (Eph 5) says there is not even to be a hint of immorality, and it seems we have just written that off as impossible, so why bother trying since we are "wired" this way...  something serious is amiss...  and these statistics tell me, somehow we have quenched the Holy Spirit to some debatable degree...  I believe we can walk in holiness with the help of the Holy Spirit, but it seems, we don't think it's important, and that could be another reason for these high numbers, we don't understand how important walking in holiness is.  is this a popular message?  of course not, when we have a significant majority of christian men looking at this on a regular basis, and human tendency is to try and justify it.  and doesn't scripture include self control as part of the fruit of the Spirit?

posted in: Hypocrisy

That is quite an array of statistics, Bev.  I would imagine the statistics for women, whether in the church or outside, would not be nearly as alarming.  Do you think there might be a reason for such findings?  Is it just that men are generally scumbags and always have their minds in the gutter?  Quite possibly there’s a reason and that should, at least, be taken into consideration.  

As to psyche men and women are wired very differently.  And this difference comes to expression in a host of ways.  It’s why men tend to be the abusers in a relationship, or tend to be child molesters, or why the porn industry is aimed more at men than women.  As to the sexual psyche, women are much more into building loving and lasting relationships.  Men are more into immediate sexual gratification.  And when I say this is part of the male psyche, it isn’t something that is easily controllable.  It’s like natural instinct, the way men are wired.  It’s not easily turned off, or maybe there’s not even an “off” switch.  So men can more easily turn to pornography for sexual gratification, while at the same time it doesn’t do the same for women.  You can take away the pornography but you won’t change the way men are wired or what they may visualize in their minds.  I remember hearing a well known Reformed theologian comment on sin.  He said, “if people really knew the thoughts that go through my mind they would be disgusted with me.” He was talking about sexual sin.  That’s true of nearly all men.  We’re wired differently than you women.  It’s part of the male psyche and isn’t going away.  You may think the Holy Spirit can change a guy so he will think pure thoughts and get his mind out of the gutter.  Really.  Just look at the statistics you gave for Christian men, which show a contrary message.  The church can guilt the male members of the church, but guilt will just drive a guy into more hiding, as again your statistics show.  So is this a problem that reveals hypocrisy in the church?  Perhaps, especially if the church claims to be more wholesome than those outside of its doors.  It is a problem both inside and outside the church, especially if it leads to abuse or unwanted behavior. But it is a problem that comes naturally to men.  So begin with understanding, and then work on the problem from there.

posted in: Hypocrisy

I think secret sins are a HUGE part of the hypocrisy problem:

posted 10.7.14 on the charisma news website

BOQ... A new national survey of Christian men reveals shocking statistics pertaining to high rates of pornography use and addiction, plus rampant sexual infidelity among married Christian men.

The 2014 survey was commissioned by a nonprofit organization called Proven Men Ministries and conducted by Barna Group among a nationally representative sample of 388 self-identified Christian adult men.

The statistics for Christian men between 18 and 30 years old are particularly striking:

77 percent look at pornography at least monthly.
36 percent view pornography on a daily basis.
32 percent admit being addicted to pornography (and another 12 percent think they may be).

The statistics for middle-aged Christian men (ages 31 to 49) are no less disturbing:

77 percent looked at pornography while at work in the past three months.
64 percent view pornography at least monthly.
18 percent admit being addicted to pornography (and another 8 percent think they may be).

Even married Christian men are falling prey to pornography and extramarital sexual affairs at alarming rates:

55 percent look at pornography at least monthly.
35 percent had an extramarital sexual affair while married.

"These statistics knock the wind right out of you. They also confirm what we already know; that there definitely is a problem with pornography and affairs among Christian men and that they are starving for the church to step forward with solutions," according to Joel Hesch, who sponsored the survey and is the founder of the biblically based Proven Men Ministries. 

