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

If the Faith Alive "HC and Me" material is not a good fit what are some alternative options?

June 19, 2015 0 2 comments

I have spent many hours with people who have been overwhelmed by the weight of expectations. What are healthy ways churches (or classes) can offer support to those entering ministry for the first time?

June 4, 2015 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

VBS can be a great opportunity to share the love of Jesus—with members and the community—in a fun and different way. What has worked, or NOT worked, at your church?

June 1, 2015 0 1 comments

Christian speaker and author, Jolene DeHeer, has students tell her they'll go on a mission trip if it is out of the county, someplace warm, or if there is a fun “day away” activity. How do we break these barriers?

May 4, 2015 0 1 comments

How do leaders help the process of building "Kingdom people" after a mission trip is over? Check out this blog for a list of ideas and suggestions that may be helpful!

April 27, 2015 0 2 comments

We are helping churches engage students in missional living, not just for one week. The goal is for church youth groups to become more missional the other 51 weeks of the year and through their life journey.

April 21, 2015 0 1 comments

Examining your reasons for signing up for a mission trip – whether you’re a leader or a student – is essential for preparing your heart for the trip and opening yourself to what God may have planned.

April 14, 2015 0 0 comments

Preparation for mission trips is not just about fundraising and packing one’s bags. Join us over the weeks to come to gain helpful insights into short-term mission trips!

April 7, 2015 0 3 comments

When our time is constantly being taken up with our idols, whether in social media or other places, how can we be spiritually healthy?

March 30, 2015 0 2 comments

The "anonymous-ness" of Cyber-Bullying is such a problem because it is an easier form of hurting someone. If you see someone targeting another person online, hold them accountable!

March 20, 2015 0 1 comments

It is tempting to be quick to vilify technology that I do not understand. A better solution for me is to let my youth take the lead in helping me navigate a culture that is daunting.

March 13, 2015 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

What are we, as digital natives and immigrants, supposed to do when the digital reality intersects with youth ministry?

March 9, 2015 0 0 comments

Is social media helpful or hurtful to our teens? How can we claim the square inch that IS social media to be glorifying to God in our own lives, and in our ministries?

March 3, 2015 0 7 comments

Picture this: there are two deer, each with 10 point racks, standing on their hind legs in a forest clearing. One of the deer has what appears to be a bullseye on its chest. And, the other deer looks at the first and says, "Bummer of a birthmark, Hal!"

A picture, a few words - 5 to be...

February 9, 2015 0 0 comments

Are we investing the time needed to disciple young Christians? And, what type of model is needed to ensure that we are doing a God-honoring effort?

February 6, 2015 0 1 comments

Youth ministry becomes less initmidating when we think of it in terms of movement and direction. Movement: getting them started or involved. Direction: pointing them in the right direction.

February 2, 2015 0 0 comments

Young Adults are increasingly hesitant to stand in front of a congregation and commit to a community of faith because there are other churches and doctrines that they have yet to explore.

January 27, 2015 0 0 comments

Recent youth ministry studies suggest that we may not be acting intentionally enough about helping kids transition through our programs. How can we facilitate better transitions?

January 19, 2015 0 5 comments

We need help composing biblical guidelines that can be understood by the typical teen, are based on respectful behavior toward the leaders and one another, and aren't a list of "don't" rules.

January 18, 2015 0 1 comments

Normally youth ministry staff are paid based on the hours they work planning youth activities. What are guidelines for compensation when they are with the youth 24 hrs per day?

January 14, 2015 0 1 comments

From the many contributors of the Youth Ministry section of the Network, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We look forward to chatting with you again in 2015.

Blessings from the team.

December 23, 2014 0 0 comments

When churches are feeling overwhelmed and under-resourced it might be time to return to the ABCD’s: Asset Based Church Development.

December 16, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Job Opening

Youth Pastor- First CRC, Red Deer, AB.  We are a growing congregation located in Central Alberta.  We are seeking an energized full-time Youth Pastor to work alongside our Associate Pastor and Senior Pastor to grow and learn about our diverse congregation.   B.A. is preferred and experiences can...

December 10, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Activity or Game

Here's a great, thought provoking activity for your youth group, small group, family devotions, or even for yourself.

December 9, 2014 0 0 comments



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

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

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

Thanks Jolanda.

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

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

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


posted in: Jake: A Tribute

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

posted in: Jake: A Tribute

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

posted in: Jake: A Tribute


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

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

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

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

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

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

See these postings on the Network:

Contact ServiceLink staff:

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

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

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

Walt's blog:

Marko's blog:

Hi Joy,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

posted in: Taking a LEAP

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

posted in: Taking a LEAP

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

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

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

Hi Rebecca! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Hi Lou! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark VanDyke, Sumas CRC, Sumas WA

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

I'm sorry no one ever responded to this.

