Category : Youth Ministry

(The State) A Heartbreaking local story–A Columbia, South Carolina, teen who drowned in the Lowcountry was pursuing a life in ministry

Jack Fleischer spent much of his 19 years of life at St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center as a camper, counselor and staff member. And, after a memorial service this weekend, his ashes will be buried at the Lowcountry camp he loved so much.

Fleischer, a Columbia resident, drowned after he jumped off a dock into Bohicket Creek in Charleston County on Friday night, multiple media outlets reported. That’s just off S.C. 700 near Johns Island.

The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said crews found Fleischer’s body early Saturday.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

(CEN) House of Bishops wants Church of England to be more effective in youth ministry

The House of Bishops has committed to prioritising the Church’s involvement with children and young people more effectively in the future.

The House of Bishops met in York at Bishopthorpe Palace on 21-22 May where they discussed safeguarding, the Lambeth Conference in 2020, the future of ministry, and engaging children and young people more completely in the life of the Church.

The House discussed the mutual and complementary roles played by Church, school and family in shaping young people’s perceptions of faith and ideas were shared on how all three could collaborate more closely together.

The conversation took place in the context of the Church’s broader work on Setting God’s People Free; encouraging people to live out their commitment to Christianity seven days a week.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

(Diocese of London) A Place They Can Own: How We Started Engaging Young People

I hope I didn’t look too horrified when my training incumbent mentioned on day one of my training post that I would be taking school assembly later that week.

I hadn’t done any schools work since my early 20’s – about three decades ago – and felt decidedly inadequate for the task. However, I found, as I have seen throughout my life as a Christian, that God uses whoever is available to do his work. Within a few weeks, taking assemblies became one of my weekly highlights.

Shortly after, I realised that there were a small number of children in Year Six at our church who had outgrown Sunday School, who we would almost certainly lose if we didn’t start doing something for their age-group. It didn’t seem right that the children would be making the huge leap from primary school to secondary school without spiritual support along the way. As I looked around the church to see who we could task with this vital role, I ended up back where I started – the 50-something curate.

A straw-poll revealed that the only time the teens were all around at the same time was in fact Sunday morning, so the first problem was that we didn’t have anywhere to host them, as the hall was being used for Sunday School. We thought about the bell-tower (to the horror of the bell-ringers!) but there was another available space: a small junk room (replete with junk) above the main hall. It was quickly cleared out, renamed ‘The Den’, painted and given to our teenagers to use as their own.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

(Church Times) Bishop of Chelms­ford Stephen Cottrell–Church and youth: ‘Young people want more commitment, not less’

In 2016, 15,900 people were con­­firmed, of whom 24 per cent were under 12, and 45 per cent were 20 or over. This is down from 29,380 in 2006, when 39 per cent were 20 or over. In 1960, the total was 190,713.

The good news is that, today, most younger people are confirmed because it is what they want. If this is in a parish where children are not admitted to holy communion, there may be a tendency for confirmation to happen when they are quite young; so the decision itself, though real, is not made with quite the in­­­depen­­dent decisiveness of adolescent vigour.

But parishes that are admitting children to holy communion are well placed to enable confirmation to happen when young people are a little older — at least 12 or 13 — and then really make something of it as a commitment to whole-life discipleship. I think this is the best pattern, and one to be encouraged. There is a wonderful nobility to the decision of young people to be confirmed when childhood, and the directing of parents, is left behind, and in­de­pendence and the life choices that go with it are beginning to be em­­braced.

It never fails to move me; for confirming anyone is a great joy, but to see a young person make the faith their own is a special joy indeed. Such commitment, and a pattern of preparation and confirmation that enables it, provides the Church with a great opportunity; for even if the church that presents them has not fully realised it, these young people are claiming the Christian faith for themselves, and committing them­­selves as disciples of Christ. They want and need a preparation for confirmation, and a liturgy that will match this aspiration.

Therefore, if this pattern is to be encouraged, and if the young people themselves are going to be able to put down roots in the Christian faith, confirmation preparation needs to shift from learning about the faith to learning to live the faith. Young people want more commitment, not less. They still need to know what it is that Christians believe, but they are hungrier to know how it works, and how it cashes out in their daily lives. Most of all, they need God.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

(ACNS) Six decades after it closed, a Bristol church will re-open as youth mission resource centre

A church in the centre of the west of England port city of Bristol is to re-open 65 years after it was closed. Once it re-opens in the Autumn, St Nicholas’ Church will focus on engaging with young people who don’t currently go to church, and will act as what the diocese is calling a “Resourcing Church”, serving the wider city and assisting future church plants. It will be led by the Revd Toby Flint, currently the Lead Pastor at London’s Holy Trinity Brompton, home of the Alpha Course and a significant participant in church plants.

