Category : Youth Ministry

(C of E) The youth groups that grew into a church

Born and raised in Ghana, Nicholas moved to the UK 14 years ago, working as a Pioneer Evangelist with young people in Bradford and South East London. Today, he brings this experience and passion with him as serves as Deacon in the Diocese of Southwark.

In 2013, Nicholas came to Thamesmead, Woolwich, and planted a church with young people who had no former connection with church.

He launched a Friday night youth club, a Tuesday night gathering, a Youth Alpha course and from this, a youth congregation that would meet on a Sunday evening.

Nicholas also worked with secondary schools and a youth charity on the estate in Abbey Wood, running football and lunch clubs.

Focused on getting young people off the streets and into a place where they could belong, connect with friends, and build relationships, Nicholas was able to mentor them, with Christian teaching.

Read it all.

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

(C of E) An update on timing for the John Smyth Review from the National Safeguarding Team

Read it all and for background please see there.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Youth Ministry

The BBC Story on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘personal apology’ over charity abuse

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a “full personal apology” to the survivors of abuse by former barrister John Smyth QC in the 1970s and 80s.

Smyth, who died aged 77 in 2018, violently beat boys who attended Christian summer camps.

Justin Welby said: “I am sorry this was done in the name of Jesus Christ by a perverted version of spirituality and evangelicalism.”

Survivors who recently met Mr Welby welcomed him “taking responsibility”.

In a statement issued by Lambeth Palace, the archbishop said: “I continue to hear new details of the abuse and my sorrow, shock and horror grows.

“The Church has a duty to look after those who have been harmed. We have not always done that well.”

He said the Church’s safeguarding team will investigate every clergyperson which they suspect “knew and failed to disclose the abuse”.

Mr Welby worked in the evangelical Christian camps for public schoolboys run by Smyth, but denies any knowledge of the abuse at the time.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence, Youth Ministry

(TGC) Justin Taylor–Questions for David French on the Connections between the Atlanta Killer and Purity Culture

But what’s the evidence that the shooter, who would have been in youth group during the presidencies of Obama and Trump, was taught the toxic purity culture that peaked in the 1990s?

My argument is not “no evidence will ever or could ever exist,” but rather “no one actually knows, and therefore we shouldn’t draw that connection until and unless evidence emerges.”

If I was a betting man, I would actually put a hefty wager on this young man having heard the normative / traditional / orthodox teaching on sexuality that David French taught his youth group instead of the toxic legalism that Bill Gothard taught.

And if that’s true, then the argument of this piece basically falls apart. It could become a good standalone article on purity culture, but not a very illuminating one of the killer and his theological culture.

(By the way, if you want to hear from the church itself, you can read their statement.)

So my encouragement to everyone: let’s slow down on drawing connections that might seem obvious but are actually quite tenuous.

Read it all.

Update: Terry Mattingly also has helpful reflections Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Youth Ministry

David French–Why the Atlanta Massacre Triggered a Conversation About Purity Culture

As this conversation unfolds, it’s important to keep two things in mind. First, the purity culture I’m describing never fully captured the church. Millions of people have thankfully lived their entire Christian lives free from the extremes I’ve described above.

Second, however, it’s absolutely vital that Christians do not leave the task of confronting extremes to a secular world and media that is often hostile to (or doesn’t understand) Christian orthodoxy itself. The secular critique is typically all confrontation, no redemption.

The Christian response, however, requires both confrontation and redemption. It recognizes that Christ holds the answer when the church fails. As I’ve written before when addressing the failures and faults of the purity movement, through Christ even stories of past pain and suffering can be redeemed and transformed into instruments of grace and mercy.

Shortly after we received the first reports about the Atlanta killer’s motives, my friend and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Karen Swallow Prior tweeted two insightful words, “Culture cultivates.” A culture that defines a person by their sexual sin cultivates misery. When it places women in a position of guarding a man’s heart, it cultivates abuse. And sometimes, when a man’s heart is particularly dark, it can even cultivate murder.

The problem with purity culture is not Christianity. The problem with purity culture is that its extremes are not Christian at all.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Youth Ministry

(LR) The Most Critical Event on Your Church’s Calendar This Year

This past year has been one of the more difficult of our lifetimes. There has been much loss and much difficulty, but there have been some unexpected blessings as well. One of those blessings in disguise is the killing of church-as-usual and programs-as-tradition. It has caused us to think about why we do what we do.

This was a fruitful exercise because it can lay the groundwork for starting something new or evaluating something old and create a plan to start again. Twenty years ago, I led VBS because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do as a new kids pastor. I did it for about five years but didn’t get the buy-in or the traction that the effort required of me, my team, and our volunteers.

I’m also ashamed to admit that I fell into the school of thought that VBS was outdated; I was wrong! After a 12-year break, we started to do VBS again. Regardless of our opinions, most Americans are quite pro-VBS. Findings from Lifeway Research show that most (95%) American parents—regardless of how often they attend church—say their kids had a favorable experience at VBS.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

Andrew Cannell’s Sunday Sermon–Giving Hope to Our Enemies (Jonah 3:10 – 4:11)

The sermon starts about 22:30 in.

