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Our Deepest Fear - Part 4 .. Or is it Apathy?

I've done a lot of thinking about fear over the last couple of years.  This fall I am attending a conference put on by one of my favourite bloggers about pursuing your dreams.  He tends to write a lot about conquering fear and how so many people are gripped by it.  Fear of rejections, fear of what other people might think, fear of traveling, fear of the unknown, and the list goes on.

I'm not sure if it was how I was raised, or if something clicked of me at some weird point in my development, but for some reason fear rarely affects me.  I mean there are times where natural fear keeps me in line and doing the right thing (driving on the right side of the highway for example), but what I really struggle with is apathy.  Wikipedia defines Apathy as "a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation and passion".  I find that most of the time when I have time to myself after a long day at work, being a father and husband I just end up having a hard time getting motivated.  It is not that I'm afraid of what might happen, sometimes I end up honestly with a deep sense of not caring.  I struggle with this quite considerably because I DO care, I do have passion for the poor and the windowed, I DO have a heart for them.  I've taken considerable parts of my life investing in others, but when it comes to pushing to that NEXT step apathy kicks in like a bad habit.  

That is why the quote I've been dissecting here for the last month means so much to me.  It calls me out personally.  By me playing small and not pushing myself the world is not benefiting.  We only have one shot at this life, and I do not want to be at the end of it and regret not doing the things I feel called too because I got too busy or distracted or lacked that last bit of motivation.  So often in life we end up regretting what we did NOT do, and not what we did.  

What is God calling you to do that you might be fearful of? What is the worse that can happen if you step out?  Or are you struggling with apathy and lack motivation?  Try this week to do just 1 thing to make that extra difference in the world.  So often we get overwhelmed by the large pile of hurt around us, but just start with 1 thing.  You'd be surprised how much just improving 1% each day will add up quickly over time.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
–Marianne Williamson



Ryan Filsinger is a husband, father, hockey lover, video game producer and aspiring social architect.  He has been in part time youth ministry for the last six years in Charlottetown, PEI.  You can find him on twitter @rfilsinger or read his rarely updated blog at www.filsinger.org
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5 Reasons I'm Excited About Youth Ministry in Canada


Hi there. 

My name is Jeremy Postal and I’m new to this little corner of the interweb. It’s good to be here and thanks for reading; I’m really hoping we’ll have the chance to connect at some point and share together our insights on student ministry in Canada.

In approaching my first blog post for Canadian Youth Worker I thought it’d be good to somehow introduced myself but, as I’ve been sitting here staring at a blank screen, I realize the difficulty of an introduction with me over here and you all the way over there. So, instead creep through my bio  and, in the mean time, I’ll tell you 5 reasons why I’m really excited to be writing here at Canadian Youth Worker.


1. I’ve been involved with next gen mission + ministry for over a decade and absolutely love connecting with other youth workers. I hope this will be a platform for connection with youth workers from circles I don’t typically roll with. Here is my email, my blog, my Facebook, and my Twitter – let’s connect.

2. I absolutely believe in the future of the Canadian church and I believe youth ministry is one of the catalysts of its present healing and future health.

3. Canadian youth culture is a massive mission field filled with students whose parent’s are post-Christian. Where does that leave students? Often with never having heard or had any experience with the Gospel – ever! Next gen ministry in Canada is now, more than ever, filled with the greatest urgency.

4. I’m completely dissatisfied with the number of young people who leave their faith upon high school graduation. I want to be part of a movement with other Canadian leaders who will call them back.

5. I want to, through this blog, inspire, encourage, mentor, and equip young and rookie youth pastors as they start out in student ministry. The first couple of years have a steep learning curve and we need you – all of you – to push through!

Whether you’re in a local church or para-church context, a paid or volunteer youth worker, or living on the west coast, the prairies, central Canada, or the east coast; for the future of our nation we’re all in this together. If you, like me, hold student ministry at the core of your calling and passion, let’s stand together, learn from each other, connect with each other, and be bastions of hope in a culture grasping for the frayed edges of what little hope they barely see.  

I’ll leave you with a quote by author Len Sweet as a means of self-reflection:

“Light illumines the darkness. If there’s darkness, the blame should be attached where it belongs; not to the world that is dark but to the church which is failing to provide the light.”
Let’s not fail the darkness by not being light.
-Jer 

Jeremy Postal is the director of Whistler School, a bible and discipleship school based out of beautiful Whistler, BC. He is passionate about building communities of restoration & creativity with Christ as the focus. You can also catch him regularly on his blog at www.jeremypostal.com.  
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Spiritual Practice of the Week:  Sunrise

Today I was out for a very early morning walk, even before the sunrise,  in the hills around Naramata, BC.  Suddenly the light changed and the warmth of the sun was upon me.  I turned and faced the sun and in that moment, my thoughts went to all those around the world who have greeted the sun as I was doing.  I thought of those making offerings on the river Ganges, I thought of those camping on a mesa in the New Mexico desert, I thought of women carrying water miles in their village in Africa, I thought of those in the north where the sun hardly leaves this time of year.  I gave thanks for this light, a symbol in it's rising of another day of life, granted by the creator of all of this incredible universe. 