Bristol is a young city – some 60 per cent of people in the city centre are aged between 15 and 29. “The new church’s particular focus will be on younger generations,” the Diocese of Bristol said. The diocese has set out three priorities in its vision: making disciples, growing leaders and engaging younger generations. The new St Nicholas will explore those three priorities as well as partnering with other churches and organisations for social action, including looking at ways to tackle homelessness, food poverty and youth unemployment.

“As Bristol becomes younger and more diverse, we want to make an impact on the city,” the Bishop of Swindon and acting Bishop of Bristol, Dr Lee Rayfield, said. “We are excited about how St Nicholas will grow the Church and bring about social transformation.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues, Youth Ministry

(FYI) Trey Clark–Unity Does Not Equal Uniformity Lessons Learned in Multiethnic Youth Ministry

2. Lead with listening. 

Scott Cormode, a leadership expert and professor at Fuller Seminary, is fond of saying “leadership begins with listening.” [10] I’ve found this is especially true in the context of multiethnic youth ministry. Rather than leading with ideas, suggestions, and plans in my context—particularly as a minority in an unfamiliar mix of cultures—I’ve seen how critical it is to lead with listening.

Practically, adapting the work of sociologist Nancy Ammerman, I benefited from formally and informally investigating my youth ministry context with sensitivity to three areas: [11] 

  • activities (What habits and practices define our ministry?),
  • artifacts (What does the youth meeting space, Facebook page, newsletter, etc. communicate about our ministry?), and
  • accounts (How do people describe our youth ministry through their use of language, history, narratives, and worldviews?).

In light of these three questions, I asked, what voices or perspectives might we be ignoring or marginalizing in our context, and what actions do we need to take to change this? These questions, along with the invaluable gift of listening to personal stories, helped me to be more sensitive to the complexity of serving in a multiethnic context. For instance, I started to listen more carefully to the accounts the parents of our Latino/a youth offered of the youth ministry. As I did, I began to see how our seemingly culturally-diverse youth ministry was in many ways shaped by White Western values such as individualism and consumerism—values many of the parents challenged and resented. This leads to the next critical lesson.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

A CT Profile of James Brown–The Word of God Undergirds Everything I Do

How did you get into ministry?

Clarence Givens, our founding bishop and pastor at Rhema Christian Center Church, was quite a persuasive man. He asked my wife and me to become the youth directors. I thought, You have to be kidding me! I’m going to go into his office with my wife and let him know I can’t do that. I’ve got too much on my plate right now. And that’s exactly what I told Dorothy, my wife.

Now it makes me laugh because when we got into his office, I said, “Look, Bishop, you’ve got all of these responsibilities for me, and you know how busy I am. What is it exactly that you want me to do with the youth director position? I’m prepared to take it on.” And my wife started laughing, as if to say, “You get all bold talking about what you’re going to do, but when you sit in front of him, that all goes out the window.”

So in 2002, my wife and I became youth directors. And I was ordained in 2009.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Media, Parish Ministry, Sports, Theology, Youth Ministry

(Premier) Archbp Justin Welby outlines vision for youth ministry

The Archbishop of Canterbury has outlined the priorities he’d like to see youth workers make in the UK going forward.

Justin Welby has written a special editorial for Premier Youthwork magazine as the magazine marks its 25 anniversary.

In it he describes himself as “no expert in Christian youth work” but says he’d love to see young people becoming disciples of Jesus, witnesses to Jesus and servants of the kingdom.

Read it all and follow to the bottom for the editorial.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

South Carolina Diocesan Youth Commission: An Adventure in Leadership


The Department of Youth Ministries is seeking high school students interested in applying to serve for the 2016-2017 academic year. Our Youth Commission is comprised of cheerful servants who demonstrate spiritual maturity and leadership gifts and desire to develop skills while serving our Lord. This leadership group serves on youth events as well as at Diocesan Convention each year. Their role in events includes leading small groups, sharing testimonies, leading activities, and providing behind the scenes support. They are a vital part of our ministries! Serving on Youth Commission involves a commitment to several weekend events as well as two training days. Students are expected to serve in a leadership capacity in their church as well.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

O Lord Christ, who by thy presence and first miracle at Cana of Galilee adorned and beautified the holy estate of matrimony: We beseech thee to sanctify the marriage bond in the life of our people, and to bless our homes with thy abiding presence; for the honour and glory of thy name.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Edward Hawkins

