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Book Review: I Am Second


I love stories. Especially when you hear about a life that was transformed or changed through an experience that they went through (good or bad). I love when my spirit is bubbling up inside me as I listen to a story and when it gets to the end I can boldly say to the story-teller, "That's the God I know!"

As I sat down to read this book over a few days, I was excited because I had used several of the videos from I AM SECOND in various youth ministry contexts. Each video is visually simple yet powerful, verbally thought provoking, and very inspiring. (I used three "V" words there, cool!). I am also a person who loves things visual, seeing a person share their own personal story, seeing their facial expressions of joy or pain is very powerful. Yet when I read, I love to visualize what I'm reading.

As I began the book I kept having this sense of confusion come over me because it wasn't clear to me who was telling each of the stories I was reading. Every story, through out the whole book, kept switching from first person to third person. I then jumped ahead to a story I had seen on video that impacted me personally and started reading with expectation. I was let down because as a reader I wasn't sure who was telling the story. I was left confused.

There are many ways to tell a redemptive story and I know that the redemption that God offers to each one of us is mind blowing. The big problem I had with the book was that the redemptive story of God seemed hidden, missed, not communicated well, I'm not sure what. When someone has a life changing encounter with the living God it is usually very clear to everyone through two ways: 1) their life changes (behaviour, decisions, attitude, thoughts, language, body language, etc…), 2) the reason for the change is clear, they tell you that it was because of their life intersecting with the living God and his son Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Some of the stories in the book I AM SECOND seem to lack a depth of the redemptive story and the life change that each person went through when they encountered God through Jesus Christ. I'm not sure if that's because the authors wanted it that way or if the person telling the story was not coached on how to tell the story of the redemptive work of God in their life.

Overall, if you are looking for a book to read about how various people go through a rough/rock-bottom experience and they emerge on the other side without drowning and discover God, then this is a book you will enjoy. If you are looking for a book that is very well written and explains in detail the redemptive work of Jesus in the life of various people, then this is not the book for you.

My recommendation is to watch the I AM SECOND videos for free. The book is not a must have on my book shelves. Stick with the videos.
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Friday Night youth activity, live Famine webcast

Looking for a some great Jesus Justice for your youth this Friday night? Here's some perfect post Easter poverty activity - all you need is a projector, wifi and sound.

30 Hour Famine is hosting a live webcast featuring a video chat with youth from a youth empowerment project in Brazil. The webcast will also feature interviews with students from Famine groups that are doing their Famine on the Global date, April 25/26, from around the world, and LIGHTS. 



About me: I live a pretty simple life... trying to love God and treat others as good as myself... I epically fail at this but mercifully God loves me anyway... different cultures inspire me... the outdoors is my passion... I'm pursuing my MDIV / Masters in Counselling at Tyndale... I spent 22+ years in the skate / snowboard / entertainment / marketing / retail industry at the executive level... led the charge at West 49/Billabong for 12 of them... I've worked in youth ministry leadership roles for more years then I can count.. after many moons in the corporate world I switched to the dark side and am currently the Manager of Youth & Student Campaigns at World Vision Canada... but more then anything I love giving my heart to mentoring and helping youth! #lovelife #dreambig #keepitreal #socialjustice #jesusjustice I/T @cindymielke  facebook.com/cindymielke
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Child-Like Faith: My Favourite Easter Prayer





My favourite Easter prayer goes like this:

"Dear Jesus.  Thank you for going up on the cross for us every Good Friday.  You must be really happy when the weekend's over!"

That’s why I love kids’ prayers. Children remind us that we can be child-like, not childish, in the way we pray. Praying is easier for children, as there is no embarrassment, no formulas, no clichés, or no religiously correct God words…they just pray whatever comes to their minds. Children tell God what they are genuinely thinking and they understand that God is listening, and that praying is very important.

After all, Mark 10:15 says "Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." 

My hope is that we all become more child-like in our faith, and that we aren’t afraid to offer up simple, spontaneous prayers when needed.

That way, we won't always be the ones saying grace because we are the designated “church professionals!”

Clayton Imoo is husband to Gail and father to sons Sean Isaiah and Jacob Isaac and daughter Kayla Marie.  He has served as the Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver for the past ten years, helping parishes develop their own youth and young adult ministries.  When not doing ministry, Clay enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, playing sports, playing naptime, and writing blogs on topics such as family, faith, and the Vancouver Canucks.  Learn more about him at http://www.claytonimoo.com or follow him @claytonimoo      
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Mark Oestricher Loves Canadians!!

