We often end our youth group year by inviting the teens to write down questions they’re struggling with. This past spring I was shocked by the composite question that topped the list.

October 15, 2017 2 2 comments
Resource, Lesson or Study

“What is your only comfort in life and in death?” A new course called The Big Question dives deep into Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1 in four easy-to-lead sessions.

September 21, 2017 0 2 comments

Dear teenager, I see you. I see you torn between becoming what God designed you to be and pleasing culture. I see you trying to balance it all. As your youth pastor, here is my plea for you. 

September 19, 2017 0 1 comments
Resource, Newsletter or Periodical

On September 5th, Faith Formation Ministries sent out the first edition of the new CRCNA Youth Ministry newsletter! Find relevant content, resources, and stories from the trenches.

September 13, 2017 0 4 comments
Resource, Job Opening

The Erie City Mission, in Erie, PA is currently seeking an intern that is called to work in urban youth ministry.

September 6, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

Faith Formation Ministries invites you to consider joining a cohort of twenty congregations that will work with us to intentionally strengthen their faith formation practices from October 2017 to January 2019. 

August 29, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

Each year over 800 youth from all over Ontario meet with God for four days of life-changing experiences! Visit the All Ontario Youth Convention website to learn more and register!

August 17, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

Re:activate is a youth convention for the Reformed Churches in British Columbia, Canada, and Washington, USA, designed to unite and inspire reformed youth to live out the call God has placed on them! 

August 16, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

Please feel free to use and share these prayer cards for SERVE projects in your church!

July 11, 2017 0 0 comments

I am looking for a sample contract or letter of call for a youth leader that we are hoping to hire soon. Do you have one to share? 

June 7, 2017 0 2 comments

Youth ministry often gives opportunities for our creative energies be used in many ways. . .From organizing a snowball fight at a Classis meeting to hockey games between church councils and youth to modifying curriculum.

May 24, 2017 0 0 comments

I watch my students spend huge amounts of time scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat, FB, Twitter, and texts. Where does all of that information go? How do we help our students navigate the changing world of social media?   

May 15, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Curriculum

Changed for Life is a free downloadable resource that equips short-term mission teams, the hosts who receive them, and the congregations who send them, to craft a well-organized mission experience with the potential to catalyze lifelong change.

May 3, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Activity or Game

Ahhhh…it’s Lent! What am I going to do with my middle school kids? That was me last week, and once again, God provided a lesson that reached my kids and I wanted to share it with you. 

March 2, 2017 0 2 comments

The hope is that the environment of a microbrewery and a community of equally inquisitive young adults will attract some of those people who wouldn’t normally attend a meeting affiliated with the church.

January 25, 2017 0 1 comments

Before the second half of your ministry season starts feeling too weighty, resolve to create some healthy ministry supports for yourself and for the folks you are ministering alongside. 

January 11, 2017 0 0 comments

During our week of learning, one of the most powerful experiences we shared every year was an Anointing Service. Yes, our Christian Reformed church hosted an Anointing Service! 

January 4, 2017 0 0 comments

Removing the weight of a weekly, curriculum-based youth night allows our leaders to be more intentional in their relationships and more willing to include these youth in their day-to-day lives.

December 15, 2016 0 2 comments

After 22 years of full-time youth ministry, I’ve come to realize that I'm no longer passionate about youth ministry. What I am passionate about is the intergenerational faith formation of our youth and young adults.

December 5, 2016 0 3 comments

I get it; you are swamped in your youth ministry work. For this reason, I'd like to suggest four ways to find, maintain, and keep perspective as you plan and implement your programs.

November 29, 2016 0 0 comments

It’s no secret that ministry leadership can be lonely. So how do you enter into a mentoring relationship with someone you can trust? Here are 5 things I've learned along the way. 

November 21, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

For a variety of good reasons, youth workers are sometimes hesitant to engage in political issues or stories with their youth. But the gospel of Jesus is thoroughly political, whether we admit it or not. 

November 14, 2016 0 0 comments

Rather than advising flashier technology or younger staff, Growing Young helps churches address some cross-cultural barriers that will produce deeper, more lasting change in their engagement with today’s youth. 

