Does your church stop youth ministry in the summer? If so, you may be missing out on an opportunity to connect with students in a slower, less stressful window in their lives. 

May 18, 2011 0 0 comments

At Synod and throughout the next year, the CRC will be considering whether or not the Belhar Confession should become one of the confessions of the CRC.  I suspect there will be plenty of discussion ... 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.

May 15, 2011 0 4 comments

At one of my previous churches where I was a youth pastor, the lead pastor did not want us to pull students out of church for our own youth service.  I now attend a church that has a church plant right on the same campus and some students prefer to go to this service, rather than the regular church service.  We are getting pushback from parents 

May 9, 2011 0 12 comments
Discussion Topic

We are planning a Summer Fun Day for youth, grades 4-6.  We have severl events planned, and are looking for a way to present the gospel, perhaps through a video.  Do you have any suggestions for such a presentation?

May 3, 2011 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

I have to admit that whenever I’ve looked for resources to share with youth groups, the first thing I look for is a great program that will be of interest to students. I haven’t always looked for or selected resources that teach from a Reformed perspective. With my own children now involved in...

May 2, 2011 0 3 comments

I don’t think any ministry jobs can be molded into 40-hour a week, five-day schedules. I know that youth ministry positions certainly can’t fit that corporate model. I think that causes friction in some churches where parishioners believe that they should find a youth pastor in the office when they visit church. I can’t think of too many worse places for a youth pastor 

April 24, 2011 0 1 comments

In all of my years of youth ministry, I rarely brought our youth groups into interaction with those outside the Reformed tradition. Honestly, many of the parents of our youth members were probably glad I didn’t. I’ve been blessed by my relationships and work with a variety of Christians. So why haven’t I brought that same blessing to our youth group?

April 18, 2011 0 0 comments

We had a youth group that was comprised of mostly one high school. No matter how hard we tried to help those from other schools feel welcome, I don’t think they ever really felt they were part of the group.  Of all the challenges I experienced as a youth leader, realizing that some youth did not feel as if they were a part of the group frustrated me the most. 

April 11, 2011 0 4 comments

If you’re asking this question, you probably know the answer. COULD your congregation ever invest enough in youth? I don’t think so. I know I’m preaching to the choir here. But having more money and investing in youth are not the same thing. Do you even know what you would do with more money? 

April 4, 2011 0 1 comments

On May 5-6, there’s an excellent youth ministry conference taking place at Western Seminary in Holland, Michigan.  It’s called “Sustainable Youth Ministry” and it’s designed to help youth pastors get to the thriving Promised Land. 

April 4, 2011 0 0 comments

I’m thankful I studied the Catechism as a youth. It forever changes who I am and how I worship. But what about my children? They don’t know the Catechism like I do. Does that matter? I think it does.

March 28, 2011 0 7 comments

Hi. My name is Paul Boice and I’m the new guide for the Youth Ministry Network. What makes me qualified to be the guide? Well, I used to be a youth and now I have two teenage sons...

March 21, 2011 0 1 comments

It always amazes me how fast a year goes. It seems like yesterday that I received a call asking me to help in setting up the CRCNA Youth Ministry NETWORK page. Writing and posting blogs, articles, stories and links were just some of the exciting activities I had the joy of doing...  In some unique ways the NETWORK, guides and all the readers, have become like family. 

March 15, 2011 0 3 comments

I wonder if we don’t often obsess about moving students to the next thing so that they can grow and in the meantime miss out on offering them opportunities to listen to the Spirit of God within them. When do we give them space to rest from the need to perform and instead offer them space to practice being children of God? 

March 7, 2011 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

I am a Campus Minister serving at York University in Toronto, Ontario. In one sense, I am out of my Campus Ministry league here but I have been wondering about a question or topic that I hope Youth Ministers can help me with.

I think too much of our ministries function in silos and in...

February 28, 2011 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

I struggle with  continuity in a youth season.  I feel like I jump from one thing to another and am worried that these things won't stick long term.   I have considered deciding on a theme but am afraid it will be too limiting.   Has anyone else used a theme or not?  What was it?  And if you don...

February 27, 2011 0 2 comments

Our church is in the planning stages of trying to revive a Junior High (grades 6-8) group. Does anyone have some experience in organizing a successful program for this age group? In particular, did you model it after your High School group or start from scratch?

February 22, 2011 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

I am asking around to the different forums how that Library Ministry can connect with the youth of our churches. It is not that there is not material out there for them. It is how to deliver it to them. Now that Christian Bands are getting mainline exposure and the book choices are getting...

February 21, 2011 0 5 comments

But this is our reality right now and the thought is ‘God, when is enough, enough?' Has that thought ever run through your mind when it comes to youth ministry? You have a group of kids that show up at school drunk and they get expelled. A mother tells you, just before you walk into church on a Sunday morning, that her daughter tried to commit suicide...