This week I had the chance to interview a good friend of mine, Mark Oestricher, about youth ministry in Canada. Marko shares some great ideas to ponder in youth ministry, hope for the Canadian church and how we can lovingly support the activity of God in the lives of people. Enjoy!






Jason has lived in Calgary, Alberta Canada since 1995, and been a youth pastor since 2001. He is married to the love of his life, Bonny, and together they have three incredible children: Saydie, Cannon and Deklon. Jason possesses a desire to see youth, parents and families become who God created them to be through loving and living like Jesus. He currently serves on staff at Centre Street Church in Calgary. He loves hockey, playing guitar, writing and creating environments and opportunities where others can realize their potential in Jesus while experiencing the full life He promised to those who follow Him!
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A Resource for Students to Bounce Back From "Haters"

Can you stop people from saying or doing hurtful things? I’m sure you have heard stories from your students about the mean things someone has said to them. I remember a girl sharing with me around a campfire about an incident at school. As she was squeezing through the desks to get to her seat, a girl higher up on the social status, yelled out, “You can't get by because of your fat a$$.” That was the trigger of her eating disorder.

Being black in a community where people were predominately white, I was often made fun of. I recall an incident in elementary that had me stay away from camps never to return until my grade 11 year. I was kicked and made fun of for my smile and the colour of my skin. I wanted so desperately to be white because of the way people treated me. Do you know students who are struggling from the harsh treatment of others? Maybe someone posted a private picture of them up on social media, or by text. You just want to go in and save that kid or perhaps lash out at the ignorant fool or their parents.  

I stumbled on to this video today of a girl I've never heard of before until now, her name is Lizzie Velasquez. I was inspired by her story and proud at the same time as I watched a number of her videos. You've got to hear her story.
That girl in your youth group who is hurting because of what people posted about her on Facebook she has got to hear Lizzie's story.  Lizzie is bold and powerful she too will make you proud. After you've watched her message, know that her story doesn't end there. She has a Vlog series on YouTube you've got to check it out. She doesn't hide she puts herself out there.

Your kids (if they haven't already) must hear Lizzie's story. Her story is proof that John 10:10 is real. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give us a life that is full. This Holy Week my prayer is that your students would know that what Christ did on the cross and after 3 days, is so that you're students would have the grace and the power to be able to bounce back no matter how much bad has happened to them.





The Founder of the Young Woman of Power (YWOP) Conference April 25-26 2014, Alison develops programs that are designed to build girls confidence such as the YWOP PivotFWD workshop which she delivers in Calgary’s Youth Judicial System. Alison’s heart for young women is to see the statistics of violence against women decrease and to see females become counter culture/culturally dangerous by growing in true confidence. For more info or to book Alison as a speaker visit www.ywop.ca 
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Understanding Canadian Aboriginal Youth Ministry - LIVE online panel discussion

Monday April 28th                       1pm (Calgary time)




 

Youtube/Google+ LIVE event:
           Understanding Canadian Aboriginal Youth Ministry
                                    
 - watch it live here -


3 people serving in First Nations work will form a panel for a 30 minute dialogue on the culture, uniqueness, perspective and heart of our Canadian Aboriginal youth.

Panel:

Amy Flater - Involved in Aboriginal youth ministry for 9 years, works with Anchored Warriors (partners with the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada) and the Native Youth Conference.    

Tracey Bert - Herself a Cree/Saulteaux, currently a Psych student, working towards Aboriginal youth work. Worked at Mt. Royal University as Student Success Coordinator for First Nations students. Spent time in the far north with the Dene people in community health and wellness.

Ray Aldred - Cree, a storyteller, 30+ years in Christian ministry, mostly in First Nations work. Currently teaching Theology at Ambrose University College.


Host: Dave Brotherton Youth Ministry Prof at Ambrose University College in Calgary, National Youth Director for the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada.


this video will remain on youtube for future training and reference.
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On Fear, or Leadership Lessons from Astronauts

The TED 2014 conference came to Vancouver, BC last month, and I've been catching up on some of the 18-minute talks. One of the most fascinating talks is from astronaut Chris Hadfield. His description of exploring space is captivating and winsome, but beyond his cosmic adventures, Hadfield goes deeper into what it means to embrace risk, move beyond fear, and step into danger for the sake of beauty (see the talk here if the embed below doesn't work):


Money Quote"...the key to that is by looking at the difference between perceived danger and actual danger, where is the real risk? What is the real thing that you should be afraid of? Not just a generic fear of bad things happening. You can fundamentally change your reaction to things so that it allows you to go places and see things and do things that otherwise would be completely denied to you."

