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Where to go with Doubt

   From time to time, everyone who has been taught or has embraced the Christian faith will go through periods of doubt. 
   One approach is to quit church, abandon Christian friends and plunge into a way of life that presumes God does not exist.  With that...

April 23, 2014 0 1 comments
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My name is Ron deVries, and I will be your next Youth Ministry guide. I am privileged to walk alongside incredibly gifted Youth Leaders from across Northern Alberta, and have engaged in conversations about youth ministry with passionate people in many corners of the denomination.

April 17, 2014 0 2 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

Webinar recorded March 5, 2014. This webinar will explore the current youth ministry landscape and the challenges of developing a contextual approach to discipleship that is good for the local church.

March 5, 2014 0 0 comments
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She can’t believe it! Relationships are actually work? How can this be possible. Love is, after all, an emotion… right? That’s what Google tells me.

February 11, 2014 0 0 comments
Q&A

Hi! I am hoping to lead my youth group on a mission trip this summer in our city of Seattle (our church is in Shoreline which is 20 minutes outside the city). I have never lead a mission trip before, so I am starting to feel a bit overwhelmed with all the componants.

1) Does anyone have a...

December 27, 2013 0 1 comments
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Let’s be honest: Youth Ministry has been messy. It’s a new focus in the life of a congregation, arising less than 150 years ago, gaining significant momentum in the last 50 years. Recent changes in culture are also redefining what it means to be youth pastors – social media and technological advances challenging even the simplest means of communication. So what is the way forward?

December 17, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

This is a very interesting film regarding Youth Ministry: http://dividedthemovie.com/

We don't segegrate in the Church based on race or sex (male/female) so where did the idea come from to segegrate based on age.  You don't find it in the Bible.

November 26, 2013 0 3 comments
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The truth is, I don’t know what to tell them. I think “finding your identity in Christ” is a starting point, but the particulars of how that looks in everyday life are a very different story—which isn’t a very pretty, wrapped-with-a-bow answer to hand middle and high schoolers.

November 25, 2013 0 2 comments
Q&A

What books reflecting the Reformed world-and-life view might you recommend for teens?

November 14, 2013 0 0 comments
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As leaders, we often see that our youth have some head knowledge about God and the Bible and can often give the right answers. But as leaders, we want them to have more than just knowledge, we want them to experience Jesus not just know about Him. We are struggling with how to make youth group a place for the youth to grow spiritually...

November 14, 2013 0 4 comments
Resource, Article

Most of the youth I have the privilege of serving come with an edge of skepticism and cynicism. Where this comes from could be the data of a global study, but my context says that it’s a very real thing. “Why can’t I drink at the party?” “What’s wrong with sex before marriage?” “The Bible doesn’...

September 30, 2013 0 0 comments
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There’s no doubt about it. Many youth in this generation are leaving the church. But what if we looked at this as an opportunity instead of an outrage? What if it’s not the person of Jesus Christ that these students are running away from, but rather the claustrophobic nature of our churches’ four-walled worship?

September 24, 2013 0 0 comments
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What just happened? I thought I was just picking my kids up from baseball practice, and suddenly football is upon us? Seriously, hockey season is starting (this is awesome, says the fans)? Sure, we had two weeks off this summer, but I can barely remember those 14 days, let alone the laundry, the cooking, the slumber parties, and the day care schedules for 2013–2014. And then there are the school supplies. Will there ever be a day when we aren’t so financially strapped that I’ll be able to get Starbucks without a fight breaking out? And church is a part of all of that how?…

September 13, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Youth Unlimited has a new promo video out highlighting their work as a provider of faith forming experiences for teens in the CRC and beyond. Check it out at https://vimeo.com/72990196#.

 

September 10, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

When and where does the teaching of the catechism take place in your church? Do you have a separate class for it or teach it through your youth group program? At what age(s) do you teach the catechism? If your church does not have a formal catechism class, how and where is the catechism learned...

September 8, 2013 0 1 comments
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Holy moly! Where the heck did your summer go. Seriously, I felt like you just finished school, and now you’re starting all over again. No more video games, no more sleeping in. And books, I hated books in high school! And the drama! Seriously, the best part of summer is not dealing with the drama and hanging out with the only people that I really care about: friends. And now I have to study again, go back to the grind. Ugh! Is it June 2014 yet? 

September 6, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

Besides numbers of youth in attendance, how does your church evaluate whether or not your youth group ministry is successful? 

September 5, 2013 0 1 comments
Q&A

We have a small youth group and have thought about joining with another church to have a joint youth ministry program. Has your church done this? How did it work with finances, leadership, etc.?

September 5, 2013 0 3 comments
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Welcome to 2013 – 2014! If you’re anything like me, you’re probably having a freak out right now. Maybe you have A LOT of loose ends to tie up before the season starts. Maybe you haven’t even started planning. Maybe you aren’t fully sure about this year, and don’t really believe in it yet. Maybe you’ve got parents putting a lot of pressure on you. Maybe you are starting school alongside your work. Maybe all of the above. 

August 31, 2013 0 0 comments
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When I tell people in the CRC what I do for a living, I tend to get the same question in response: Why? And I get it. I recently took a position developing a new project for the denomination: LEAP. I understand the skepticism I encounter. Does the CRC need another program to solve problems that are certainly not programmatic? No, we really don’t.

August 26, 2013 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

Do you have something to contribute to the Youth Ministry section of the Network? Maybe you have something you'd like to say in relationship to your ministry or group or socially related to youth. There's a very easy way to contribute. Contact the guide (Networks --> Youth Ministry -->...

August 22, 2013 0 1 comments
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No one really knows what happened that night on November 8th, but one thing was certain – three were left lifeless, a fourth left with severe brain damage which he will never 100% recover from without a miracle from God. The one with severe damage as well as two of the three dead came directly from my closest circle of friends during high school, and everything had changed.

July 29, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

Hi, everyone, I'm posting this in the Youth Forum because my guess is that if churches are doing this, youth ministries are probably part of the equation!

Our church currently has been holding various ministry programs on different nights of the week: High School Youth Group on Sundays,...

July 9, 2013 0 2 comments
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When trying something new, we must always remember that for many people, seeing is believing. My brother loves building things with lumber and is a visionary who can actually picture something (in his mind) before it’s actually built. But many others simply see a pile of wood... until it’s finally completed. Then it becomes, “Ooooohhh! That’s what you meant!” and they pay him for his work.

July 9, 2013 0 0 comments

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Thank you all for the replies. I know it is a new world out there. At 72 years, I am set in my ways and don't want to be a part of it. In my mind, worship is an obligation, not an entertainment. I'm a legalist at heart.