February 17, 2011 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

This article entitled "The Distraction Model of Youth Ministry" by Brian Kirk should give reason to question how you're doing youth ministry in your church and what the long term effect will be on your youth.

January 19, 2011 0 0 comments

In mid-December I received a call from Mags Storey and she introduced herself as a writer for the newspaper Christian Week. She wanted to do a write-up about the Soul Care Retreats. When I asked her why, she said they are unique in meeting the needs of youth workers across North America...

January 19, 2011 0 0 comments

If you think about it, it’s not a bad way to start the new year. No, it’s not a new year’s resolution – they are never fulfilled but perhaps a 'lifestyle adjustment' is a nicer, more proactive way to phrase it. As I sit and ponder I find myself looking into the various rooms of my life – son of the King, husband to an amazing wife, father, son of two wonderful earthly parents, son-in-law ...

January 6, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Within the CRC, only one third of our churches have paid youth workers –  either part time or full.  As a paid youth worker, what gold nugget of advice can you give to the volunteer in a volunteer driven church to encourage them in ministry?

December 20, 2010 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

Burnout - it's a reality for many youth workers. Stats show that the average youth workers lasts 18-24 months in one church!! If you have been in ministry for more than 24 months, in one church, what are you doing on a regular basis that keeps you motivated to continue in youth ministry. Share...

December 20, 2010 0 1 comments

Equip Magazine is intentional about equipping today's volunteer youth worker for  today's youth. Addressing the needs of volunteer and paid youth workers alike, each Equip Magazine tackles relevant topics in areas such as how to lead Bible studies, Leadership Development, how to build lasting community, youth group nights and more. If you are ministering to youth...

December 9, 2010 0 0 comments



Ty, thanks so much for posting this for clarification. I hope youth workers will take the time to read it and comment on it. Let's keep the discussion going.

Hey all,

In an attempt to keep people on the same page about what the purpose of the meeting was about, I'm including the document that was shared.

The youth ministry task force is an attempt to get the denomination to realize that there is no discussion going on at any level [that we are aware of] about ministry to adolescents [grade 6 to 12] and what it looks like to form them as disciples of Jesus Christ and full participants in the life of our congregations.

The paper below is a first draft of our attempt to prompt discussions in a few key areas about what we think needs to take place denominationally and congregationally while we still have the time to influence the lives for our students for Christ.

Remember, it's a draft! It's first steps but steps that are long overdue and need to be taken. Comment, critique, but be ready with us to do something to impact the lives of our students and get the CRCNA talking and moving in directions that make a difference!

If you are interested in a pdf copy of the document, please email me at

chap at harderwyk dot com


Ty Hogue
Youth Pastor
Harderwyk Ministries • Holland, Michigan

Ministry to Adolescents within the CRCNA
A Concept Paper of the Youth Ministries Task Force – June, 2010 DRAFT


The Youth Ministry Task Force seeks to network agencies, people and resources within the CRCNA to foster the spiritual formation of young people within their families and within the local church. We seek to equip churches to integrate young people into congregational life.

• We want to see intentional ministry to adolescents in every church in the CRCNA, ministry that focuses on caring, non-manipulative relationships between adults and youth.

• We want to see churches, pastors and parents be as equipped as possible in their quest to care for and be with youth and children.

• We want to see our denomination invest in ministry to adolescents, whatever form that investment takes. Ministry to adolescents needs to have a more prominent place in the CRCNA.

• We want to see our classes and denominational ministries optimally networked for the resourcing of youth ministry within congregations.


This document focuses on a period of life known as adolescence. Recent research has shown that what most people understand as adolescence is actually split into three time periods that correspond to our current grade clusters in North America. Early adolescence is the onset of puberty and roughly the middle school years of grades 6 to 8. Mid-adolescence is roughly the high school years from grades 9 to 12. Late adolescence (emerging adulthood) is the college years and beyond. Some scholars see adolescence lasting into a person's late 20’s. These, of course, are broad generalities; clearly, adolescents mature at different rates.

The increased length of adolescence is changing our children’s understanding of the world around them and their own development. It also presents adolescents with need to deal with adult situations and difficulties. We no longer even try to shelter children from the adult world with its responsibilities and problems.

As a denomination in partnership with others, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to increase our investment in adolescents and to help our churches, leaders and families respond to an ever more complex and changing world around them. We believe we can do this best by investing in the following key areas for reflection and the development of strategies for ministry to adolescents.

Key Areas

I. Helping Adolescents Live in Today’s Culture in the Light of Our Scriptural and Theological Foundations

Identify, develop, and distribute biblical and theologically Reformed resources to help adolescents engage in the routines of their everyday lives from a Biblical world and life view.