My recommendation:  tomorrow when the sun has not yet come up, get up, out of your familiar world, and go for a walk and notice and at the moment the sun comes up and the light changes, give thanks for whatever mystery unfolded all of this into being, and remember all those around the world who have done the same.
 

© This prayer practice and all of those on the Sunday Morning Blog Post can be found in:  "Go Deep: Spiritual Practices for Youth Ministry" Wood Lake Publishing.  Doris is the Youth Director for the United Church of Canada in BC and the Director of World Pilgrim: Global Education and Awareness Travel.
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Public Speaking Tip: Write it & Tell Your Story with Style


In preparing your message you may think of a personal story that will help illustrate your point. The temptation is to tell the story from memory writing in your notes, “Insert bike story here.” Instead, take time to write your story out as there are significant advantages of rehearsing your story.  

Having your story written out will help eliminate any repetitive  words that you may use such as  “so”, “and then”, “now” and “like”. This will also give you opportunities to intentionally add literary devices like alliteration and metaphors to add fresh, fun, flare to your story.

Taking time to develop the characters and the climax builds stronger audience engagement and emotional connection with your story. Students then will better identify with the main point you are wanting to illustrate. 

What makes a story funny to others?  It’s not the experience, it’s how the story is told! Though it’s vivid in your mind and it makes you laugh or cry when you think about it, that doesn’t mean those same emotions will translate to your audience. So take time to write your story out, so that your audience is right there with you as you tell with style.

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A member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) Alison has dedicated her time to developing her gift of Public Speaking so that her listeners would believe the truth that she shares and to raise up other strong youth communicator’s in Canada. She has been speaking full time for four years and is currently enrolled in Youth Speakers University.
Speaking Tips are from Alison’s Public Speaking Enhancement Workshop for any inquires message her today. http://www.inspiringteengreatness.com
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New Microsoft Study Measures Pervasiveness of Cyberbullying


Filed by Kelsey Herron
While it’s not always called by the same name and its definition varies across cultures, cyberbullying—bullying using digital media— is a universal problem that has more than peppered our news headlines over the past year. To gauge just how pervasive online bullying has become, Microsoft recently commissioned a study [pdf] asking children about their negative experiences online. Instead of using buzz words like “cyberbullying,” which some children may be hesitant to use, the study used terms on par with the language of each child’s age group. Questions about being “called mean names” or “teased” were asked in particular.  One of the main objectives of the study was to learn about the harm that happens online by all who experience it, regardless of whether they consider it  “bullying” or not.
According to its results, 37 percent of children surveyed said they have been subjected to “a range of online activities that some may consider to be bullying or to have adverse effects,” for example mean or unfriendly treatment, teasing, and name-calling online. The sample was composed of children from 25 different countries, ages 8 to 17. Microsoft did not say how many children were included in the study, or provide detail their survey methods.
The findings fall into five main sections:
  • Knowledge and concern
  • Bullying
  • Steps to help protect children online
  • School policy and education
  • Demographics
While responses were nearly split down the middle regarding awareness and concern about being bullied online, the study found that most bullying still occurs where it has for decades – offline. Results also showed that those who bully online are approximately twice as likely to be victims of cyberbullying themselves.
Teens (aged 13 to 17) are more likely to be bullied online than those ages 8 to 12. This finding likely relates to the increasing amount of time teens are spending online, as well as having less parental supervision than younger children. As expected, teens were also slightly more knowledgeable about cyberbullying, and better educated on how to deal with harmful online situations.
Another noteworthy finding is that parents take an average of three steps to ensure their children’s online safety. According to youth surveyed, half of parents talked with them about online risks, and 44 percent monitored their use of the computer. It was unclear if this monitoring included mobile devices.
Youth weighed in on the kind of education they had received outside the home as well. According to survey findings, 23 percent of schools have formal policies addressing online bullying, and 37 percent provide some form of education. Out of that 37 percent, fewer than half offer guidance to parents, and only 8 percent provide training for teachers.
We understand the importance of educating the educators on cyberbullying, which is why Common Sense Media has a free online cyberbullying toolkit just for teachers. The toolkit is categorized by age group, with each section designed to prepare students for online situations they may not be expecting. Lessons cover everything from teaching young children to be a positive “upstander” in their online communities, to encouraging high school students to “dial down” online cruelty when they see it. The curriculum is equipped with thorough resources for administrators, kids, teens, and parents; and also includes a brand new cyberbullying responseflowchart for school officials.
Raising awareness about cyberbullying has become a growing mainstream concern. Just this past week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill requiring teachers to take action against cyberbullying, regardless of whether it occurs off campus. Even high-profile celebrities have taken stances against the issue, the most noteworthy being Lady Gaga. Earlier this year the pop singer launched the Born this Way Foundation aiming to foster a “more accepting society” and encourage youth to create safe environments to foster individuality.
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Letting Christ Stir Things Up (Chocolate Milk)

As youth ministers, we are constantly encouraging young people to be witnesses of God's love for us and to not have separate "church" and "non-church" lives.  When we let our secular and spiritual lives mix, then we are doing what we are called to do.  Just like milk and chocolate syrup. 

When we let Christ stir things up in our lives, our bond with Him will become more perfect.

And it will taste a lot better too!