O Blessed Jesus, who by the shining of a star didst manifest thyself to them that sought thee: Show thy heavenly light to us, and give us grace to follow until we find thee; finding, to rejoice in thee; and rejoicing, to present to thee ourselves, our souls and bodies, for thy service for evermore: for thine honour and glory.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

(Diocese of London) Top tips for building a youth team

1. All ages, all stages
There is no model youth leader in terms of looks, age, dress sense, sense of humour, personality etc. Just as all young people come in all shapes and sizes, so will your youth team. Just as you have extraverts and introverts in your youth group, you need extraverts and introverts in your youth team. The only rule needs to be to turn up and be able to chat to the youth. (These clearly aren’t the only rules, but we’ll start there”¦)

2. The personal approach
I’ve heard this said in various seminars and within a youth-work magazine recently but it really is true. Desperate pleas from the front of church on a Sunday rarely get anyone signed up, and if they do, they often get the wrong people signed up. It is almost without fail the personal approach that pays off in the long term. As a youth worker you should always have your youth hat on and be thinking whether someone you’re engaging with is right for one of your teams. I would then suggest you invite them for a coffee to chat about the different youth ministries, followed by you and them checking out one of the ministries they may be interested in, and then an agreement on both sides to pray, without pressure either way, and in the knowledge if it’s yes on both sides and yes from God, then you might proceed.We would suggest a minimum of a year’s commitment and a review after three months from both sides.

3. Set the expectations high

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology, Youth Ministry

(Diocese of Portsmouth) Stewardship Resources For Children & Young People

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry

(CT) Kate Shellnutt–Why Some Churches Put a Price on Vacation Bible School

When Elizabeth Esther looked into Vacation Bible School at the church closest to her home in Orange County, California, she was disappointed to discover it cost $40 per kid””too much for her big family.

The Catholic mom and blogger instead found a free program and then tweeted her gratitude: “A BIG THANK YOU to all the churches out there offering free VBS for kids this summer! As a mom of five, it makes ALL the difference!”
While most congregations offer VBS at no cost, organizers can easily become overwhelmed by demand. Not only are fewer programs available for a growing number of unchurched families””about 1 in 6 churches offering VBS in the ’90s dropped it by 2012, according to Barna Research””parents now regularly enroll kids in multiple Vacation Bible Schools each summer. That puts more pressure on churches to do something unique from the congregration up the street.

Especially in cities with a booming VBS circuit, a nominal fee ($5”“$25) can discourage no-shows, and a bit more ($30”“$75) can offset the price of food and new materials. Churches that charge typically offer scholarship options and discounts for families enrolling multiple kids.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry

(Anglican Journal) Intergenerational ministry: What's old is new again

In the mid-20th century many Anglican Church of Canada parishes joined their mainline and evangelical neighbours in creating tightly-focused programs for even the tiniest demographics. Now, many parishes are tearing down those walls between ages and stages, hoping to bind up scattered, sometimes shattering church communities.

The 20th century craze to split the church into demographic segments was a profound departure from Judeo-Christian tradition. Jesus grew up in a Jewish community where the generations nurtured each other’s faith ”” in fact, young Jesus was so caught up learning from his elders at the temple in Jerusalem that he let Mary and Joseph start for home without him. The Apostle Paul mentored his spiritual son, Timothy, in ministry; he also instructed older men and women to be good examples and to mentor younger people in faith.

Sadly, segmentation ”“ intended to keep kids, youth, young adults, or even seniors in church ”“ may cut off them off from each other and the worshiping life of the church. This leaves youth with “no sense of what it means to be a mature adult Christian living out a life of faith in the Church,’’ writes the Rev. Valerie Michaelson, pastoral associate and Queen’s Chaplain at St. James’ Anglican Church, Kingston, Ont., in “How to Nurture Intergenerational Community in Your Church,” posted on the Wycliffe College Institute of Evangelism website. It also deprives adults and seniors the opportunity to understand and mentor younger members of the church, say advocates of intergenerational ministry.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Adult Education, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Children, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Youth Ministry

(CC Editorial) Counting the faithful

What does directly touch church life are Pew’s numbers on generational change. Attachment to religion is declining across all age groups, but the rise of the nones is most pronounced among younger cohorts: the younger the age bracket, the less likely people are to belong to any Christian (or other religious) body. And of all Christian groups, mainline Protestants do the worst job at reaching and retaining younger generations.

