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No class, no advice, and no mentor could have prepared us for what lay around the corner. There’s comes a point in all our lives where we become so comfortable with what is, that we can’t imagine alternatives from reality. And when that alternative reality strikes, it’s with a force of venom that rivals the strength of a Cobra.

November 15, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

The problem of bullying is not a topic that has surfaced over the past 3–5 years. But with the inclusion of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Four Square, the subject matter has taken an entirely new angle, one that has many leaders, counselors, and parents scratching their heads, wondering where to even begin.

November 7, 2012 0 0 comments
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Maybe it’s late Friday morn, and you find yourself disheveled. You have a group of parents coming tonight to join you, and you know that you must present your best impression. Your problem: time.

October 30, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 10/24/2012 While going on a trip is certainly a valid method for cultivating a mission heart, every Christian student should be able to answer the question, “How are you involved in missions?” Every church should be able to answer the question, “How do you involve students in missions?”

October 24, 2012 0 0 comments
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I once read that “our youth will not raise their hands in praise to God, any higher than their leaders do”. We all know that the best way to lead in anything, is by being an example. This is how we need to lead our youth. We need to “be a player”.

October 23, 2012 0 2 comments
Q&A

Does anyone have a resource available for commissioning a youth director?

October 22, 2012 0 5 comments
Discussion Topic

I'm currently in the process of becoming the new youth ministry guide for the youth ministry network. 

I'd like to put it out there to the greater community any topics you may want addressed, or questions you may have in your local settings. I will be addressing topics such as Bullying,...

October 18, 2012 0 0 comments
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I believe that burnout is a good thing. I’m convinced that burnout leads to a re-centering of the self. When we approach the cliff of wits end, the very questions which root and define our ministry boil up: What am I doing this for? How am I doing this? Why am I doing this? or most importantly – Who am I doing this for?

October 16, 2012 0 0 comments
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One of my favorite aspects of summer is the evenings spent by the campfire. Fire is absolutely mesmerizing to me. In full honesty, I would say that I’ve stared into a fire without moving for over half hour periods at a time. That’s saying a lot considering I’m both a busy body and a pyromaniac. Besides, who doesn’t love sticky hands and golden brown marshmallows?

October 9, 2012 0 0 comments
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There is pressure to keep students “engaged” long enough to teach them something, or equip them with some sort of practical application of faith for their livelihood. However, I’ve found that the material of Scripture isn’t something to be reduced, but is actually something which compliments an ever changing culture of entertainment. 

October 2, 2012 0 3 comments
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I’ve only been in this industry for a mere three years. But those of us who work here can quickly understand how much will change in three years. In fact, I often share with people that the turn over of my high school program is four years: a statistic not often considered by those who aren’t encompassed in the work.

September 25, 2012 0 4 comments
Resource, Article

This week's post is by Amy Frankruyter, a member of Bethel CRC (Newmarket) and a grade 12 student at Toronto District Christian High School.  Amy is a gifted young leader who hopes to study journalism at university next year.

During the month of July, Calvin Seminary hosted a program...

September 3, 2012 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

I have a two-and-a-half year old daughter.  Her favorite question is “why?”  No matter what is being discussed, she will always respond with the same inquiry.  When she first started doing this, it was endearing; however, at this point, I’ll admit, it can be more than a little annoying.

...

August 27, 2012 0 4 comments
Resource, Article

My name is Jason Postma.  It is a blessing to serve as your new Youth Ministry Guide on the Network.

When I’m not hanging-out online, I serve as the Director of Youth and Family Ministry at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.

I’ve been married to Natalie,...

August 20, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

It was early 2011 when I was approached with the offer to be a guide for the Youth Network. I love youth ministry and I love communication tools like social media, so I jumped at the opportunity. As I wrap up my time as guide...

August 13, 2012 0 5 comments
Blog

I don’t know about you, but often in the busyness of life, I tell myself, I don’t have just a minute, I have too many things to do. Sometimes I am so preoccupied with what I want to do, that I do not notice the needs of my youth...