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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Our Deepest Fear - Part 3

The last couple weeks I have taken a small section of one of my favourite quotes of all time and expanded on it.  This weeks post is a continuation of that in an attempt to share with you how this statement has impacted my life.  I guess the hope is that by doing so, perhaps in some small way you will see what I see, and that will allow us to share something.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
–Marianne Williamson
"We are all meant to shine, as children do..."
I have a son.  He is 20 months old and is in the process of full on discovery of the world around him.  Yesterday he was holding an apple and brought it to me and said "ball?".  I corrected him and said "apple".  He stared intently at this green round object in his hand that for a small moment before had thought it was a ball, looked up at me and said "apple!".  That moment of pure, childlike discovery was amazing and I get to experience it with him every day.  Seeing him shine when I come home from work, or just playing with his toys makes a lot bad stuff just melt away.  
Do you still have your child-like shine?  That sense of wonder and discovery at the world around you?  Have you gotten too busy to stop and take a look around?  Has the unfairness of the world robbed you of child-like joy?  
What is something you can do this week to try and shine again like a child?  God has meant for you to have joy in him and for you to share that with others.  This week while you are working with youth remember to share the joy of Christ with them and by doing so you will give them permission to do the same.


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Spiritual Practice of the Week: Simplify

Spiritual Practice of the Week:  Simplify
In these summer days, there is time perhaps to lay in a hammock and reflect, read, inspire yourself for the year of ministry to come.  Life is complex and often we make it more complex with our many habits, possessions, tasks and obligations.  Take some time to consider simplifying...
 
Here are a few ways to simplify from Leo Babauta's blog:  www.zenhabits.net
  1. Block off some disconnected time. The Internet is amazing, but always being connected means you’re always pulled in a thousand directions at once. It’s hard to focus, hard to connect with others, hard to get out into nature and be active. So schedule some time every day for disconnection: maybe a block in the morning where you get your best work done, and a block in the afternoon when you get out and active, or connect with friends or family.
  2. Start eliminating commitments. List your commitments, and pick one to eliminate today. It’s a simple matter of making a call or sending an email explaining that you can’t do the commitment. Trust me, they’ll find a way to live without you. You’ll start to free up time for what’s more important to you.
  3. Start purging possessions. Every day, find 5 things to donate or give to friends. Or clear an entire shelf or countertop, leaving only the things you actually use, getting rid of the rest. Slowly your possessions will be simplified to just the essentials.
  4. Ban shopping for 30 days. You can do this. Don’t buy anything except the essentials (food, toiletries, basic supplies). If you think you really need it, put it on a list to be evaluated after the 30 days.
  5. Wash your bowl. When you’re done eating, mindfully wash your bowl. When you’re done with anything, get in the habit of pausing before moving onto the next thing, and cleaning up after yourself. Put your food away. Put your clothes where they belong. Put your keys in one spot. Clean the sink before you leave it. This simple habit will keep you mindful while saving you lots of cleanup later.
  6. Schedule time for what’s important. What’s most important to you? Your spouse or kids? Creating? Reading novels? Cooking, gardening, crafts, carpentry? Make the time for it.
  7. Get outdoors once a day. Too often we are stuck at a desk or on the couch. Get outside, take a walk, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Go for a hike or a run with a friend. Play some sports. Run around and play tag with your kids. These simple activities will change your life.
  8. Eat some plants. Learn some simple recipes that incorporate super healthy foods you might not be eating: kale, spinach, broccoli, quinoa, berries, flaxseeds, lentils, avocados, black beans, squash, raw almonds and walnuts, garlic, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon. These simple plants will make you strong like oxen.
  9. Drink tea. Green tea brewed from relatively fresh whole tea leaves is calming, healthy, and wonderful. A daily tea ritual keeps you grounded and mindful.
Thanks Leo for these words, they have simplified my life. 

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Going Slow with Dr. Low

This is a photo of my family yesterday at Sylvan Lake, Central Alberta's most popular summer holiday destination.  We've been here slowing down for a few days now and absolutely loving it!

Yesterday my wife asked me why our life can't be a little more like this all year round.  My immediate response was, "Because then this wouldn't feel like a holiday or be called a holiday if life were always like this all the time."  She clarified, "Not exactly like this, but a little more like this."  She went on to explain her desire to live life more intentionally how we want - according to our values, hopes, dreams, priorities and faith convictions.  In other words, she's not asking that our whole life become like a holiday - that's unrealistic and not God's intention - but she would like our life to reflect some of the values that holidays brings out in us - rest, enjoyment, family time, focus, joy and so on - all very good things to persue year round as much as possible in our everyday lives.

How about you?  When you're on holidays this summer is there something you would like to bring home with you to make the rest of your year a little more abundant?  Not every day can be a holiday but every day can be a holy day if we're living the abundance God has for us.  It's good to slow down once in a while so we have the time and attention to ask God what He wants our lives to look like.

What does a life or freedom and abundance look like to you?
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Cancer: A Word or a Sentence

When cancer, or any other tragedy takes it grip on your life or youth ministry how have you handled it or what would you do?

Check out what this beautiful woman did when diagnosed with cancer as she wrestled with it being just a word or a life sentence.


My wife Heather just celebrated 36 months post bone marrow transplant. She has the spiritual gift of faith and has recently taken to slam poetry. She entered her first contest and came second.