November 8, 2016 0 0 comments

We have a few high school exchange students attending our church regularly who have no Christian background. Any suggestions for good resources to introduce them to the Bible and Jesus?

October 24, 2016 0 1 comments
Resource, Lesson or Study

My pastor recently shared an analogy that I thought would make a great conversation starter for youth leaders. As a disclaimer, this conversation works best if served with pie. 

October 3, 2016 0 0 comments



I can relate to their embarrassment.  When I read an article in which the son of Liberty University's founder said that Trump was their dream president, I decided I would not refer to myself as an evangelical Christian anymore because people like him were giving the word a bad name.  I am not the only one to feel this way either.

I am a 42 year old father of three and I can fully understand how these teens feel.  Many of their comments mirror my own thoughts and concerns.  I have been bewildered and dismayed by some of the words, actions, and inaction of many in Christian leadership.  However, I am heartened by your story of young people who are struggling.  It is encouraging that they are concerned about current events and that they recognize the disconnect between their beliefs and the actions of leaders.  These young people are demonstrating discernment and that is a beautiful thing.  We need to encourage young people to live out their beliefs, as the Spirit leads them, and not fall in the trap of following the crowd.  Even if that crowd is being led by persons with great authority.

It's very different, Shaun. The Big Question incorporates faith formation practices into the study. You can view a sample of The Big Question here--look for the red "view sample" button. 

How different is this new material from the previous QWA (Questions Worth Asking)? Anyone know? 

Thanks for sharing this Austin

Through Classis Youth Ministry Champions across north America or you can download the one in this post

How was this sent?  I don't recall seeing it yet.

Thanks Jeanne. Yes it is very exciting

How exciting!  So thankful that this is a reality.  I trust this will become a valuable resource to many!

Jeanne Kallemeyn

I've posted the Offer Letters for Non-Ordained Church Staff for anyone who is interested. Thanks!

Joel - I have some samples of offer letters which are often used when hiring non-ordained church staff.  You are welcome to connect with me at and I'll send them your way.

This was a good question -- asked several years ago.  I'm wondering if any of the participants in this original discussion could tell us what happened.  How did things work out?  Advice for others considering join youth groups with other churches?


Thanks for sharing Kevin. This sounds like a cool idea. I'm wondering how this would look like in a youth ministry that has more students than leaders... ?


Oh man, if I ever get to meet those leaders that switched to this programming I need to give them the coveted youth pastor awkward side hug, because they rock. Thanks for sharing Kevin!!!


Love this idea! It's a tangible and helpful way to stick with a Lent plan. 

Thanks for sharing this idea, Wendy. It's wonderful!

Providing a safe space to talk, and to be able to share authentically without fear of judgment and shame, goes a long way toward building community. And deep community is the context designed by our Lord for faith development. It doesn't happen sitting in pews on a Sunday morning. It needs to be built in to other church venues, for example small groups and adult classes. It seems very important to me that the Church lead the way in being able to discuss differences honestly and respectfully, as different parts of one body, especially in the divisive culture in which we live.

If I'm correct in assuming that these exchange students have a first language other than English, I wonder if the Manga Messiah version of Jesus' life would be appropriate.  The reading level is much easier than traditional versions of the biblical story, and the accompanying pictures can fill in any gaps left by not understanding individual words.  I hope this might help.

Thanks Karen. 

I plan on being at that Conference.  Sounds very interesting. 

Thanks for sharing the story of what an intergenerational culture looks like at your church, Ron. What a wonderful example of how we can learn from others in different places on their faith journey.

To those readers who are interested in learning more about the kind of intergenerational faith formation Ron is describing--consider attending the Intergenerate Conference next June in Nashville. The Faith Formation Ministries team will be there and we'd love to connect with you!


At our church, Calvary CRC we actually have 9 volunteer youth leaders of various ages ( 22-55)who

involve the seniors of our church 4 to 5 times a year. What a blessing to have the opportunity

to mix and learn about faith from each other.We need youth leaders who are not necessarily

trained professionals but need leaders who have a passion for building Faith across generations.

