Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar provides guidelines to help congregations minister to high school students preparing for graduation and offer helpful tips on how to care for students once they are in college or at a university.

February 16, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar explores ten specific practices that will serve both youth ministry and the intergenerational church in strengthening their faith formation work. 

January 20, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Check out this article to find updates on the Canadian Youth Ministry Project that was launched by Faith Formation Ministries. Exciting things are happening!

January 11, 2016 0 0 comments

Sometimes in youth ministry we may miss a greater point. There are students who bail on youth group for sports, yes, but the great thing is: There are kids who still come! And that's exciting!

January 10, 2016 0 0 comments

When those kids come to Youth Group we need to know them on a "first name" basis only. They need a chance to be themselves and create their own persona rooted in Christ.

December 21, 2015 0 0 comments

I tried to go about my business but phrases from their conversation made me think, “Ah, these are ministry people.” I wondered, are these guys listening to the students they hope to impact?

December 21, 2015 0 0 comments

Meaningful contact between older adults and young people in North America has become increasingly uncommon. Church seems to be the final frontier that cultivates such natural interaction. 

December 14, 2015 0 0 comments

Intergenerational ministry may stretch the boundaries of what is efficient to become something that is more lastingly effective. How can we get past the 4 perceived obstacles?

December 7, 2015 0 0 comments

As a church member or leader, you have the privilege to step into the role of "Pastor of Congregational Culture." Your job description is short and simple: turn this ship with your tongue.

November 30, 2015 0 1 comments

Landmark events are moments in our faith so significant that we remember them forever. Many of these landmark moments happen at youth conferences, such as the All Ontario Youth Convention.

November 30, 2015 0 0 comments

As leaders or parents, we have an incredible opportunity when it comes to discipleship in the times when pop culture mends (or blends) its way into our lives and the lives of our children and teens.

November 25, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

Youth ministry programs and intergenerational faith formation together build sturdy discipleship. This webinar examines the many ways that a congregation blesses its teens.

November 17, 2015 0 0 comments

Don't misunderstand—the programs and events are good and important. But a perfect lesson simply does not have the same impact as a 10 minute faith conversation between parent and child. 

November 16, 2015 0 0 comments

If you're a youth leader, I encourage you to prioritze partnerships with parents. Parents play a huge role in a child's development which directly correlates to FAITH development. 

November 9, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

Looking for a conference or convention for your youth ministry team to attend? Here's a list of what's coming up this fall and spring 2016.  

October 30, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Curriculum

The Sticky Faith curriculum contains tangible examples of ways to engage parents in ministry and help them understand their roles as the primary spiritual influence in their children's lives. 

October 26, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

Recent findings agree that parents continue to be one of the strongest influences on a young person’s faith formation. This webinar explores how to both support and mine this most important youth ministry resource.

October 20, 2015 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

My experience in the past 30 years with youth-curriculum has been extremely disappointing. Many materials do not engage the students. But, good news, the “So What” Bible Study is different. 

October 13, 2015 0 0 comments

The goal seems to be bigger events, louder music, farther mission trips, deeper lesson content, messier games, and more. But what if we got quieter with our kids instead of louder?

September 25, 2015 0 9 comments

With so many moving parts in the structure and culture at the CRC, everything feels a little, oh I don’t know, messy. The Youth Ministry section will be experimenting with this messiness. Join us!

September 18, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar examines a number of teaching resources and curriculum that many of the Canadian Youth Ministry Champions have used or are using for their youth groups. 

September 15, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

In this webinar, presenters share the top 14 ways Youth ministry people from across Canada have used to start their youth ministry seasons well.

August 18, 2015 0 0 comments

In hopes to narrow searches for indecisive youth workers everywhere, we decided to look through many of them to find the best of the best. Here are some of the ones we found...

August 17, 2015 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

How do we develop ministry foundations to disciple well?

August 5, 2015 0 0 comments

He said it with such conviction: “High schoolers don’t need another reason to feel like they’re the best thing this world has to offer.” I’ll never forget the way my jaw hit the floor. Where was this coming from?

July 2, 2015 0 0 comments



At an individual level, as Christians we can make our attitudes that of Christ, who ate with publicans and sinners, who walked the streets and talked with the Samaritan woman, and used a Samaritan (outcast 2nd class) as an example of how to be a neighbor.  At the same time Christ said he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  And it was exactly because of the requirements of the law, that Christ came to die in our place.  Grace is not tolerance, but grace is also not condemnation.  Help us God, and show us to love the sinner while detesting the sin.