July 31, 2012 0 1 comments
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Is it possible to have a growing, healthy, successful youth group in a congregation that has traditional worship? Does the worship style of the congregation matter? Does the worship style of the congregation enhance or inhibit a youth leader’s ability to do youth ministry?

July 3, 2012 0 19 comments
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I just read an interesting blog called “Why Theology and Youth Ministry Seldom Mix.”  Here’s the link to the article by Cameron Cole and Dave Wright on the Gospel Coalition Blog. It’s a great discussion regarding the challenge of incorporating theology into youth groups. I wonder if others see this as a challenge or concern...

June 11, 2012 0 12 comments
Blog

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

May 28, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

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

May 25, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

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

May 15, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

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

April 30, 2012 0 5 comments
Blog

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

April 23, 2012 0 2 comments
Blog

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

April 16, 2012 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

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

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

April 10, 2012 0 4 comments

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I read this post last week and have been thinking about it off and on since then. Not only do I think you are right about this in terms of youth ministry, but I think there is wisdom here for ALL ministry: be present, invest in relationships (as Albert said), and provide a safe place where people are accepted as they are.

Great advice Albert.  Thanks for sending along these suggestions.  I think you are right on point.

I text with my kids, and think it's absolutely a useful tool, but you have to be careful on many different levels;

1) Stalking (for the receiver and sender)

- if it's done/received excessively, the youth thinks you are watching him too closely... like a parent.

2) Perception

- things txted are taken out of context...sometimes positively but also negatively.

3) Generational Gap;

- Sometimes, it depends on the age of the leader and how the kids respond to that leader as to whether it works or not.

TIP: If you're going to use Txting, then you MUST teach Texting ediquette also. Every group is different; some don't allow cells, some have specific rules, some are lax.....but whatever the guidelines are, they MUST be enforced and the leaders MUST adhere to them also.

Amen and Amen!

 

Thanks, Paul.  Your post reminds us that Numbers is a book in the Bible, not a Fruit of the Spirit...

That's because Youth Ministry is a long-term "investment". Whenever I hear stories of success of youth ministry being measured by performance, you can always look right around the corner and see people in charge that are looking for short term results. Until you accept the fact that Youth ministry is a long-term venture, and start evaluating the success of the program by the quality of relationships that are being established, your youth group will never, ever, in a million years grow. ALL the youth groups that I have seen flourish have those two goals as their foundational core. Whenever those goals are applied (along with some other smaller add'l elements) the youth groups almost ALWAYS explode immediately.

OK, so I suppose, I'm the black sheep of the bunch because I plan most of my entire year in September, and I have no time, ever....because knowing what I am going to do allows me to be involved in many other activities, as well. (lol) I still only give it to my kids piecemeal, which allows me the flexibility to change the schedule as the year goes on, as other people want to speak to the kids and as other "brilliant" ideas that come to me throughout the year, but planning ahead even in a skeleton outline is so much easier to tackle and drive the group in a focused direction.....OK....wrong topic - maybe another great topic for the future...back to what the issue is...Sorry :>}

.Yes, I think materialism is actually a VERY easy topic to talk about for many reasons. If you've experienced poverty, REAL poverty, the first thing that becomes cemented in your brain is HOW MUCH WE HAVE THAT WE DON'T NEED! Let me say that again, with a little less emotion, , how much we have that we don't need! We squirrel our stuff away, we save double for "just in case", we constantly waste the resources we have and on and on and on! Two simple things to incorporate: Teach by example! show them where they are falling into the trap of having so many things (starting with clothes) and they will soon get the hint. I noticed it with my kids without even trying. I started to here them saying things I was saying without even knowing I was saying it. ALSO: Don't give up on the service projects in your community; the higher awareness and exposure they have to what reality is around them, the more it will be on their mind. How can we share to those who actually NEED it more than us....ultimately downsizing our addiction to having, MORE, More More......