One practical lesson of the Pew report, then, is on the crucial need for mainliners to focus on passing the faith on to the next generation. Mainliners may need to borrow some of the ethos of evangelical Protestants (who seem to do a better job at this) in equipping families to be primary incubators of faith and in forming identities that are distinct and (in some selective ways) more oppositional toward the culture than they have been.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Adult Education, Children, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Youth Ministry

(Crisis) Richard Becker–Rethinking the Age for Confirmation

To begin with, the language and culture of confirmation as a rite of passage isn’t going away any time soon, and so we might as well use it to our catechetical advantage. By dispensing with required confirmation preparation and reception, the sacrament can truly become a moment of conversion for Catholics, regardless of when it occurs. In this way, confirmation will take on particular importance for Catholics returning to the Church after being away for a time, especially when such a return coincides with significant life changes””like marriage for instance, or having that first baby. And young people who never drift away from the Church? They’ll likely seek confirmation in their teen years anyway. Thus, for all recipients, the sacrament will cohere with their actual lived experience of faith.

There’s an additional catechetical value to this approach: Confirmation classes will start to mix together maturing teens, young adults, and the retired””and everyone in between! Younger candidates will get to hear older Catholics share about their struggles and joys; in turn, those older Catholics will get to hear the younger candidates express their aspirations and enthusiasms.

I can’t think of a better way to foster the idea that confirmation (and Christianity) is really for grown-ups””grown-ups, that is, that humble themselves and come to Jesus.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Adult Education, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry

Christ Saint Paul's Yonges Island South Carolina Launches a new Website

Check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Preaching / Homiletics, Stewardship, Theology, Youth Ministry

(Local Paper) Studies show many Americans not reading the Bible, lack basic knowledge

The Rev. Spike Coleman wasn’t sure how to respond when a member of his St. Andrew’s Presbyterian decided to leave the West Ashley church – because Coleman preached too much about the Bible.

The man wanted something a bit more Joel Olsteen, more practical and uplifting.

“When he goes to church, he wants to leave feeling good,” Coleman said. “You can leave feeling good and somehow affirmed. But is that going to sustain you in the dark nights of the soul?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Books, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry

(KC Star) Methodists lament closings of Missouri summer camps

United Methodist Church leaders recently announced they are closing the Wilderness Retreat and Development Center, as well as three other camps the denomination operated in Missouri. Together, the camps served about 2,000 children this summer.

“I’ve wanted to get married at Wilderness since I was 11,” Dyer said. “I have a boyfriend I want to marry, and now they’re taking away my camp.”

The announcement by the church’s Camping and Retreat Board sparked an instant social media campaign ”” complete with hashtags, blogs, online petitions and more than 2,000 Facebook likes ”” in an effort to roll back the decision.

The discussion in the Kansas City area has been particularly lively because of its proximity to Wilderness, which hosted more than 600 children at summer camp this year, said D. Garrett Drake, a clergyman and conference staff member who advises the camping board.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Youth Ministry

Eric Metaxas–Learning from Young Atheists: What Turned Them off from Christianity

My friend Larry Taunton of the Fixed Point Foundation set out to find out why so many young Christians lose their faith in college. He did this by employing a method I don’t recall being used before: He asked them.

The Fixed Point Foundation asked members of the Secular Students Associations on campuses around the nation to tell them about their “journey to unbelief.” Taunton was not only surprised by the level of response but, more importantly, about the stories he and his colleagues heard.

Instead of would-be Richard Dawkins’, the typical respondent was more like Phil, a student Taunton interviewed. Phil had grown up in church; he had even been the president of his youth group. What drove Phil away wasn’t the lure of secular materialism or even Christian moral teaching. And he was specifically upset when his church changed youth pastors.

Whereas his old youth pastor “knew the Bible” and made Phil “feel smart” about his faith even when he didn’t have all the answers, the new youth pastor taught less and played more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Atheism, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Youth Ministry

"Young people constantly blow me away with their deep desire for some good news"

So often, when faced with their own limits, the young people I meet turn to music. They turn to the artists who can articulate (perhaps more clearly than they can) precisely what they’re feeling. So how do we engage?

It all starts with listening. It always starts with listening. Listening to young people, listening to their music and listening to the struggles and joys of their daily lives.

What comes next is the hard part: accompanying young people in the midst of the pains and struggles of everyday life, and welcoming them into the story we call our own: the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

I said earlier that this is hard. But it shouldn’t be. In fact, in my experience, it isn’t hard at all. Looking for companions when forced to confront the limits of human existence, young people constantly blow me away with their deep desire for some good news. We’re good-news people. We’ve got plenty to share.

And yet we need to start by listening.