In  the OLD old days the pagans understood that a popular entertaining civil religion kept the population under control. Maybe the CRC should try public sacrifices and fighting (for Jesus) in the arena. That would be an interesting test of the first amendment. After all, the Rastafarians can now deduct the cost of sacrificial chickens from their income tax.

It's important for both the seniors and the youth to get to know each other better; Although, I know this happens in many churches, I honestly believe it's due to a great disconnect chasm between seniors and youth. In our church we try to do some events together that gets both generations building relationships and bridges to each other. A deeper understanding goes a long way, and spills over into other areas like respect for gtraditiona/ and contemporary styles of worship...

This is an excellent idea. Especially when the pastor - especially in the CRC denomination - is making special efforts to coordinate all aspects of the worship experience to blend as one experience.

Industrial & Technological/digital revolution has played a huge part in that; Air travel, communication and digital advanced have reduced the size of the planet and reducung the distance barrier and have sped up our daily routines; Whether good or bad, that is the world we live in....one that is always changing. Although God's timeless LAW is never changing, the world will ALWAYS be changing and we need to accept change, not for change itself, but for application and implementation of God's Words, so that others around us can understand it. It's just like the facebook issue. My dad constantly complains that my son doesn't respond to him when he emails my son. My dead doesn't have fb. What my dad is missing is that anyone under the age of 21, is NOT using email anymore. txting & fb are the only modes of communication for young people today - or at least 95% of them. I totally understand that being in youth ministry. Here's a great example....If I call up to my son on the 2nd floor to do something for me, I get a "yeah, dad!" and I wait, and wait, and wait. However, if I txt him to come out and help me, he's outside within minutes. It sounds crazy, but that is how they are connecting.The older generation thinks they are being rude when they are not responding, but really the issue is that they are NOT GETTING THE MESSAGE! We need to make sure they are getting the message before we can accuse them of negative actions. Just a thought....

Bill,

As denominational loyalty recedes, the church will go to great (and sometimes foolish) measures to retain youth and young families. You're probably frustrated that many churches have began catering to the demands of young people while neglecting the preferences of older folks. What this creates is older people who are loyal to the CRC but also feel betrayed by their churches for the sake of the youth. And on the other end of the spectrum, the youth come to a church where many of the older people don't/can't sing and there is a feeling of disunity during worship (especially while the praise team is blasting the latest Christian radio hit). I have visited over a dozen CRCs in the past few years and this tension has been evident in too many of them.

What I encourage is for you to talk with your elder or pastor about the importance of a song's 1) singability and 2) lyrical content. If you find that your church is singing several that don't fit both criteria, you might have a problem.

I totally agree with John's main point that relationships will connect young people to a church or a lack thereof will send them somewhere else.

Regarding worship styles, I'm a big fan of talking throughout the service about why we do things, why we sing a certain song or even why there's a sermon every Sunday. This usually means that I spend some time every couple weeks reminding people that the most important part of a song is the lyrical content. Sometimes I'll read the words of the song before we sing it so they can sink in a little bit. Our church is very traditional in the songs we sing because of that factor. If a contemporary song has great words (we sing lots by the Gettys) we'll use it. I think that this helps the older people appreciate a new song and it helps the younger people appreciate the older ones.

I'm not sure if this approach will grow or shrink our youth group, but the passion for congregational singing at our church is quite high. If the people in the seats are passionately engaged with the Living God, young people will want to be there no matter the type of music.

For 300 years in the US and Canada there was very little change in worship format. All of a sudden, last 20 years, the youth tail is wagging the dog. What happened? 

JOhn: All good points and we totally agree although we've approached the question differently. Definitely, relationships play the biggest part of what is going to engage the youth. Thanks for pointing that out! Don't totally disqualify the issue of worship styles with those who are "unchurched" or not necessarily steepping into the church except for that one night a week of youth group. The Wosrship style is contagious and so needds to be embraced by all.....even those future believers who don't know they're saved yet... LOL! 

On a lighter note, I've been in your church and know people who attend there. I grew up in the Propect Park CRC which is now the Unity CRC (PP & 2nd CRC combined). You've found a good spot to begin your roots.

It sure seems historically that youth have been the driving force behind the change to our contemporary style; or like in the majority of the churches....the "blended" style. However, I think you would see, if you did a study, that every generation pushes the worship envelope in a new direction....and the definition of "traditional" is ever shifting. I don't think a church's success or growth is necessarily tied directly the the style of worship. Sure there are disagreements within churches as to what is the most glorifying, but even within youth there is no common denominator as to what is "more" glorifying; there certainly are criteria of what non-glorifying songs would consist of - mostly focusing on which words/meanings are used - , but within the god-glorifying framework there is a universe of diversity. I know many churches that thrive on traditional hymns alone. Granted, they are probably more conservative than the CRC (eg. URC and Dutch Reformed). The bigger question is, "Are these differences splitting the visible and the invisible church". Many times we see splits over this issue which hasn't changed since I was at Calvin in the late 70's. A healthy use of tolerance is allowing for others to express, engage and embrace God's relational presence through music, even if it doesn't "seem" God-glorifying to them (but fits into a god-glorifying framework). It's easy to be stubborn on this issue; I think the hardest thing for a church is to accept that there are other styles of worship in the universal church. If it's a thorn and causing us to stumble there are methods for trying to work together at it. Sometimes, it even leads to a deeper and richer worship experience that you have never felt before. Sometimes it means disagreeing and worshipping somewhere else. It's like a marriage; we don't always agree; in fact many times we disagree. But usually we come together somewhere in the middle, sometimes closer to my side, sometimes closer to hers, but our efforts ALWAYS produce something so much BETTER than we could have produced on our own as individuals. When disagreemnt in worship occurs....throwing up our hands in the air in frustration and quitting NEVER leads to that point where something better can have the opportunity to evolve.  I don't believe that youth ministry is inihibited because of the worship styles....it's more because of our inner selfishness and stubborness of what we (youth & elderly and everyone in between) define worship should be.....well, then it is no longer god-glorifying, but Man glorifying. Focusing it inward only enhances man; focusing it outward enhances only God. God gives us that freedom to embrace many styles; let's not trap His glory in a defined, little box. Rather let's lavish Him with all types of styles that enhance His Awesome Nature!

 

Paul - Thank you for your provoking questions.  

I am a director of music at a CRC in New Jersey.  I also am the co-leader of our church's young adult ministry.  In the past I have been a leader in our youth ministry.  And in a little more distant past, I was a participant in youth ministry (after all, I'm only 25).  So I think I have a pretty good perspective on the subject.