But at a church level, institutional level, what can we do?  What is a practical change we could make to be less judgemental, to put in perspective what Christ has done for us, and to allow the witness of those who are growing, following imperfectly...?   My suggestion is this:  That we do not restrict Lord's supper to members, and that we do not restrict profession of faith to membership.  Profession of faith for membership is presently a very judgemental process in the way that agreement with specific confessions, teachings of the church ("this church"), and christian lifestyle,  is required.  Suppose we had a formal or semi-formal process that allowed new converts, or young christians, or any christian to witness to their faith, to proclaim their allegiance to Christ, without requiring a formal membership agreement.  A profession that did not include the use of forms, but allowed the use of personal testimony and witness.  A profession made by the person, rather than by the minister.  A profession made in the context of individual life, rather than general principles.  Would this not provide a way to reduce the appearance of judgementalism?  

And then, if christians desired to become formal members of the church, they could sign an agreement, indicating their committment to the confessions, to christian living, to authority of the elders, to church attendance, and to church charitable giving.  At that stage, some judgement would be required, both on the part of the individual, and on the part of the elders who approve the membership.  

Separate the two things, and perhaps we could find a way to be less judgemental, while still demonstrating the value of increased committment.  Just because one is not a formal member does not mean they are of less value, nor does being a formal member mean that you are closer to God.  Let's find a way to demonstrate this concretely.  

Having said this, I see difficulties also.  If you have someone who confesses Christ, but lives an obvious unrepentant unchristian lifestyle, leading a worship team or playing the drums in front of church, or teaching sunday school, there will be a bad taste in the mouths of christians, converts, and seekers alike.  

posted in: Judgemental

Roger: Although the Kennedy Explosion Evangelism program is a great resource, it is outdated and only now useful to point us in a direction of solving the dilemma of pointing others towards God in the light of love. Sure we make decisions about others, based on good and bad of others, but "we" should not make that exclusion of where their lives are with the Lord. The built-in DNA as you so eloquently put it has replaced the embracing of love of ANY child of God. Our job  is not to judge and because we have taken on that role, it has changed our DNA. Sin is sin, and must not be ignored - nor downplayed -, as we agree, but embracing others into the fold with love, and nurturing their understanding of the role they play first, is paramount to then making them aware of their sin. Here is how I see it: We have not put enough emphasis on LOVING invitation and We have not put enough emphasis on building RELATIONSHIPS with those new believers of the faith - rather we think they are hooked and let them flounder by their own demise. Being courageous to step out of our comfort zones to actually do something helpful and loving. Doing  better job in just these three areas alone would have a huge impact  on the dynamics of how we arae perceived. How would this happen practically? For each church and individual, this is different; but if the denomination tackled this on a denominational-wide scope, I believe we would begin to see that cloak of judgmentalism begin to evaporate in real ways.

Thanks for all your imput.....

posted in: Judgemental

Thanks John.  Is McDonald’s statement similar to what Jesus said to the teacher of law, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”  (Mark 12:34)  Sounds like a compliment to me.  Thanks.

posted in: Judgemental

Roger, you have eloquently presented your case.  I agree with most of it.

I am remembering a quote that George MacDonald had in one of the characters in one of his novels, which said approximately , "your desire to do good, and your doing good, means you are on your way to knowing who Jesus is." 

posted in: Judgemental

Thanks John for your response.  Thanks for trying to correct some of my thoughts.  But I think you may have fallen short.  Albert asked how those outside the church acquired an image that Christians are judgmental.  He wasn’t asking what Christians think.  Well, you pretty well answered the question yourself, John.  You said, “God's demands are high.  Very high.  Much higher than we would like them to be.  When we judge good and bad, we do it by our imperfect inadequate, barely passing grade standards.”  In fact, according to the Bible, God’s standard is not just higher than we would like it to be, but is perfection, not just relatively good, or even very good, but perfection.  That’s why the Bible teaches it is impossible to please God.  This is why Christianity and Christians come off as judgmental.  Christianity disqualifies any good a person may do or try to do in pleasing God and caring for neighbor.  As to having acceptance with God, human good works count for nothing.  If Christians are true to the Bible and the gospel message, they will tell the person on the street that nothing he does, no matter how good in his own eyes or the eyes of others, will contribute in the least toward salvation. And you think people on the street will agree with this?  This simply doesn’t correlate with the human experience.  And it doesn’t correlate with most other religions which understand God judging a person by his works. But according to the Bible, all people are deserving of eternal damnation in hell.  Do you think this doesn’t cast suspicion on Christianity and the church?