Gin: I know that it's been awhile since you posted this "cry for help", but I felt compelled to respond to it. After almost 30 years of youth ministry experience, changing cultures and changing churches, the one thing that is constant is that nothing stays constant :>).....I hope that you are not still dealing with the discouragement that you were experiencing in August but if you are here are a few suggestions. First, don't take it personally. It's more than likely not you or your techniques, but youth a that age are changing. Their bodies are changing, their emotions are changing, and their status in life is changing. With all this change comes testing traditional foundational truths in their lives. What does that mean practically?

Sometimes, all it takes is 1 or 2 in the group to ruin the evening, sometimes more.

(1) Try not to take things as a personal assault. Rather than seeing it as a defeat, see it as a challenge to overcome it. That means mixing things up until you find just the right mix that works. For some it's not a person speaking but carefully selected videos. For my group it's breaking into small groups in the middle of the devotion to discuss issues in smaller groups and they don't get antsy by moving them around and not sitting listening to a "blah, blah, blah" speech for an hour. We don't do devotions every week, that way they area looking forward to it when the week for devotions rolls around. Also, one week a month we have someone from the church or a Christian School/University come in and give a Testimony. This is actually the highlight of the youths month in yth grp.

(2) A huge part is having good leaders alongside and helping you out. I know you said that yth leaders were scarce in your church.ASk Council and parents for ideas in this area; maybe you'll find a person you wasn't even thinking about. Give assigned duties. If you're forte is devotions, then you do that every time. If you have a leader that is good and inspirational at choosing games; have them do that. Another person may like to choose and set-up snacks.....let them do it. If you delegate good - having people do what they are good at and enjoy - your yth grp will be good.

(3) Communication is also a Biggy.....Communicating with both the parents and the students. That may mean emailing parents but face booking youth; have a bi-yearly calendar by planning an entire half year at a time; see what activities work and what doesn't and you'll know what to eliminate for the next year. BUt remember the Yth Ldr Mantra, the only thing that is constant is that nothing is constant. Try some of those things that didn't work a few years later and they may work with a different set of bodies.

(4) Finally, we end EVERY yth grp evening with 10-15 minutes of circle prayer. Give the a topic to pra about: things to be thankful, the person to their left, family, school and watch how the spirit will move them. It may be awkward at first but by the end of the year, I promise you will have a majority of yth praying confidently in public.

So, that just a few ideas; sorry I didn't see this sooner; if you have any other questions or would like to contact me directly my email is Serving Him, Albert!

On January 25-28, 2017 there's a wonderful event happening in Denver for children's ministry leaders, pastors, youth ministry leaders, and all other faith formation folks. Hosted by the Association for Presbyterian Church Educators this years conference features speakers Nadia Bolz Weber and Larron Jackson and includes a wide range of excellent workshops. Find out more here.



Keep up the good work.  If there has been turnover in youth group leadership lately they may be testing you as to your response.  In that case it may not be as much about a new style of teaching to get to the kids who seem to know it all as it is about hanging in there with them, and in a sense, suffering with them in that way.  

But yes, there are bad nights sometimes.  I knew plenty when I did youth ministry.  Ask me about the World's Largest Bowl of Cheese Popcorn sometime. (Or don't, please don't.)

If there is a real disruption going on in the group, that can frustrate not only you but the kids who are there to learn or contribute.  I found a helpful book in dealing with these situations with respect is Les Christie's When Church Kids Go Bad: How to Love and Work with Rude, Obnoxious and Apathetic Students.  


Well for starts one thing would HAVE to be that they believe in Christ and can bring fun into learning more about how to follow him every single day!

Amen. Thanks for your comments

The old saying that we should worry about things we can do something about and leave the rest to God? Most theological questions, like higher math, are beyond understanding to most of us and are best left to God and/or math majors. 

This has been an illuminating read in understanding some of the dynamics of anxiety and suggestions for how anxiety can be addressed and accommodated. Thank you Jarett, Josh, and Annika for sharing this and for your commitment to one another.

Thank you Josh and Jarett for bravely sharing your story. It really highlights the need for all of us to become more educated and more sympathetic to those with mental health issues. I think as a church we have a long way to go to removing the stigma we place on others. I pray your story is another step forward. 

Hats off to Jarrett, Josh, Annika, and the whole group for making this work for Jarrett! I wonder how this experience will linger with everyone in the days, weeks, and years to come. I have a guess about one thing: Jarrett's openness about the challenges he was facing may have helped everyone to become a bit more open and vulnerable about their own struggles. 

