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I just read an interesting blog called “Why Theology and Youth Ministry Seldom Mix.”  Here’s the link to the article by Cameron Cole and Dave Wright on the Gospel Coalition Blog. It’s a great discussion regarding the challenge of incorporating theology into youth groups. I wonder if others see this as a challenge or concern...

June 11, 2012 0 12 comments
Blog

A while back, I did a blog with an idea to team with Faith Alive to sell books as a fund raiser for youth groups.  Some folks though it was a decent idea.  Other’s doubted that it would work well.  But it did spark some good discussion about fund raising and maybe even about a number of strategic goals around fund raising.

May 28, 2012 0 1 comments
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Youth Ministry is a wild ride. The rewards of seeing young people grow in their faith takes spiritual, mental, social, and at times, even physical investment. The Network is recruiting volunteers who are...

May 25, 2012 0 0 comments
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Maybe the question should be “Is it important to get youth interested in our denominations?” I believe it is, indeed, important and the blessing and missional impact of denominations like the CRCNA should be shared with youth. Maybe you disagree.

May 15, 2012 0 2 comments
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Sometimes I think that while everyone in my church thinks it’s important to care for the poor, when we start to actively participate in projects around social justice, there’s an uneasiness that gets in the way of support for our efforts.

April 30, 2012 0 5 comments
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Every church has them.  Every business has them.  Silos go up when individual areas get caught up in their own goals and fail to work cross-functionally with others within the organization.  It’s certainly not written in your job duties that it’s the responsibility of a youth leader to break down silos in a church. However, 

April 23, 2012 0 2 comments
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I know, I know.  You are busy wrapping up this youth group season and there’s still plenty you have to get done.  And yet it’s still an appropriate time to begin planning for your summer season. You may not have weekly meetings during the summer, but hopefully you are finding opportunities to keep the youth group community together.

April 16, 2012 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

If there's one buzz word about what our churches deeply desire to be, it's "intergenerational."  We all know what it means, right?  And we all know when we've achieved it, right? Right?

As a youth pastor, as an advocate for children, youth, and young adult integration into the full...

April 10, 2012 0 4 comments
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As you wrap up your youth group season, it’s a good time to think about active participation in VBS. If your church is running VBS later this summer, consider getting your entire youth group actively involved in the program.  My experience is that this will bring a wonderful energy to the VBS, and it will have a long-lasting impact...

April 9, 2012 0 0 comments
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I have blogged in the past about the importance of reformed resources and reformed theology within youth ministry programs.  It’s just as important to have resources with a reformed perspective for the entire congregation.  Faith Alive Christian Resources has come up with a creative idea that will share reformed resources within a congregation AND raise funds for the youth group. Youth groups will earn 40% profit on all books sold through this program. You can check out the program at youthgroupbooksale.org.   

March 26, 2012 0 11 comments
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While numbers are an important tool to help a youth worker gauge the relative health of a ministry (I always keep attendance for my own records), high attendance does not always mean that all is well in the group or that youth are being transformed by the Gospel...

March 26, 2012 0 6 comments
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OK, so here’s my pep talk for you. You have precious few weeks left in this youth group season. Enjoy these last months and the relationships you’ve nurtured. If anything, it’s time to pick up the pace!

March 19, 2012 1 2 comments
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I have a friend that often talks about the 4-14 rule.  He believes that the most fragile population within and outside our churches are those between the ages of 4-14.  The individuals in our communities and our world who know the least about Christ are between the ages of 4-14. The opportunity to reach individuals for Christ is most fruitful in those age 4-14. 

March 12, 2012 0 9 comments
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For most of my years in youth ministry, I didn’t do a very good job of bringing our youth group into Lent with an appropriate sense of this incredible season. Anyone got ideas or proven lessons to share?

March 5, 2012 0 1 comments
Q&A

Any ideas? Our church has paid off our mortgage--yay! They've asked the youth group to come up with a creative (symbolic) way to destroy the mortgage letter at a celebration this Sunday.  I missed my opportunity to survey the YG and wonder if anyone has some great ideas on how to do this? We'll...

March 1, 2012 0 3 comments
Discussion Topic

The recent decision by Youth Unlimited to eliminate their paid Canadian youth leader developers because of financial constraints is sparking considerable discussion around water coolers and coffee pots across Canada.

February 25, 2012 0 5 comments
Blog

I believe followership is just as important as leadership.  I just wish we lived in a world where the gift of following was recognized and given value as an integral aspect of the Christian life.  When was the last time you highlighted the work of young people who showed dedication, humility and a servant attitude in their followership?

February 20, 2012 0 2 comments
Q&A

Hi Everyone!

I'm Tim and I'm a volunteer youth worker. One of my students approached me about "wanting more" and wanting to go through a book together with some people. That is awesome! Does anyone have suggestions for books? I have a couple of ideas but I wanted to throw it out there and...