The only place good works play a role in the Christian faith, is after one has come to faith in Jesus Christ.  Then good works may count to a sense of reward.  But before salvation they count for nothing, as far as God is concerned.  As you say, John, “ every good deed was filled with selfishness or pride, even their good deeds were inadequate.”  The Bible says they are as filthy rags.  What the Bible teaches just doesn’t correlate or relate to human experience.  People do good every day for their spouses, children, or neighbors, both near and far.  But when it comes to having an acceptance with God these acts mean nothing?  You think the world outside of the church doesn’t see this as judgmental?  Most certainly, they do.  And when Christianity teaches that the only good that counts with God is the good done post conversion, you think this isn’t hypocritical in the eyes of non Christians, especially when the actions of Christians are no better than those who are not?  That’s why I said that if Christianity is perceived as judgmental, it’s because it’s part of its DNA, it’s part of what Christianity teaches.

Your illustration is also faulty, John.  The person being judged for his act of murder is only being judged for the single act of murder in his 41st year, not for the previous forty years of good he may have done.  That single act of murder was a heinous crime in itself and deserving of severe punishment.  If the crime was a lesser crime, stealing, lying, cheating on taxes, etc., then we would likely judge that person, not just in regard to the one crime but by his whole life, good and bad. When God, according to the Bible, judges people (which he will) one sin, small or large, is enough to condemn them to an eternity in hell.  The good he has done counts for nothing.  No one will escape God’s wrath.  God does not weigh both good and bad, as we do, but judges in regard to sin.  In fact the good a person may do is only filthy rags.  Again, this does not correlate to justice as most people consider justice, and makes Christianity perceived as hypocritical and judgmental.  It’s part of the Christian DNA.  At Christianity’s root it is considered faulty by most reasonable people outside the church.

You may think Christianity is reasonable, in its demands, and that’s ok.  But Albert wasn’t asking what Christians think or what may be reasonable to them, but he asked why people are leaving the church and why the world looks at Christianity as being judgmental.  I don’t know how you can change this perception that the world has, because this is just part of Christianity’s DNA.  It’s at the core of Christianity itself.

As John suggests, "if Christians are perceived as less judgmental, then they will encourage people to wallow in their sin."  So I guess Christians should continue in the tradition of Elijah in the Old Testament and John the Baptist in the New and preach a message of hell fire and brimstone, and reap the deserved criticism of being judgmental.  Is there really an alternative?

posted in: Judgemental

I appreciate that Roger  has made these comments, because he has a reasonably good understanding of the impacts of major portions of christian thought.  (Is that a judgemental statement?...)  However, perhaps I could correct (unjudgementally) some of his ideas.  While the bible does presuppose a sinful condition, this does not mean that God disregards the good that people do.  God's demands are high.  Very high.  Much higher than we would like them to be.  When we judge good and bad, we do it by our imperfect inadequate, barely passing grade standards. 

The Israelites before captured and being exiled thought they had a passing grade.  They offered sacrifices to God to pay for their sins; they kept some of the commandments and they looked after their families.  It doesn't seem so bad, does it?  But on the way to the temple, they offered sacrifices to Baal, some sacrificed their children, and they didn't keep the sabbath, nor did they care adequately for the widow and orphan.  By human standards, they might pass... they were covering the bases so to speak.  But since every good deed was filled with selfishness or pride, even their good deeds were inadequate.  

A person who never murders anyone for 40 years... never murders his neighbors, nor even any enemies, nor even kills a dog, but then in his 41 st year, he kills his wife.  Will his 40 years of innocence excuse his one year of violent hate ending in murder?  No.  

It is humans who judge unjustly.  We make excuses where God does not.  In doing so, we reduce the value of Christ's sacrifice, because we say we didn't need Christ and his sacrifice for us... that our sins were not quite that bad... we could earn our own way.  


As to the original question of being perceived as judgemental... have you ever thought that there are none so judgemental as those who call others judgemental?   The world is often more judgemental even than christians.  Think of how they judge those who condemn homosex, or pornography, or premarital sex, or premarital cohabitation.  Think of how severely they judge the church when it makes mistakes in managing finances, or seems to become greedy in property, or when a leader condemns adultery.  

However, as Christians we should be careful to put God's grace in front of every sin, even while condemning the sin.  If Christians are perceived as being less judgemental, thus encouraging people to wallow in their sin, then our lack of judgement may cause more people to fall under the judgement of God. 

posted in: Judgemental

How have Christians acquired a judgmental character.  It comes naturally to Christianity.  It’s part of Christianity’s DNA.