Read it all from the Anglican Journal.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Canada, Music, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Teens / Youth, Theology, Youth Ministry

(TGC) Why Youth Ministers Need to Be Theologians

We expect a certain level of theological sophistication from our preaching pastors. They must at least know church history, systematic theology, and hopefully some Greek and Hebrew so they can properly interpret and apply the biblical text. We’re confident that when we approach them with questions about the canonization of Scripture, the implications of the incarnation, and the doctrine of the body and sexuality, their learning will aid us in responding faithfully to such pressing questions in our culture. If anything the world bears down with even greater ferocity on the fledging faith of Christian youth. So why should we expect less theological rigor from our youth pastors who serve them through teaching, counseling, and more? Every youth minister needs to be a theologian, whether formally or informally equipped to handle God’s Word with integrity and care. This new 10-minute video feature insights from David Plant, director of youth ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City; Cameron Cole, director of youth ministries at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama; and Liz Edrington, who is pursuing her master’s degree in counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando.

Read and watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology, Youth Ministry

St. Michael's Charleston's New Director of Student Ministries, The Rev. Rich Giersch

Welcome Richard Giersch! As our new Director of Student Ministries, Rich will focus on transforming the hearts of our 6th-12 graders. Rich joins us with a wealth of experience and spiritual depth. Since 1988, Rich has been ministering to teenagers working with such organizations as Young Life and St. Andrews Church, Mount Pleasant. Rich was also ordained as an Anglican Priest and served as the interim Rector of Resurrection Fellowship Anglican Church in Greenville, SC.

Rich is married to Holly and they have two sons, Griffin and Oliver. Rich graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and has produced two Christian C-D’s of original songs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

(BBC) An all-night youth event on Friday at Blackburn Anglican Cathedral

The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, said the event was a different way of engaging young people.

Read and watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Elizabeth of Hungary

Almighty God, by whose grace thy servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Hungary, Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

(GC Blog) How to Experience Scripture with Your Students

Youth leaders must be able to speak God’s truth into the given circumstances of a student’s life. If you’re ready, this can occur spontaneously while riding in a car, playing Settlers of Catan, or taking part in a service project. No formulas. Just two people listening and responding to one another, their stories made sense through his.

Of course, there’s no shortage of helpful methods for learning Scripture. One that’s shaped me personally is regular group meditation. By “meditation” I mean part rote memorization (chapter and verse) and part prayerful imagination. Beginning on my own, I like to prayerfully consider a cluster of verses based around a particular biblical topic””say, the church.1 Over a week or so, a brief conversational narrative begins to form in my mind that sufficiently explains the topic in a way that’s both orthodox and also unique to my personality. My primary purpose is to know God better through his text, then to share it with others doing the same thing. Once I can distill from a cloud of ideas one or two pithy thesis-like statements, I know I’ve spent transformative time with his Word and am ready to share and discuss with my leader friends.

Sharing is as an act of fellowship. It encourages accountability to the task and is an opportunity to learn from others. As I’m shaped by my time in Scripture, I’m sustained in the valley, and my functional trust in Scripture increases. When we experience and model rich biblical thinking, the incomparable wisdom and power of God’s truth is made apparent not only to ourselves, but to others as well.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry

(Charisma) Daniel Kolenda: God Is Going to Give this Rising Generation an Old Message

The Empowered21 Next Gen Youth Leaders Network (NGYN21) hosted a summit comprised of youth leaders from around the globe. The youth leaders discussed topics such as Spirit-empowered living in the 21st century, the impact of the Holy Spirit on discipleship and developing young Spirit-empowered disciples in the ministry.

“We seem to think there is a different method used in other countries,” said Christ for All Nations President Daniel Kolenda. “The gospel works with humanity and all cultures. We were created to receive it. Just preach its simplicity and let the Holy Spirit do the drawing. God is going to give our generation a message that is so old, they think it is new. The hub is the gospel of salvation; the other spokes will align.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Young Adults, Youth Ministry

(Anglican Journal) Andrew Stephens-Rennie: Awakening to the gospel

When we step back and take a deep breath, we come to understand that there is much at which to wonder. The Rev. Bill Cliff, Huron University College’s chaplain, is fond of saying, “If the gospel isn’t astonishing, you’re not reading it right.”

If we’re going to engage in Christian youth ministry that matters, we need to reawaken our sense of awe, wonder and astonishment. If we are not captivated by the Christian story, how can we expect our children to find it relevant?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

Rob Schluter[A Diocese of South Carolina Youth Minster]'s sermon: Why am I an Anglican?