February 19, 2012 0 2 comments
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I’ve thought about writing this for a while, but it’s not particularly fun to write about some of my lowest moments as a youth leader. There have been times when youth have given up on our church and our youth group, and I’ve chosen, sometimes consciously and often subconsciously, to give up on them...

February 13, 2012 0 1 comments
Q&A

Our council is creating a council appreniceship program for mature teenagers to serve on council as either apprentice deacons or apprentice administrative elders.

I'm looking for wisdom in strucutring and developing this program - have any other CRC congregations tried this?  What...

February 8, 2012 0 5 comments
Blog

So when it comes to advice and suggestions for events, Youth Leader 101 typically notes that special events, like school, community or national sporting events are often great excuses for getting students together.  The NCAA basketball, known as March Madness, is a perfect example.  Though I would suggest this also makes an outstanding community outreach opportunity.

February 6, 2012 0 1 comments
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When I made profession of faith, I decided it was time, alerted somebody at church, and then stood before the consistory while they quizzed me mostly on my faith but with just a bit of Bible trivia as well.  Once I was approved, I stood before the church, said “I do” after the pastor read a long liturgy...

January 30, 2012 0 1 comments
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Let me start out by saying my wife and I were volunteer youth leaders for 15 years. But I do think that our church made a mistake in asking for volunteer youth leaders, rather than investing money and resources in staff. I think it implied to many youth that they were not as important as “adults” in the church.

January 23, 2012 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Youth Unlimited, the Grand Rapids-based parachurch organization that includes GEMS, Cadets and young people, has a serious marketing problem right across Canada.

If you Google Youth Unlimited, you immediately notice two quite separate organizations: the American body connected to the...

January 17, 2012 0 4 comments
Blog

I wonder how many youth leaders are in accountability groups.  I would suggest that if you are a youth leader and you are not in an accountability group, you consider doing so.  It’s a very personal decision. I can only tell you that I have been blessed and improved by my group.

January 16, 2012 0 0 comments

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I think the reformed in our youth groups must start with us.  As reformed Christians it it our opportunity to help instill that worldview we have been blessed with in our students through how we lead, teach and give them experiences.  We are helping them see through those reformed lenses.

I would agree that using resources from a biblical and a reformed worldview are preferred and my first choice.  However I also think that we can use a discerning eye to see the other resources that are out there and decide what we can also use from a variety of Christian faith traditions.  We've been really happy with the materials coming from Sparkhouse/Augsburg called "re:form".  We have used their videos to help dig into some of the common creeds and confessions and help our students gain an understanding of the theological "rocks" of our faith that have too often been thrown out with the bathwater in the last 20 years.

We can never keep pace with the technology and media that they see around them, however with a solid mix of our reformed resources and worldview paired with other resources we've chosen that supplement them, we can offer some thought provoking and helpful tools to educated and equip our students.

As Fuller seminary is working on their "Sticky Faith" project, I think we need to be able to see what others are learning in terms of all the social sciences and research to help us understand the dramatic changes that are happening in the lives and faith of our young people. 

As a side note, a little annoying rub for me has been using the words "sticky faith".  I whole heartedly believe in God's grabbing on to us to regenerate us to be drawn to him as well as his ability to never let us go. We need him to work in us so we can reach out to him.  However, I also see kids who have made those faith commitments then walking away from life in the church and maybe faith in Christ and know we must work harder and smarter to challenge and build a lasting fatih in them.  Sticky faith implies it something we create, do or impart to students when it's really God who does that.  But the idea that we need to help students develop this lifelong, real and deep faith rings so true.  Building disciples not just consumers of religious goods and services.  Anyway, I'm rambling now.  It's a difficult world we live in but thank God he is here to walk with us in these tasks!

It is extremely difficult finding good curriculums both for Sunday School and youth ministry outside the denomination; over the years I have created my own. I find that the Word of Life model of 5 or 6 topics with 3 modules per topic and one entire theme for the year, works best. If your a youth pastor/leader, Keep it simple, concise and clear and you won't lose their attention span (which is tiny - I know I have 2 teenagers).....REMEMBER: culture has changed drastically; we are speaking to a media  minded group of kids; try to include a short video clip from a movie or elsewhere that grabs their attention. They'll remember the point longer, as well.

Paul: I tried this many years ago; I was skeptical (oh me of little faith) that anyone would accept the offer; so I came up with this incentive; I told them that if they accomplished this task that I would give them a FREE spot at the next Blizzard rally. I only required that they show me the journal that they compiled. I told them I would not check up on them and that I was it with full confidence that they were being truthful. 3 out of 63 followed thru....and I honored the contract we made. My thought was, that even if only 1 followed through....even if 20 tried and didn't entirely finish, there were things that were going to be read that they would not have read if the "OPPORTUNITY" wasn't given to them. Maybe there are others who might try this in their youth groups....I'd love to hear those specific reactions/results if  they have any...huizing13@yahoo.com   a great challenge!