A popular evangelism program of the recent past (and used in the CRC) asked the question, “If you were to die tonight and stand before God and he should ask you, “why should I let you into my heaven,” what would you say?  The expected answer is, I’m not such a bad person; I think God will let me in.  People, in general, think God will weigh both the good and bad a person may do, and probably most people will be admitted into heaven.  But then the presenter of this evangelism program will explain from the Bible, that all fall short of God’s standard of perfection.  All are sinners and fall short of God’s acceptance.  As to salvation God does not count the good a person may do, but only the sin.  This just does not correlate with natural reasoning.  When we judge the people around us, we weigh both good and bad and usually the good wins out.  Of the people we know and are close to, there are few that are serious criminals and deserving of any condemnation but in general of reward  But according to the Bible, God weighs only sin and everyone falls short and deserves eternal damnation.  This is what the Bible teaches.  So the Bible presupposes a sinful humanity in contrast to popular opinion, as well as most other religions.  Of course people will, in general, recognize that there are some terrible people in the world, but of the people they know, few fall into this category.  Beside people, in general, would rather think of God as a forgiving and gracious God rather than a God who condemns most people to an eternity of damnation.  So you see, this idea of Christians being judgmental comes naturally.  If they look at people with the mind of God, they will look at them as sinners.  That’s Christian DNA.

Sure Christianity offers an escape in Jesus Christ, but that is only if a person has heard the gospel message.  Of those not hearing of salvation in Jesus (which is the great majority of the world’s population), they are also deserving of damnation, according to the Bible.  That doesn’t put the Christian God in a very good light, and contributes to this negative and judgmental perspective of Christianity.  I’m not sure what you mean when you say, we need to see others as God sees them.

I don’t know how the gospel of Jesus can be presented without first demonstrating one’s need for a Savior.  That “need” is the fact of sin committed by all people (none is righteous and all fall short). So again Christians cannot get around the fact of sin, or pointing out that sin to others.   So Christians may not have to specifically condemn a person, but a general condemnation is enough to put Christianity in a bad light.  How do Christians choose compassion (Jesus’ challenge) without showing the need (sin) for God’s love in Christ?  So you see, it’s natural for those outside the Christian community to think Christians are judgmental.  It’s part of the Christian DNA.

posted in: Judgemental

This is a great piece with some solid wisdom. Thanks for sharing, Albert!

posted in: Judgemental

A few basic things before the periferals.... read the bible with your kids.  Discuss it with them.  Don't wait till they are teens to do this.  Sing with them.  Pray with them.  Don't flaunt your relationship with God or make it a show.  Don't hide your relationship with God or be embarassed by it.  Confess your obvious sins.  Repent.  Let your feelings and sincerity and priorities be obvious.  Pray for them.  

Hans: Well put.....

In John 21 we read JESUS and Peter went for a walk, were JESUS  gave Peter a job to do, proclaim ME, the apostle John was following, Peter asked JESUS, "what about him" JESUS said never mind I am talking to you, you must follow ME. That also goes for you and me, so what can I say, it reminds me of the song, " Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me" . He has compassion on me, so my role is to proclaim, and have compassion, as CHRIST has compassion on me. You must follow ME , how about simple role modeling, serve the needy in our community, simply rub shoulders. In our case I see so much value in serve trips, Orphanage and drug & alcohol rehab,drag young and old along, have them witness missery in the world, and how it can be overcome by GOD,s grace. It is not my job to judge, only HE can , and HIS grace is Amazing.  Hans Visser


Thanks Roger for the added insight. I presume that many more have the same feelings, but just do not know how to express it, or what to do about it. Many churches are waiting for someone to tell them how to get out of the Sheltered Lifestyle. Sometimes, our lives are so busy with meaningless things that we forget/fail to concentrate on what is important. Finding ways to reach out to the hurting is one of those responsibilities that we MUST solve if we want to evangelize, be authentic & transparent and escape our sheltered bubble.