• Continued help from Faith Alive and our educational institutions for our youth pastors in the form of resources that encourage biblical and cultural engagement and a Reformed theological worldview.

• Conversations among those involved in youth ministry and our academic institutions to continue exploring the best methods for communicating the joy and truth of the Gospel.

• Continued exploration of research on adolescents and their development to understand and framing that research within a Reformed worldview.

• Challenging Reformed institutions to add to the discussion on culture and adolescent development through research and conversations.

• Draw connections between culture and theology for adolescents through a process of discovery and discernment, not teaching.

Moving Forward

• Identify and gather resources that teach from a Reformed perspective, regardless of publisher. (Many of these are already in the ministry resource section of the Calvin College Library.)

• Assemble curriculum, writings and lesson plans written by Reformed ministries and youth workers in order to resource those in need for their youth groups.

• Making those resources available to congregations and youth workers with special emphasis on materials that help in several critical areas: Biblical world and life view; transition into college; and preparation for profession of faith.

II. Equipping Adolescents for Discipleship

Promote continued discovery, understanding and implementation of “lifelong discipleship” practices and work to support and equip youth pastors, church councils, parents and leaders for a ministry that integrates young people into the life of local congregations.


• Facilitate access for congregations to training and trainers regionally throughout North America and encourage attendance and discussion at national, regional and local levels.

• Be a resource for materials, seminars, consultation to churches that help them draw connections between theology and culture, and take steps to integrate this into how we shepherd and raise children.

• Enable students to testify to the work of God in their lives to non-believers.

• Offer regular training for youth workers.

• Communicate with Christian Schools and educators to discuss trends and
issues that relate to students.

• Encourage relationships with local public and charter schools.

• Encourage integration of youth and family ministries.

• Foster service learning and service projects, including those related to justice
and racial reconciliation.

• Offer resources related catechetical instruction and milestones of faith to
congregations, helping them plan how to include children at the Lord’s table and increase their understanding of the creeds and confessions.

Moving Forward

• Work with Youth Unlimited, the Association of Reformed Youth Pastors, and the Leadership Exchange to host ongoing leadership events on how to engage students and congregations in best practices for growing in discipleship.

• Explore with the Reformed Church in America how our denominations might collaborate on youth ministry training.

• Meet with RCA representatives to discuss the current patterns of discipleship training in their denomination.

• Meet with denominational ministry and classical representatives to learn about current resources for youth ministry in congregations.

III. Encouraging Congregations to Engage Adolescents in the Life of the Community of Faith

Help congregations understand and participate in the life-long covenantal vows they make at baptism and profession of faith. This means realistic and attainable practices for adults to build relationships with adolescents and encourage them in their life in Christ in the local worshiping community.


• Consult with classes concerning their thinking on this matter.

• Gather best practices, then encourage conversation at classis that may lead
to contact with interested congregations about implementing a gradual and sustainable plan for working with their adolescents.

• Encourage classes to hire their own youth coordinator, as recommended by synod.

• Encourage congregations to create or enhance their own milestones and liturgical markers for fostering faith in adolescents development and their involvement in congregational life.

• Avoid language that speaks of adolescents as the “future of the church, ” which can imply they have no appropriate role until they make profession of faith or later. Point churches to age-appropriate ways to involve adolescents in every aspect of church life.

Moving Forward

• Ask throughout the denomination for stories and examples of churches that feel they are doing a good job at involving youth in the church’s life so as to share their practices with others through the CRCNA's online youth network and other media.

• Invite congregations to expand what they do liturgically to mark the faith development of youth and to involve them in church life.

• Review the covenantal milestones of baptism and profession of faith in the light of the insights contributed by the synodical Faith Formation Committee for how to assist congregations help adolescents translate their vows into practical steps of involvement with congregational life.

Examination of our surrounding culture through the lens of Scripture and a Reformed worldview, coupled with an understanding of adolescent development, can increase our ability to equip pastors, councils and parents to engage in their covenant responsibility to raise our youth in the ways of the Lord and in the life of His church—to the glory of Christ!

Our task force seeks to explore the above key areas with CRCNA classes and congregations. We also seek to explore with the denomination’s various ministries how we can collectively develop strategies for action in each area.
As we do this, consultation with other denominations and organizations will help us learn from their research and best practices, adapting it to our own settings. In our era of rapid societal change and denominational confluence it would be a mistake to try to strengthen our ministry to youth in isolation from others. Rather, we can and should join hands with those in various denominational and church settings to see what they are discovering and evaluate how it may fit into our own context.

Mark, you make some great points for consideration. Would you be willing to share some more about the discussion that took place at the meeting. It will be helpful for youth workers across North America to read about the 'excitement' that you are talking about.

I agree with your comment about David Stewart. Reading what you wrote has encouraged me to call David and ask him about his Young Adult Ministry and to talk about how that has effected the Young Adult 'fall-out' rate at his church. Perhaps, I can get David to share his thoughts via the network.