In the Bible, the most frequent command from God to people is not “worship me” or “be kind” or even “love others.” It’s simply this: don’t be afraid. 

Do not fear. 

Why does this command come up so often? Because fear has to do with punishment and death. It comes from sin. Fear of disease, fear of rejection, fear of death—it all finds its roots in sin. But Jesus has conquered fear and sin and death, and offers us life and grace and unconditional love.

Here is the good news: we don’t have to be afraid any more in Christ. I have all sorts of fears and insecurities and anxiety, and those will probably always creep up in my heart. I'm afraid of what others will think of me. I'm afraid of losing my job due to making a significant programmatic change. I'm afraid of burning out. But I recall God's promises in 1 John 4: there is no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear, and if I’m loved--and I am--then I don’t have to be afraid any more. Like Hadfield's reminder about spiders, we only need to do the research in order to move beyond the perceived danger and figure out what we really need to fear: God alone.

Fear not. Live courageously this week, knowing that the love of your Father means we don't have to be afraid.


Joel Mayward is a pastor, writer, husband, and father living in Langley, British Columbia. He’s been serving in youth ministry since 2003, and is currently the Pastor of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at North Langley Community Church. A writer for numerous youth ministry publications and author of Leading Up: Finding Influence in the Church Beyond Role and Experience, Joel writes about youth ministry, film, theology, and leadership at his blog, joelmayward.blogspot.ca.
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You Failed ... Well Done!


"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."~Thomas Edison

Each summer, I'll spent an afternoon down on the beach with my son watching a local Skim Boarding competition (think a cross between skateboarding and surfing in one or two inches of water). It's always  incredible to see the athleticism in those taking part, and the tricks that they are able to pull off! The other bit that makes this competition great are some of the spills these guys take ... check out a couple of pictures I've taken:



Ouch!  These guys failed at the tricks they were attempting to pull off and the result was painful. Yet, despite the failure, the next moment they are "walking it off" and heading back to the line-up of competitors waiting for their next attempt at nailing it. Incredible!

I've been reading and thinking a bunch on the topic of failure. It's something that we all do from time to time (and some of us are better at it than others), but I've discovered that there is a proper way to fail ... it's actually something that you can get good at!! But don't tell anyone you are training to be a "good" failure, because people don't want to talk about it.

Here's what Mike Foster (founder of People of the Second Chance) said in a recent article he wrote on the subject:
We are not OK with failure. I’ve never seen a CEO’s bio proclaiming the projects that went belly up. I won’t log onto your website today and hear about your underperforming men’s ministries or how last weekend’s services were completely average. I often tease a pastor friend of mine that I’ve never seen a Tweet that doesn’t describe every event at his church as “AMAZING!!!”
It's true, failure may not be something we're proud of (unless there is a book-deal in it) but it is something that can provide a doorway to success. When I say that we can learn to fail well, I simply mean that we can see every failure as a chance to learn and come back stronger than before.

Here are a few truths about failure you'll need to know to turn it into a success (eventually):
  • If you are going to fail (or succeed), RISK is a necessary ingredient ... if you don't attempt it, you'll not achieve either of them
  • When you fail you learn WHAT NOT TO DO next time ... that type of information is invaluable
  • Failure can lead to time out from a task (due to injury, penalty, or opportunity) ... use this priceless time to REFLECT and PLAN for the next attempt
  • Failure is generally due to either a single event done incorrectly, or a series of events that caused problems ... if you can ISOLATE AND CHANGE you'll be a step closer to nailing it
  • Someone else has always failed bigger and better than you, so find them a LEARN FROM THOSE WHO WENT BEFORE
So go fail ... it could be the biggest step toward success you've ever made ... look what happened for this guy!

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Easter & Ethical Chocolate

Faithful one...
You are my rock in times of trouble, 
you lift me up when I fall down, 
All through the storm Your love is, the anchor. 
My hope is in CHOCOLATE alone.

