Category : 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.

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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.

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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

(ABP) Baptist Youth minister Gavin Rogers visits Burned Egyptian Churches

By his own admission, San Antonio youth minister Gavin Rogers has a knack for making his parents worry.

In 2012, as minister to youth and families at Trinity Baptist Church, he observed Lent by living as a homeless person, dodging cops, sleeping under bridges and wrestling with hunger.

Rogers, 31, has pushed the envelope of parental stress again, this time by making a five-day visit to Egypt just a few weeks after violent, deadly riots swept over the nation.

“When I told my parents about the homeless journey, my mom was really worried,” Rogers said. “With this one, my dad wasn’t too happy.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence, Youth Ministry

David Plant, Youth Ministries Director at Redeemer NYC, on Integrating Students into Parish Life

Watch it all, and note the participation of Cameron Cole, director of student ministries at Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama.

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

Anglican youth leaders from Southern Africa–the Church Adapts Too Slowly to Youth Ministry

“The Church has been too slow in terms of putting structures in place,” said Youth Co-ordinator for the Church of the Province of Central Africa, Fr Robert Sihubwa. “While we acknowledge the verbal commitment, the lack of funding commitments indicates slow movement.”

Tony Lawrence is the Provincial Youth Co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. He told ACNS, “Changing our approaches and actively focusing on the ministry to children and young people is critical for the growth and survival of the Church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, South Africa, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

(Gospel Coalition Blog) Scott Slayton–When the Popular Youth Pastor Gets Arrested Again

Southern church culture, including Birmingham, celebrates nearly anyone who claims to reach teenagers. We often assume the inherent goodness of any ministry that draws large numbers. And we idolize reaching the next generation to the point that we largely ignore what we are winning them with and what we are winning them to. Despite warning signs, youth pastors continued to take busloads of teenagers to The Basement and Christian radio relentlessly promoted Pitt’s meetings.

All the while The Basement’s theology was largely ignored. Viewing the videos on The Basement’s website reveals an exciting atmosphere that lacks substantial understanding of God as revealed in his Word. Pitt’s sermons might have been “in your face,” but they did not point teens to the Bible and the gospel message revealed in it. Much of the public also ignored the Bible’s teaching about character in leaders because Pitt claimed to have a “calling” from God to lead this ministry. And who could question his results?

But internal calling is only part of what it means to be a gospel minister.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Youth Ministry

John Pond–What excites me about youth ministry today?

In the late 1990’s the face of youth ministry was this big, overblown monstrosity of thrills and excitement, and I was all in. I simply assumed that if there were more games than God, I would draw more students with the entertainment, and hope to keep them engaged. However, in recent years I discovered by listening to my students that they want more truth.

My leaders and students have a desire to make more of an emphasis on four things these days: the Gospel, the Scriptures, discipleship, and missions, which was not the case when I started in youth ministry fifteen years ago.

Read it all.

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

Diocese of South Carolina's Camp St. Christopher celebrates 75th anniversary this week

St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, at the southern end of Seabrook Island, marks its 75th anniversary with a three-day celebration beginning June 22.

Most of the scheduled events are free and open to the public.

Read it all and please take the time to look at the special website for this event.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Church History, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Youth Ministry

(Christian Century) Jen Bradbury–Sticky faith: What keeps kids connected to church?

When I first started in youth ministry, I did everything I could think of to attract and engage high school youth. I held monthly social events and service projects. My Sunday school classes and weekly youth group meetings included crazy games, youth-only worship with contemporary Christian music, and discussions of relevant topics.

I chose topics based on what I thought youth cared about, so we talked a lot about friendships, sex and alcohol. While I tied these topics to scripture, I rarely focused on Jesus. I assumed that the youth, who had grown up in the church, already knew the Jesus story well and were likely to be bored by it. Rather than help students cultivate a lifelong relationship with Christ, I focused on getting them to live a Christian lifestyle. I had zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior.