Let me address your comment about having a healthy, successful youth group and it's ties to the congregation.  In most youth groups I have been a part of, the youth group can basically be divided into two groups: kids who's families already go to the church and kids who's families don't go to that church (or any church).  For those who already go to the church, worship "style" is not going to inhibit them going to youth group, since they are already familiar with that style.  For the kids who don't go to that church, most likely they are never going to experience the worship style of the church anyway.  In most churches, those kids are basically going to come to youth group on [Friday/Wednesday/pick a day] night and most likely not walk into the church building again during the week.  So I think that "worship style" doesn't really effect them either, since they never really experience it.

As far as church plants/growing churches go, let me preface by saying that I absolutely hate the terms "traditional" and "contemporary".  It's like someone drew a line somewhere around 1982 and put songs on either side of that line.  All songs that are considered "traditional" today were "contemporary" when they were written.  The only difference is that with today's "traditional" songs, the grand filter of time has weeded out most of the bad songs and we are left with the good ones.  Whereas with the "contemporary" songs, we operate on a "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" method.

That in mind, I don't know that there is any good evidence to suggest that there is a correlation or causation between worship styles and church growth.  Let me throw out there some anecodtal evidence to suggest the contrary.  I went to a  Christian college in the midwest where about half of the college students there were from out of state.  The area that the college was in had a wide variety of churches to choose from.  Of my friends there, as well as other people I had spoken with over my time there, most people's experiences were similar.  Initially, when "church shopping", people started with the churches with the cool praise bands.  But, in most cases, the decision on what church to attend regularly came down not to what church had the most contemporary singing time.  It came down to which church engaged them the most on a relational level.

The church I chose was a church where I felt welcome, where I was offered meals, where I was invited over to people's houses to fellowship with them.  It wasn't the church with the most impressive praise band.  In fact, the church I attended the most was, in fact, more on the traditional end of the spectrum.  Style of singing, in most cases, has nothing to do with growth of individual churches.  Churches that grow the fastest are the churches where the people in them make an effort to build relationships with others.

Just some food for thought.

John Van Buiten
Director of Music
Covenant CRC, North Haledon, NJ

I appreciate the  many thoughtful comments in this discussion.  I can only add what has been my experience both as a pastor, a Navy Chaplain working essentially with "young people," and as a father, whose two children were taught at a formative age by a wonderful youth leader who shared and passed his excitement with theology along to them.

The problem is not the young people; they are asking and willing to think deeply about important questions of faith.  Many of these young people will dive into biblical and even sysytematic theology if anyone is willing to challenge them to do so.  The bigger problem in my view is that our youth are all too often growing up in churches where their parents, adults in general, and pastors in particular are disinterested in historic Christian doctrine, and their knowledge of and ability to defend essential doctrine (e.g., the Trinity) is so spotty, that it is far easier to assume the kids just want to have fun and feel loved. 

We've been too lazy, ignorant, and/or timid.  But, then, it's hard to start our young people on meat and potatos when we haven't yet been weaned.

Lectio Divina.....with a splash of small group discussions, eh?

Koen:

Well-thought out....there are more than one in your camp...Being a Vermont skier we may think alike; offering opportunities to explore in God's playground. I like that....Don't give up; embrace the challenges adn see children of God continue to embrace God's free gift....

I find the pendulum has swung back in favour of Biblical (exegetical, contextual) teaching.  We are scrapping the study tools of 3rd party org's in favout of Lectio Divina. My students are more interested in what the Bible has to say than what I (thier youth pastor) thinks about current youth and pop culture trends.  We are preaching like never before and they are eating it up... however I agree that this generation needs relational oppertunites to engage in dialouge along with preaching. This is vital and too often overlooked...

I would agree that there is some general truths mentioned in the article...  I my self (Youth Pastor) have loved and hated the "make sure it's fun but also theologically deep at the same time" job description we are at times expected to fulfill. 

I do take issue that quoting teen self report surveys about what students belive is the best way to take the acurate pulse of teens ability to wax eloquently about thier theological beliefs. I'd doubt very much that parents of those teens would do much better in thier surveys.  And that is I believe the bigger issue.  I'm not suggesting here that theological training is soley the parents responsibility as some "D6" fans suggest.  I just think together as a family of faith (CRC) we have all dropped the ball.  Many churches decided to drop catechism because it was what??? Boring!  Looking back I think we put to much emphasis on 3rd party organizations like Youth Unilimted, Youth Specialties, Zondervan and Faith Alive (as wonderful as they are) to insert the pep into theology and mix in a little of the "fun" that was missing...  Eventually we resorted to the same thing the broader evangelical churches were resorting to, fun youth leaders who loved Jesus. What I am begining to wonder is (as Tim Keep seems to be) did the CRC ever really undestand the role of fun and games in teaching theology?  I doubt it...  

I ski with my youth every year.  So do many other youth groups.  Here is the differnce... We DON'T bring a speaker and hire a band when we go. We just go... We ski our hearts out and laugh our heads off.  We do devotions each morning and each morning I invite the youth to simply "play in God's backyard." He's there laughing with us when we laugh and when we marvel at the intricacy of the slide he built for us to slide down.  We play. And when we play together something mysterious happens (I bet God knew this would happen) people want to talk about God. Not the Moralistic Theaputic Deity described by Christian Smith (excellent book btw) but the God of the Bible. Sometimes it's a God conversation on the lift, in the hot tub, in the van on the way home. And then there are the follow up conversations I get to have the next week, next month when a student calls me up and wants to go out for lunch and is "suddenly interested" in doing proffession of faith, taking a class or wanting to reach out to a friend who needs Jesus... In those moments I am aware of the connection to the time we spent together having fun God's backyard.          

I inherited a youth ministry paradigm that suggested for "play time" or "fun" to be time well spent it had to a) draw a crowd and b) somehow be twisted and reworked into a deep "spirtual point".  I have worked hard over the past three years to develop a ministry paradigm in which a) I am invited to shepherd God's kids no matter the size of the group, where my self worth is not tied merely to numbers. b) It is understood that God invented fun. We experience his joy without the need to maufacture a theological proof text out of the already God ordained moments we are given to enjoy with our youth. c) We (parents, primary influencers of the faith and even the fun youth workers) preach/teach/model the Biblical Christ centered gospel... The whole package... The easy to swallow and the hard to swallow... With it's foolishness and with it's ability to provide deep assurance to the youth of our congregation.

It's too easy to play theology against fun and vice versa. I think there is a way to think theologically about them both without watering either of them down in potency...

Sadly the result of churches nixing theology in favour of all fun options is dually noted.