I think there is something new in the article.... something that I am very excited about. Perhaps it helps that I was there in person for the "mini-seminar", but I think what is new is a spirit of excitement in the CRC about Youth Ministries. We, as a denomination, are finally doing something specific in regards to ministering to the youth of our denomination, and I LOVE IT. I think that too often we think that there will be a natural flow of discipleship. While I would love that to be the case, it often is not. That is why we need to get in there and work with our young adults.

I also would like to point out the importance of what David Stewart said, that young people need to have real roles in the church. I often think that it is easy for the young adults to fall out is because there was not much of a connection to keep them there in the first place. I see a beautiful picture of a church where young adults take ownership of their church, and in doing so, invest significanty in it. My guess is that David's church has significantly decreased in young adult fall-out.

I agree, there does not seem to be anything new in the article. As youth workers within the CRC we need to take a more holistic approach to ministry and realize that ministering to youth is just as much about ministering to the entire family. We have separated youth ministry from the rest of the church causing this huge gap resulting in youth and young adults leaving the church. As youth workers we need to be intentional about not separating youth ministry from what the rest of the church - it's time for full integration. If this becomes the approach Youth Pastors/workers will focus not just on youth but more on the entire Family - both of the youth and the family of believers. Discipleship will take place - Duet 6:4-9. As a church, if we truly live out Duet 6:4-9 the church will experience Acts 2:42-47. That's not just youth ministry - it's kingdom minded MINISTRY!

There's nothing new in all this. The bottom line is if churches are focused on making disciples including and especially adults, the whole family including youth will come along.
When the youth and young adults see living and active Christ followers from cradle to grave, they will be more likely to stick.
"Helping adolescents live in today's culture" is a systemic problem of much of the CRC which suggests there is an isolation factor going on. If the church is engaging the culture around them as a regular part of ministry and life, this would be less of an issue. youth would already be growing up along side the reality of life and culture outside the church.
"Equipping adolescents for discipleship" suggests that discipleship is more a programmatic implementation than a lifestyle. And again adults need to model this. Shouldn't everything we do in church be about the disciple-making process from cradle to grave?
"Encourage congregations to engage adolescents" again reflects the lack of discipling happening in our congregations and is a systemic issue in the CRC.

The discussion is on "Ministry to Adolescents within the CRC. When they mention 'Adolescent' they are referring to youth as young as grade 6 to young adults in their early 20's. Perhaps the title of this blog should read Adolescents not Young Adults - the change will be made. Thanks.

I'm the discussion about Young Adults (ie, Ty's comments) or youth (ie, middle school-high school - adolescents)?

A youth pastor I work in the same area, with his wife are currently in Ethiopia, completing an adoption process of their new son! They are maintaining a blog about their journey through the entire process.

A recent entry strikes the same chord as this article, read about a similar perspective from where they are ::

.be blessed so that you might be a blessing.

Thanks August for your comment, and thanks for the advice about saying "operator." Little tricks like that make all the difference. I admit that in these types of phone calls I would press random numbers and say random things, and eventually throw the 'machine' off, forcing it to direct me to a person.

I realized after I published this article that the commercial was for Rogers, not Shaw ... my mistake, but out here, most people recognize that there is little difference.

As for your '611' work - thank-you for that!

I worked for Telus for 35 years.... when you call for help you need to say: "operator" to get a live person.

Rogers' commercial indicates Roger has a live person all the time rather than a machine.

Communications companies tries to save $$ to use machines.

When Telus was on strike in 2005 I was at '611' and I loved to talk to Customers to help them!
- it really helped me to get more $$ for my pension.

- August Guillaume

This is great! Thanks for sharing Monica!

Glad to hear our churches are taking the HC seriously again. I've heard it has been particularly useful in outreach to Latinos as so many of them come from a nominal Roman Catholic background where young people are expected to learn "Catechism".

The Skit Guys have some scripts available. Perhaps one of them might work for you. Here is the link:

Thanks Marcel - it needs to be said. I haven't checked out the resources you mentioned (except the skit guys-couldn't pass that up), but thought I'd pass along another resource I've used recently. It's from a fairly unorthodox guy, but he's engaging and fun to listen to and says it like it is. His name is Mark Gungor and he does the laugh your way to a better marriage seminars which are great. He recently put out a resource called "Sex, Dating & Relating: Teen Edition" that I've used with students. I think it's worth checking out. I only used the parts where Mark talks and found it pretty good.

Hi Dina,
Thanks! I'm glad you feel included in my writing. I have tried as much as I can to keep these blogs gender-neutral or gender inclusive for exactly that reason, but at times it does get awkward-sounding and so I default to my own personal situation. Hopefully my observations can still be relatable to both genders in those times too. Blessings on your ministry!

posted in: "The Kids"

Comment from Dina Zomer: Youth Pastor at Maranatha CRC in Cambridge, Ontario:

Could you please thank Monica for her latest article in which she put (Mom's)? There is not a lot of encouraging articles written about female youth director/pastors who are moms as well. So I really appreciated the brackets. :)

Love your ministries!


posted in: "The Kids"

"Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality" by Don Millar is very raw and written in casual, contemporary style. Teenagers (any 20-30 something even), turned off by organized religion and the "big c" Church would find this discussion of rubber-hitting-road Christianity refreshing, I think.

I guess I would call it structured chaos :-) The entire church building is available for us to use; no other groups are allowed to schedule meetings there during this time (which really cuts down on the complaints about noise and rowdy teenagers!)

When the kids arrive they enter through the social hall where we have a variety of table games: pool, foosball, air hockey, ping pong, etc. As kids enter the facility they sign in and have immediate access to snacks. Usually the first thing they say as they enter the door is “Hi! What’s for dinner?” Often, they gather around the kitchen to share news and talk about what’s going on at home and school, then wander off to join their friends.

We have one classroom set up with electronic games such as Playstation and X-Box 360. In addition there are a couple of laptop computers available. Another classroom is deemed the “homework” room. Here kids can work individually or in groups on that day’s homework or group projects. If they need help or tutoring they can get if from their peers, one of the older kids or an adults.

Down the hall, there is the more typical “youth” room with the standard couches, bean bags and stereo system for hanging out. The worship center is available for kids to use for music practice or jam sessions. (One of my favorite memories is the sight of a couple of guys arriving by skateboard with their guitars in one hand and amps in another!) The adjacent church parking lot serves as a freestyle skateboarding area.

Though it may at times appear unorganized, there is a lot of intentionality built into this set up. The kids have a safe place for much needed “down time” to visit with their friends. Because there is no expectation that they all participate in orchestrated group activities they tend to form into natural affinity groups. I have the freedom to move from group to group thereby interacting with small groups and individuals in a more natural and open environment.

At 5:30 we gather everyone together in the social hall for announcements, prayer and a family style dinner. Each week we have kids take turns setting up tables and chairs and I usually ask for a volunteer to offer prayer for the meal. For many of our kids this is one of their first attempts at prayer. (One of my favorite prayers was when a young man said “Yo, God. Uh, thanks for the food, thanks for S… and S… making dinner. Help us to behave and do good tricks on our skateboards. Amen” – classic!)

After dinner, kids are free to resume their chosen activities until 7pm. At that time they can either leave for the evening or join us for an hour of worship called “Vintage Youth”. Here we use experiential worship practices – silence, candles, prayer stations, responsive readings, teaching and discussions, prayer, blessing, etc. No bands, no praise team, but plenty of Spirit!

As far as volunteers, this year has been an incredible blessing. Up until now it had been only myself and one volunteer – really tough! This year we have been blessed with having 3 additional individuals offer to help. One helps in leading worship, one helps in the kitchen, freeing up my long standing volunteer for more relational interaction, and one comes during our worship time to assist in cleaning up.

A couple of additional notes:
1. This program has continued to evolve over the years. We have learned that half the battle is getting out of God’s way and letting Him work. When we started, we had about 10-15 kids, mostly from church families. They started bringing their friends, who then brought their friends and so on. Some kids come every week; some come a couple times a month, some drop in from time to time. Our average weekly attendance is around 40; if they all showed up at once there would be over 100. The majority of our participants come from unchurched homes.

2. We’ve learned that conventional wisdom often isn’t. We don’t have “Jr. High, High School, College divisions. We just have youth ministry. This means that it is not unusual for kids to bring younger siblings because they are left in charge of them. A number of kids continue to come even though they are past high school and now in their late teens and early twenties. On any given day we might have kids as young as 6 and as old as 21 gathered together. Some might argue that this is too inclusive. We find it leads to a stronger sense of family, something greatly missing in many of our kid’s lives.

3. This ministry is a testimony to this particular church’s desire to reach out to the youth and families of its community. This is a church of roughly 200 members – not large by any means, yet they continue to support us through the budget and additional offerings. (Trust me, feeding 40 kids every week isn’t cheap!)

4. We work in an urban context. Gangs, drugs, violence, dysfunctional family lives, homelessness and neglect are an everyday part of our kid’s lives. This type of ministry is not without its pressures and hardships. This is a place kids come to be safe and be loved, and it is where the Gospel is spoken through words, hugs, confrontations, prayers, tears and a lot of laughter.

My typical “youth day” begins at 9 am when I do the shopping for the evening meal. It officially ends about 13 hours later when I’ve dropped off the last kid at home. It is exhausting and glorious work. I can’t believe God picked me for this job!

I’m sure that’s way more than you were asking Marcel, but if you or anyone else has additional questions, please feel free to contact me at either 510.782.6010 or . Thanks!
-sue kuipers, Christ’s Community Church, Hayward, CA

To amplify your point, Marcel, I saw this posted today:

Interview with Kevin DeYoung  on The Good News We Almost Forgot in the Heidelberg Catechism

(Kevin DeYoung is the pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI, co-author of several books (Why We Love the Church and Why We’re Not Emergent), and author of Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will. Kevin kindly agreed to be interviewed about his new book, The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism, which is on the Heidelberg Catechism.)

Thanks Marcel for posting this blog.
Yes, the three sections of HC: sin, salvation, service are very solid foundations of who is God, who we are, and what are expected of us as people saved by grace. We need solid Biblical church education materials for our youth. I think there is an older version of the HC, is it entitled, "The Church?"
Keep up the good work! 1 Cor 15:58.

Great point! It's a shame that the word Catechism sounds so heavy--I think many people just assume it won't connect with today's youth. But studies like Questions Worth Asking are so creative and engaging. They draw teens into discussions about foundational questions that speak to belonging.

amen, and amen!

I would love it if parents were involved in our youth ministry beyond the typical role of chauffeur and/or host. I encourage the parents of my youth to participate in any and all of our youth events in whatever way or role they feel most comfortable - from helping out in the kitchen, to joining in during activity time, to sharing their faith story, to being a small group leader, to being a mentor. So far, there haven't been many takers - parents tend to rely on the excuse that their kids don't want them at youth. Even if this is the case (which isn't as often as parents like to assume it is)
upon becoming involved, many parents (and their children) realize what a blessing it is to participate in youth ministry.
The obvious caveat being that if a parent is a small group leader, they would not be the leader of the group in which their child is a member.

WOW! Sounds like a great ministry you have with your after school program. Can you lay out for us how the 3 1/2 hours look from week-to-week? Do the youth run around and play? Is there some structure to it other than a meal and worship time? Has the ministry grown in the past 5-years? How many volunteers do you have to run the ministry?

It sounds like you have something good going here and perhaps this is an idea that other Youth Workers across North America might be interested in promoting in their respective churches.

Thanks 'Skuipers'

I’m not sure our model fits any or all of the 3 you mentioned. We have a weekly afterschool program that is similar to a drop-in community center model. It runs from 3:30 pm till 7:00 pm and includes dinner (free). It is immediately followed by a worship service which kids can choose to attend (or not).

We’ve done this for over 5 years. This year has seen about 100 kids attend at some point. Each week about 30 – 40 kids show up for various periods of time, 15 – 20 stay for worship. The majority of our students are from unchurched homes.

The atmosphere allows for the development of relational-based ministry and allows for the development of small, informal groups.

You may be correct. I went to high school with your brother and sister. Thanks for replying and keep up the thoughtful writing!

So I'm pretty sure I remember who you are - and if I'm correct, we didn't go to high school together, although we did go to the same church during our high school years.

Thanks for reading and replying!

Great suggestion Dana. For those interested in checking out Questions From A Pickle Jar, here are the links:


Questions From A Pickle Jar is a Faith Alive Resource.

It's funny you should mention that you use Facebook to connect with old friends. Even when I read this post I knew that we went to highschool together, although you probably didn't know. In fact, I was good friends with your brother. Your parents and he were at my wedding where I married my youth pastor husband. I never knew you ended up as a youth pastor. Social media is a powerful tool that should be used as such. Another blog about social media addiction recognition would be a great topic for youth pastors. Thanks for your thoughtful insights. I have used my experience to help others - It's James 1 testament every time!

If you have the guts, Questions from the Pickle Jar was fantastic! Highly recommend this material!

Facebook is an ever so wonderful tool for connecting with those around us. When I first joined FB i was reconnected with my child-hood best friend, and with our small circle those child-hood friends, we all hung out for an evening.

You could say that my addiction to FB was fueled into flames at that point. I spent hours and hours searching for long lost friends, trying to rekindle lost friendships. Mostly all to no avail, but I refused to give up my quest.

I guess it came over time that I found that I was travelling down a road that I didn't need to go on, and then to focus on actual face-to-face connections - and develop those.

I love the fact that you posted those three signs of addiction - a plainly obvious way for others to see if they are travelling down that same road.

Social Networking sites can be so valuable, but they can be just as evil as they are valuable. The pendulum has swung too far in this direction, perhaps as youth pastors, parents, friends - as adults - we should strive to help to swing this pendulum back to a good balance between online friends and real human contact.

Perhaps this might be a good topic for another spilled salt.

Thanks Miranda for your thoughts. I encourage you to take your discoveries to your husbands youth group, and be a resource to help those who are travelling down the same road that you are.

God Bless you and your husbands ministry!

I can totally relate. I used to love playing Farmville on Facebook. My youth pastor husband came home one day and told me he had to see what Farmville was all about because many kids in the youth group were talking about it. I have a very busy life but I used to love the control that Farmville gave me. I was in control of how my farm looked, how much money it made and where I would spend that money. If I didn't like how I had set the farm up I could change it. Hours would pass quickly and the farm looked great, but my house did not. I tried to cut back by only checking the farm once a day but the addiction was so powerful. What I enjoyed for the control factor actually left me feeling powerless. Thankfully I left the farm and have never looked back.

What saved me you ask? God of course. I was selected to attend a conference for work. There was one session that talked about social media addiction and the signs thereof.

Some of these were:
- Sneaking a peak online so people won't see you and complain
- Ignoring real people to take care of virtual ones
- Reorganizing your schedule to allow more time for online interaction...

At the same conference there was a session on the science of happiness. What I learned was positive people have lots of meaning in their life. So as soon as I got home from the conference I deleted the meaningless farm. I told people I was quitting cold turkey so I would be kept accountable. I approached it in kind of a "12 Step" fashion. Some of my Farmville friends tried to convince me to keep playing to enable their addictions. I would say to them, "You do realize it is not a real farm, you are not earning real money, and nothing will really die if you quit."

Looking back I don't know where I found the time to play. Now I have re-focused my time into real people and meeting the real needs of my home and those around me. Thankfully, God has also used my short lived addiction experience to help others leave "the farm" as well.

Like others, I don't use just one of the models, but use a mix of them. In my mind, if you run a program solely under one of these models, 'success' just might not be found. Different kids come out for different reasons. I know if I was to never have a 'just-for-fun' event, some of my kids would end up elsewhere, whereas if I never had small groups, I would loose everyone of my leaders. Here's a bit of a break-down of what goes on over here ...
1. Event focused
- Around once a month, or once every other month, we'll do something extra, be it a random game night, service projects, or worship night with other local youth groups.
2. Relationally-based
- I try to meet up with most of my youth for coffee or a coke. I encourage my leaders to also do the same, so that we can build relationships through the goodness of starbucks or tim hortons!
3. Small Group
- for the most part, this is our focus, we use small group ministry to teach the kids here. I would say it happens 80% of the youth nights. When there isn't a scheduled SG night, lower numbers show up. The hard part is of course finding curriculum suited to all ages.

a couple pages i use for YM games and general ideas ::

posted in: SUGGESTIONS Please

1. My greatest joy is developing relationships with students, youth leaders, and families of our youth.

2. My greatest struggle is getting the congregation to see the importance of letting the youth have an active leadership role in all aspects of church life, particularly in regular worship service planning, membership on committees, and in providing fresh insight and innovative ideas for our church.

posted in: Joys and Struggles

I am a youth leader turned pastor's wife. I served a church in West Michigan for four years and then my husband graduated seminary and we moved to Oregon. I have three kids under four and that's what keeps me busy right now. I still am involved in youth ministry but more of a suportive role and hope to do more as my little ones get a little older.

Anyway I am very, very discouraged by seeing so many high school kids (some of who I ministered to and others who my fellow youth pastors in my town ministered to) leave the church, leave the faith, or can't find their place in the church. Many of them flock to the large mega churches and then complain they can't find community and even miss some of the familarity of the CRC they grew up with. I think it is great if they start attending another church. We don't neccessarily have to keep them at our own churches (I stopped attending the same church as my parents when I was 19), but we want them to continue to grow in their faith and be active members of a church.

If I had to do it all over again in my previous church position, I would have seen if my responsibilities could have extended to the young adults. Not neccessarily putting together a program like youth group where they all come on a Sunday night. But possibly regularly meeting them on their campuses once a month or every other month to keep that connection. Or establishing mentors within the church to share that task. If that would possibly turn into a Bible Study or small group, that would be great. It would be a way to keep that connection going and support them. It seemed like some of my youth groups kids needed that support more so after they graduated high school and faced some big challenges.

Since I'm new to my current church, we are undergoing a period of change.
We are in the process of developing a youth ministry that incorporates all three models in some respect.
1) Event focused - montly events that range from intergenerational gatherings within our church, community service projects, and community building events (i.e. the "fun nights")
2) Relationally based - at some point during their high school career, the goal is to have each student in our youth ministry connected with an adult member of our church in a one-on-one mentoring relationship, whether through doing Profession of Faith, student leadership training, prayer or prayer partners
3) Small groups - we don't have small groups in the formal sense with an assigned leader; we have a more fluid approach where the groups and leaders change depending on who is in attendance at our discussion evenings. This approach fosters great relationships between the students and the leaders because there is always a bit of change from week to week. Our group is relatively small (just under 20 students), so this works well.

Thanks for the reply.