Posted in * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry

(CC) Andrew Root–Youth ministry isn’t about fun

Stepping out of the story, J says to me, “I remember feeling so drawn to Kathy’s words about joy. ‘Sorrow turned to joy.’ I realized, sitting in that hard chair, that joy comes from the sharing of sorrow. Joy is this incredible experience of sorrow being shared, leading us into a community of love. That’s what I was experiencing, the pure gift of sorrow being shared. I remember thinking to myself, Yeah, it’s true. Youth ministry is for joy because youth ministry is about creating a space for stories and moments of sharing that open us up to something big.”

We sit in silence for a few seconds, and I think about the ramifications of J’s words. I then ask, “What happened next with Kathy’s story? I’m with Tannon—it’s wild that the old woman used that verse.”

J continues, “Kathy then told us the old woman sat with her, holding her hand until Kathy’s husband showed up. Kathy said, ‘We exchanged numbers. I don’t know why; it seems weird now. But she started to call me, and then we started to meet to pray together. When I got pregnant again, she was the first person I called, because I was both so happy and so scared. We prayed together every week through the whole pregnancy. I just had this sense that God was leading me through. I’ll never forget when Nikki was born, seeing her hold Nikki, crying and praying for her. That’s why she’s Nikki, because in a waiting room like this God sent me Nichole Hunmurray, to pray for me, to see me through and bless us with our Nichole Marie Mattson.’”

J tells me that a silence came over everyone. After a minute, Kathy breathed in deep and said, “That’s why I came today, why I wanted Nikki to be here. In a very weird way, waiting rooms are holy places to me. I’d somehow gotten myself disconnected from that experience, but when I heard Lorena was in the hospital, I knew I needed to be here.” Kathy paused and then said, “I never intended to tell that story until Bernard told his, but I know it’s why I’m here.”

J says to me, “I thought to myself, I want my youth ministry to be a waiting room like this one. A place where we share stories and are open to something bigger that ushers us into joy.”

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Theology, Youth Ministry

(Church Times) Interview: Martin Saunders, deputy chief executive, Youthscape

Good youth work is always about really listening to, truly caring about, and being there for the long haul for young people as they go through the most complex and fast-moving period of human life. Everything else is secondary to that. The statutory youth-work sector was decimated at the start of the recession; so, really, the voluntary sector now bears a lot of the responsibility. Churches are at the forefront of that.

We did some research at Youthscape, which discovered that only about 25 per cent of all churches actually did any formal work with young people. So there are pockets of great practice, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.

What young people desperately need are authentic, kind role-models who care. They don’t especially need someone who can speak their language or knows about the latest Netflix smash; so, in a sense, age is irrelevant. They need friends and role-models of all ages. The stereotype of the hip twenty-something, hoodie-wearing youth-worker needs to die.

Most Christian youth work is still really oriented towards helping young people to discover and then keep faith: the traditional Bible-study and social model is alive and well. There’s a big question around whether that’s still the best model, even for churches. The Scouting movement is seeing a huge increase in numbers. I think that they get a lot right.

Read it all.

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

(CT) Greg Johnson–I Used to Hide My Shame. Now I Take Shelter Under the Gospel.

At age 11 the realization hit me. The fact was that I felt toward other guys the way they felt toward girls. 1984 was a terrible time to realize you’re gay. As the year progressed, around 1
So I’ve lived my life as a unicorn in a field of horses, constantly hoping that no one notices the horn. Years ago I was teaching a group of seminarians who were learning to preach, and one of the students mentioned in a sermon illustration how “nobody wants to be an Average Joe.” I was dumbfounded. I’ve never wanted anything more than to be an Average Joe. I’m inundated with invitations for me and my spouse. I have to decide which friend’s phone number to put on the back of my diabetic ID bracelet. When I welcome people to my fantastic little condo with my Saarinen table and Corbusier chairs, I compulsively mention that my undergrad was in architecture. It’s an instinctive strategy to obfuscate their gaydar.

In the late 1990s, I sought out a pastor I respected, and I opened up with him about wanting to share my story with my church. I was fatigued from a lifetime of trying to hide my shame. “Do not do it!” he thundered. “If your church knew, they would never be able to accept you.” I was still young and impressionable, and I accepted his voice as the voice of God. For decades, I’ve had Christian leaders asking me to please not share my Christian testimony, despite my thorough agreement with the church’s historic teaching on sexuality. Even the language of same-sex attraction—which many believers have found helpful as a way to disassociate themselves from assumptions about being gay—feels to many others like a tool of concealment, as though I were laboring to minimize the ongoing reality of sexual orientations that in practice seldom change.

I’m thankful that a campus minister named Bill loved me. He didn’t try to fix me, control me, or ship me off to a conversion therapy camp. He loved me, welcomed me into his home, sat with me, and invested so many hours in me. He was the first person to suggest I pray about going to seminary.

Jesus hasn’t made me straight. But he covers over my shame. Jesus really loves gay people.

The gospel doesn’t erase this part of my story so much as it redeems it. My sexual orientation doesn’t define me. It’s not the most important or most interesting thing about me. It is the backdrop for that, the backdrop for the story of Jesus who rescued me.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults, Youth Ministry

The Parish Newsletter of Christ Saint Paul’s Yonges Island SC for this week

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, 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?”

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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