This is a tough topic.  It’s especially hard for Christians, who come out of confessional church background like the CRC.  Our doctrines are so well defined.  Our confessions (the catechism) are structured by the outline of “sin, salvation, and service.” And even though some of our older members mourn the fact that “sin” makes up the smallest section, sin is still a big deal in our churches.  Our members look over the fence and bemoan the fact that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. It’s so difficult for our members to really befriend those on the other side of the fence.  I imagine that most of the adult members of your church have only Christian close friends.  Maybe acquaintances from the other side of the fence, but friends, close friends that they really enjoy being with?  Probably not.  So when your circle of  friends are all within the church how can you help but not to be sheltered?  Our young people are much less sheltered, of course, unless they go to the Christian school system, which many do.  Just as the parents of our churches want to shelter their children, so they shelter themselves.  We are a sheltered community, and don’t even know how to get out from under our shelter.  Our churches try to formulate programs of evangelism or outreach by which church members approach people on the other side of the fence with a canned approach, even a canned approach of friendship with an ulterior motive.  Or we put up signs inviting those on the other side of the fence to come to our church.  We can’t bring ourselves to really come to those over there, but let’s invite them here into our sheltered community and maybe they will feel comfortable with us under our shelter. There is such a dichotomy (division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups) between the people inside our churches and those on the other side of the fence.  And our young people can’t help but to feel those differences or the hypocrisy inside our own camp so that more are being drawn to the other side of the fence.  As to an approach to a conversation that blatantly attacks our cherished beliefs?  Why not just listen.  Or try to understand their point of view without feeling that we have to correct the opposition.  

I guess I’ve said the same thing as you have in your article, just using different words.  Sorry.  I feel your pain.

MJill: YES! All very practical and awesome ways to create spaces to buld relationship and share experiences.....Make Bannock over a Fire? You peaked my interest.....gotta try that one.....googling it now :>)

posted in: Evangelism

Good job Bev, on the subject of porn.  Sounded much more concrete and objective than earlier responses.  We may differ on some things but on porn we can find some common ground.  As long as we don't throw out understanding as a beginning point. And yes, we are all different, one size does not fit all.  What works for one, may not work for another.  We need to look to our own heart and circumstances while asking what will be most effective for in my situation, and then trusting God to work in the choices we each make. Thanks again.

posted in: Hypocrisy

Thanks again for responding Roger... I do believe this issue deserves our attention and discussion and appreciate your willingness to continue the dialogue here...  I agree that there will be "concrete" tools that we can use to help resist the temptation...   I agree we are called to be "separate" or holy... we will "look" different than the world, to be in the world, but not of the world... and yes, I agree that Christian women have a responsibility to dress modestly and that has not been the case too often as well... but to place the blame for a  porn struggle on outside influences is missing the personal responsibility each of us has been given.   I don't think we will find healing until we own our part (free will) in it.

I believe it is the Holy Spirit Who gives each person the "concrete tool" they need to resist their temptation.  For any struggle, including porn, it is not a one size fits all.  Everyone's struggle is different to some degree, what started it, what triggers it, the emotional/psychological stuff that goes with it, etc.... the Holy Spirit as the Counselor knows precisely what "tool/s" is most effective for each person, for each struggle... and that's why I emphasize the Holy Spirit...  many times it might be the same "tool" that works for different people... yes, it might be drastic, such as getting rid of the smart phone and going back to an "old fashioned" non data type phone...  it might be limiting the internet access to the 10-20 sites for paying bills and reading the crcna network ;)...   it might be adding covenant eyes or a similar app to whatever  technology we use, it might be that the spouse has the passwords and you don't know what they are (we do this with our kids)...  for some it might be rehab...  but until we know how to discern and test the Holy Spirit, or even recognize how He leads us, our solutions will primarily be man's way...  (can He lead us without our knowing how to listen to Him? of course He can and He does because God is good and generous and gracious, but there is something that happens when we intentionally seek His leading and acknowledge His ways, He uses it to grow our faith exponentially)

until we are serious about wanting to change and recognize the horrible fruit that is caused by porn (or any sin), realizing that we are contributing to that when we look at porn (or even just by tolerating it- I think of Rev 2 where Jesus says nevertheless, I have this against you, that you tolerate jezebel and her pornea), and that we are called to walk in the holiness/righteousness that Jesus gave to us through His suffering - He deserves our obedience because He is worthy, none of these "tools" will be as effective without the Holy Spirit's leading in our lives...  not saying they can't work to some degree without Him, but they will be far more effective with His leading...

I read that some non-Christians are trying to quit porn because they are finding out it has seriously affected their sex lives in real life...  that's the reason that they are desperate enough to stop...  I would think that as believers we would be desperate enough for many other reasons as well.

(getting back to the original thread =) Maybe I'm wrong, but I see some hypocrisy when we tell people as a justice issue, we should only drink "free trade" coffee, and yet (as a justice issue) we don't let people know that porn contributes to human trafficking, so don't look at porn!  let alone for all the other "bad fruit" reasons!


posted in: Hypocrisy

Thanks Bev for your latest response.  I think you and I may be on two different tracks as to the use of porn by Christian men.  In my last response I did give some possible solutions to the problems associated with porn.  Of course those solutions were given with tongue in cheek.  But I was quite surprised by your response. To simply say those possible solutions represented man’s ways or our own understanding?  Did you not see a kernel of Biblical truth in any of them?  Of course making eunuchs of our men doesn’t make sense, even though Jesus himself commends the man who would go to such lengths for the kingdom of God.  If nothing else it seems to say Christianity is radical and Christ would commend the person who takes drastic measures.  Or to call a separated life style (separate from the world), such as with the Amish, nothing more than a human solution?  Certainly there is plenty of Biblical warrant for the Amish perspective. Do you think compromising with the world could be part of the problem of porn in the church?  The same goes for Paul’s warning to Christian women to dress modestly.  When women of the church dress no differently than the women on the outside, do you think that might not send a message to our men that they can also compromise with the world?  If women can’t take a stand for Christ as to their apparel why should we expect men to do any differently?  These are more than man’s ways, as you suggested.   I do think that Christians today still take principles taught in Scripture and ask if there is an application for our culture today. Especially if there might be an objective lesson, something Christians can act on.

But then as I listen to your further reply, I realize you are much more experiential as to your faith, and less objective.  I’m guessing you tend to be more subjective and abstract in looking for answers.  Maybe you’re thinking that if Christian men have the right personal subjective faith experience, then the Holy Spirit will take care of other areas of concern, such as porn.  I’m just trying to get a handle on your perspective as to a possible solution to the porn problem among Christian men.

I still think the church has to begin with understanding.  Men are and always have been more visual than women, whereas women are more relational. .  It’s part of the male psyche, Where men enjoy porn, women tend toward romance novels.  Even the Song of Solomon (Songs) plays on the visual attraction of the author (perhaps Solomon).  Perhaps the statistics you gave are not so shocking as you suggest.  You, at least, would expect men to be pulled more in that direction (the visual) than women.  And perhaps some of those suggested remedies that I listed have at least a kernel of truth toward helping with the problem  

Now I really wonder what you might see as a solution to the so called porn problem in the church.  Lots of prayer has gone out, and so far it hasn’t worked, at least as of yet.  I’m still at a loss, as to what a prayerful Holy Spirit driven solution would entail or look like.  But if its just an abstract solution, then I think you are barking up the wrong tree.

posted in: Hypocrisy

We have for some years made a point of including children and teens in our worship teams, whether as instrumentalists or singers, or in technical roles (sound, projection, etc). For younger children (below teenage years) we have no requirement of musical ability or aptitude. Any children who want to participate can. This means that sometimes we turn their microphones off or way down - they are aware we do this, and it gives them freedom and safety to express themselves in worship without worrying about what they sound like. As they get a little older, we try to give a level of training (though I wish we were equipped to do more), and for those with emerging stronger voices, we may give some brief or longer solo opportunities - worship is not necessarily served by having the "best" voice.

I try as worship leader to talk about what we're singing. Sometimes the words may not make sense to a younger singer, and so we'll talk briefly about it to help them. At other times it is the younger singers who are rekindling the excitement of worship in older singers and instrumentalists by their dancing, or facial expressions (though they can look pretty glum at times too!). I also try to encourage the adults to learn from the kids in this physical expression.

For instrumentalists, we again don't set high standards, other than ensuring that some level of contribution can be made so that the participant can gain an understanding of worship while growing their technical skills - so they need to have reached an intermediate level of ability. We've had drummers (especially), guitarists, and other "solo" instruments (flute, violin, etc) although have found that the solo instruments are difficult unless we're able to write specific parts for them, which is quite time-consuming and not every leader has the musical ability to  do it.

Lastly, most of our readings, prayers, and other liturgical elements are led by Praise Team members, and so we have opportunities to engage kids of all ages in these. We'll offer coaching on reading, as well as help with understanding of what is being read.

In summary, our kids are active and very valuable members of our worship teams and we're tremendously blessed by them, and they also by their participation in worship. I'm convinced that this will bear fruit as they grow into adulthood.

I appreciate this article.