I really love the idea of the "exit interview." Maybe we'll incorporate that in our youth program this year.

Thanks Marcel! I really appreciated these reflections. About "quiet time," I refrain from turning on my computer until I've spent some time in Scripture reading and prayer as well as sometimes silence or journalling. I usually can't get too far in my work without the computer, so the quiet time happens consistently near the start of my day!

Something that I recommend to youth leaders and other pastors is praying through your up-to-date church directory. We have a small church, so I only have 2 or 3 pages to go through per day and I'm done in 5 days; in larger contexts, leaders may have to work through their directories over a couple weeks. Regardless, the point is that you are praying for the people you are serving. Seeing someone's name may remind you of a joy or need about which you can pray and maybe act upon. Also, repeatedly putting them in God's hands can perhaps help reduce some messiah complexes!

The youth leaders of Telkwa CRC consistently pray for the church's youth. I am convinced that is connected with the effectiveness of their ministry.


my pleasure.

I highly recommend the "Seven Deadly Sins" materials from Faith Alive. It cerainly fits the criteria you've outlined (which, by the way, are very helpful ~ thanks!)

Personality types are also closely related to spirituality types.
Check out:
Sandra Hirsh and Jane Kise "Soul Types"
Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey "Prayer and Temperment"
Gary Thomas "Sacred Pathways"

I hope to lead an end of year workshop with the youth ministry leaders of my church on this topic. If anyone has any other resoures on "spirituality types", please let me know.

N.T. Wright's "Simply Christian" can be a good option. It is a bit more readable for today's youth than "Mere Christianity", in my opinion. Also, Shane Claiborne's "Irresistible Revolution" can provide a window into the Christian faith and its implications in a way that connects with youth. It certainly isn't explanatory in the same way as "Mere Christianity", but it can be an effective bridge for some young people.

Our home missions regional guy in Western Canada (Martin Content) suggested the strengthfinders and it was a blessing as well; great stuff. We (Woodynook - Lacombe, Alberta) have led an evening workshop called "Colours" that keeps the personality profile very simple (just 4 colours)in which our intergenerational missions team participated. Youth, young adults and adults have a new understanding for each others participation in the church and in missions. I also appreciate your comments, Marcel, on the 'embracing the elders.' I do wonder about participating in administration, pastoral elders and full council. I have gotten along with all five senior pastors I've worked with, and have fostered a relationship where we represent and support each other in the meetings that only one of us are at - perhaps that's why I wonder.

I recommend "The Language of God" by Francis Collins. Collins headed the human genome project and started college as an agnostic, went to atheism, and finally to Christianity. His credentials could scare some people but he writes in a very user friendly, non-technical style. Also, he credits the writings of C. S. Lewis as being instrumental in his journey to faith.

Our most consistent mode is the small group model, though it is hard to peg our ministry strictly as one of these models - we're mostly moving between event focused and small group, but it always seems that both of these are done with the hope that they'd build a more relationally-based ministry ;P

Something we're starting to do this year was having Senior "Exit Interviews" with the students gradutating from high school in our church. (Similar to the exit interviews you have in college with the financial aid department.)

We sit down with each senior and walk them through what they can expect mentally, spiritually, emotionally etc going into college. We also ask them how they've grown spiritually over the past four years-- investigating if we are 'achieving' our goal of developing mature Christians and if our ministry was effective in their lives. We also talk with them what it means to still be a church member and in community while they're physically away. We provide them with resources and people to connect them with at their future campus-- already knowing their gifts and interests. We also try to give them an idea of places they can attend church (many students go out of state/town).

This also helps us keep a pulse on them while they are in college and will transition them nicely into our college ministry. We connect each student with an adult mentor/prayer partner from our congregation once in college. From our college ministry we try to transition them into ministry opportunities with other adults in our community especially while they're home on breaks.

But the exit interview provides somewhat of a 'right of passage' that helps draw a line and gives us an opportunity to talk about Christian community and how they fit in the big picture in this different stage of life.

We also do a senior retreat every June that also signifies the 'graduation' from youth group. We also have 'Senior Night' at the end of our ministry year to celebrate them and their involvements and leadership in our youth ministry.

Thanks for the article, Marcel. Understanding how people think is so important for ministry. Doing a personality test is a great way of opening our eyes to what makes the others tick. The Myers Briggs is perfect for this. I just picked up a book recommended by my brother who is also in ministry. His staff used Living Your Strengths by Winseman, Clifton, and Liesveld, a book that includes another type of test called the Clifton StrengthsFinder. We may use this StrengthFinder test as staff here at Immanuel CRC in Hamilton. Anyone else do this one to shed light on its effectiveness?

Another good resource that I'm familiar with are the books by Lee Strobel: The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, the Case for a Creator, and The Case for the Real Jesus. These books are sold in teen editions as well as adult editions.