Another thing that my wife has had success with, is being the English/British Literature professor she is, She has a "Grinch Who Stole Christmas" PowerPoint presentation that she shows to various groups every year (Schools, churches, youth groups....whoever will listen) She emphasizes the Christian parallels to the story and it is her way to honor the true meaning of Christmas, to ward off the ever-growing monster of materialism that can jade our senses to real joy.

I don't know if this helps, but I think if you are truly honest with yourself and understand how big a problem this really is, that it will be quite easy to tackle this topic, not only during this time of year, not only as a 1-time, 1-night devotion topic, but to be challenged to uphold this ideal to ward off this cultural humanistic - and essentially rooted in the sinful nature of man - addiction throughout our lives; plant seeds that twill flourish and they can use long after they have left youth group; probably there will be some who will even go away empowered to do something about it....Merry Christmas :>)

Visiting the elderly has always been a positive experience. I don't think anyone has ever given the indication that it was a dreary exercise. It's exciting to hear the stories and the wealth of knowledge they have from years past and living through historical tragedies. I like it on a number of levels. One is that the kids find out that it isn't quite as bad as they thought it might have been, and sometimes even fun. The kids learn a human, tangible side of Senior-ness and that connection is what sparks relational activities on a new and different level, immediately, as well as, much later in life.  Also, I love to see the elderly peoples face light up when they are entertaining the youth. Yes, you read that right....they are doing the entertaining! I have made a special effort this year to include Senior in numerous activities, such as, service project, crafts, games, good-will in an effort to realistically and practically attempt to make the Seniors feel that they still have something to contribute....that's really where the rubber hits the road, isn't it? Seniors, who many times, have spent most of their time involved in every aspect of church life, now feel useless; no refund, no return. And they no longer feel connected. It's extremely important and necessary that we spur on these interactions with the elderly that will carry them through this period in their life, while they are waiting for their eternal resting place, and treasure.

I have to agree wholeheartedly with Ty....thanks for clarifying this for everyone....Another defining issue is thinking with Kuyperian Leadership theology....capturing every sphere of our lives for the Lord. Integrating our spheres of life into our faith and NOT trying to squeeze our faith - as an afterthought - into our spheres of life....that's like trying to put a circular peg into a square hole! and, re-emphasizing again what Ty was articulating very well, to transforming and reclaiming, every square inch of our society around as as God's....God restores society through our works of service and obedience.

I think you can start out small and work your way to a bigger picture when it comes to incorporating our reformed heritage and theology in youth ministry.

The best way I can put it, borrowing from other better thinkers, is to look at youth ministry through the lenses of our reformed heritage and develop a world view that is both biblical and reformed.

Here is what I mean...

As we do youth ministry, are we passing along biblical lenses to help our students view the world from a bibilcal and reformed perspective?

That the world was created good by God, that in it's fallen state things aren't the way they should be [turned upside down by Satan and sin] and that we have the ability with the power of God to turn things back around to the way God intended them.

If all things are created good, then our part in God's redemptive [to buy back] plan is the make things good again.  So music, media, liturature, vocations, sports, and all other human pursuits have in them good, but have been distorted by sin.  So how do we as reformed Christians set things right again?  That is our endevor.  We can help God's kingdom reclaim and restore them!  Music is a good thing, but has been warped by the messages of sex, drugs, greed, etc.  So how do we point out music, in any genre, that is worthy, good, and has messages that are in line with God's biblical message.  Not sacred versus secular, but seeing all music can have either the power to uplift or the power to tear down.  The power to point to God's truth or lead us away from it. This can be done with anything, even a house.  Houses are good and offer shelter, abondoned houses are not what God intended and so we can redeem and restore houses so that people who can't afford homes may have a place to live.  Like what Habitat and other groups do.

So it's a matter of lenses and working to restore God's intentions to the world. 

Another facet can be looking at our creeds and confessions to see what God's word teaches us and how it helps us to live out our calling in the world.  We are currently helping kids discover/rediscover some of the beauty and calling that come from the Apostles Creed and Heidelberg Catechism.  Not dry and stuff, but wonderful and affirming.  How do we live grateful and serving lives out of the thankfulness that God saved us from our sin?  How do we see the world as God's creation and that our mandate is to love and serve all?  How do we stay connected to God so that he is the source of our strength and ability to live our lives each day?  And on and on and on.

And this is all just scratching the surface, but it's a start.

Our reformed heritage and biblical theology give us the rocks, the foundation to be able to lead and teach our students in the truth of God's plan for us in his world.  There are some great thinkers and youth ministry resources that are out there but from reformed perspective you might have dig deeper and come up with some of your own.  One person who can help a ton on the idea of biblical and reformed worldview is Walt Mueller at the Center for Parent Youth Understanding.  www.cpyu.org.  Walt is great!  Also Sparkhouse has some great short videos that address some cool biblical truths and even some of the reformed perspective of the faith.

I hope this is a start. Blessings!

Ty Hogue

Youth Pastor • Harderwyk Ministries, Holland, MI

I have read two blogs now that have directed me to be more reformed, or to support a reformed view of youth ministry.  Working within the Christian Reformed Church, I am sure that this must be a big deal for me - however, could someone paint what that might look like?  Reformed youth minsitry has to be more than working with YU or ordering curriculum from Faith Alive...doesn't it?  Recently I am having conversations with my planning / advisory team who have identified one of the core focus points of our ministry should be to have a reformed perspective within our youth ministry.  I asked them to define that, and it was like watching a large semi run over a small squarral.   What is reformed Youth Ministry?  How is it to be defined and then maybe it can be transfered to our students?

Well said.  They are seeking the most available source to fill who they are. It's time to realize kids today are nothing like 50 yrs. ago. If we don't meet them there are multitude of options that many of older generation have no idea. Applying traditional methods is like trying to light a match in a monsoon.

Talks about discernment are nice and good, but the 1-2 hours a week that you spend with your youth pale in comparison to the 6 or more hours a day that our students spend consuming media.  Perhaps before you try teaching your students better morality, you should ask yourself why your students consume "unhealthy" music, video games, movies and internet in the first place.

I think the answer is that most high school students feel empty and they are using music they like, entertaining movies and web pages totry to fill themselves up.  This is not an issue of morality, its an issue of what is fulfilling in life.  Talking about morality only works if your students feel guilty about consuming such media and they clearly do not.  In order to fill their emptiness, you need to show them who the person is who truly fills people up.  Once they feel more full in Christ, they will be less likely to turn to forms of media in order to seek fulfillment.  Showing them Christ means being graceful and understanding of who they are and it also means practicing the spiritual disciplines with your students.  Read "Almost Christian" by Kenda Dean and "Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster for more information.

And of course, the content of these songs, and the things they watch and see, do affect them.   It may not seem to at first, but it does.   Just like the candy and cookies and alcohol and fatty diets affect their physical bodies;   first just a little bit, and then more and more.  The very fact that they deny it already demonstrates what it has done to them.   It has numbed them, anesthetized them.   They no longer worry about the immorality or about how God regards the songs and movies and books and conversation.   So it has already affected them. 

I remember the same issues when I was in your ministry way back when through my whole 14 year youth career.  It's always tough to deal with.  I always focused on what it means to be discerning and then let them engage discussion on the wiles of their social culture influence.  While it didn't always stop them from engaging in it many of them considered other options.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

posted in: Lonely in a Crowd

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In my humble opinion,

Albert Huizing IV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not a youth leader, just a treasurer.

 

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

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

 

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

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

What a cool story Rick. Thanks for sharing it. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rick Roeda, Mountainview Christian Reformed Church, Grimsby Ontario 

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

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

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

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

Great Topic!

John Burden, Providence Church, Holland MI

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

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

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

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

Paul,

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

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

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

Harry Weidenaar

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

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

Do Amish young people have the same need?

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

Chelsey,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Erin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Couple of questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a-vberg,

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

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

Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great post.

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

 

Anywhere the gospel is celebrated, let us gather there.

Thank-you Paul for raising this issue.

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

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

Thanks

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

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

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