He adds: "The purpose of the survey was not to point fingers, but to get a better grasp on the scope of the problem in light of ready access to pornography in this Internet era.

"It's abundantly clear that pornography is one of the biggest unaddressed problems in the church," Hesch continued.  EOQ

 

 

posted in: Hypocrisy

Kevin: Yes, because judging - which isn't our role - puts others immediately on the defensive; but, how easily we fall into that trap. reflecting on this, I'm wondering if it's because we have an innate desire to be fixers and so our default mechanism is after identifying it to fix it; but, God is really the one that has that responsibility, eh? In such cases, we need to work on changing our default mechanism... :>)

posted in: Hypocrisy

Michele: Certainly that's one of the more obvious ways we are hypocritical, and in our "Big Brother" society it's more and more difficult to act when "nobody's looking". Being honest and transparent is certainly one way to turn this perception around....

posted in: Hypocrisy

Bev: It certainly can be another area of weakness in our churches in advertising supposed-hypocrisy. Some churches are better at handling this weakness....the majority, probably not. Partly this goes back to our inherent flaw  of original sin and we are - like Adam & Eve - inclined to be secretive with our disobedience to God. However, do not discredit what our responsibility is towards society in standing against evil; standing up for Truth, Justice and honor. The problem is we mix up our roles. The churches role is not that of acuser and punisher.....that is the governments role. The church is is to hold up the ideals and remind people of what Truth is. And, the way we go about that is the key to turning this perception around.

posted in: Hypocrisy

Roger: Thanks for the comments.....Those words resonate strongly and may even be a part of the answer. Where we tend to begin with Sin - and many times unconsciously over-emphasize it's reality, we need to do a better job of counter-balancing the Grace in our lives. Beginning with grace and joy, and carefully adding spoonfuls of what sin looks like in the life of a CHristian; mixing in sin awareness with sanctification? 

posted in: Hypocrisy

  Great food for thought Albert. I find myself continually frustrated by the horrible 'p.r.' job we do as Christians. The #1 reason for the slow growth (negative growth?) of Christianity worldwide has to be us Christians. For myself, one of the things I can do to help reverse the perception of hypocrisy would be to stop judging. I need to get out of God's way & let him do the judging while my charge is to love. God help me.

posted in: Hypocrisy

I strive to be as transparent as possible by NOT pretending I have it all together.  Most people who have been at my place know that housework is a struggle for me, and I don't attend every church service or other events because my health doesn't allow me to.  To me hypocrites are people who never have a hair out of place in public are always smiling even when they're mad, at least on Sundays, but when nobody's watching that's another story.

posted in: Hypocrisy

one of the areas I struggle with on this is we like to "be prophetic critics of the waste, injustice, and selfishness in our society,..."  (Ordination of elders and deacons, GPH p1005), that's cool, relevant, makes us (the Church) look good and it's "safe"... however, if we actually follow the biblical charge from Paul in I Cor 5:12 to judge inside the church and not outside, this statement is exactly backwards... we are actually called to be prophetic critics of the injustice in the Church, (of course starting with ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit)...  and as you suggested, this doesn't go over well.... at all!  because we/the Church will not look good... 

here's a quote from Global trauma recovery website:
BOQ  It is a sad fact that many organizations (church/denom), when faced with the choice of protecting an abusive leader or victim, choose to protect the leader (and thus the organization) rather than the victims of that abuse. All too often, victims report that the failure of the system to respond well to their cries for help cause more harm than the original abuse. EOQ

so not only is the Church not helping the person who has been "oppressed"/victimized, too many times, we are actually making it worse and become part of the problem. The response of the Church is even worse to the victim, when leadership feels threatened over the exposure of the ungodly conduct.

when this ungodly behavior is threatened to be exposed in the Church, instead of transparency, we find secrecy, silence, and cover up, instead of integrity, we find manipulation, intimidation and deception (it's often very subtle ie...technically not a lie, but effectively very misleading), and instead of purity, we find abusive type behaviors including emotional and spiritual abuse to shun, dismiss, etc those who have been hurt or much worse because of the ungodly behavior...  i could list numerous examples of this unbiblical response in the Church, including our beloved crc...  and i find that is what people outside the church see very clearly... we are only fooling ourselves, not God, and not those outside the Church... 