For those eagerly waiting, part 2 is now live

Looking forward to part 2!


Eagerly awaiting part two!

Annika, thanks for posting this. Looking forward to part 2!

Thanks again Mark, and you too Ron,

currently our Jr. high group is reading the Bible together out loud, one verse and paragraph at a time. And we are using about ten different translations, so the kids have to listen well. The goal is to improve their reading of the Bible skills, attenuating their ears to the variances. The experience has proven to be quite effective thus far.

the next skill we want to teach them is to engage in reading the Bible as a conversation with God (active listening). So I wondered how a text might end up speaking to a youth about 'discrimination' and/or 'bullying' should we read the story of Hagar? Or how a youth might ponder suicide when reading the story of Elijah after the Mt. Carmel story?

based on your comments, I am hearing you say that we need to allow the youth to actively listen and if the story speaks to them about such thoughts/actions - great! But do not attempt to deliberately the youth there.

if all this sounds great, thanks!

if I missed something, please comment.


Thanks Dale, very much appreciated.  I've used a variety of texts.    I've found poetry (Psalms) to be very good. And I've used the stories where Jesus is interacting one-to-one with another person.  I would be cautious of attempting to use a text with the attempt to speak into an issue.  The goal of Lectio is the practice of active listening, not the "lesson" of the text.

Something I've also found helpful is to use an alternate translation, especially for well-known passages. The new terms help bring a freshness to the passage.  

I hope this is helpful, and that your experience with your teens is beneficial.

A few I have used were Psalm 23, sections of Psalm 139, and sections of Psalm 145. 

Hello Mark,

thanks for posting this article.

Ron De Vries, you indicate that you have done this with some youth in the past.

Can either of you, or others, suggest particular texts that you have used? 

And, did you have a theme or goal that you wanted to achieve with the youth?

I am wondering if there are particular texts that might help broach subjects that the youth are struggling with...

Many thanks!


Thank you for this encouraging post and great reminder of I prayer we should all be praying in our ministry work!

That sounds like a wonderful idea!

Perhaps we need to record, via DVD, "elders" testimonies about their walk with the Lord?


 It appeared in May of last year, either the 19th or the 26th as a guest post. 

Here's the article on the network that Michele is talking about: On Chronically Normal People

Thanks for the information. Michele, where on the Network can we find that one article?

 Oh, and by the way there will be two articles in the Spring issue of SZMAGAZINE due to appear on April 4th that I wrote. They only publish online now, but you can get a subscription for $50.00 that will allow you to print as many copies as you want.  These subscriptions are mostly for organizations since they usually have the funds to afford that. One of them was already published on the CRC Network. 

I am very encouraged to hear about this cross training teaching at Neerlandia. When I am there in June, I would love to hear more about how it went.

Hello again Ron: I am commenting from home tonight as I am thrilled to see the "conversation going". If I were in my church office I could add to the list of resources.  At Neerlandia CRC, during the month of March, Pastor Ron Klok and I put together a CrossTraining series on Mental Illness Toward Understanding and Responding. That prompts me to say that for now I would add that our church family can be a valuable resource once we open up the topic for discussion. Blessings to all as we continue the conversation. Liz Nanninga, RN and parish nurse NCRC

Thanks for sharing, Austin! Having a personal relationship (and following through on commitments!) is huge. Really appreciate your thoughts. 

Great idea, Arthur! That personal connection is huge and what a great question. It gets at the deeper question of "How is your heart?" 

I really LOVE what Arthur Abbott said! In my experience, I have taken students out to our local coffee shop and we just sit together. I also got to their school every week. Being present in their lives has opened the (he cares) door and that has been helpful for starting the meaningful conversations. 


There is a man in my church by the name of Alvin Vandegriend. He and I have been meeting for weeks talking about payer and spiritual gifts, and one of the greatest things he told me was, "Keep track of who they are and what they do and be in prayer consistently for them. Whether they know it or not that builds a bridge between you both." 

So I guess to summarize it I would say continuously be present as much as you can(school, talking at church, events they participate in) and continuously be in prayer. That has worked for me.



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