Several years ago, as I watched our diocese and our church head towards the inevitable break with the national church and as I watched churches struggle with hard decisions on the uniqueness of Christ, the authority of scripture, or any other number of issues I went on a journey to see if I really fit in the Anglican Church. Part of my issue was a fear that there would be no professional home for me in the coming years, and I might as well see if I am truly Anglican or if perhaps I was Baptist or some sort of non-denominational Christian”¦ The other issue I struggled with was reconciling my theology with the theology of the National Episcopal Church (who claimed to be Anglican). So I started searching my heart and mind for what I believed, as well as what scripture says to see what Christianity is supposed to be about. And while I am definitely not the scholar that Father Greg is, and while my understanding of pork products and the sacraments pales in comparison with Father Free’s, I hope you might find what I have to say somewhat helpful”¦ In understanding my journey, and in a brief introduction to what we Anglicans believe.

Now I should start by saying that I am not Anglican by birth. I was not a cradle Episcopalian. I was baptized in an Episcopal church as an infant, but through a series of events I grew up in a rural Methodist church. Please don’t hold that against me or my parents”¦ So I can’t claim to be Anglican because it is all I have known. In fact, when I visited an Episcopal church for the first time, I had to come to grips with the fact that it existed at all. My Methodist training and upbringing had neglected to tell me about the Episcopal Church. I didn’t even know it was there. So I claim no birthright.

And to be fair, I went to an Episcopal church because I thought a girl was cute. I was a teenager, a rather typical one actually, whose mind was less on theology and more on what my girlfriend was wearing. So I can’t even claim to have chosen the Episcopal Church. In many ways it chose me. A group of loving adults pointed the teenage me to the Jesus of the Bible, prayed that I might come into a saving relationship with Christ, and then proceeded to disciple me. Anglicans chose me, not the other way around. But a few years ago, I no longer could rest on that fact. It was time for me to choose.

As I searched my heart, and indeed the Bible, one thing was evident to me”¦ Scripture is very important! I know that many of you hold to a very high view of scripture ”“ in fact you would agree with St. Paul as he reminds Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All scripture is breathed out by God”¦”. That the Bible is God’s very word! That God inspired its creation, and He speaks through His word today. But the Bible has an author (God) and an audience (us). While God breathed out the scriptures of the Old Testament and the New Testament, he did so for his glory and our transformation. Paul continues in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is breathed out by God”¦ and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” The Bible is sparked by the divine, with all His authority. In fact, because it comes from God it’s profitable for little ”˜ol me. God’s word can transform my heart and my life. And through that transformation, I might be made more and more into the image of Christ, ultimately leading to righteousness.

So, I wanted a church that thought as highly about the word of God as I do. I want a church that encourages us to daily take in God’s word, ponder its meaning, apply it to our lives, and live it out according to God’s purpose. So what is the Anglican Church’s view of scripture? Please turn with me to page 877 of the Book of Common Prayer”¦ To the Chicago ”“ Lambeth Quadrilateral and the Lambeth Conference of 1888”¦

A quarter of the way down the page, you will see a number one. It proclaims, “The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the revealed word of God.” And if you scan further down the page to the “A” under the Lambeth Conference, it reads, “The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as ”˜containing all things necessary to salvation,’ and as being the ultimate rule and standard of faith.”

So, what does that mean? Simply, it means the Anglican Church, and St. John’s, hold a high view of scripture. It contains all things necessary to our salvation. In the Bible, the gospel is proclaimed to us, in it the grace of God is demonstrated for us, in it we are called to repentance, in the Bible our identity in Christ is made clear to us, and through it we are strengthened by God’s Holy Spirit to live redeemed lives. And we can see the Anglican Church’s view of scripture in this very service. We enter in prayer and then sit under the word of God as it is read to us from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament, and as if that weren’t enough, even from the Gospels as well. No other flavor of Christianity (that I know of) spends so much time in the word of God. And then to cap it all off, the priest stands up to teach us from God’s perfect word. I sought a church that held a high view of scripture, and in the Anglican Church I found a wonderful home.

And while I tend to view myself as a good boy steeped in the Reformed tradition, I realized that scripture called Christians to do more than just study God’s word endlessly. That we were to live in our world, proclaiming Christ crucified. That indeed we are connected to the historic church through the centuries”¦ That we are to profess the faith of the early church Fathers”¦ And we profess this faith; we summarize what we believe, through the Apostle’s and Nicene creeds.

You know, I was trained many years ago how to interact with the random Jehovah’s witnesses that showed up at my door by telling them exactly what I believe. I was taught to do that by sharing the Nicene Creed. The creeds effectively sum up what the Bible teaches us about our faith”¦ Who God the father is, who his son Jesus Christ is, who the Holy Spirit is, and what the church is. I hold fast to the creeds, especially in recent years.