You can read more of her beautifully written blogs here: Smyth Family Blog
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Get Over Yourself


Tonight I will be going to watch our Vancouver Whitecaps host the LA Galaxy at BC Place in some MLS (Major League Soccer) action.  There has been a considerable buzz around the city for the last couple of days because of one player: David Beckham.

One may argue that Beckham’s best soccer days are behind him (being left off the British Olympic Soccer Team is a clear indication) but his appeal is undeniable: along with Tiger Woods he is arguably the world’s most renown athlete.  And despite the Galaxy also having all-stars Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane on its roster, the Galaxy goes as Beckham goes.

So it’s not surprising that almost all of the media focus has been on Beckham – it’s even triggered a debate as to whether or not they should open up more seats for the game that’s officially sold out.  It got me thinking about what it would be like to be one of the other Galaxy players; to have the media circus follow the team wherever you went.  Would I enjoy it? Would I be resentful or jealous?  Would I accept it as part of the job?

I remember my first few years in youth ministry at my home parish of St. Paul in Richmond.  I was surrounded by an awesome team of leaders and blessed by a youth ministry coordinator who trusted me despite my relative newness in the Catholic faith (I came into the Catholic Church in April 1993 and was part of the youth ministry team by that fall). 

In my excitement, enthusiasm, and now admitted ignorance, I wanted to be involved in EVERYTHING.  I wanted to be in every skit.  I wanted to deliver every teaching or testimony.  I wanted to make the announcements at Mass.  I wanted to be known as the best small group leader.  I wanted to lead every prayer service.  I equated being the best youth minister to being the most popular youth minister; thus I wanted to be the most popular youth ministry leader at the parish.  Basically, I wanted to be the David Beckham of my parish youth ministry.

Notice how I “wanted” to be all of these things...but I certainly didn’t “need” to be them all.  In terms of “Christian years”, I was by far the youngest and least experienced member of the team.  It’s almost comical now...19 years later...thinking about what a pain I must have been to work with. Certainly I had some decent ideas but scattered among them I’m sure were plenty of bad ones.  I’m so grateful that my peers were patient, understanding, and most importantly, humble.

Looking back, I certainly don’t regret how things turned out: this December I will be celebrating my 10th year working for the Archdiocese of Vancouver as its Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.  But I do regret how I may have made some people feel, especially if they felt that I was too selfish and/or arrogant.  Over the years, I’ve learned how to delegate, how to trust others, and to humbly accept that other people are simply better than me in certain areas.  In essence, I’ve learned to “get over myself”...although some would argue that I still haven’t mastered that elusive skill. :p

That’s why the best youth ministries are the ones that are run by teams of people and not just one person; where one person will be weak another will be strong.  It takes a variety of individuals to minster to and with the many young people in the parish.  It takes a multitude of people to be able to respond and relate to the many needs of youth.  And it takes an entire team of leaders, bonded by faith, to lead young people closer to Christ.

After all, there is no “I” in “TEAM”.

And it takes an entire village to raise a child. 

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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Our Deepest Fear Part 2

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
–Marianne Williamson

Last week I stated that I'd be doing a small series of posts about the above quote and I'm going to stay true to my word.  This week I've decided to touch on "Your playing small does not serve the world." and what it means to me.

When I was a kid my dad used to say the following to me all the time "Ryan you are a great boy and some day you will be a great man for God."  That line has stuck with me for my entire life, and one point in my late teens my dad made it a point to say to me that he felt that I had turned into a great man for God.  The problem is that I rarely ever felt it.  Sure I gave of my time to go on mission trips, and sponsor a world vision child, and gave up every Friday night for six years and many many other evenings trying to invest in youth.  All those things were good and important in the foundation of who I was, but I couldn't(haven't) been able to shake the feeling that there was more "out there".  That very reason is why I was drawn to this quote like a moth to the flame.  It was like Marianne was talking directly to me.  It felt like everything I had been doing was playing too small in some way, but felt each part of was foundational for what is to come.  Over the last few months I have stepped down my part time Youth Worker position at my church and have started a process of self discovery, and that quote is a driving force.

Every time I think about quitting or giving up or just not putting in the time I force myself to read this quote.  At the end of my life I want to be able to answer the with a resounding yes that the world benefited by me not playing small in my dreams, my prayers, my hopes, my actions and my time.

Wherever you are in your ministry right now, do not shrink, do not look down on yourself if you only have a few kids on a weekly basis, give everything you have to your moment, dance and sing and give everything you have like no one is watching.  God's hopes and plans are bigger than anything you can fathom.  This week... don't play small.



Ryan Filsinger is a husband, father, hockey lover, video game producer and aspiring social architect.  He has been in part time youth ministry for the last six years in Charlottetown, PEI.  You can find him on twitter @rfilsinger or read his rarely updated blog at www.filsinger.org
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Value In Consistency

Youth Ministry is such a dynamic thing, change is common and needed, the group dynamics can shift week to week based on who is there and who is not. The temptation can be that sometimes we can be as dynamic with our approach week to week, changing style, flow and structure to a youth night. What I have noticing more and more is that a steadfast commitment to keeping a reliable and consistent structure can and will have more value and dare I say more fruit than a go with the flow style and here are two reasons why.
It Makes Outreach Easier: In the past year we have adopted a much more standardized format to our youth services, they are not the same week in and week out, but will always incorporate: a message of some kind, Worship and small group time for all students. What I have noticed as a result of this change is that students don’t ask, “what is happening at youth this week, I want to bring my friend out”. This was a question that as a small group leader several years ago I would get often. Students now know what to expect , and as a result are inviting their non-churched friends in droves. Consistency is many ways is safety, and creating a safe place for students to grow in their faith is of the upmost importance.