Koen B

Recently, I was at a debate forum at the University; the debate was on abortion...it was called the Great Abortion Debate.  Most of the people there perhaps 70 or 80?, were young people.  There were perhaps a half dozen seniors or semi-seniors.  Most of the young people there, some married, some not, were supporting the pro-life side of the debate.  Young people will get involved in things if they believe they are relevant, important, and vital.   There are many issues today that are relevant, important and vital to our lives as Christians, that will attract the attention of young people, if the older people stop taking these issues for granted. 

For example, the abortion issue is one.  Another example is spending more than five minutes a day in prayer.   Another example is avoiding, and promoting the avoidance of pre-marital sexual activity.   Another example is giving God the honor in our treatment of creation, including giving 10% of our income back to the Lord. 

There are other issues, for which we need to pray, and for which we need to claim God's dominion, and our response.  And these issues are all connected to our confessions, to our theology, and to scripture.  That is the learning opportunity, and the opportunity for action that we have.

Huzzah! Eloquently said....cudos!

I have had some eye opening conversations with young people. We tend to think they are not interested in Theology, but could it be they are not interested in the way they are being taught theology. The youth of today want to make a difference in their world. If you show them how theology will help them do that and teach them in an interactive manner they get excited about theology. If you are going to sit them down and lecture them they will shut down. The young people I have talked with want to hear how their elders have lived out faith in good times and difficult times. They have a respect for the wisdom and experience of their elders that I sadly lacked at their age.

ahh, yes, but youth aren't coming to YP  for salvation; Doctrine (theology) is extremely important for the background to a healthy relationship of holy living. It's the grease that makes the engine run....don't discredit it so easily!

Actually you could probably call them the "Myths of Youth Ministry", eh?

We had an end of year evaluation youth meeting (3 weeks ago) to figure what how we could improve how we were interacting/connecting with the kids. You know what we found out to our surprise; They wanted more discussion, more topics specific to high school struggles, more elderly mentor speakers from within the church describing their struggles and successes in overcoming them and more small group interation. Youth don't want to be spoken AT, they want to be spoken WITH....very relational, very counter-cultural (according to today's society). Yeah, if you just throw a Bible at them and quote Scripture verses, they will rebel. If you are honestly being tranparent and engaging them at their level and letting them give feedback, you can easily thread theology into every week meetings.

I should hope they are mixed.  Certainly, theology has implications in all areas of life, including youth ministry.  It seems to me that if the two are separated, then youth ministry seems to lose some (a lot) of its purpose.  

I am sure that theology is lacking in many youth ministries - perhaps some are too focused on fun, games, and pop culture.  But then, can we not have an understanding of fun and games that is backed by theological thinking?  At the same time, it is unfortunate if we begin to assume that junior high and high school students are simple uncapable of having theological discussions, so we simply entertain with lights, music, and games.  

Every person develops a theology, an understanding of who God is.  Instead of letting people wander alone in this process, let's help guid discussions, let's help nurture growth and understanding to allow students to develop a strong theology of who their God is.

Theoiogy , a manmade science, is interesting, but not a requirement for salvation.

Planning ahead for your youth group is key. To keep them moving in the summer, you can look at time shares which can be less expensive than hotels when  you consider a kitchen for cooking meals and maybe a washer and dryer. There are plenty of activities to do outside and around the area.

 

Thanks for the kind words, Paul; Like most things I continue to learn more about the ever-changing dynamics of youth ministry. The key if you haven't done fund-raising before or are even scared of the thought of it is start with something simple, enjoy the relationships/fellowship that is created from the effort and make it fun. 

For example, I always have a future fund-raising agenda/plan geared for specific events (eg. short term missions trips) but the kids from time-to-time surprise me with their enthusiasm. Recently, because our Youth Rallys in the Maritimes are comparitively small the cost seem to go higher and higher each time we hold one (2x per year) . In an effort to reduce some of these costs, the kids requested a fund-raiser, to help with the costs. Because of a our late decision to do this and the Rally was only 3 weeks away, we decided to have a Movie Madness evening, at the church. In the Sanctuary we showed the movie Couragious and in the Fellowship Hall, another part of the Church, we showed numerous Veggie Tales movies. We advertised it with posters in Churches, Schools and Women's Ministries and stated what it was for, a suggested Donation and the kids sold, baked goodies, drinks, & popcorn during the movies. Why Women's Minitries? Do you how many young moms would kill for a night out with their husbands.....babysitting for $20.....either movie or dinner....So, the kids movies (30 some kids) fueled the adults to attend the other movie (not the other wat around)....plus the added $ for goodies during the movie. easy, simple, fun and great fellowship with kids and moms/dads.

I was involved for many years in Christian School Fund-Raising and although fund-raisinfg seems scary, when you have those 3 elements, the possibilities are limitless. And like everything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets and the elaborate ideas you can try. Don't take on more than you can handle and only try 1 complex fund-raiser a year. Continue to use the ones that work. and don't give up on a good idea until you've tried it 3 times. Don't get discouraged with ones that don't work out, concentrate on the ones that do. Through persistance in our experiences we always set high goals and there were a few years that we almost reached $100,000 in our fund-raising efforts.....that goes a long way when you have creative minds working together!

Some other fund-raising ideas that have really worked well...Apple pie selling, Sat. morning Pancake breakfasts, Talent Show/Mystery Dinner, (Auctions, Banquets, Family Fun Carnival Day,  surviver Day, Volleyball Tournament -these are more elaborate), hosting soup lunches for an area touring company; the sky is the limit, but start simple. And, remember, move out of the way and let the Lord take control. Things will never happen as you expected, but they will always happen the way the Lord planned them. Be ready for the unexpected, because that is the Lord's hand in it all. Look forward to those unexpected rumble-bumps as welcome challenges that the Lord is inserting. For whatever reason: Growth, awareness/empathy or touching a new life. Have fun with this.....

It's time to have our own Canadian denomination. Let's begin the process. Our friends below the 49th will never get it. They don't even try.

A few weeks ago at a Classis meeting, I was part of a group of youth pastors from Classis Toronto (and beyond!) who gave a presentation on Youth Ministry in the CRC.  You can find the presentation notes here: http://rootedradical.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/re-visioning-youth-ministry-part-1/

 http://rootedradical.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/re-visioning-youth-ministry-part-2/

I think it is much more important for youth to be involved in their  church, rather than in the denomination.   If they see the church as living, believing, trusting, honest, and trustworthy, then they might see the church as an example of what the denomination is like.   Their involvement in the church ought to include an understanding of where the church came from, what it believes, why it holds to its confessions, how the confessions influence the faith life of worship and the daily life of its members.  While change in the church is evidence that the church is listening and compassionate and caring and relevant, it also highlights the possiblity of larger changes.   For example, if lots of small changes are constantly possible within a church, then a young adult would begin to think that larger changes are not so dramatic or significant, one of those larger changes being membership in a church of another denomination.   Being able to distinguish between insignificant small changes, and significant confessional changes, is something that would be important to youth.  It would be something that provides a reason for youth to attach to and be loyal to their  church, which they might then extend to the denomination because of its common confession. 