Since I'm not an overly chatty person, especially on initial contact, I find others in the group that are gifted in that area; those  that love to and are good at making others feel welcome. Especially, new kids that have not come with a friend; it's scary for them....And, besides, they really don't want to have a long, drawn discussion with a youth leader unless they are looking for advice. I am also blessed with children, Youth Group age that are outgoing and willing to help out that way, also. Unfortunately, it only takes one slip-up and you may never see that young person again....get it right the first night, because otherwise the task to get them to come back is 100 times more difficult!!

posted in: Lonely in a Crowd

At a youth group meeting we discussed tithing and why we do it. Then I shared what someone from church had shared with me and for the past 8 years we have been doing this as a family.

 

EVERYTIME you get money (a cheque, cash...whatever) you take CASH for tithing - 10 percent (some were wanting an amount) that cash goes into an envelope, the remainder of the money is yours to do what you need to do in the month.   At the end of the week or month you put your cash in the collection plate stating what cause your money will go towards.   This way you are never thinking oh I still have that money, when you may have spent it all ready and then realize at the end you have no money for church. Take off what is the Lord's first and then the remainder is yours.

After one year, our family was very surprised how much we had given and never missed it. It is a small step but something that has stuck with me for years. A valuable lesson and way to get the youth looking at their resources a little differently.

Great post Albert!  I absolutely love your suggestion that youth development be part of the church's mission statement.  I wonder how many churches have done that?  Thanks for sharing.

Certainly, youth ministry takes a certain type of gifted individual;

The proof that it is an extremely difficult task is in the statistics..."the average life of a youth pastor in any given church is 3 years" I have been working with youth/young adults since 1984 and wonder where did all those years go and how much of an impact did I really have on the lives of youth. But that's not for me to ponder....God has that all figured out (thank goodness)!

Certainly, when a church supports you (rather than directs you), there is no question that the job becomes easier and has a life of it's own. What many youth pastors aren't told is that you need to love kids, love what they love (sports, music etc), be flexible (because everything always changes), be a great multi-tasker, not take things that kids/parents say too personally, have lots of ideas and understand like life, some will be huge successes and others will fail miserably. These are the things they don't usually tell youth pastors which is why so many get frustrated and leave either a church or the ministry altogether.

When you have a church community that is invested in the entire process (eg interested in actually how the kids are engaging in their faith journey) and not just another program (or worse a "christian babysitting service") then you have a viable program and a youth pastor that is challenged to take the playing field with his team of young adults and to seek the prize.....developing Christian leaders of tomorrow.....youth, parents, add'l leaders, church members, support (service, prayer, financial) and a youth pastor (the coach that calls the plays) is ALL needed to carry out a God-honoring program....

Here is my suggestion: the most "successful" youth development programs I have witnessed over almost 25 years have occurred when churches have made it part of their Church's Mission Statement. It may take a yr, 2 ys or more, but when it is put as a challenge for the entire church body, every member has a vested interest in directing their youth.

In my humble opinion,

Albert Huizing IV

I agree with John, and add that listening to young people, encouraging participation and letting them know you want them to be active participants is vital to the longevity of their adult involvement in church.

After high school contacts are a vulnerable timefor youth and if the church is intentional about 'tracking' progress when they go off to college, start careers or stray away most young people will continue to feel 'connected.'

For me because I participated in worship, sunday school, choir and youth activities I didn't 'stray away' in my twenties.

And with my now adult children, I encouraged extolled and cajolled them through their teen years to stay active at church and they still are participants in their 30's and 40's, thank God!

I think you can be expressing disagreement with various looks, actions, or comments of young people, while still accepting them.    That should also be possible in return as well, where they may disapprove of certain philosophies, songs, formalism or whatever of older people, while still accepting the older people as brothers and sisters in christ.   If none of us has anything to learn from each other, then the body of christ starts to get weak and shallow.   But our disapprovals or disagreements ought to be in a spirit of respect for their youth and their still growing faith and life, with trust in God to bring it to fruition.  

By and large, if you want to attract the young people, spend time talking with them.   Find out what they are doing.   Don't assume a paternalistic attitude.   But also don't apologize for your beliefs.   Give them something to feel worth belonging to. 

Does anyone have any incentives to tithing they've tried, for youths age (14-19)?

Not a youth leader, just a treasurer.

 

A few years ago we decided to give the "Kingdom Kids" envelopes (includes a picture to colour and a message). We drirected their giving to buying gifts from the CRWRC gift catalogue. We give the children "charitable receipts", and celebrate (cake and ice cream) with them whenever they make a purchase from the catalogue. We also provide a powerpoint presentation to show what they have purchased recently and what they have purchased over the years. We also give a three-part bank to each child as they enter primary school. Sections are for spending, saving and giving. Giving has increased several fold.

For older youth, once they are in high school they receive regualr envelopes, as most youth now have part time jobs. Not as successful with the youth as with younger children.

 

Perhaps we should offer cake and ice cream to the congregation whenver thier giving increases significantly (as a whole)?