It is helpful to your leaders: I remember vividly, being a small group leader, and having one of those “God is moving huge nights” with my small group guys and just knowing that the next week we would take it further, challenging them more, sharing more. But then we got to youth the next week and its now crazy games night instead. The lack of consistency meant a loss of momentum and in some respects missed opportunities to build on what was already happening. Having consistency makes being one of your small group leaders so much better because you know that you are going to have time next week to answer those tough questions that you had to park, or for students to share how they implemented what was God put on their heart the week before. I am not saying not to have fun games night, but have the scheduled in a way that they are not counterproductive the the purpose of your ministry.
This might not be for everyone, its challenging to do, to set a vision, purpose and objective and stick with it. But from what I have seen, the impact it is having on students spiritual growth is worth all the hard work and discipline we have put in. Your students and leader will appreciate it, I know ours have.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and blogs here and at www.morethandodgeball.com 
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Spiritual Practice of the Week:  God’s Presence
Holy Mystery, Creator of the universe. You reveal your presence in many ways. In the earth as solid rock. In the fires of passion as spirit and light. In the waters as peace and nourishment. In stillness.   In creation as miracle of beauty and circle of life. In mystery and possibility as Presence.
Holy One, you are at work in mysterious ways. We love being at work with you in this mystery. We want to be part of shaping your world in humble and beautiful ways. Mostly, Holy One, we yearn for your presence, guiding us on. Amen.


© This prayer practice and all of those on the Sunday Morning Blog Post can be found in: "Go Deep: Spiritual Practices for Youth Ministry" Wood Lake Publishing
Doris is the Youth Director for the United Church of Canada in BC and the Director of World Pilgrim Awareness Travel.

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Public Speaking Tip #11


1. Introduction

a. Attention Grabbing - Your listeners are intrigued and they want to hear more.

b. Where are You Going? State what this talk is about, where you are going to end up and how you are going to get there.

2. The Body

a. Championing the Main Message – It’s purpose is to support and reinforcement your main message stated in your introduction.

b. Three Points – It’s the ideal but not a must. It’s easier to remember things in three’s and it will help you simplify and give structure to your message. Choose the strongest supporting thoughts.

c. Variety – Your mission is to prove your point. You are saying the same thing in 3 different ways, from 3 different angles, with 3 different learners in mind.

i. Anecdotes/Stories (Auditory Learner)

ii. Object Lesson’s/Video (Visual Learner)

iii. Activity (Kinesthetic Learner)

3. Conclusion

a. Summary of Points

b. Call to Action

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A member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) Alison has dedicated her time to developing her gift of Public Speaking so that her listeners would believe the truth that she shares and to raise up other strong youth communicator’s in Canada. She has been speaking full time for four years and is currently enrolled in Youth Speakers University.

Speaking Tips are from Alison’s Public Speaking Enhancement Workshop for any inquires message her today. http://www.inspiringteengreatness.com

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Top 5: Internet Accountability Software Part 2


Last time we covered the Top 5 Internet filtering/accountability software solutions for Internet capable devices (computers, mobile devices).  You can view that posting on  ThinkYouthMinistry.com.  

Depending on the platform (mobile device, computer), operating system, Mac/PC/Android/Blackberry, there are different checks and balances to ensure the software does what it is designed to do.  This may get a little on the “techy” side of things, unfortunately.  It cannot get too far, though, as I am not that techy myself…

1. Type of User – before we get too carried away, we need to consider the user of the device being protected.  If the user struggles with an addiction to pornography, the filtering software/accountability options must be firmer and more difficult to bypass.  For a 10-year-old child who we wish to protect from accidently accessing questionable material, the approach will be different.  This will depend on the 10-year-old, unfortunately.  The point here is to provide filter/accountability software that is appropriate for the user…

2. Embedded Web Browser Removal – All Internet ready devices, computer or mobile, come equipped with a search engine allowing you to navigate the Internet.  Some of these products allow for these search engines to be uninstalled (computers – Mac and PC; iPhone/iPad/iPod), while others do not allow for this (Android and Blackberry).

Computers (PC/Mac); iPhone/iPad/iPod – you are able to install software that filters Internet content and sends accountability reports.  This covers all bases, making it very difficult for the user to access restricted material.  If they do happen to access restricted material, accountability reports will be sent out as a result.

