Downton Abbey and the New Youth Ministry Guide

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My name is Ron deVries, and I will be your next Youth Ministry guide. I am currently serving as Classis Alberta North Youth Ministry Consultant. In this position I am privileged to walk alongside incredibly gifted Youth Leaders from across Northern Alberta, and have engaged in conversations about youth ministry with passionate people in many corners of the denomination.

Back in January of this year, I was returning from the Calvin Worship Symposium. As we always do when I travel, my wife Monique and I try to find ways to stay in touch while apart. Skype, emails, texting and phone chats often are the methods of communication we use to share about our days. When we are done, as our conversation wraps up, the words “I love you” are spoken along with “I miss you”. Interestingly, coming back from this particular trip, Monique was very excited to share that she discovered a television show that has sucked her into another world. “Oh Ron, you have to see it!” she tells me.

This show that she spoke of is called Downton Abbey, a fascinating drama placed in the early 1900’s. The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era—with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy. Such events depicted throughout the series include news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic, the Marconi scandal, the Interwar period and the formation of the Irish Free State.

The characters all have captivating stories to tell (Anna and Mr Bates, Mr Carlson, the chauffeur and Lady Sybil, the frustration of Lady Edith etc, etc).

The rooms also have stories, and each character contributes to the running and managing of this incredible house for his lordship Crawley. In the show you would find:

  • A house full of tension about the new world coming and the old traditions some want to hang onto.
  • A daughter marries someone who is well outside of her father’s favour.
  • War has changed the house from a home for the family to one reaching out lovingly to those who are in need.
  • The blurred relationship lines of servanthood and leadership.
  • New devices - an electric toaster, a telephone - have changed the way the house is run.
  • Homosexuality is within the house and many are not quite sure how this will affect the home.
  • We see systems and structures that work well in keeping the house running, in spite of the chaos within the lives of its people.

After seeing a number of these episodes and being sucked into the stories they contained, it became clear to me that this show is about Youth Ministry.

The Church is the Bride of Christ. Our collective churches (rooms) all contain stories and ministries that serve a purpose for His Lordship, to help run His home (despite our failings, struggles, best practices and celebrations).

For this Youth Ministry site, we would like to try an experiment.

After much dreaming, we have assembled a team of gifted Youth Workers from across  North America, which will allow this Network site to be a place of constructive dialogue, support and equipping. These contributors will share inspiring stories and best practices from their own local church or youth ministry “room”, share resources, and dream about where God might be taking Youth Ministry within the Christian Reformed Church.

My hope and prayer is that through this experiment, our team will serve you well by providing engaging topics and resources, that we together explore current Youth Ministry culture and finally that you find this site to be a place of support and encouragement. All in the effort to serve God’s house, the Kingdom of our Lord.

Ron

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

Guide

Thanks Jolanda.