I also have kids that tithe but it is not on the forefront of their mind; I believe that the real issue is that we are living in a society and driven by cultural humanistic desires. The kids (and many times the parents too) live in a world of "I Need or I want". Rather than what can I give away or live without. I have never been a person who spends needlessly, but still believe that as Americans we can still do with less, even the meager ones, have way too much. We need one shirt, but buy three "just in case". We need one store item, but purchase on a sale "just in case". The root of the problem with tithing is changing the belief that "we need" to one of "they/others need". If we can come up with a way changing that mindset early on, we will have a generation who not only believe, but understand the value of tithing. It's not only the youth, we fall way short as adults too. but AS the Jewish Talmud says "to teach it to the youth is to teach it to your great-grandchildren" I hope someone submits some ideas that have worked for them.

What a cool story Rick. Thanks for sharing it. 

I think the challenge is always going to be in finding the funding for a youth leader at a church plant and then finding a youth leader who is willing to step out in the uncertainties of planting. Sharing stories like yours can help on both fronts.

Thanks John.  We too believe the Holy Spirit has led us to this relationship with a youth leader and the community. I can't wait to watch the Spirit continue to work in this relationship.

To answer your questions, the relationship between the youth leader and church planter is still being developed. I suspect that the accountability for the plant will fall on the church planter, so in many respects the youth leader will report to the planter. Though again, I think that will depend a lot on their relationship and their cooperative efforts to use God's gifts in this planting process.

Both positions are fully funded by our church. It was a sell to the consistory, but they understood the opportunity and embraced it.

I'm not sure if the goal is to be a young life model or not. I suspect it will. At this point, youth around the neighborhood know there is a place they can hang out and be accepted...and parents know it's a place where their children can be in a healthy and safe environment. There's a lot more to do to expand the relationship with students and their parents, but the momentum is there.

This was something I did in 2004 working at the then church plant of Friendship Community Church near Sioux City, Iowa. I was a Theology/Youth Ministry grad from Dordt College looking to get involved in ministry. I was paid part time through a Home Missions grant and supplemented my income by working at local farm. It was a great position and allowed me to connect with many different people and had a great relationship with the church planter.  I worked with the church for about 6 months before getting married and looking for a full time ministry position. However the experience had a lasting impact and after moving and doing ministry in Southern California, I took a 3 Evangelist Training Program and was ordained and have desired to teach what I learned and saw while working at the church plant, even today while doing ministry in the Niagara Peninsula the church plant experience continues to come through. As a youth leader searching for what to do this experience gave me direction and would recommend it to anyone.

Rick Roeda, Mountainview Christian Reformed Church, Grimsby Ontario 

Paul, it seems to me that for a church to reach a community, it must be at the intersections of that community and involved with the institutions which are valued within the community. Schools are the epicenter of every community; they are the largest intersection. At our church, we have spent a full year trying to get involved in our local public elementary school. You just saved yourself a year and then some!! Plus, to find someone who is already in the community as opposed to having people "enter into the community", is a God-send. This is an ideal model, and for it to happen organically is the Holy Spirit confirming your call in the community. As someone interested in community based outreach, I have a couple of questions for this church plant:

(1) Is the youth leader under the leadership of the church planter? Or are they complete partners?

(2) Are both positions fully funded by your church?

(3) Is the goal to be a Young Life type model that bubbles up into a church?

Great Topic!

John Burden, Providence Church, Holland MI

So is there any news on if this proposal made it past synod?  Is this established for next year?

One of the "spheres'  we pray for specifically is for the family unit...  the family is under intense attack from the enemy particularly the males (one of the answers to prayer is this new movie "Courageous" coming out by the same church that did Facing the Giants and Fireproof, it's about men taking up and walking in the authority of their God given roles), and every time the enemy can break up the family, keeping the God ordained family unit from a meaningful, Kingdom focused activity such as worshipping and praying together, he scores in some way.    Look at the evening family meal, how rare that is in many homes...   and yet studies have shown that is one of the key aspects to a healthy childhood. 

My husband and I will fight for the honor to worship together as a family.  We will also encourage them to find worship opportunities in addition to the Sunday services and allow them freedom to express their worship in our church.   I am very thankful that our church incorporates the youth regularly into the service...  my daughter (she's 5) will dance in the back of church - there's a little nook that she can dance freely in, so she's not distracting anyone... at other worship gatherings outside the CRC, the kids dance with flags and/or instruments or just dance.   We have tables set up for kids to draw - not just busy work, but what we call "prophetic art" during the service as worship is going on... at one that is specifically for kids,  they can sing at the mic.  (there are some guidelines of course).    We pray that as our kids are heading into the teen years, they will have experienced God via His Holy Spirit in many ways already (they already have amazing testimonies of promptings through scripture that the Holy Spirit helped them use for guidance in various situations, we share with them how God has helped us financially in unextpected ways, so "seeing" God work is pretty normal for them, I will be talking to someone and they will encourage me to share a confirmation of something the LORD has put on my heart earlier, or an answer to prayer, my daughter (5) will ask to drive by the casino so we can pray for all the people that are having their money "stolen", and that it will be a place where people pray to God instead).    Kids' worship is very powerful, based on Ps. 8:2...  out of the mouths of children and infants, I have ordained (strong) praise because of Your enemies to silence the foe and the avenger...   it makes the enemy flee... 

so, let's pray for Holy Spirit inspired opportunites in our services and outside our services, to increase the worship from children/youth.  and also pray that the family unit will be strenghthened through worship time and prayer time together...