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

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

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

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

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

Hi Shane: Thanks for the perspective, it is much needed.  I refer you to an excellent article by Mark Buchanan, pastor of New Life Community Church in Duncan, British Columbia found in the Summer 2012 Leadership Journal. The article is titled "When Clean and Unclean Touch." He comments on John 1:16,17 "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."  Buchanan finds here a "revolutionary reversal."  It was in grace that Jesus embraced sinners, and that embrace often led to their embracing the truth which He declared.  He touches lepers (Mtt 8:3) and He feasts with tax collecters and "sinners"(Mtt 9:9-13). Buchanan sees Jesus reversing truth first and then grace into grace first and then truth. The ultmate example of this approach is found in Romans 5:8: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Very interesting! I like your analogy of dancing because  it responds to Psalm 149:3: "Let them praise His name with dancing."  If the dance is the tango then we are to be graciously "en-tango-ed" with others in the wilderness!

Shane, I apologize for missing your meaning in "keys behind a screen" analogy.  I'm with you on reducing complacency.  But maybe complacency means different things to different people sometimes too.  " Living out your journey" sounds like worldly self-actualization to me.   It could be similar to living for Jesus, but at first glance doesn't sound like it;  it sounds like a way of disguising it.   Living out your faith on the other hand as you mention, does mean real living for Jesus.  Of course, children of alcoholics, and alcoholics themselves, people in poverty, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, thieves, murderers, drug addicts are in the end sinners (like us) in need of a saviour .   And a saviour changes lives.   Faith without works is dead, both for us, and for those we are attempting to help(James 2).   Those who love Jesus know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God (James 4:4)   "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning" ( I John3:6 and other verses in I John).  I would argue that this is not grey, but a mix of black and white;  in other words the black remains clearly black and the white remains clearly white, but they are intermingled in a struggle with each other.  In normal worldly terms, the struggling white would become destroyed by the black, and everything would be a dull dark foggy grey.   But Christ changes that around so that the white light eliminates the darkness and removes it, so that everything becomes white by the power of HIs spirit.  Complacency is satisfied with a dull grey;  sometimes complacency is satisfied by zebra stripes of black and white.  Christ is not satisfied with that. 

So inclusion is the wrong word.  It leaves the wrong impression.   We witness to everyone.  But we recognize the battle against principalities and powers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil.  We do not include the evil.  And we cannot "include" those who promote evil or condone it.   However, God's grace is magnificent and marvelous, and we should not forget that either.   Forgiveness should never be far away from our response.   No one is beyond God's grace, should God choose to call (perhaps through us) and they receive. 

I agree it means action, and the action includes food, help, "being there",  and conversation and witness and adoption. 


I too appreciate your comments on this topic. I think it's great to have multiple approaches deal with a conversation. 

I will challenge you on a few things. I believe I'm challenging the church more for it's complacency than for it's theology. Instead of settin the bar for inclusivity and involvement, we find ourselves behind secular culture, who is setting the bar. I don't entirely disagree with your argument of inclusion, but I feel we've wanted our doctrines to speak for themselves instead of living them out. Where does this point us? To action. I believe in living out my faith, and that includes children of poverty, alcoholics, homosexuals, and drug users being part of my journey (something not currently part of our doctrine: especially homosexuality). So the challenge of inclusion means more than keys behind a screen. And that's a grey topic when lived out. 

Shane, I appreciate the attitude in your writing.   However, some of what you have said, troubles me (so you might consider your words a success in "fighting for the kingdom"...).   What troubles me  is not "skirting the edges of heresy...".   But what you said about "secular culture pointing  Church back to her own Gospel message: grace; forgiveness; inclusion; and most of all a love for God and each other" does trouble me.   The secular culture is not pointing towards grace and forgiveness, but rather towards tolerance and acceptance.  The secular culture does not point towards a love for God, but rather towards a love for self-actualization and materialism and gaia.  We also must be careful about how we assume a discussion about "inclusion".   Jesus was very inclusive, yes, but he also told many parables about separating wheat from weeds, bad fish from good fish, sheep from goats.  The statement to the rich man about selling all he had and then following Jesus... why did not Jesus just accept the rich man exactly the way he was?   Why did the prodigal son have to come back to his father?   Why did the woman accused of adultery have to stop sinning?   Why did Jesus select twelve disciples (all male)?   I think the term "inclusion" does not address Jesus message because it is an oversimplification of what Jesus taught.   Using it as a simple mantra or substitute doctrine misses Jesus mission, and avoids truth.  In today's context it is particularly inappropriate it would seem. 