It seems like every day there is a new preacher, interpreting scripture in a new way, telling us that God really meant this or that. And the best way I have found to combat that is through searching scripture for answers the church has been giving for nearly 2000 years. In the creeds, the doctrine of the church is summed up for us.

If you look back at your prayer book, number 2 and “B” both point us to the use of creeds to sum up our faith. To keep us in check”¦ To make sure that we don’t wonder from essential truth’s about God due to our own selfishness. This is so crucial! In Malachi 3:6, God tells the Israelites, “”¦I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” I’m sure you have heard it said that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And that is what the verse in Malachi is telling us. That God doesn’t change his mind ”“ He doesn’t go back on his promises”¦ He doesn’t think one thing is sinful one day and then come back to us another day to tell us there is no more sin. And because God doesn’t change his mind, the church shouldn’t either. So when someone argues the deity of Jesus ”“ we point them to the creeds. When the uniqueness of Christ is questioned ”“ we point them to the creeds. When the Holy Spirit is denied ”“ we point to the creeds. So we as a church must continue to profess the same God as the first Christians did. And we do that by learning the doctrine that the creeds teach us. The creeds are useful summaries of our historic faith.

Father Greg has told me several times that the Nicene Creed is placed after the sermon in Rite I and II services to stand as a correction if the preacher wonders too far from the truth found in scriptures. I hope that isn’t too necessary today!

So as I see it, we need the Nicene and Apostles creeds to ensure that we are holding on to the faith of the historic church, to scare away Jehovah’s witnesses, and to correct false teaching.

I feel like this might be getting a bit serious or stiff, and in my training as a youth minister I was taught to break up your teaching as often as necessary to keep people’s attention, to let their minds ponder what you have just shared, and to let the Holy Spirit work on their hearts. So let’s take a momentary detour.

In 1996, I went off to college”¦ Well, by off I mean that I went to the College of Charleston, which is essentially just down the street. And what I wound up studying while I was at college was history. I love history. And my wife doesn’t”¦ I am constantly trying to tell her that I love history because it connects me to the people who came before me. I enjoy going to civil war sites and thinking about the brave soldiers that stood there long ago. I like to think about what they were doing, feeling, and seeing. I love going into old churches and sitting in the pews. I like to think of the countless people who have sat in that seat seeking God’s voice, crying out to him in pain, or praising God’s holy name. I love history. I am so honored to stand here, knowing that great Bible teachers have stood here proclaiming the word of God, that missionaries who have given their lives wholly to God stood on this ground sharing what God is doing through them, that children have grown up at St. John’s and then stood in this spot to proclaim who God is. I love history.

And as I searched my heart and the scriptures I saw that history matters. We see the importance of history in the genealogies of Jesus”¦ We see the importance of history in God’s unchanging promises”¦ If you think about it, that is exactly what God is telling the Israelites in Malachi, that he doesn’t change. He is telling them that his promises don’t change. That verse tells us that history, what God has done and said, matters.

So I longed for a church that understood history. I wanted a church that was connected to the ancient church. It’s like the creeds in that respect. I wanted to be sure that the body of Christ I belonged to was the body that Jesus set to create through the early apostles and by his death on the cross. And that is exactly what the Anglican Church offers. Please look with me at the prayer book again. Number 4 and “D” both tell us about the history of our church. It reads, “The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.” That is a dizzying sentence.

I might need to offer a simple definition”¦ Episcopate = bishops.

We are a church run by Bishops. And as a lay person, that can frustrate me at times. That someone is in authority over me. But many times scripture reminds us that we are not our ultimate authority.

Take 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 for example; “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly because of their work”¦” Paul is reminding the people of Thessalonica that God has put others over them. And in Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul says, “(God) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for ministry”¦” Our Bishops, priests, and leaders are gifts from God! Sometimes it is hard to see that, but think back to our recent struggles with the National Episcopal Church”¦ Who would not count Bishop Lawrence as a gift from God? Who would not count our vestry and priests as gifts from God? And Paul goes on to tell us in Romans 13:1 what our respect for God’s gift of leadership is to look like”¦ “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Now, I realize that Paul was talking about civil authorities, but let’s look at the principal. We submit to the authority God puts over us. In the church the authorities over us are bishops and priests. That God calls to lead us, to shepherd us, to teach us, to equip us for ministry, to counsel us, to love us as God loves us”¦ So we submit ”“ we surrender ourselves (our wills and our authority) to their authority, as they submit themselves to Christ Jesus.