Android – software can be installed that filters Internet content, but you must use the search engine that comes with the software and NOT the imbedded search engine that cannot be uninstalled from the device (Google).  If you use Google and not the search engine provided by the software, nothing will be filtered.  Accountability reports will be sent out regardless of the search engine used on the device.  X3watch (www.xxxchurch.com) offers site blocking, but only for computers, not for mobile devices.  Covenant Eyes and Net Nanny only offer accountability.  This is great, but does have limitations.  Those caught in the throws of pornography addiction will use whatever means they have to access the pornography, and deal with the consequences later.  This sounds extreme, but this is my experience working with those struggling with a porn addiction.  The men I have worked with over the past number of years who struggle with this do so for considerably longer, even when in treatment, if they still have access to pornography – accountability software or not.  Full blocking of access to material provides the best results when embarking on a journey toward freedom from pornography addiction.
Blackberry – no accountability or filtering software is currently available.  I suspect software developers are hesitant to pour resources in to the development of applications specific to Blackberry, as it appears the company is on a steep decline.

3. Restrictions – in order to ensure the user of a computer/mobile device does not simply bypass all filtering/accountability software by simply uninstalling the software, then reinstalling it after viewing questionable material, all devices must be password protected.  Some accountability software will provide notification if a program is uninstalled, but by the time you receive this notification the material you are trying to limit has likely been accessed.  If you are unfamiliar with how to password protect the devices you are installing filtering and accountability software on, consult a techy friend or search for a tutorial online.

4. Apps – To make things even more difficult, many apps have embedded web browsers (facebook, twitter, etc.).  This feature allows users to access the Internet through the app, thus bypassing ALL filtering and accountability software.  As a result, consider restricting the ability to add apps to mobile devices.

5. Know the limitations… – unfortunately there are no perfect solutions as far as filtering/accountability software goes.  The point of having it installed on devices your kids may use is to protect them until they are able to make their own good decisions about what they access online.  The most important thing you can do is work as hard as you can to keep open communication with your kids.  Be approachable – your kids will speak about what’s going on in their lives if you give them the space to do so, as long as they feel safe and secure.  You know, just like the Internet devices you provide them withJ.

Take care,
Andy Lundy
Andy Lundy is a psychotherapist working in private practice (www.junipertree.ca) in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.  He can be reached via email at andrew.lundy@junipertree.ca.  Please send him your questionsJ…
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Using Well-Written Fiction to Disciple Youth


Ellen's Picks

Every so often, we will welcome a ‘friend of Ellen’ to offer one of their own picks! Today my fourteen year-old friend, Allie, offers up her thoughts on some of the fabulous books available for teen girls by Melody Carlson!

Allie says...


Melody Carlson is a great Christian author. Many teens can relate to the stories she writes because they are very similar to what they deal with at home, school & with friends.  Throughout her writing she lets teens know they are not alone.  She takes real life situations & fits Christ into them through the characters & their stories. Melody creates exciting & interesting stories that are enjoyable to read & never disappoint me when I pick up one of her books.










About Melody Carlson's "Life at Kingston High" Series...


The Jerk Magnet
Melody Carlson
Paperback• Baker Publishing Group • 978-0-8007-1962-3

Allie says...

 In this book, Melody gets the reader’s attention by making the situations the characters face, relatable.  She touches on the subjects of body image, judgement and other insecurities teens face. She puts things into perspective & teaches on these subjects while doing it in a fun & creative way.


What if beauty is more than just skin deep?

When Chelsea Martin's future stepmother helps her transform from gawky and geeky into the hottest girl at her new school, Chelsea is pretty sure it's the best thing that ever happened to her. But her hot new look has a downside. She's attracting lots of guys who all have one thing in common: they're jerks. Oh, and stealing the attention of all the guys in school doesn't exactly make her BFF material for the girls.

Finally a great guy catches her eye. But he's the only one around who doesn't give her a second glance. Can Chelsea come up with a plan to get his attention? Or will her new image ruin everything?

An excerpt...

To read an excerpt of The Jerk Magnet, click here.







The Best Friend
 Melody Carlson
Paperback• Baker Publishing Group • 978-0-8007-1963-0

 Allie says...


Melody creates a story that talks about the pressures teens feel when trying to fit in. The main character Lishia, suddenly has no friends but when a popular cheerleader wants to be her friend, it’s very appealing.  The friendship causes Lishia to walk away from her faith and it comes with many consequences. Melody shares the importance of choosing the right friends through the edgy & fun stories of friendships.

Sometimes being popular isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Lishia Vance is totally baffled. One day she has friends. The next day everyone has turned against her. No explanation. Just complete social isolation. Even her best friend Janelle isn't giving her the time of day.

Now she has one goal for her junior year at Kingston High: make a new best friend.When Lishia makes a connection with Riley Atkins, a popular cheerleader, things start looking up. But is Riley really as good a friend as she seems? Or is Lishia better off without her?


An excerpt...

To read an excerpt from The Best Friend, click here.


More resources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZJWKP6M2e8




Ellen's Picks
Born and raised on Vancouver Island, Ellen Graf-Martin now lives in the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite country with her husband Dan, where she continues to work in publishing and ministry.Learn more about her work at www.grafmartin.com

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When Routine is a Good Thing


At my recent stay with my family at the Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark in Grand Mound, WA, I was quite fascinated by the lifeguards.  They were extremely disciplined in their approach, almost robotic.  They would scan the giant wave pool width-wise then length-wise, shooting their eyes across the pool and then down alongside the near wall.  Often, they would use their hand to point at what they were looking at and their necks were always moving from side to side. 

Admittedly, I was slightly amused at the first lifeguard I observed.  Her movement seemed unnatural and forced.  In chatting with a few of the lifeguards throughout my three days there (and watching the Great Wolf Lodge episode of Undercover Boss...haha) I gained a greater appreciation for their disciplined routine and of course, their important role overall.

Much like lifeguards, we youth ministers are in the business of saving lives as well. While we may not have to jump into a pool or ocean (although it’s very possible), we’ll certainly be called on to help a young person who is drowning spiritually.

Here are 3 ways to build routine into our youth ministry:

1.  Have regularly scheduled gatherings.  Whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or whatever; it’s important that there is some sort of rhyme and reason to your youth ministry schedule.  It will be easier for the youth to build your youth gatherings into their already hyper-busy and over-scheduled lives.  Parents will also appreciate the regularity so they can plan ahead with their children.  Of course, a good youth ministry will also add one-off and non-regular events for variety; this combo is the best approach.  But without a regular routine of gathering, it will be more difficult to get young people to commit to coming regardless of how good the event is.

2.  Be consistent with your availability.  When it comes to relational ministry, be routine in the times you are available to young people.  While we might say to a teen that he can “call us anytime”, it’s also important that we set parameters (whether we announce them or not).  With my primary vocation being husband and father, I’m always trying to separate family time from ministry time although I recognize that they sometimes inevitably overlap.  I work hard to schedule relational ministry time in to my own busy schedule, yet not cheat my family of my time with them.  It’s hard, but I’m slowly learning that I don’t have to pick up every single phone call or return every text message within seconds of receiving it.

3.  Set-up and clean-up.   Back to our gatherings for this one. Routines can be extremely helpful when it comes to the before and after portions of our gatherings.  When members of the leadership team know what has to be done and by whom and by when, it makes things go much faster.  That doesn’t mean that we make a certain person do a certain job week after week after week; after all we want avoid the rut of repetition.  But it does mean being strategic in deciding who does what so things go smoothly.  After the regular weekly youth gathering at my home parish, the youth workers always do their best to spend a few minutes with teens as they are waiting for their rides... before they start to clean up. This is prime relational ministry time!  Once the teens are gone, the leaders then go into their clean-up routine.  After all, many hands make light work.

Going forward, consider how much “routine” you are using in your youth ministry.  This consistency and discipline will certainly make a splash in the lives of young people...and might even save a life or two.

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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Our Deepest Fear


 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
–Marianne Williamson

Many people in life have life verses or quotes. This one by Marianne Williamson (which often gets attributed to Nelson Mandela for some reason) is one I try to live by.  I constantly refer to it when I'm speaking or having deep conversations with people.  Over the next couple weeks I'll be writing a series of posts breaking down a this quote and writing a bit about each.  For now though I want you to do the following:

1) Re-read this sentence:
 "There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you."

2) Then watch this video. 




3) Answer this question: What are you now thinking about?


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ryan Filsinger is a husband, father, hockey lover, video game producer and aspiring social architect.  He has been in part time youth ministry for the last 6 years in Charlottetown, PEI.  You can find him on twitter @rfilsinger or read his rarely updated blog at www.filsinger.org

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If You Cast Your Net Be Prepared



I am still somewhat new at this whole being a Youth Pastor thing and because of that I am still learning as I go about some of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of what its all about. One thing that has been on my heart is providing places and spaces for students to invite their friends to. But I found on at least a few occasions, I was ill prepared to reap the harvest and likely missed a great opportunity. A great example would be our Flashmob event that we a few years back, the students hyped it, we planned for everything, they brought tons of their friends, in fact we saw a nearly 50% increase in students at the event, but I was not prepared to handle that. In light of this, here are a few things I am wrestling with.
Make it manageable: We only get one chance to make a first impression, and if someone is an invited guest in the Church, I would like to make that experience the best I can. If we host an outreach event with many new students, there is a chance they could not be personally welcomed, they might feel awkward and this could be the last time they set foot in the door. Our Flashmob event taught me a great lesson that I need to take an active role in greeting those new students so that they do feel welcomed. If you plan and event so that students can bring 10 friends each to, and they do, you might be doing more harm than good.
Unleash your leaders: If you don’t have a welcome and greeting team, you need one! This is the best way to meet students when you cannot do it themselves. This is one of the most important front line ministries; they are the friendly face of the Youth Group. Our greeting team has a ’20 questions’ form they hand out with questions ranging from contact info, to Bieber or Timberlake to Pancakes or Waffles. These questions are quite strategic in quickly finding if they are from a Christian home, if they are skater kid or a “Lightsaber kid” with apologies to Josh, these are the pseudo dorky 8-10th grade boys that grab the coat rack and pretend it’s a Lightsaber. The purpose is to find a small group that they will thrive and make meaningful connections with students with similar interests. On the first night they are there, they will meet at least 3 core students, their new small group leader and myself.
Learn their name: There is nothing more valuable that learning a student’s name, it says to them that they belong and that they are memorable. All that contact information we get from outreach events is entered into our database; they are added on Facebook that night, invited into our student ministry FB group and added to our SMS blasts each week. Once they accept a friend request, we print a copy of their Facebook profile pic, put in on the wall in my office and the next time I see that student, at their school or at Youth, you better believe I will do everything I can to remember their name.
Planning an event is easy, engaging, welcoming and retaining the student influx of students is the difficult part, it takes teamwork, intentionality, hard work and diligence. Otherwise, these events will be attendance spikes that will have little long-term value. If your objective is for big numbers at one off events that is one thing, but if your goal is creating more disciples, be prepared that when you cast your net, it might come back full.
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Spiritual Practice of the Week:  Busy?