Only a handful of the youth I worked with in that year are attending church today. My extensive efforts at reaching them seem to have made little difference.

Research suggests that my approach to ministry was not unusual””nor was the outcome. According to research by the Fuller Youth Institute, 40 to 50 percent of kids who are part of a youth group in high school fail to stick with their faith in college. To find out why, researchers at FYI conducted a six-year, comprehensive and longitudinal study from 2004 to 2010 called the College Transition Project. The study’s findings are found in Sticky Faith: Practical Ideas to Nurture Long-Term Faith in Teenagers, a 2011 book by Kara E. Powell, Brad M. Griffin and Cheryl A. Crawford.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Teens / Youth, Theology, Youth Ministry

More from Thomas Becon–His Catechism

Read it all. The preface alone, to his two sons and only daughter, is wonderful–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Youth Ministry

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Newspaper is now available

I would especially like to draw your attention to the article entitled “St. Christopher Celebrating 75th Diamond Anniversary on June 22-24–“read it all (pdf).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Youth Ministry

Diocese of SC Convention–Remain Steadfast in Faith, Firm in Conviction, Resolute in Will

Nearly 400 people attended the 222nd Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina at the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center in Florence, South Carolina, March 8-9, 2013.

“Wasn’t the worship incredible last night?” said Patricia Smith, remarking on the Convention’s Friday evening service of Holy Eucharist. Smith is a member of St. Paul’s, Summerville, and attended with her husband who is a delegate. “I felt like I was coming in to the gates of heaven. It had that triumphant sound. I guess, now that we’ve made a stand there was a unity, a lack of confusion. We were uniting in worship. It felt like God’s favor was there.”

For the second time the Convention voted unanimously to remove all references to The Episcopal Church from the Diocese’s constitution–the final step in severing their ties to the denomination they helped to found in 1789, five years after the South Carolina Convention first met in 1785.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Apologetics, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Youth Ministry

Bishop Mark Lawrence's Address to the 222nd Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina

At our convention last March I stressed two dimensions of our diocesan calling: Our vocation to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age working in relationship with Anglican Provinces and dioceses around the world; and secondly our calling to make disciples by planting new congregations as well as growing and strengthening our existing parishes and missions in an era of sweeping institutional decline among almost all of the mainline denominations. These remain two constants for us today even while so much around us is in flux. You will be relieved to hear that it is not my intention in this address to retrace the road we have traveled in these intervening months since our Special Convention on November 17th. Suffice it to say that since these two dimensions of our common life and vocation remained unshaken when the tectonic plates of the diocese shifted, I remain convinced that they were God’s mandate for us then and they are God’s mandate for us now. The reason for this is two-fold: What is at stake in this theological and moral crisis that has swallowed up the Anglican Communion since the latter years of the 20th Century is first and foremost, “What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as this Church has received it?” We did not create it and we cannot change what we have received. So what is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Anglicans have received it? There is nothing in Anglicanism that cannot be found elsewhere among the churches of Christendom. What is unique is how we have blended certain aspects of what other churches hold together. But we have received a Gospel. What is it?

The second thing is “What will Anglicanism in the 21st Century look like?” While the former is the more important, the latter is the more complex. Put another way, proclaiming the Good News, “the whole counsel of God” as St. Paul declared in his parting address to the presbyters of Ephesus in Acts 20:27, that should be our first concern. Proclaiming the good news ”“ the whole counsel of God. But the charge to “care for the Church of God, which he obtained with his blood” (Acts 20:28) or as our text last evening put it, “which he obtained with the blood of his son.” was also part of St. Paul’s charge to the bishop-presbyters. If we apply this second charge to take care of the church of God, which he obtained, with the blood of his son, if we apply this charge to ourselves ”“ those of us whose leadership is in this vineyard where the Lord has placed us ”“ I believe this means caring for emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century. Frankly, this caring for Anglicanism in the 21st century gets wearisome at times, painful almost daily, exhausting, but it is a charge we cannot relinquish without abandoning our vocation. What does this mean specifically for us here in this Diocese of South Carolina? Let me take up three aspects of this charge as it I believe it applies to us.