But you might have noticed that I skipped a word that the Chicago ”“ Lambeth Quadrilateral and the Lambeth Conference both use: Historic. And by now you know I love that word. So not only are we a church run by bishops, our bishops can trace a line back to the earliest apostles. So we are an ancient church, confessing the truths that Jesus taught his disciples. I love that, don’t you? Knowing that we aren’t adrift on a sea by ourselves”¦ But that we are connected to a church that spans 2000 years of history. I love that we are connected to a church whose body covers the entire globe. We are connected to that church by the very bishops God puts in authority over us today. That Bishop Lawrence is connected all the way back to the founding apostles. Amazing!

Some of you tuned out the last few minutes either because I was talking about history or because I was talking about someone being in authority over us. All I can say is”¦ I’m sorry?

There is one more aspect of Anglicanism that I have fallen in love with: The Sacraments. Please look one more time at your Book of Common Prayer. Number 3 and letter “C” talk about the importance of the sacrament to the Anglican Church. Letter “C” on page 878 says, “The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself ”“ Baptism and the Supper of the Lord ”“ ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him.”

I love that the sacraments are the visible, tangible signs of what Jesus is doing and has done for us. I love that they are the very things that Jesus did when he walked the Earth ”“ that he ordained them Himself. I love that he gave them to us. I love that through them I am receiving the grace of God.

For example”¦ Every Sunday, as I am invited by the priest to come to the Holy Table, I am aware of how much I don’t deserve to be called to feast with the Lord. I am aware of what Jesus did on the cross to secure my spot at the table”¦ I am aware that God is looking past my sinful nature and at Jesus, whose sacrifice covers me ”“ and He is calling me his child. Telling me to take my seat”¦ And then he feeds me”¦ And not just with any food, but with spiritual food”¦ The body and blood of Jesus himself, shed for us that we might come to God’s table. It is clear to me that God’s grace rests upon us as we approach his altar. And I love that! Don’t you?

Because sometimes it is hard for me to think in abstracts, and I need that visible ”“ tangible ”“ outward sign of God’s grace. And we have that in the sacraments.

I realize this has been a long sermon, and there is much more that could be said or taught about what makes us Anglican. But I’m going to stop here and ask you a question.

Why does this matter? What difference does it make if we are Anglican or not? That was a question that I wrestled with for quite some time. And to answer it, I need to tell you about fishing tackle”¦ Before I had kids (when there was such a thing as ”˜Rob’ time), I loved to go fishing. I honestly didn’t care if I caught too much, I just liked to be on or near the water, with a line in the water ”“ waiting to see what I might bring up. And one thing I learned while fishing in front of my in-laws house was that you need the right sinker for the right type of water.

When the tide is slack, you can use a small, light sinker ”“ the current isn’t pulling it away from you very hard. When the tide is coming in our out ”“ you need a larger sinker (or more than one) to fight against the current. To reach the depth you want to fish in”¦

Well, the current of our culture, our world is a hard and fast moving current. It pushes us ”“ and it even pushes churches”¦ The culture will try to erode our thinking on biblical issues, tell us that Jesus is just another great teacher ”“ an example to emulate”¦ But He is not God. It will tell us that we have been reading the Bible all wrong, and that we should skip certain parts of scripture because they have no meaning in our world. The culture will tell us ”“ will push and pull us ”“ to be just like them.

So we need a good sinker. And Anglicanism has four heavy sinkers”¦
1. We hold fast to God’s word. We know it comes from Him and is useful for our transformation and His glory. So we read it, we teach it, we study it, we seek to live it”¦
2. We use the creeds to summarize our faith and to be a solid foundation of doctrine for us to stand on. Fighting hard against the current of our culture ”“ refusing to change our beliefs since God himself does not change.
3. Anglicans are not a fly by night kind of church. We can trace our roots back to the earliest church. So our sinker is heavy, and we run our church as scripture asks us to ”“ with people submitting to the authority put over them, even as the leaders of our church submit to Christ himself.
4. And our last sinker is the visible and outward sign of God’s grace for us. The sacraments. I am so thankful that Anglicans did not throw out the sacraments like many other churches during the reformation ”“ since they are a means of God’s grace for us.

All four of these sinkers, when held faithfully together, are enough to drop us down through the fastest current. They anchor us to Christ and the church he died to create. And they work together making us Anglican. That is why this matters. And that is why I am an Anglican.

–Mr. Rob Schluter is the Youth Minister at Saint John’s, John’s Island, S.C. (and this is posted with his kind permission)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Identity, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Youth Ministry