God calls us His people to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.... He did not give this charge to the world/unbelievers, but to us, His people.

posted in: Hypocrisy

You may be on to something Albert.  But I think there is much more, as to why the secular world and young people look at Christians as hypocritical.  It has to do with Christian theology, maybe especially Reformed theology.  The fall of all humankind does not strike a compelling note to the ears of non-Christians.  Young people and secular society do not want to look at themselves as scumbags in the eyes of God.  They may have done some bad things along the way, but those bad things don’t characterize their life (as Christians might suggest). They are loving toward family and friends and are more than willing to help someone in need.  On a scale of one to ten, most will think of themselves as a seven or eight.  To be told that God judges a person only by their sins and not the good they may have done sounds way out of kilter.  God created us as people, not as gods, why would he expect us to be perfect, especially when we don’t judge each other by such a standard?  My wife is a great wife, as well as my friends and family.  But God doesn’t think of them the same way? They are sinners in the eyes of God and therefore condemned?  So when a Christian tells me I’m a sinner (even though they put themselves in the same category), it doesn’t win any accolades.  It sounds as though this Christian is putting me down.  Such a perspective on humankind (depravity) is a slam on people in general and on the individual in particular.  So our theology, although true to the Bible, doesn’t help the Christian message win approval.  The message itself sounds hypocritical to young people .  It’s the natural reason, as to why Christianity, is not necessarily a slam dunk.  Add to this what you have said, Albert, and it only makes Christians look more hypocritical.

posted in: Hypocrisy

It's easy to become too comfortable because when something is working well, we tend to drag our feet in making sometimes needed changes. Then things around us change and there is lag -time in our response to change. It takes the coragious person to be able to decide when to act accordingly with change. Stepping back to see the entire picture is helpful, but we mustn't camp out in this "panoramic" enigma. Wwe must go there for perspective and then immediately re-emerge into the faily routine of yth ministry; this alone can be stressful and overwhelming to the average yth ministry worker. 

 

Relying on others to see aid in seeing the bigger picture has always been helpful. However, are you too proud to accept those helpful comments? Are you able to accept and apply others' advice in it's proper place? It's amazing what others can see, that you cannot. Actually hear it and make the best use of what your are hearing....

Change is inevitable! Every moment things are changing. We are getting older. Some are closer to death. Others are getting closer to their birth. In a day, a week, a month, a year, five years... every single one of us and our communities will be different. Made up of different people... though the names may be the same, their experiences in life are different! We can help to direct change or we can sit back and let change happen. I not saying we dictate our destiny. But we have some control over how we will be getting there. If a person, a council, a church isn't actively talking about change, then change will dictate who and what they are going to be. Let's be bold and activate a little bit of change every time we can in order to tweak and correct what is going on in order to help shape and lead us in the direction we need to go. Just like riding a bike... if you don't turn the handle bars every so often, you will follow your dominant hand into something unpleasant.

Thanks for your comments and observations Geoff. 

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 energy.....energy 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.

Louis

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

Jason,

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. 

http://jasonsblog.postach.io/the-best-thing-that-happened-to-our-youth-ministry#disqus_thread 

See these postings on the Network: http://network.crcna.org/category/topics/global-mission/short-term-mission

Contact ServiceLink staff: http://www2.crcna.org/pages/servicelink_interestform.cfm

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: http://learningmylines.blogspot.ca/2011/07/divided-movie-hmmmmmm.html

Marko's blog: http://whyismarko.com/2011/my-thoughts-on-divided-the-movie/

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 - marc.hoogstad@gmail.com.  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

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