Read it all and a pdf version is available top right of the page.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Youth Ministry

222nd Annual South Carolina Diocesan Convention to be Held in Florence, March 8-9

More than 350 people are expected to attend the 222nd Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina at the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center in Florence, March 8-9. The last time the Convention was held in Florence was 1976.

This year the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th Bishop of South Carolina, is focusing on the future. “We cannot afford to focus on the backward glance,” said Lawrence “Christ calls us to look forward and carry out the Great Commission to make disciples and to proclaim the Gospel to a hurting world.”

This year’s convention workshops are designed to equip the Diocese’s lay members and clergy for the work of ministry. Bishop Lawrence promised that such workshops would be key parts of future annual Diocesan Conventions….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Apologetics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, Theology, Youth Ministry

Matt Marino Chimes in–What Should the Right Approach be to 21st Century Parish Ministry?

Today…the church may look healthy on the outside, but it has swallowed the fatal pills. The evidence is stacking up: the church is dying and, for the most part, we are refusing the diagnosis.

What evidence? Take a gander at these two shocking items:

1. 20-30 year olds attend church at 1/2 the rate of their parents and ¼ the rate of their grandparents. Think about the implication for those of us in youth ministry: Thousands of us have invested our lives in reproducing faith in the next generation and the group we were tasked with reaching left the church when they left us.

2. 61% of churched high school students graduate and never go back! (Time Magazine, 2009) Even worse: 78% to 88% of those in youth programs today will leave church, most to never return. (Lifeway, 2010) Please read those last two statistics again. Ask yourself why attending a church with nothing seems to be more effective at retaining youth than our youth programs.

We look at our youth group now and we feel good. But the youth group of today is the church of tomorrow, and study after study after study suggests that what we are building for the future is”¦

”¦empty churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Consumer/consumer spending, Ecclesiology, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults, Youth Ministry

Richard Ross–We Need a Goal of Biblical Literacy for Teenage Believers

Youth ministry researcher Chap Clark says, “I’m convinced that the single most important area where we’ve lost ground with kids is in our commitment and ability to ground them in God’s Word.”

As a result, Barry Shafer says, “The church today, including both the adult and teenage generations, is in an era of rampant biblical illiteracy.” Duffy Robbins takes this one step further when he says: “Our young people have become incapable of theological thinking because they don’t have any theology to think about. ”¦ And, as Paul warns us, this ”¦ leaves us as ”˜infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching’ (Ephesians 4:14).”

At the conclusion of the National Study of Youth and Religion, lead researcher Christian Smith reported: “Even though most teens are very positive about religion and say it’s a good thing, the vast majority are incredibly inarticulate about religion. ”¦ It doesn’t seem to us that many teens are being very well-educated in their faith traditions.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Adult Education, Children, Inter-Faith Relations, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry

(Youth Worker) As Adolescent Male Achievement Declines, Author Says, Get Outside!

There is bad news for boys in North America: They are being blown out of the water by girls in academic achievement; and psychologists say young men are becoming more socially awkward, making relationships with young women difficult.

Sidney Gale, a medical doctor and author of Unto the Breach, an outdoor adventures book for boys, is concerned…”We need to get boys out of their solitary bedrooms and into the sun,” Gale says. “It’s also a good idea to get them reading something other than tweets, texts and the like. They have intellect, and we should encourage them to use it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Men, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Women, Young Adults, Youth Ministry

(CT) Thomas Bergler–When Are We Going to Grow Up? The Juvenilization of American Christianity

The house lights go down. Spinning, multicolored lights sweep the auditorium. A rock band launches into a rousing opening song. “Ignore everyone else, this time is just about you and Jesus,” proclaims the lead singer. The music changes to a slow dance tune, and the people sing about falling in love with Jesus. A guitarist sporting skinny jeans and a soul patch closes the worship set with a prayer, beginning, “Hey God ”¦” The spotlight then falls on the speaker, who tells entertaining stories, cracks a few jokes, and assures everyone that “God is not mad at you. He loves you unconditionally.”