We can ask Holy Spirit to continually help us to be aware that every time we are with other people it is an opportunity to let God love them through us. We can be open to conversation with strangers as well as friends. We can find ways to continually include people in our lives. Invite for meals, ask them to garden with us, offer to teach their family how to make bannock over a fire, attend an apple squeeze, go sledding, help fix their roof.....

posted in: Evangelism

wow, that convinced me even more that it's the Holy Spirit and prayer over the suggestions you listed, they sound like man's ways/our own understanding...  God's ways are good and beautiful, even if we don't understand them (I think of Prov 3:5-6/Is 55:9-10)...  one of the prayers I pray often is from Eph 1 open the eyes (spiritual senses) our our hearts...  we need our spiritual eyes and ears open to hear Him and see the world through His eyes...  when our spiritual senses are awakened, sensitive to Him, our entire perspective changes... everyone is beautiful, no matter how the world "labels/views" them... because we are all God's creation made in His image...  I "experienced" seeing people through "God's eyes" to some extent for about one year - I remember exactly when and where it started - it was profound, however, over time, it shifted back to "normal"...  now i have to be intentional about seeing everyone as beautiful and recognizing the potential He has given to each person, which is fine, I'm very thankful I had that experience to help me better understand how God sees us... it gave me a glimpse of His heart for people, but also recognizing how the enemy tries to steal the potential God gave us.

another prayer is for a spiritual hunger to know Him more...  Taste and see that the Lord is good... I hunger after Him, I relate to the cry in Psalm 84 where the psalmist says "my heart and flesh cry out for the living God..., better is one day in your courts than a 1000 elsewhere"   and in Psalm 40 where the deer longs for water, so my soul longs for God...  once we have tasted Him, we want more... nothing else will satisfy... including our fleshly desires... we sell ourselves way short when we try to satisfy ourselves through earthly pleasure (not saying they are all wrong, just saying they don't compare).  One caveat, God responds differently if we are just looking for the "experience" or if we are truly seeking Him... I discovered that some are looking for the spiritual experience, not God necessarily, and then you get into really weird stuff and open yourself up to all kinds of counterfeit garbage (the enemy loves to deceive)...

I know God can "speak" to anyone, anyway, any time (and yes, He speaks through people - which is the prophetic)... Scripture is His primary way, and His "message" will always line up with His word (if it doesn't, it's not Him)...  One other book that is my main go to guide on hearing God is "Can you hear Me? Tuning in to the God Who speaks" by Brad Jersak...  The weekend I got that book, my entire prayer life shifted (not just because of the book, but also because of a sequence of "hearing God" very specifically emphasizing the prayer "open the eyes of my heart" - my "experience" of seeing through God's eyes happened 4 weeks later).  My life has been profoundly affected since then...  that weekend was when Scripture became Living and Active at a whole new level for me...  before that prayer had mostly been a one way monologue (with some exception)... after that weekend...  wow.  God transformed my prayer life and my faith...  it hasn't been easy... with the cessationist strain still in the crc, it's tended to be seen by some as heretical and gets dismissed or worse...   but i would not and can not go back ... it is my heart's desire that all would "see and hear" Him to know Him more through our spiritual senses...  nothing compares to Him... He alone is worthy of our worship and obedience... this is His due...  pursue Him with all our hearts...  as King David wrote... one thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the BEAUTY of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.  That is one of my prayers for the Kingdom Church.

hope that makes sense ;)  in a spiritual way!



posted in: Hypocrisy

Hi again Bev, and thanks for your response.  I don’t know if anyone else is looking in on our dialogue, but I imagine they could be wondering where each of us are coming from theologically.  I’m guessing that neither of us fit perfectly in the CRC.  I can tell you don’t.  And because I know myself, I know I don’t.  As to the Holy Spirit, I know for certain we are in two different places.  My intention is certainly not to discredit you, at least hurtfully.  I’m glad for your relationship with God, as I also am with mine.  Both very different though.  Which means we are looking at this porn problem differently.

Obviously, you are looking at this as a spiritual problem, and I’m looking at it more as a genetic  or male psyche problem.  There is no doubt in my mind that our male wiring is different from the female’s, and that’s in part what makes it difficult for women to understand the nature of the problem.  Your husband and you may have had frank conversations that has led you, at least in part, to come to a conclusion that this is a spiritual problem and can be solved spiritually, whether through prayer or the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  But then I would have to say, your husband is not typical.  Certainly all men are not the same as to sexual drive, just as all women are not the same.  But in general (and I mean a very large majority), men seek more of an instant gratification sexually than women who tend toward long tender, loving relationships.  Women can almost be turned off by the thought of instant gratification, where that is not the case for most men.  And that’s what the porn industry plays up to.  It’s the reason that men are more drawn to porn and women are drawn to love novels.  There are so many ways to explain this male psyche thing, but I don’t want to be offensive.  I’m convinced that it’s not a matter of simply praying that God will take this desire away or asking the Holy Spirit to intervene and the problem would be gone.  If that were the case, then God would have to change the male Christian genetically.  I don’t think, even you, would want that.  