Alright, so let's be real here, we all want to say Jesus but chocolate is right up there too, right? I know that's obviously NOT what Easter is about, but Easter weekend you are likely going to be eating or buying chocolate for someone; likely some purchases for a youth event too.

Well, you can you express #JesusJustice in your chocolate purchases!  

Where does your chocolate come from? 

Did you know that 95% of the world’s chocolate cannot be certified free from the use of forced, child or trafficked labour? Globally, more than 2 million children are involved in cocoa farming and harvesting


World Vision’s Help Wanted: End Child Slavery campaign is encouraging Canadian companies to commit to sourcing ethical cocoa for all of their products by 2020. Here's four ways you and your youth can participate:

1. Buy ethical cocoa products. Use the Good Chocolate Guide.

2. There’s an APP FOR THAT!  Download, share and shop away.

3. Help everyone learn more by having your youth be researchers for us. Ask your local chocolatier whether they source ethical cocoa or leave this pamphlet behind for them to read and respond to.

4. Find out more by reading this Cocoa and Child Labour Information Sheet.

About me: I live a pretty simple life... trying to love God and treat others as good as myself... I epically fail at this but mercifully God loves me anyway... different cultures inspire me... the outdoors is my passion... I'm pursuing my MDIV / Masters in Counselling at Tyndale... I spent 22+ years in the skate / snowboard / entertainment / marketing / retail industry at the executive level... led the charge at West 49/Billabong for 12 of them... I've worked in youth ministry leadership roles for more years then I can count.. after many moons in the corporate world I switched to the dark side and am currently the Manager of Youth & Student Campaigns at World Vision Canada... but more then anything I love giving my heart to mentoring and helping youth! #lovelife #dreambig #keepitreal #socialjustice #jesusjustice I/T @cindymielke  facebook.com/cindymielke

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Earning the Right to be Heard





Through my work in youth ministry, it’s become evident to me that the churches that have the strongest youth ministries are generally the ones that do the best relational ministry.  As I’ve written about before, youth ministry is about people and not programs; we need to be interested in souls and not in attendance.

And most importantly: young people won’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.

I learned this the hard way back in 1999 when I was discerning a move to Lindenhurst, New York (on the southern shore of Long Island) to become the parish youth minister at a Catholic Church.  On one of my recruitment trips to Lindenhurst I joined the parish youth group on their annual trip to a Young Life camp in New York.

At the camp, I was asked to facilitate a small group of 8 young men.  I was both eager and nervous at the opportunity to get to know them – teens who I would inevitably see more regularly if I took the job.  After a busy first day of camp, we settled into some evening prayer time and discussion time in our cabin.

13 years later, I can’t remember the exact topic we were discussing but I can certainly remember how things transpired.  Whatever we were discussing, I must have had a strong opinion on it because I distinctly remember using language like:

“You need to do this...”

“You must consider trying...”

“I think you should...”

One of the teens must have gotten tired of my soliloquy as he finally interrupted me saying, “You have no right to tell us anything yet...you don’t even know us.  Why should we listen to you?”  The other 7 dudes nodded in agreement.

My first reaction was one of shock.  Inside I screamed for them to respect me as their elder and “leader” for the week.  Didn’t they know who they were talking back at?  I was the big shot youth minister from Canada! 

But thankfully I was able to quickly shove my ego aside.  Plus, I didn’t think I could take all 8 of them in a fight.  :p

“You’re absolutely right,” I said.  “I don’t know any of you...and you certainly don’t know me.  But I’m hopeful that this will change over the next week. Let’s try this again.”

We regrouped (literally and figuratively) and both the rest of the evening and the rest of the week went very well.  By the end of the camp, I had built a strong connection to the guys and we were able to share more openly with each other. 

Ultimately, I ended up declining the job offer to remain in the familiar surroundings of beautiful Vancouver, BC.  But I’m eternally grateful for my experience at the camp:  the small group discussion on the first night was likely the most humbling yet poignant moment of my 21-year youth ministry career. 

In our work with young people, we must earn the right to be heard.  When possible, we need to build genuine relationships with young people before we attempt to evangelize or catechize them.

Because they won’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.


Clayton Imoo is husband to Gail and father to sons Sean Isaiah and Jacob Isaac and daughter Kayla Marie.  He has served as the Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver for the past ten years, helping parishes develop their own youth and young adult ministries.  When not doing ministry, Clay enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, playing sports, playing naptime, and writing blogs on topics such as family, faith, and the Vancouver Canucks.  Learn more about him at http://www.claytonimoo.com or follow him @claytonimoo      
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Born this way



The resurgence of conversation about discipleship within the context of family and the church is an encouraging sign for both the present and the future of Christianity.

But I wonder if sometimes we create more confusion than clarity when we attempt to communicate our vision for the future. Do families and individuals simply hear that discipleship is yet another thing they have to try and fit into their already overcrowded calendar? What if we reframed the conversation about discipleship around the theme of intentionality and consistency, would that answer the question?

One of the more famous statements Jesus made is commonly known as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Here are two ideas I’m discovering about these words of Jesus through a fresh lens.


1. Discipleship is more natural than we think.  Jesus frames the conversation about discipleship by simply uttering the phrase “go and make disciples.” What this tells us is a number of things. First of all, there is an expectancy that we will make disciples, meaning that our lives are meant to inspire others towards hope and a future. The way we live, how we talk, what we celebrate…all of these characteristics point to the hopefulness we are encouraged to represent. When your life is reflected in a mirror, does it point to hope or to something else?

The second element of truth in this phrase is that the idea of discipleship is what we humans were created to do. Now please understand that when I use the word discipleship I’m referring not only to making disciples, but also to living missionally and acting as an evangelist. A disciple is someone who follows Jesus. A person that follows Jesus must live missionally because Jesus is mission, and to be on mission with Jesus is to tell the story of who Jesus is through the way we act and speak. For too long these facets of Christianity may have been seen as antonyms with one another, but they are instead synonyms and function together in cohesive communion within each other. Whether we know it or not, we are in the business of discipling people. How we act, what we say, where we invest our lives…all of these elements express our discipling ways to those around us.

And finally, making disciples is an ongoing process that does not come to a static conclusion. Discipleship is an organic entanglement because people are both complex and simple. It’s true that shared basic needs shape humanity at the general level, but each person requires a unique invitation towards a hope-filled expression of life making the complexity of the discipleship process more diverse than uniform.


2. Intentionality and consistency.  If discipleship is a natural expression of human life, the intentionality and consistency behind that expression are of crucial significance.

Every human being engages in the formation of people (discipleship) consciously or unconsciously. Examining one’s intentions and desired outcomes in creating connections with others reveals the degree to which the individual is aware of his or her influence, significance and meaning.

Imagine if an entire generation of people understood that who they are matters and what they do with what the life they have been given makes a difference. How different would the world in which we live become?


We were born to create, born to connect and born to grow. Discipleship isn’t a fad; it’s a part of our original design. How are you inspiring the people around you to discover that they were born in this way?



Jason has lived in Calgary, Alberta Canada since 1995, and been a youth pastor since 2001. He is married to the love of his life, Bonny, and together they have three incredible children: Saydie, Cannon and Deklon. Jason possesses a desire to see youth, parents and families become who God created them to be through loving and living like Jesus. He currently serves on staff at Centre Street Church in Calgary. He loves hockey, playing guitar, writing and creating environments and opportunities where others can realize their potential in Jesus while experiencing the full life He promised to those who follow Him.
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Talking About Sexual Abuse - Creating A Different Response

Talking about sexual abuse can be hard; it is often a very awkward and clumsy conversation to have. There are teens in our care looking to have that “awkward conversation” but for them its more than awkward, its terrifying. There are so many teens carrying around huge secrets looking for someone safe to tell. Are you that safe person? Ask yourself these basic questions:

1.     Am I available? When spending time with youth are you aware of what is really going on or are you too caught up in dodge ball? Whether you are doing bible study or doing some crazy activity be aware of what is going on with your youth and look for opportunities to connect on a deeper level.

2.     Do I know when to be serious? We all know people that we love to be around but would never share anything personal with.  If we want to be a safe person for a teen in trouble we need to learn the balance of joking around and talking about the serious stuff.

3.     Are you worried about the paperwork a disclosure of sexual abuse will cause? When a teen discloses abuse its can be messy to work through especially when local authorities need to be involved. Be assured that the mess of initially dealing with a disclosure is worth it in the end even if that teen doesn’t realize it till later on.

4.     Have I passed the test? Teens often test before they disclose sexual abuse, they will share a smaller challenge in their life e.g. telling you their older brother is really mean or they are sad because their dog died. Teens will gauge your response and then decide if you are safe to confide in.

Statistics estimate that 1 in 3 girls are being sexual abused. That’s not 1 in 3 girls in other youth groups that is 1 in 3 in YOUR youth group. For too long sexual abuse has been an issue that society is ashamed to talk about. This has to end! I am not suggesting that we go looking for teens who we think may have been abused then force them to tell us but this is what I am saying: It is crucial that we are available and willing to have these difficult conversations and it is crucial that we communicate that clearly with our youth.

Here is one project that has been helping people to communicate that they are a safe person to talk to about sexual abuse.

Creating A Different Response Campaign

Hope for Her International has started an online campaign to help communities talk about sexual abuse. Too often when people who have been experienced sexual violence finally tell someone they are met with messages of disbelief, shame and ignorance; too many victims are shamed, blamed or not believed. If we want to end sexual violence this needs to change, we need a different community response.

Teens are always on Facebook and they seem to love taking pictures of themselves! Why not take part in this project as a youth group or as church. It’s a great way to talk about the issue while sending a clear message to those people wondering, “Is it safe to tell?”
If someone you cared about was sexually violated, what would be one thing you would want to tell him or her?
1. Take a picture of yourself holding a message answering the question: If someone you cared about was sexually violated, what would be one thing you would want to tell him or her?

2. Post it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tag it #hopeforherinternational and #creatingadifferentresponse so we can track the messages. Then nominate some friends to do the same. For more information on Hope for Her International go to www.hopeforherblog.wordpress.com/about



Jane Galbreath

 Jane is a theology graduate and social work student, living in Saskatchewan. She spends her summers leading international youth mission teams. She is passionate about empowering young women to serve God particularly young women struggling with trauma and mental health issues. Jane has been a victim of sexual violence so she knows the heartache, shame, strength and courage it takes to face being a victim. Jane is a blogger and advocate for other females who have been victims of sexual violence because she knows that it is possible to not only survive but to come out the other side strong. After many years of healing Jane comes to you from that place! For more information and to visit Jane’s blog click here http://hopeforherblog.wordpress.com/about/
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Growing in Spiritual Cycles

The Christian life isn't linear. Our spiritual growth doesn't move in a straight line, like a steady arrow aimed in an upward trajectory from "less mature" to "more mature." Sure, most of our youth ministry programs and discipleship methodologies are set in a linear or funnel-like fashion (come, grow, go). But real life doesn't work this way. It's more like a long hike up a mountain, filled with turns and switchbacks, flat plains and steep climbs. Sometimes it looks like we're moving downward or away from our destination, when the path is leading us away from an impending danger. It's an individual journey, and rarely do linear one-size-fits-all spiritual growth models foster the kind of discipleship we long for.

Our spiritual growth moves less in straight lines and more in cycles. Walter Brueggemann's insightful little book, Spirituality of the Psalms, offers a framework for how this cyclical spiritual formation works through the lens of the Psalms:


Orientation: This is a sense of peace and contentment with God. Spiritual growth and practice almost feels easy--prayer works, reading the Bible feels alive, worship is passionate, there is unity with fellow believers, an eagerness to follow Christ. Many brand new believers or students at the end of a summer camp or missions trip experience this elated orientation. Christianity feels like a new and exciting endeavour. For the Israelites, these orientation Psalms reflect experiencing the blessings of the promised land, of being right where God wants them. Yet lingering in orientation for too long can lead to a sort of spiritual apathy; we begin to take God's blessings and presence for granted, and the cycle moves to a new stage.

Disorientation: All is not well in disorientation. There is the introduction of pain, trials, doubts, and frustrations. This is the letdown after the summer camp is over, the onset of a season of suffering. Prayer is tedious, reading the Bible is a chore (if it even happens), worship is lifeless, and one feels isolated and alone. God feels distant and aloof, even unjust in His actions. This causes us to lament, to cry out to God in anger and sorrow. Disorientation tends to be an inner response to an external circumstance--a loss of status, a broken relationship, financial difficulty, the weightiness of ministry, death or disease, etc. This is being led out of the promised land into exile; we feel far away from the security of home. Thankfully, God is present with us throughout this painful season, though it doesn't feel like it. He is walking with us in the valley of the shadow of death.

New Orientation: At some point, one emerges from the valley into the light, coming out of the pain and isolation with a renewed sense of peace, gratitude, and trust in the Lord. This feels like returning home after a long journey, only one's heart and mind will never be the same after one's harrowing experience of disorientation. It is like Israel coming back to rebuild Jerusalem after being in exile for so long. This new orientation only stays "new" for awhile. Then it slips into the comfort and security of orientation, which lasts only until the next doubt or trial or emotional turmoil fosters disorientation once again. 
And so the cycle continues.

When I first heard about this framework from a spiritual director, it was in the middle of a personal season of orientation. Unbeknownst to me, I was on the brink of disorientation--broken relationships, physical pain and struggles, culminating with the near-loss of my infant son. God led me through the pain--not around it, not away from it, but through it--to draw me into a deeper relationship with Himself. It turns out He's been doing this since the beginning--read the stories of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Jonah, and even Jesus, and you'll see this spiritual cycle.

There are two paradoxical struggles which arise in the cycle: first, we don't like the shifts, the "arrows," the changes from orientation to disorientation or from disorientation to new orientation. We don't like change. Yet we also struggle with being present in our current season--if we're in disorientation, we want to get out of the pain; if we're in orientation, we're worrying about when the season of disorientation is coming for us. We don't like being present. Paradox, I know.

The key is to recognizing the season you are currently experiencing and embracing it as God shapes your heart through this journey.

Where are you right now? Where are your students, your children, your spouse? How can you be fully present in the season God has you in?

Joel Mayward is a pastor, writer, husband, and father living in Langley, British Columbia. He’s been serving in youth ministry since 2003, and is currently the Pastor of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at North Langley Community Church. A writer for numerous youth ministry publications and author of Leading Up: Finding Influence in the Church Beyond Role and Experience, Joel writes about youth ministry, film, theology, and leadership at his blog, joelmayward.blogspot.ca.
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Urban Mission Experience: REMIX

I have been involved with REMIX for many years as a youth pastor and now on the teaching team. This is a weeklong urban mission experience that could help you in one of these ways:
1) summer camp staff training
2) students experience reaching out for the first time (Jerusalem, Judea... Acts 1:8)
3) overseas mission team prep and training before you leave.

June 29th - July 4th in Toronto!
  • 20 Years
  • 5000+ Teens
  • 350 Youth Groups
  • Local Focus - Global Impact
This should be your missions trip in 2014!


REMIX is a week-long interactive and hands-on urban mission experience designed to equip, train and inspire young people to 'centre their lives within the mission and message of Jesus'. Each REMIX participant will receive in-depth training each day, be engaged in afternoon mission opportunities throughout Toronto and be a part of large group celebration gatherings each evening.
The following is the outline and flow of our week at REMIX:
  • DAY 01: ENCOUNTERING God's Love
  • DAY 02: MEETING people through Jesus' eyes
  • DAY 03: CARE through listening and learning
  • DAY 04: CONNECT with God's community
  • DAY 05: SHARE God's truth
  • DAY 06: FOLLOW Jesus' Mission

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World Health Day Activities

April 7th is World Health Day. It's an opportunity for everyone in every community to get involved in activities that can lead to better health. 

This video explains why the first 1000 days of a child’s life is so important:

Nearly 7 million children under the age of 5 die each year from causes that are preventable and treatable – like malnutrition, malaria, and lack of proper immunization. 200,000 women die yearly due to the lack of proper care in pregnancy and childbirth. It doesn’t have to be this way.
World Vision Youth Canada is pushing the Canadian government to ensure maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) remains a key priority, so that all children have the chance to live Beyond 5.

What can your youth & YA group do to help?

Check out yourmovement.ca/beyond5  for free resources you can download to run activities like: Skip A Lunch, Celebrate Your 5th Birthday Again, 30 Hour Famine and more.
About me: I live a pretty simple life... trying to love God and treat others as good as myself... I epically fail at this but mercifully God loves me anyway... different cultures inspire me... the outdoors is my passion... I'm pursuing my MDIV / Masters in Counselling at Tyndale... I spent 22+ years in the skate / snowboard / entertainment / marketing / retail industry at the executive level... led the charge at West 49/Billabong for 12 of them... I've worked in youth ministry leadership roles for more years then I can count.. after many moons in the corporate world I switched to the dark side and am currently the Manager of Youth & Student Campaigns at World Vision Canada... but more then anything I love giving my heart to mentoring and helping youth! #lovelife #dreambig #keepitreal #socialjustice #jesusjustice I/T @cindymielke  facebook.com/cindymielke
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