After worship, some members of the church sign up for the next mission trip, while others decide to join a small group where they can receive support on their faith journey. If you ask the people here why they go to church or what they value about their faith, they’ll say something like, “Having faith helps me deal with my problems.”

Fifty or sixty years ago, these now-commonplace elements of American church life were regularly found in youth groups but rarely in worship services and adult activities. What happened? Beginning in the 1930s and ’40s, Christian teenagers and youth leaders staged a quiet revolution in American church life that led to what can properly be called the juvenilization of American Christianity. Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults. It began with the praiseworthy goal of adapting the faith to appeal to the young, which in fact revitalized American Christianity. But it has sometimes ended with both youth and adults embracing immature versions of the faith. In any case, white evangelicals led the way.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Adult Education, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

(Barna Group) Top Trends of 2011: Millennials Rethink Christianity

The Christian community is struggling to remain connected with the next generation of teens and young adults. In particular, the church is “losing” many young creatives (like designers, artists, writers, musicians, and actors) as well as young science-minded students (such as medical students, engineers, biologists and mathematicians).

Read it all.

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

(BP) Researcher Kara Powell on why teens leave the faith & what can be done about it

A new longitudinal study of 500 youth group graduates may provide some answers. Conducted by the Fuller Youth Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary, the study followed the graduates through their years in college or vocational school. The results are compiled in a book, “Sticky Faith: Everyday ideas to build lasting faith in your kids” (Zondervan).

Some of the suggestions aren’t surprising (for instance, the level of church involvement by parents plays a key role in a teen maintaining their faith walk). Other suggestions, though, may surprise Christian leaders.

Baptist Press asked Sticky Faith co-author Kara E. Powell — executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute — about the research….

Read it all.

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

(Touchstone) David Lyle Jeffrey–Our Babel of Bibles

From the perspective of one who values freedom of choice, individualism, and the market, the proliferation of new translations and paraphrases of the Bible must seem, on the whole, a good thing. From a perspective that places a greater value on theological probity, spiritual understanding in the laity, and coherence in the witness of the Church, however, the plethora of English translations and the Babel-like confusion of tongues they create is arguably a calamity. While every new translation is evidently a “market opportunity” and may express in some way the particular slant or voice of individual denominations on certain doctrines, the dissonance and “white noise” of competing Bibles tends to confuse rather than clarify discussion across denominational boundaries. In fact, the “Babel effect” intensifies the confusion.

In addition to new translations, we now have a plethora of “niche” editions, like the “Revolve” magazine-format Bibles, aimed at pre-pubescent girls, whichincludes marginal tips on how to put on makeup and deal with two admiring boys at the same time, or The Veggie Tales Full Text NIV Bible, the NIV Faithgirlz Backpack Bible (in periwinkle blue with a green flower!), the NIV Bible for Busy Dads (or perhaps for dads who aren’t quite busy enough), the Holman CSB Sportsman’s Bible (in camouflage, natch). If you are tired of your mother’s old Bible, which printed the words of Jesus in red, you can choose a more trendy Green Bible, with all the eco-sensitive passages printed in green ink. If you are a feisty woman unfazed by possibly misdirected allusions, then maybe you would like the Woman Thou art Loosed edition of the NKJV. If perchance you should be a high-end of the TV-channel charismatic, there are “prophecy Bibles” coded in several colors to justify your eschatology of choice. If you are a devotee of the U.S. Constitution (the document, not the ship), Tolle Lege Press offers the 1599 Geneva Bible, Patriot’s Edition, complete with a frontispiece portrait of George Washington, a prayer by him, and facsimile reproductions of the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution of the United States of America (with the Amendments), and finally, a tract on Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior by George Washington.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Adult Education, Biblical Commentary & Reflection, Books, Church History, Education, History, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry