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It's been feast or famine with my Network participation.  It always seems like there is more interest than time to keep up to date.

 

Keep up the good work!

Hello All,

I've been an ordained Ministry Associate in the role of Youth Pastor at Harderwyk Ministries in Classis Holland. I was ordained as an "Evangelist" in October of 2001 and since then the title changed to Ministry Associate.

The ordination has allowed me some wonderful opportunities in my calling as youth pastor in preaching on a regular basis, performing wedding ceremonies, communion and baptizing my own daughter. They have brought a much different and dynamic aspect to my ministry.

The difficulties have been that once I leave Holland I will have to re-ordain in another classis if I want to keep doing those acts of ministry and there has been absolutely not one peep from the CRC or Classis Holland since my ordination. On one hand you could say that I've had complete freedom in my ministry under the care of my consistory to do as I feel called to do. On the other hand, there has been no contact or care whatsoever from Classis or the CRC in my role as an ordained Ministry Associate. There are times when I wonder if they are aware of my ordination and that I even exist.

I'm not looking for more hoops to jump through, pats on the back or red tape to fumble with, but the silence at times regarding Ministry Associates, our roles and legitimacy has been disappointing. I'm very grateful for the encouragement of the pastors that I work with and my church council, they have played a key roll in keeping me continuing on as a Ministry Associate along with the blessings I've revived from having the ability to offer the additional "services" to my students and congregation by being able to preach, administer sacraments and perform weddings. It definitely rounds out my role as a youth pastor.

Blessings,

Ty Hogue
Harderwyk Ministries
Holland, Michigan

Hey all,

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

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

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

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

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

chap at harderwyk dot com

Blessings,

Ty Hogue
Youth Pastor
Harderwyk Ministries • Holland, Michigan

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

Vision

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

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

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

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

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

Adolescence

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

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

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

Key Areas

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

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

Implications

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

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

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

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

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

Moving Forward

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

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

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

II. Equipping Adolescents for Discipleship

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

Implications

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

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

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

• Offer regular training for youth workers.

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

• Encourage relationships with local public and charter schools.

• Encourage integration of youth and family ministries.

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

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

Moving Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

Implications

• Consult with classes concerning their thinking on this matter.

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

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

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

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

Moving Forward

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

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

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

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

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

Paul,

 

It's all of us, together, teaching the catechism, the faith, our biblical worldview, to our children!

It's unfortunate so many of us balked at our catechism instruction when we were young, but it's amazing theological and biblical treasures that we have lost in the rush to contemporize our church.  What about contemporizing the basic, foundational parts of our faith and sharing that rich treasure with our children?

We have seemed to thrown out or fogotten about...

the Lord's prayer

the understanding of the law

creeds

confessions

...and so much more with the bathwater over the last decades.  Not everywhere, not all places, but in far to many churches we've let the pendilum swing too far to experience and away from biblical, theological grounding.  Even as an adult youth pastor, I need to be refreshed in my own understanding and abilities to communicate the timeless truths of our biblical, reformed heritage in a relevant way to my students and our families. 

The good gifts that God gives us in this thinking from the past need to be passed along to the next generation to embrace and explore as a foundation for their faith.

I too Paul, have many more questions and concerns about how we do this well and in ways that will allow it to speak to the students we love and work with today!

Thanks for the thoughts.

Ty Hogue

Youth Pastor • Harderwyk Ministries, Holland

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!

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

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