A few youth might place a lot of significance in the denomination, and want to participate in denominational discussions.  But most youth are looking for a hands on relationship with people who can live the gospel, and confess their faith.  They are often at the stage of learning how Christ is lord of their life, not at looking at the intracacies of denominational policy discussions.  They are usually looking for leadership, not wanting to be leaders, even though they may challenge assumptions and leaders from time to time. 

"Youth" is also much too broad a term to be able to get at the essence of this.   Youth encompasses people from age 10 to age 18, and there are dramatic differences in how they look at life, and what kind of things they want to get involved in.  These changes and differences even carry on into the young adult category, from age 18 to 25 or so.   There is no blanket age category that covers all scenarios.  Those who might want to get involved in denominational issues and structures would be a very small minority. 

I agree with Paul that the costs of youth delegates, as well as their assumed significance would suggest that there are better ways to get their input.  What makes their input more significant than the input of all those others who have never been elders or deacons or classical or synodical delegates?   And which group of youth?   Young marrieds?   twelve year olds?   college kids?   farm kids?   unmarried twenty-somethings?  homeschooled graduates?  Youth are only united by age, and are as diverse as the families they come from.   Anyway, things to think about. 

I think an even better question is, WHY is it important to get youth involved in the denomination, and why would they want to be involved in the denomination?

Terry: I'm glad you appreciated my post, although it wasn't intended so much as what you took it for.  In another forum, I was once asked (by Bev Sterk) what I thought the meaning of Micah 6:8.  I answered, it being that Micah 6:8 was "my verse" of sorts for many years, and because I consider myself in the business, so to speak, of doing justice, and have at least of the hobby of loving (and doing) mercy.  Below is that post.

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Bev: Your question/point about [what] Micah 6:8 [means] catches my attention and is really important these days, I think, because of all the "social justice" talk.  I still don't think I know that people are talking about exactly when they say "social justice".

Micah 6:8 has been and is "my favorite verse," so to speak, beginning before I finished law school over 30 years ago.  Here are my thoughts.

Do Justice

God commanded Israel to do justice: no ifs, ands or buts. Kind of simple in a way. The take-away for our generation (whose governments are not theocratic) is a bit more complicated but not too much. Justice is, well justice. If I sell you a pound's worth, I may not use cheating scales. If I pitch a house to you (as a realtor), I may not misrepresent, whether by omission or commission. If I give you my advice on whether to take this case to trial, I must to tell you all of the upside and downside points, not just that which would get you to hire me. If I have a car with problems, I must tell the dealer about them when I trade it for a new one.

Doing justice often hurts us financially. Not doing justice is stealing. There should be a law against all injustices, literally.

In terms of institutions, the government's chief matter of concern is justice. Thus, government should creates uniform laws about weights and measures, contract rules, torts, property law, etc. And it should create a "judicial system" that enforces those rules ("does justice"). Government rightly says to all its citizens, "you must do justice." In OT Israel society, it was easy to "take advantage" of people who had little legal/political power, like widows and orphans, or the stranger. Often, they had neither the means, nor the know-how, nor the political clout to fight those who would be unjust to them (literally steal from them). Thus, God's command to all of Israel, especially its rulers I think (who enforced the requirement), was: DO JUSTICE. Today as well.

Government enforced justice can sometimes seems like mercy, but it isn't mercy. A "welfare safety net" is a matter of justice, not mercy, because only government has the power to take human life (hence, it must ensure human life). The argument arises of course when Government extends justice to include mercy. I believe it does that when it intends to equalize wealth, or shifts wealth in order to "be nice" to those less fortunate, or engages in affirmative action (except to offset past injustice).

Love Mercy

Note first, Micah does not say to "do" mercy but rather to "love" it. Just as the early Christians who lived communally were not REQUIRED to commit what was theirs to the community, so we are not also. In OT Israel, you could sell yourself as a slave. Justice would require that you be released from that on the year of Jubilee, but in the meantime justice meant you were a slave (unless the person you sold yourself to had mercy and released you). But still, God also commanded the OT Israelites (and us) to LOVE mercy. They/we were/are not thereby ordered to do it, but we are ordered to "want to do it," to examine our hearts and adjust them when they acquire a selfish disposition. Loving mercy is very much like "loving our neighbors as ourselves."

If everyone Did Justice, heaven on earth would still not exist. If everyone Loved Mercy, we would almost be there.

Government should not Love Mercy (well, OK to love it but not do it, or command its citizens to do it). Doing Mercy is NOT within government's jurisdiction, and if it was, government would do it badly. That doesn't mean government should not create laws, for example, to mimic the effect of the Year of Jubilee, but doing that is Justice, that is, keeping things from getting too out of balance (if that happens, society--and society's ability to do justice--crumbles).

Should the church Love Mercy? Of course--even, I think, the church as institution. Should the church as organism (that is, should all Christians) Love Mercy? A super big "you bet." However, mindful of our Lord's acknowledgement, the poor will be with us always. This does not mean we should ease up on Loving Mercy, but we must, need to, acknowledge that we probably cannot give all the mercy we'd love to give (one goes crazy if one loves mercy and does not recognize her/her limits in giving it because we are not God).

Walk Humbly With God

I have less definitive thoughts about this phrase, but here's what I've done with it so far in my life at least. First, for me, obeying this meant, when I started practicing law, taking off my tie and not requiring my clients address me as Mr. Vande Griend while I addressed them by their first name. An older businessman in church advised me otherwise, and I tried a bit but eventually decided doing that was manipulative and disobedient (it creates a power relationship, not a servant relationship).

Walking Humbly also meant, for me, acknowledging my inability to to everything for everyone who needs it, but it took a long time for me to figure that out. Especially in my 20s through 40's, I did so much pro bono work and work for "Christian organizations," that I really neglected my family. That wasn't Walking Humbly because I was trying to be the guy that would/could fix everything for everyone. I did eventually figure that out, but it took decades.

The other way I decided to Walk Humbly, and you know this one already from a different forum, was to not move from where we lived in town, despite that area becoming the "Hispanic area." I have to admit that to this day, I feel twangs of embarrasment when some finds out where I live. "East Salem? Where in East Salem?" Literally, no "doctor or lawyer" lives within a 4-5 mile radius of our house. So what was my problem?  Still, the blessing of living here outweighs the sometimes feeling of embarassment and I would not be Walking Humbly, as I understand it, nor Loving Mercy, if I did not. Besides, the blessings of living here, as you know from another forum, are much greater than the curses.

Would love to hear your thinking Bev -- and I know you have some thoughts. :-)   Others as well.

Chris: The term ('social justice') may have roots (or at least a root) in Catholicism but that doesn't mean it's not liberal (nor is Catholicism "all about the sanctity of human life" -- it's a big church with lot of views and lots of doctrines).

Indeed, Catholicism is also the historic source of "liberation theology" (the Protestant version generally referred to as "social gospel) and the two, or three, phrases, "social justice," "liberation theology," and "social gospel," are all phrases within a largely single perspective.  For a good summary, check out Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice ).  However "social justice" may be characterized, "conservative" is not one of them.

Understand of course that "liberal" and "conservative" are relative terms (thus, a conservative in the US tends to want limited government while a conservative in Russia wants dictatorial government).  But we're in the US, talking about US/English words and phrases, as are the parents (and children) of CRC church youth groups. Were we in Russia, "social justice" would indeed be "conservative."

I think there is a pretty big disconnect between the denominational bureacracy and the CRC membership in this area.  Via our membership in the WCRC and a number of activities of our CRC agencies (OSJ and others), the denominational bureaucracy is embracing, promoting, and advocating political centrism (lots of government control over society) and forced (government controlled) egalitarianism -- all under the banner of "social justice."  That would make sense in a Catholic tradition, but not in a Calvinist tradition.  The historic Catholic tradition rarely opposed centristic government control.  In fact, the middle ages is a long story of the Catholic tradition promoting, even seizing that centristic government control (and the Catholic church governance structure is very heirarchical, in contrast to that of the various Calvinist traditions).  Catholic tradition embraced monarchy; but the various Calvinist traditions wanted decentralized authority (sphere sovereignty if you will).  Only recently, and especially in the US, Catholics have been rethinking their political perspectives and becoming much more conservative, that is, de-centrist in their political thinking.

And this is the problem that Paul Boice's families may be having.  When most CRC folk (members, not denominational bureacracy) hear the phrase "social justice," they hear (for good reason) Van Jones, green parties, Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, Barak Obama -- all of which have two political perspective points in common: (1) that which used to be regarded as "mercy" is now recast as a matter of justice, which means a matter of political right; (2) government should enforce political rights, including matters of justice, including the right to economic equality.

Interestly, even though Paul Boice's lead post begins with talk of "social justice," it continues more by referring to mercy, even describing the projects undertaken as "mercy projects."  Justice and mercy are two different things.  Christians should "do justice" and they should "love mercy," but they should not confuse the two, and the current fashionable use of the phrase  "social justice" does just that, confusing not only the two concepts, but the people with whom the phrase is used in conversation.  And so when Paul takes his kids back from doing "mercy projects," he finds no objection but rather enthusiasm for what was done.  Makes sense.  When he talked first about "social justice," he got a cool response; but then when he engaged the kids in "mercy projects," he found families supportive.  His initial communication was not in sync with the projects actually undertaken.

Please don't misunderstand my perspective.  I'm all for "mercy" and "mercy projects."  I advocate for them, I do them personally -- a lot (because I'm a decentrist).  I'm also all for "justice," having spent more than a little of my 32 years of law practice obtaining justice for clients (not infrequently at no or little charge).  But I don't confuse the two, and I don't advocate for government to be our society's mechanism for doing mercy (justice yes, mercy no).  In fact, I would suggest that confusing the two, and miscasting the role of government as to justice and mercy, leads to dramatically bad results.

Begin the planning of a mission trip with social justice questions in mind.  That will facilitate planing parts of the trip where students can learn more about the history of the community, the issues members express they are facing, what they are doing about it, and where they are running into walls.  

The book, "When Helping Hurts," is a great resource for shaping discussions about systemic and individual causes of poverty.

"Social Justice Handbook," by Mae Elise Cannon, has descriptions of dozens of social justice issues and how the church can get involved.  

handsformdgs.org is one of the CRC's social justice campaigns and a great way to introduce youth to a variety of issues.

Keep the initiative rooted in what the Bible says about justice and in real situations that are being faced by real people who want you to join with them in their efforts. 

Can't wait to hear more suggestions!   

The term “Social Justice” has its roots in Catholic social teaching, which is all about the sanctity of human life.  In that case maybe social justice is a "conservative" term. Christians who like social justice also like Micah 6:8, do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God.   

Paul: I'm going to suggest there may be a couple of problems.

First, "social justice" is a "liberal term."  More specifically, it is a code-phrase for a certain political perspective that some (many?) of your kids -- and/or their parents -- may not adhere to.

Second, the term (social justice) itself is problematic.  It only speaks of "justice" and not "mercy" (your posts discusses mercy but the term "social justice" does not).  Certainly, we must do justice (as Micah 6:8 says), but the current fashionable political perspective (which created the phrase "social justice") wants to talk only of justice and never (or rarely) of mercy, and wants to, literally, recharacterize that which should be described as "mercy" as "justice."  Why?  Because that is a political statement: the poor are poor only because they are oppressed, which means "poor-ness" is always the result of injustice -- oppression by others.  The use of "mercy" implies there is no injustice done, that someone is giving out of love but not because justice demands it.  "Social justice" thinking just doesn't like talk of mercy because that would imply condescension.

"Social justice" is a close cousin to "liberation theology," which is a close cousin to neo-Marxism.  All three represent political perspectives more than anything else.

Finally, when you say "Others have a flawed logic that if poor people just worked harder, they wouldn’t be poor," you somewhat belie your bias.  In fact, that is sometimes the case.  Sometimes it's not the case as well, but sometimes it is.  In addition, there are times where the decisions people make (e.g., not to finish high school, to have a child without benefit of marriage, to spend money unwisely, etc.) cause them to be poor.  I'm not suggesting that we (as Christ's representatives) should ignore people who don't work harder or make bad decisions, but helping them is not then a matter of "justice" but rather of "mercy."

Understand the possibility that whenever you talk about "doing justice to others", those you talk to may be understanding you to say that they have done injustice to those others.  If they feel accused, the accusation may bother them, in part because the accusation is itself unjustice.

Reg. This made me laugh. :)  I appreciate the ways you are including the children into the life of the congregation through giving.  And I wouldn't mind some cake.

Just one example of this type of interaction, is for churches who do services for seniors residences or nursing homes, to have young children come and sing songs or play instruments at those services.   For the young kids, it builds an understanding of age, of infirmity, of the blessing of helping and service.  And the older people generally really like to see the young kids;  it brightens their day and gives them hope for the future too.   Kids from age 6 to 12 generally like to do it, and when they are used to it, they will also participate at an older age. 

posted in: Breaking Down Silos

It's true that the Youth Leader gets "sucked" into many different areas of the church, but I don't think it should be expected of them to break down and/or tackle many of those other "probem" areas unless they are gifted to do so, have the time to do it, and a desire to do it. Let's face it, the youth ministry is a hard enough "beast" on it's own and if they are suppose to be concentrating on that area, we don't want to see "burn out", frustration, discouragement or a feeling of being overwhelmed. It's true that many of the physical and spiritual gifts are those that compliment the other areas and can add benefit and aide to difficulties that arise in those areas. 

What I have done is make myself available as a "consultant" to the committee and/or ministry. That way you can move in and out of the committee/ministry needs without specifically having to be responsible for the things they are suppose to be responsible for. It allows them an open door, also, that not only they can contact the youth leader for advice, but , that the youth leader will feel more comfortable giving suggestions even when not asked. Also, the ministry/committee must reach out in some shape, way or form, otherwise, you're just stepping on toes. Personally, I try to look for things that nobody else wants to do - but that's my  preference.

Areas, that I have seen helpful to me is doing this is the Outreach Committee and the Seniors group. It's especially good to interact with as many committees/ministries, as possible (or fits your schedule) because youth can be an asset and plugged into almost any ministry of the church. The more you interact with them - building those relationships (in & outside church environment) the more they will trust you and ultimately support you.

posted in: Breaking Down Silos

Jason, I like the idea of the mentoring and the "prayer buddy" ministries that you are doing.  A great Biblical idea!

Just need to say....if you haven't started planning Summer by March you're already behind.... :>).....

Anyway, STMT (Short term mission trip) prep should be started before January, hopefully deciding by January or narrowed down to 1 or 2. SUmmer tends to be less busy, less responsibilities, but a time to try some new things and be creative. Usually we offer the option of Bible Studies throughout the Summer, but with a reduced schedule (instead of every week, rather every other OR instead of every other, once a month) so the leaders get a little break.

As far as activities we have a Frisbee Friday, which is every other Friday playing ultimate Frisbee (combining both Youth Group & Young Adults). Afterwards, we have a BBQ (Dogs & Burgers) which gives us some more focused fellowship time too. We do something after evening service. Last year it was Ultimate, maybe this year it might be something else. And you can't be on the island without having at least one Beach Party! We play by ear one or two night activities to do together, but that's usually difficult due to vacations and kids who have Summer jobs, so it needs to be a smaller event (maybe a night at drag racing, or a night doing miniiture golf).

And, can't complete a Summer without the kids volunteering some service at VBS. Everyone has fun with that. So although everything is a little more laid back for the leaders (who by the way need a vacation to....you think?) LOL! Remember, Fun, Fellowship and Free-time!......Now, let's hope the sun comes out!

I often hear people say that involvement by youth ought to include participation at or in council meetings.   I would suggest to be careful with that.   First of all, real participation in worship, in celebratory events, in sunday school, and in other activities, is always possible for everyone, from kindergartners to teens to young adults and to the elderly, whether in organizing, planning, teaching or participating.  But part of being a church is respecting the wisdom of older people who have been dedicated christians for some time, with life experience given to them by God.   Usually that wisdom gets reflected on council.   If that wisdom is not respected in a significant way, then young people who have been given that authority too early, will lose respect for it later in their lives when they themselves become older, knowing how unqualified and unwise they were in their earlier years.  There are many many ways of having a seamless intergenerational interaction between members of the body of Christ, but council membership is not one of them. 

I should add that one of the things our congregation is doing is hosting a few intergenerational events throughout the year (Games Night, Music Fest, service projects, etc.)  They are intentionally intergenerational in that the mixing and mingling of the generations is the priamriy goal of the evenings - all ages are engaged in the activity together and not simply in terms of physical proximity.

We've also shifted the focus of our high school youth minsitry from "large group activities" to one-on-one mentoring.  Every youth who "opts in" to the mentoring program is paired with a mentor with whom they meet once per month for prayer, discussion, etc.  The mentors receive training, are given the discussion topics that we are discussing at our youth Bible discussion nights, etc.

We are also in the process of expanding the mentoring program into our junior high and Sunday School programs - albeit, in a less intensive fashion.  Sunday School kids are partnered with a "Prayer Buddy" which conitnues into Jr. High where those students will begin to meet with their mentor a couple of times throughout the year.

There is a huge difference between being "multi-generational" and "inter-generational".  Most churches are, by default, multi-generational churches; that is, they are a congregation where more than one age group is present.  You've done a great job fleshing out the countors of an inter-generational church - thanks!

I agree with you that we don't want to fall into is "tokenism" - sipmly having a youth present for the sake of having a youth present. This means giving youth real and meaningful responsibilities in the life of the church, similar to the ways you've outlined above.

We had Syd Hielema lead our congregation in a workshop on "Becoming an Intergenerational Church" - I highly recommend Syd's workshop - he offers great insights into how generational dynamics play out in congregations and offers practical suggestions for making the cultural shift to becoming truly inter-generational.

Let's face it - becoming an intergenerational congregation is a shift in the cultures of many congregations, which means change, which means questioning and challenging some of our practices.  In light of the "mass exodus" of young adults from the church, I think most congregations are waking up to this reality and the necessity of making cultural changes.  The question is - are they willing to make those necessary changes?

Haha, no, not sales or marketing. I actually edit curriculum, so stuff that doesn't have anything to do with this sale at all!

My intent was just to point out some ways the sale could be used to drive fellowship too, since it does come off a little "transaction-based." I really think your "in the background" idea is interesting. Running this in addition to traditional congregational-based fund raising is probably going to be most attractive to churches.

Another option could maybe be to offer a quarterly or twice-a-year option aimed at developing some kind of pattern/rhythm so churches can come to rely on it as a way to learn about and acquire new FA books, plan some of their reading group topics or adult ed studies around it, etc.  What are your thoughts on that?

I'm glad to see such good engagement with the topic on here. I'm going to pass this along to the professionals over in sales/marketing to follow-up with you on.  Thanks for the great feedback!

 

Derek: OK, I appreciate your honesty and reflective support.; you have definitely thought this through (although, you work there - in sales maybe? LOL, just joking) And, I don't think I was saying I wouldn't support this program, only that there are SO MANY MORE creative ideas & activities that do a better job at Financial & Fellowship Development. This is definitely a more passive approach (more likely & easier geared to being promoted and supported by an older generation of reformed leaders - which I consider myself a part of)  I think this program would be more appealing as "something in the background" that was continuous throughout the year - and maybe it is, but I only saw the program as being initiated for the month of April only. Send me some info on the program and maybe you would be willing to tailor it to our fb page. I think the "kit part" is cumbersome, too. Younger kids want to see things work a little more hi-tech. Let congregates know, at various times of the year, that it is available and have it so they can go online, purchase and the residuals automatically are transferred to the church YG (eg check, debit, bank acct) Very similar to what we do with our clothing consignment that builds and develops funds for our Mission trips, in the background, throughout the year. I didn't mean to write quite so much, but you get the point, eh?

Everrettvh: Thanks for proving my point!!! (I didn't even have to search this one out) Although, I have nothing bad to say about the Girl Scouts (in case you are trying to read things into something that's are not there) The EMPHASIS is on the PROFITS and not on the relational/fellowship aspect....(I LOVE Girl Scout Cookies BTW!) But if you've ever had a Girl Scout at your door (even those whom you know), it's not about fellowship; and the "footnoted" three C's that they are regurgitating are the 3 C's that are their cookie cutter answer to everything; ....Sort of like....OK, I'm going to get myself in trouble here (AND I'm a true-blue Cadet supporter)....the Cadet motto, "A Cadet must be reverent, considerate, trustworthy...." so forth and so on. At that age they don't fully know what it means but bordering on indoctrination (however, I did not say brainwashed...LOL)

1) I don't think that necessarily raising money for kids needs to be a 1st or 2nd priority; that makes raising money look like it's a bad thing....and it's not! It can be if handled improperly, but there are a lot of positive features of teaching kids about fund-raising (eg. responsibility, honesty, accountability, involvement for a goal). I do, however, agree that we should also be aware of some kind relational development aspect to the types of "fund-raising" activities that you do. Although, book-selling has it's pro's, I'm not sold on the fact that it has a relational aspect to it. Our YG always attempts to do that in the activities that we choose to undertake; It needs to be a good blend and the kids with learn more, enjoy it more and remember it longer. In other words it will have a greater impact.

 

2) How about Financial Fellowship Development...it kind of has a nice ring to it; I like it!  :>)

I agree... I think a great fund-raising idea post can come out these comments Paul!

But I also think that maybe this particular fund-raising option can be used alongside other campaigns churches run. Let me first preface this by saying I work for Faith Alive, but wanted to offer just a couple of thoughts:

- People in our congregations are always going to be buying books for themselves or as gifts for people. This option allows that "book" money go directly to two sources: their youth group and their denominational publisher. This gives people in the congregation the chance to bless the youth group and the FA/CRCNA with their purchases instead of putting that money in someone else's pocket. And the part of that money that comes into FA goes right back into producing better products for our churches.

- This actually can open up some of those "intergenerational" doors that everyone is talking about. The teenagers in your church are going to have to know something about these books in order to tell the congregation about them and help point people to certain titles that may interest them (FA should help them with that). They may recommend a book to someone in the congregation, who then reads and loves it. That person then has a connecting point with the teen(s) that sold them the book to say, "Hey, I really liked that book you guys sold us/recommended." Books have always been a connecting point for people, and this can help your congregation connect in new ways.

- These are great book/study group titles. What a great opportunity to buy multiple copies for groups in your church and know the money is going to your kids. While you are at it, think about buying copies for the teens selling them and invite them to join your "adult" book clubs and discussion groups!

- Buy a few extra for the young adult/college-age members that may not have the extra money and invite them to read along with your groups or just give them as gifts. 

- Theology matters. The number of Christian books, studies, devotions, and whatever else out there is huge. Like Paul mentioned, it seems there are far too few solid Reformed resources on our book shelves and church classrooms. We at FA works hard to publish books that will help to edify, inform, and challenge readers with solid Reformed ideas and worldview. 

Like I said, just a few thoughts. This doesn't have to take the place of what you are already doing and the fund-raising efforts that give 100% back to your congregations. But it can help raise some extra money on the side for the youth groups while supplying the congregation with great resources and reads.  And it supports "us" (your church, FA, the CRC) instead of Amazon.com, etc. It's a win-win I would think... but then again I work here :)

I love that "philosophy." It's been many years since I was in youth group but some of my fondest memories are of our themed fundraising dinners. It was a way to build community and raise money at the same time. 

Don't be too hard on those Girl Guides and their cookies!  This is from their 2010 annual report:

"The skills girls learn through the Girl Scout cookie program certainly have an annual payoff: in the 2010 program year, some three million girls sold 198 million boxes for a record $714 million in cookie revenue to support Girl Scouting. More importantly, the cookie sale helps give a new generation of girls the courage, confidence, and character to claim their rightful place as leaders."

I have been wondering a lot lately about parent ministry as a part of youth ministry.  Typically youth pastors spend a bulk of their time with students but very little time with parents.  But in all honesty we typically spend no more than 5 hours max a week with any given student (that may even be a high estimate).  Parents hopefully spend more time than that with their students.  Maybe we should be spending as much time if not more on parent or multigenerational ministry as we do on youth ministry. 

I like the idea of including parents in any way appropriate in our youth ministries.  Having them drive or serve or whatever else makes them present to their youth and takes some responsibility off of other leaders.  I also like the idea of education parents in meaningful ways.  Last fall we held a class for parents and students where we discussed today's youth culture - we used Walt Mueller's Youth Culture 101 as our guide.  We had some good discussions with parents and youth together about the realities of today's culture.  We hope to do more joint educational experiences together in the future.

Sounds like a good way to make some money for a group - but it doesn't fit with my "philosophy" of fund raising (maybe not the right choice of word, but I can't think of anything else at the moment)!  I dislike fundraising at all but it seems to be a necesary evil in youth ministry in general.  We try to make all of our fund raisers directly benefit the church as well as our youth ministries.  We want our congregation to grow together in fellowship and faith and we try to use our fund raisers to accomplish those goals - especially the fellowship part.  We do a talent show and dessert night (Immanuel's Got Talent minus the judges), a soup supper and service auction, dinner before our annual congregational meeting, and a dinner for widows and widowers in conjunction with our deacons.  Our goal is for each of these events to contribute to the fellowship and community development of our church body first, and to raise money for our students second.

That being said, there are good titles in the list and getting more of them into the hands of our members isn't a bad thing.  In fact, we just bought a case of Kevin Adam's book on the Psalms for our congregation.  Should have signed up for this fund raiser before we ordered those!

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