Thinking this is a spiritual problem, creates the same kind of situation that “Christian help groups” have run into in trying to help gay people become straight.  For some time, before realizing that being gay begins with a genetic make up that can only be changed by altering the genetics of a person (and that can’t be done), Christians thought a homosexual could be made straight by a commitment to Christ and through prayer.  But now you realize that such Christian help groups have gone out of existence.  They didn’t work.  Now there are Christian support groups for gays, but they don’t try to pray these people out of gaydem.  They support them and help them to cope.  They teach them abstinence even though their genetic makeup continues to pull them toward same sex relationships.  The church (at least the CRC) calls them to a life of celibacy while at the same time they have a sexual drive toward their own sex.  To top this off, our churches call these people sinners if they act on their sexual drive which they didn’t ask for to begin with.  You, no doubt, have read some of the horror stories of the torment some gays go through while being in the church. The reality is that most feel driven away from the church.  Enough of that.  In the same way, I want to assure you that men are different from women in their sexual drives. Genetically they’re different, like gays.  If men aren’t turning to pornography to satisfy this need for instant gratification, then they likely have a great fantasy world.  I don’t want to put you or your husband on the spot, but no doubt you have taken long driving trips.  When things start to get boring you may ask him, “what are you thinking about?”  And for most men, the answer will be “nothing.”  Yah, right.  I can tell you what he’s thinking about ½ the time, maybe more.  Just asking the Holy Spirit to intervene will be no more helpful than asking the Spirit to change the gay person’s genetics.

Now here’s the good part, Bev.  I have come up with some helpful remedies for the porn problem among Christian men.  You may even want your husband’s comments on these.  The first solution is castration.  That definitely will remove the sexual drive.  In past cultures, even in Biblical times, eunuchs (castrated men) were used to guard and protect a king’s harem.  It has also worked well on dogs in order to remove their sexual drive.  And I think it’s been used on repeat sexual felons.  Jesus did say, if your hand offends you cut it off.  And Jesus also did say, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:12)  There you go, Biblical support. I think it could be an instant remedy to the porn problem, if you can get Christian men to agree to this.

Now a little less drastic, there has to be drugs that can be used to reduce or remove the sexual drive of men.  If there are drugs to enhance the drive, there must also be the opposite.  The military used to use saltpeter on its soldiers, until they found it was ineffective.  This too may not exactly be a spiritual remedy.  But on the other hand, I suppose a Christian guy might say he would do this as unto the Lord.  Then all of a sudden it becomes spiritual solution.

Here’s another solution, and maybe this hits closer to home as to being a truly Christian remedy.  The problem of porn among Christian men is really the female’s fault.  Paul did warn the women of the church to dress modestly and to cover their heads.  There is no doubt why he made these kind of comments.  If they dressed immodestly it became a stumbling block to men.  It was a form of pornography sitting in the pew in front of them.  Today, Christian women dress no differently than women outside of the church.  You and I, both, have seen some pretty provocatively dressed women in church.  Short skirts and high heels are definitely a no no.  Only turtleneck sweaters and they should be loose fitting, very loose.  Maybe, better yet, the church should hand out large plastic bags with eye holes for the women to wear as they come into church.  Actually, some of our Muslim brothers and sisters apply that very principle to their lives.  You may have noticed that it’s only the Muslim women who are totally covered in black from the top of their head to their toes, including the burka with the veiled opening for the eyes. Along with doing this because of their love for God, they do it so as not to be a stumbling block to men, other than their husbands, by revealing their beauty in open company.  It’s an awesome thought, but I would hate it personally. I love seeing God’s creative beauty in the variety of women I see everyday.  I see a beautiful women and I say, thank you, Lord.  But you can understand the Muslim concept in promoting the modesty of women in public.  Should Christians follow suit and could the Christian community influence society by such practices?  Again, I don’t think this would fly among our women.  It would take a tremendous commitment to the Lord.

How about the Amish communities with their modest dress and separating themselves from the world and their worldly influences?  Don’t they do this because of their love of the Lord and wanting to separate themselves totally unto the him?

Such approaches as these is taking very serious one’s relationship with God which include the desire to honor that relationship above all others.  Or perhaps another approach is to simply pray to God and ask the Holy Spirit to remove this desire, despite being wired genetically in such a way that men have a strong physical attraction to women.  What do you think, Bev?  Maybe the prayer idea is better.  Only it hasn’t worked yet, despite a lot of prayers that have been prayed.  Let’s hear your thoughts as to a solution.

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






posted in: Hypocrisy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

posted 10.7.14 on the charisma news website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



posted in: Hypocrisy

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

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

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

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

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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

posted in: Hypocrisy

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


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

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

Thanks for your comments and observations Geoff. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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