Paul,

I'm really glad you're leading your youth group in a discussion of the Belhar.  Here are two topics related to the Belhar you may want to talk about with your people:

1.  At the time the Belhar was written the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa, the creeds of which are identical to ours in the CRCNA, supported the evil ideology and practice of apartheid.  In the opinion of the writers of the Belhar the DRC and other Christians in South Africa were compromising the gospel  -- subordinating the teachings of the gospel to the culture of the day rather than submitting the culture of the day to the teachings of the gospel.  The Belhar calls on Christians in South Africa and everywhere to put the gospel first.  You may ask your people in what ways the gospel is being compromised by Christians today to the materialism, relativism, and individualism of contemporary culture and what they think they can do about it.

2.  Many of the writers and signers of the Belhar Confession were/are black.  That is, they were victims of the vicious apartheid system that separated black and white in South Africa.  These people didn't reach for a gun to revolt against their oppressors,  Instead, they reached for their Bibles, and with incredible courage and love called upon the white Christains who were victimizing them to live by the Scripture and creeds they confessed.  In effect, they said to their white brothers and sisters:  you taught us the gospel, we know it is true, now the most loving thing we can do for you is to ask you to live by it, repent, reaffirm the unity of believers whether they be black or white, do justice, and be reconciled to us.  Ask your young people where they see this kind of profound love and courage in the church today, and if they don't see it, if Reformed Christians are more interested in dotting i's and crossing t's of doctrine rather than truly living the gospel, what has gone wrong and how can they make it right?

Harry Weidenaar

An observation that I borrow from someone long ago:  "who told them they were naked" when they worship with their parents?

I was interested to hear a "youth leader" from another denomination emphatically and specifically state that their organization was "intentional" in supporting the worship and congregational life of the parents of the young people they served.  One of the Ten Commandments was mentioned.

Do Amish young people have the same need?

Recent articles have popped up about pastors of predominantly under-30 church plants, lamenting that their congregational life is artificially truncated:  no funerals, no elderly to be assisted and/or offer guidance.

Chelsey,

I am just finishing up my second year of a brand new Middle School ministry.  We have partnered with Young Life to run a WyldLife program in our area.  It is mostly outreach, but definitely meets the needs of the students who already go to the CRC.  I used to do high school ministry, almost exclusively.

A few things that I believe need to be different from high school:

-Students need to be much more active.  The more they run around, the better the memories.

-We do ours every other Friday night, since middle schoolers don't have as much to do on weekends and parents prefer to keep their weeknights early!

-Leader relationships with students look different in middle school ministry.  They need parental figures.

-Younger middle schoolers need to spend time with leaders in groups or pairs.  They are not accustomed to spending time with adults one on one.

-Talks need to be short and story based.  We go through the basic outline of the gospel, each year.  Each meeting, we tell a story about Jesus.

-They want stories to tell.  We kicked off with a pumpkin bash that kids are still talking about.  You can see our outline, here. http://ylhelp.com/2010/06/10/pumpkin-smash-club/

God has definitely showed up in our ministry.  I'd love to talk with you more, if you would like!!

Erin

Perhaps the most important question to ask is "why?"

Why do the kids feel more connected and have a stronger desire to worship at the church plant? Is it worship style? Is the regular preacher at the church plant better at reaching younger listeners? What other factors lead them to feel more connected and engaged in worship there? Perhaps there are ways to consider these factors and make some changes to worship to better engage students at the service their parents want them to attend.

Also, why are the parents so adamantly against separate worship (or for family worship)? I'm certainly not trying to suggest that the parents are wrong. Not at all. Rather, I just want to suggest that it bears some thought over their motivation for requiring that the family worship together. Perhaps the family can attend the church plant together part of the time. Perhaps there could be a compromise reached where the students can attend the church plant sometimes and attend worship as a family other times.  Perhaps there is an age for their teens at which the parents would consider this appropriate as a stepping stone to a future time when they will be on their own and making an independent choice where to worship (or even if to worship.)

It's been quite some time since I was in high school, but I clearly remember feeling more engaged in worship at school chapels and summer camps than I did on any average Sunday (except the token annual service where the youth group planned worship.) I sympathize with teens who feel that their parents church lacks relevance for their lives, but worry that if that is their only experience, they will lump all churches together in the irrelevant pile and walk away altogether.

ps...thanks for the confirmation, through your daughter, of gifted musicians/worshippers in this area...I (and others) are praying into the opportunity to increase their worship participation in different ways so that there will be several locations in the county where worship is going on 24/7...    Jesus, may Your Name be lifted up 24/7 in Whatcom County, and the United States and the whole world for that matter...