I agree that there is a dark side to Facebook, and that today's world (not only our young people) need to use it with discernment and discretion, but I would argue the point that Facebook feeds aren't helpful for relationships. Facebook, when used well, can be a wonderful touchpoint, another way to communicate with the people we are trying to live in relationship with. Anyone working with youth should know how to use it, and use it well--not to monitor or spy on the youth, but to encourage them, share inspirational things with them, inform them of events, use it to invite them out to coffee, view their pictures they are sharing of their lives, share some of your life with them. Don't use it to be a "FB chaperone" though. I have heard from far too many young people who roll their eyes in disgust about the private messages they have received from a well-meaning youth pastor or uncle who saw their questionable language or photo and felt the need to preach about it. Youth want to be heard, and when they know you care without judging, they will tone it down. Use FB to show you care, not to judge.


posted in: The Hungry Facebook

There have been several times where I've called out students (usually in a private message) about the language they used on facebook.  When I call them out, I basically ask them if the language they just used fit in with religious status or prior posts.  I remind them that their non-Christian friends are constantly judging their relationship with Christ by their actions and words.  And yes, we all slip; however, as their youth leader (or former leader), it's my duty as a brother-in-Christ to hold them accountable just like I hope they hold me accountable.

A couple students actually publicly apologized on facebook, stating that being mad was no excuse for the foul language.  Two former students dropped me as a friend after I called them out.  Others apologized privately and told me what was gonig on which led to very good discussions.

posted in: The Hungry Facebook

Colin! Thanks for your intuitive response. I'm always amazed at certain perspectives we have in our faith communities (ie: the coaching experience). But it's also my belief that we're beginning to see a movement towards organic mission: mission localized and internalized by leaders and lay leaders alike. But, as always, ignorance towards issues is no reason to go on denying them. So thank you for your agreement and we'd love to hear more success stories of your and others work. Grace and peace.

You can just cut and paste those thoughts right into the network sites for other pastors!  I think most of us pastors of all kinds struggle with the same reality.  Our jobs as pastors fill as many hours as we let it right up to 24/7 if we let it.  And our circles of relationships are almost completely within the church community we serve.  How missional is that?  I know of one church situation with a coleague a while back where the church complained because their pastor was coaching hockey (on his off time of course).  "If he has spare time, it should be doing something with the church!"  Then on the other hand, I also know a pastor who has discussed with his Council the matter of being an active presence in the town community the church is in and of having Council hold him accountable to doing that so he can lead by example as well as in word what they hoped would be the reality for the church members.  Thanks for raising the question.


Jack, I actually agree with you.  I was not comparing youth to older leaders so much as emphasizing that authority without wisdom will lead to problems.   And yes, I agree that older leaders are also often "people pleasers" rather than "Christ followers".  I am thinking that older leaders were once young, and if they did not learn wisdom earlier, they often do not gain it later.   I think most of our problems with leadership is that we often assume that they can obtain wisdom after they obtain authority.   Sometimes that happens.   But it is better if they learn Godly wisdom first.  

posted in: Youth Youth Leaders

This is great topic  Ray.  The photo with the post shows a welcome sign at the entrance to a dining hall. It reads something like: “Youth Leaders: meet your mentor”. Mentoring builds youth leadership better than almost anything else. It encourages leadership development and maturity. Having been a youth leader, I can clearly and with much fondness remember each one of the adults that took time to coach and mentor me.  God’s desire for good leadership in me may have been crushed without their wise and loving presence.  What a great vision of Christian community-based leadership: wisdom of the mature working with the ideals and energy of the youth.

I am not sure that I agree with John’s implication that youth (more than older leaders) will try to please people more than please God.  My own observation over many years in leadership is that older leaders get this one wrong more than youth do.

posted in: Youth Youth Leaders

Ray, youth can certainly be leaders, with or without our help.   The question is, how will they be good leaders rather than bad leaders?    While giving them authority is necessary, giving them wisdom is even more important.   Helping them to understand how to make decisions that are pleasing to God, rather than decisions and plans that are just pleasing to people, is a good place to start.   Without that focus, it won't matter whether they are leaders or not.   Without that focus, they will simply lead others down the path to perdition, instead of to the glory of God. 

posted in: Youth Youth Leaders

As I once heard someone say "People tell me that they've been a Christian for twenty years, when they've really been a Christian for only one year, and they've just been repeating themselves for the last 19."

Another important consideration is this, that being older does not automatically make you more spiritually mature.   And you can also probably think of examples where spiritual enthusiasm does not necessarily equate to spiritual maturity.   Sometimes I am thinking that spiritual enthusiasm might be better than spiritual maturity.  Even though it sometimes leads to mistakes and errors, spiritual enthusiasm does not have the error of complacency, which is often attached to "spiritual maturity".   So I would say that the spiritually enthusiastic youth ought not to let themselves be held back too much by the so-called spiritual maturity of the "olders".  Listen yes, consider yes, but live out your obedient joy in Christ in all its fulness where ever and whenever you have the opportunity!