Sorry Ken, didn't even think about the political aspect... there are good things about each political group and there are negative things about each, so let's pray that God brings forth the goodness in each, and pushes back what is not from Him in each...that He purges, cleanses and redeems these systems of politics and the government...but of course, may He start with our hearts...

Paul, you were correct in indicating Synod will most likely be discussing the Belhar- that will take place informally and formally (there is an Overture regarding the Belhar-#12).

Your plea to the readers is perhaps correct in that we as a denomination need to continue to look carefully at this document, and make some decisions- best place to start is by reading the document so that as all the information, pro and con, comes out we can make an informed decision.  Overture 12's call for a "balanced discussion" will probably find fertile ground throughout the denomination.

I particularly like your sentence:  "I’m far less concerned about whether or not the Belhar is an official confession of a church, and far more interested in seeing it lived out by the Church. "

Really your comment is where the "rubber hits the road."  Does our current battery of confessions give us enough to "live out" the spirit of the Belhar, or must we have a document that will spell it out better- or perhaps more clearly than what we already have?

Couple of questions:

(1) Is it that youth and others are drawn out to the Belhar in such "passion" because we as a church have not "with equal passion" promoted our confessional documents that we have; or are those documents severely lacking in "justice and humanity?"

(2) I keep thinking we have 3 beautiful confessions, and a "testimony," that few people know perhaps little about- so just how will accepting yet a 4th "standard of unity" lead us forward in such passion where the others have failed?

Your observation: "It supplements our existing creeds and confessions, it’s Biblical, and it’s an outward expression of the love, patience and forgiveness of Jesus to our lost and broken world"- strikes me as perhaps exactly what the Belhar does- supplements; and it's call for "justice" actually needs the other three Confessions to help us understand how to carry out that Biblical mandate.

We are not actually the only ones discussing the Belhar.  I find it fascinating that even Baptists are "throwing their hats in the ring" with opinions regarding the RCA and CRCNA's move to embrace the document as a confession.

Read what Thabiti Anyabwile, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands, wrote regarding the Belhar(http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2010/07/27/bringing-up-belhar-again/ ): 

"...(the)Belhar must stand together with the other confessions of the faith, and why it must stand in second place to those confessions.  It’s not as though the other confessions define “justice” for every generation.  But they at least provide the necessary framework and raw munitions for doing so.  They teach us about the inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of the Scripture.  If those confessions provide serious boundaries for Belhar, then Belhar’s sweeping language actually calls the church out of sloth and into the fray while honoring the roles assigned to the church in the Scripture itself.  But should the RCA or any other body lose its grip on the Scripture, then Belhar’s broad, undefined language includes a host of issues as “must” justice issues that contradict the Bible’s teaching.  That’s no small threat or concern."

Thanks for the heads up on this George.  I changed the text to reflect this.

Paul,  synod is discussing the Belhar in 2012, not in 2011.

Liberals like to worship God for extended time also Bev. Some of the best Christain teachers at LCS are liberal also. My daughter is one those talented kids for Christ who is a leader in her school. Lets leave the politic;s out of our judgements before this divide becomes greater.

I have been very encouraged by seeing young people (and in my case many in their 20's) with a heart to worship Him more...the local prayer center I am involved with, has 7-10 worship and prayer missionaries - most in their 20's -  who spend 10-40 hours a week in worship and prayer...One friend in this age group was asked what she liked to do in her spare time...Her response was - "worship God", and she does.

I sense that God is putting a fire in this generations heart for worship, and that we, as families and churches, need to pray for Him to lead us into additional times of worship where this generation has the opportunity to express themselves under the direction of the Holy Spirit in the worship, instead of almost exclusively being directed by adults.   I sense a "chomping at the bit" from the youth  to be more involved in the worship.   It is a very powerful experience to see how the Holy Spirit orchestrates a worship gathering, both through the planning (it's not just picking favorite songs), and then through His spontaneous promptings during the service, and to hear the testimonies of how the Holy Spirit "spoke" to different people in different ways through the worship, and often in the same song.

2 different people, within 15 minutes of each other, at 2 different gatherings expressed their excitement over an opportunity to worship for 2 hours -  extended times of worship...again, I see this heart for worship being stirred up, particularly in this generation, but we have to ask the LORD for His guidance on what this will look like (the verse the LORD put on my heart this week is Is. 28:29  NKJV - This comes from the LORD of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance)...  

I know in our community we have an abundance of gifted musicians and I believe the reason is for increased worship.  We need to steward these giftings, as in help them have opportunities to use them for the Kingdom...  it reminds me of the tabernacle of David, where worship was going on day and night at the temple.  In Acts 15, God shares that He is restoring David's tabernacle/tent (depending on version) - think Days of Elijah v2 - and these are the days of His servant, David, rebuilding a temple of praise!    We are all hardwired - designed, with a need that what we do is meaningful, and worship is!

We have seen several beautiful ministries flow out of the prayer center that were birthed from the worship and prayer times...  We have experienced incredible testimonies of Divine timing that could not be humanly orchestrated...the statistical probability of the convergence of events is basically impossible...  we have testimonies of  salvations and  healings, we have seen abortion rates drop and adoptions double in our county, we have seen our unemployment rate be one of the lowest in the state, if not the lowest, we have seen Godly leaders elected in our county- in a state (WA) that is known for being very liberal, and one of the least churched states in the US, these were not easy wins, but Praise God, He is making them happen as we labor in prayer with Him, and offer up our hearts in worship to Him... and we have seen beautiful growth in believer's walk with the LORD, where their faith is becoming a delight instead of a duty...they're  growing closer in their relationship with King Jesus...  HALLELUJAH!!! 

LORD, restore Your tabernacle of Praise, where Your Name is being lifted up 24/7...

a-vberg,

 Thanks for honoring us with your painful story. Your correct that they are in the Lords hands now and before. Bag the rule as peace offering to open the door to more dialogue. Then expose your relationship with Jesus to him. I may not work right away, but validate them if they believe in Jesus. What do you have to lose?

  I have first hand experience and I truly believe that from what you have told us he struggles with the apparent hypocricy of the church He doesn't undetrstand that we are all depravaed and rely on Grace.. Believe in your prayers because I feel your pain and I believe God is right there with your children. I believe God hears you. Enjoy the peace that comes with losing your control to hope and faith in Jesus.

Ken

I have four children--20, 18, 16 & 14. It has always been a rule in our household that our children attend church. When they were unable to drive, they all came to "our" church. Once they were allowed to drive and took on the responsibility of owning their own cars, we gave them the choice of going to the church of their choosing. We have always made our faith known to our children, praying that they, also, would come to a personal faith in Jesus. We read and discuss the Bible with them on a daily basis.

Two years ago our, now, 16 year old told us that he was agnostic. Upon questioning, he admitted that he believed in a Creator God but was not sure who Jesus is to him. Our kids all attend(ed) Christian School and this son's decision has caused difficulty not only at home, but at school.

We love all our children and honestly hope that they may come to a saving knowledge of our God. When our second oldest got married, she and her new husband searched and found a church in which they can genuinely learn more about the God they believe in and profess. Our oldest, on the other hand, moved out and has chosen to no longer attend church although he says he continues to believe in God. You know about our third child. Our youngest is tired of feeling pressured to believe as we do and "simply doesn't care about it right now" (his words).

As parents, we face a dilemma. On the one hand, it remains a rule that if you live in our home you go to church. On the other hand, "our" church does not engage our children in their worship style. What do we do?

Our 16 year old, despite all his doubts, continues to assert that "church" is NOT a building. He is so very right! "Church" is the people. We encourage our children to meet and spend time with others who share our faith; where they can sing and dance and praise the Lord. Does that mean they must attend the building where my husband and I worship?

Personally, through much prayer and tears, I believe that I must give them all up to the Lord who loves them infinitely more than I do. I only have them for a time, while He has them forever. As much as possible, my husband and I have provided a strong foundation of faith. Where our children go from here is entirely in God's hands. The rules of our household will remain, but where they worship needs to be where they find God. I'd love for them to find Him where I worship but, for right now, that's not working for them. The youngest will still be with us for a time, but the others? God has them now. May He provide for them that which they really stand in need of--a place to spend time with Him.

Great post.

It may be driven by the consumer mentality... but at the heart of it, they want to buy something. Shouldn't we, as adults, do everything we can to nurture that desire? And, why do the adults get to choose the church?

 

Anywhere the gospel is celebrated, let us gather there.

Thank-you Paul for raising this issue.

First and foremost it is our responsibility as parents to attend church with our children. We promised when we baptized, to do our best, with the help of the Holy Spirit, in raising our children to serve the Lord. It is our privilege to worship as a family.

It is the church's responsibility to support the family, not take the place of the family. I think the services you are suggesting are fine but hold them at a different time then the regular worship service.

Thanks

We did get a copy at the church to look over.  Unfortunately was not overly excited about it.

Dana - Have you tried Faith Alive's other course, "HC and Me"? If not, here's the link. Tim

Would love to see something new and fresh being offered for the HC.  QWA is a good resource but I have taught this for eight years and would like to see something new.  I'm getting tired of the same old thing!  Questions from the Pickle Jar is exceptional material!  Highly recommend this to any high school youth group!  As for the others I look forward to checking them out, thank you for listing them!

Yes! Thank you!

Hi Kirk.

Yes, the first youth group was largely comprised of Christian school youth. Your challenges with that, and school schedules were the same challenges we struggled with. Your school neutral position is a good one. That's a really good reminder for those of us who are dealing with the same situation.

We also made an intentional effort to let the students that went to the public school talk about their school stuff. When one of our students was in a school play at the public school, we talked the entire youth group into attending the play to show our support and cheer her on. That really pulled our group together.

Thanks Kirk.

Thanks for the reply Ashley. I think it's a great idea to find the common experiences and point them out.  I suspect you also find, as we did, that the more the students hang out together, the less the different schools matter.

Paul,

I'm curious if the first youth group you spoke of was largely comprised of Christian school youth and the public school youth were having a hard time fitting in?

We struggle with that and have worked hard to consciously not solely base events on the dominate school's schedule (which in our case is a Christian school).  It gets difficult though as school breaks are all over the map.  In our case I think we have two strikes against us in that our Christian school kids not only share their life together 5 days a week and so naturally bond together, but they are also quite sheltered and have a hard time relating to kids that come from public schools--(the exception being public school students that are very active in the church and quite outgoing.)

We have worked hard to include talk of school events going on at all the schools represented even though the local Christian school kids are the largest group represented.  We have also worked hard not to talk as if the Christian school schedule is the only one we need to work around or care about.  This has taken some time and effort, but I think we are reaching a better place of being more "school neutral" and more inclusive of all students.

Kirk

 

Our Teen Club consists of 3 kids from a local Christian school, and three kids who go to other schools, but who all know each other from outside of teen club/church. Another layer of complexity in our case is the fact that 5 are female and only one is male. 

The three and three definitely cluster together into little comfort-zone groups, and as leaders, I don't think we ever expect the 6 kids to become fully integrated. However, we are always trying to point out their common experiences to them. If one of the groups is dominating conversation, relating stories of their experiences at school that week, we try to ask the other group if they ever experience similar situations. There are some things that all grade 8 kids have in common: science fair, too much homework, bullying, field trips etc.  By our questions (asking questions is often the number one thing we leaders spend time doing during a teen club meeting!) we try to keep the conversation ping-ponging back and forth between the two groups. I don't know if acknowledging the divide and NOT trying to dissolve it constantly is a good thing, or if it's the best way to keep the kids comfortable within the group. Open to your thoughts!

It's hard when the group is so small to purposefully split the kids up into different groups when we plan activities or team sports, because it's so obvious to them what we're doing! Thankfully, they have been very graceful about that; even though we know THEY know what's going on, they don't complain or point it out. 

I'm looking forward to seeing what others respond to this post!

No problem Scott, The "demands of parenting"  is pretty subjective. Scott ,I  would use it to describe discipline required to raise children in a constantly changing environment . The calling of raising your children is extremely important.

Ken

I know I'm reviving an old thread... but I'm interested in hearing more about how the "demands of parenting" has increased. What do you mean when you say this?

Thanks guys!

Scott

Good questions Paul,

    When I think of investment in youth, I think of quality time. As a parent, that is our greatest gift to our children. Parents need to involved in youth groups or youth need to be involved adult groups.

  Throughout history until the 20th century,  Adults and youth were not separated to degree we are now. How do we hope our children will mature into solid Christians if we don't go to their level and demonstrate our lives?

  Paul , I feel bad for youth pastors. You guys have a very difficult job doing what is a parents mission by covenant. God bless you Paul

Ken

Good conversation Guys. I can relate to the advantages of having our beliefs summarized in confessions. We take for granted how these creeds arm us for interaction by making Biblical truths easier to understand.

Ken

Hey Nicole, hope this question isn't out of your mind yet.  We have used annual themes and semi-annual themes. And for our leadership team, this really helps them tie the year together, and assist the group through an exploration journey of sorts.  

For example, this year our theme is "Going The Distance", based on 1 Cor 9:24. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."  And then we broke it down, paralleling the life of a Christian to a marathon runner.  Motivation, the prize, teammates, clothing, nutrition, warming up and chiseling, obstacles, perseverance, endurance, obsession, adrenaline rush, fatigue, finishing well.  Pictures, theme ideas, scripture passages, events, guest speakers - lots of things quickly find their place!  Having an overall theme opens the doors for creativity!  

posted in: Theme for a year!

Thanks for sharing.

Praise God!

So you've found that the HC is not only relevant but an essential tool in your ministry to youth. How cool is that.

Hey Ty, nice to hear from you.  It's been a long while since we've talked.

I'm wondering if you find traction in your youth ministry around our creeds and confessions and the Lords Prayer. Does this "preach" to youth?  You relate as well as anyone I know to youth groups, so I wondered if you've found ways to pull this material into youth meetings and education.

Thanks Jory.  Well stated.

Within the Reformed Church, the discussion of the Belhar took place over the past few years.  I can tell you that passion around the Belhar came from many areas of the church, but found tremendous energy in the church planting, multiracial, AND youth ministries. 

If there was one area that, looking back, was pretty much ignored in my catechism classes (a long time ago), it was social justice.  Maybe that was just my experience in my church. 

Just thought I would share my experience...

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