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/

I read this post this week, I heard the author on CBC radio, i resonated.
I asked myself these questions:

1.  How often do I say that I am 'busy'?
2.  How have I chosen to fill my life and my days?  What kind of balance do I have when it comes to work and to leisure.
3.  If someone looked at my life would they see that building relationships is the top of the list on how I want to use my time?
4.  When I say 'i'm so busy' how does it serve me, what affirmation do I get when I cast those words out into the world?
5.  What's the call for me in all of this to live my life differently?

I invite you to read this article, and ask yourself these same questions.
Thanks Tim Kreider for the words you wrote. 


© This prayer practice and all of those on the Sunday Morning Blog Post can be found in:  "Go Deep: Spiritual Practices for Youth Ministry" Wood Lake Publishing
Doris is the Youth Director for the United Church of Canada in BC and the Director of World Pilgrim Awareness Travel.



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Going Slow with Dr. Low


Yesterday I took my 4 and 6 year old boys to Calaway Park.  If you've ever been to an amusement park like Calaway Park, Canada's Wonderland or Disneyland you know you don't always have time to go on every ride.  If you choose to go on every ride you see, especially if the lines are long, you will end up not having time for the best rides at the end of the day.

Many people struggle with trying to squeeze too much into their day to day lives and I find Christian Leaders are amongst those who struggle most.  Many Christian leaders have a personality type that likes to be included in a variety of things and not miss out on anything.  And most Christian leaders have well-meaning hearts where they desire to be involved with many things and help many people.  But the reality is, just like my kids at Calaway Park, there is on so many hours in the day and you can't get to everything.

Thankfully I didn't have to fight with my kids too much - they were willing to skip past a few of the lamer rides knowing there were rides more important to them closer to the end.  How about you, do you choose your relationships and activities wisely or do you struggle with the tyranny of the urgent, taking on whatever opportunities present themselves first.  And do you save some of your valuable time and energy for those people and activities you're truly called to or have you already squandered much of your time and energy by the time you get to the people and things God wanted you to do in the first place?

Like so many things, choosing to live this way involves slowing down and taking some quiet time to discern who and what God wants you to pour most of your time and energy towards rather than just going with the flow.  Going with the flow is easier but it's also very time and energy consuming.  Stop, slow down and ask God what He wants your calendar to look like.

And don't forget to enjoy your summer :)


Rob Low is a Spiritual Life Coach with From Beginning To End Ministries.
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The Summer of Youth Ministry


One of the things that I don't get in youth ministry is when youth workers shut their youth ministry down for the summer. They have their last youth ministry gathering right before final exams an then they don't start back up until after Labour Day in September.

Am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculous?

Students time availability is increased in the summer. Sure they might be going to camp or the cottage for a few weeks but you have a great opportunity to spend time with your students on their turf. You may want to change your ministry schedule through the summer but not shut it down.

Summer Suggestions

Road Trip: gives you a chance to spend a concentrated amount of time traveling to a specific destination and then sharing an experience together. This gives you unlimited access into the lives of 3-5 students (more or less depending on the size of your vehicle).
Parks Canada App

Backyard Movie: all you need here is a white sheet hung up, a projector, speakers and a DVD play and you can have a late night carless drive-in. If you have access to a backyard with a pool it's really awesome to hang out in the pool while watching the movie. Don't forget to be really creative in your food selection.

Canoe/Camping: one or two nights is all you need for a trip like this. If your looking for packing tips and somewhere to go in Canada I would HIGHLY recommend the new app by Parks Canada.

What have you done during the summer to connect with students and/or parents?

Enjoy your summer

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Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties in a Decade of Drama


Ellen's Picks

Every so often, we will welcome a ‘friend of Ellen’ to offer one of their own picks! Today my friend and colleague, Paola, offers up her thoughts on “Stress Point” by Sarah Martin!

Paola says...


Being a 20-something female, I’ve noticed a gap in the Canadian Christian marketplace surrounding available resources for young adults. There are so many great resources out there for teens and ladies, but there isn’t much out there for young adults. In response to this gap, Sarah Francis Martin has come out with Stress Point. In the Stress Point study, Sarah discusses ten “stress points” for the 20-something woman and encourages both an internal dialogue through journaling exercises and group discussion by providing thought-provoking questions.

Sarah’s blog also acts as a place for online dialogue and mentoring between her readers. Her online summer Bible study, run through her blog, is a unique opportunity for young women to work through Stress Point together while Sarah guides the discussion and answers their questions. I really feel that it is a great space for young women, like myself, to come together, learn and encourage each other.

Note: We are featuring an interactive blog series of Q & A’s with Sarah on our website, and you could win one of five copies of Stress Point. Be sure to check it out!



About the resource...

Paperback • Thomas Nelson • 9781418550790

Want to ditch the drama and thrive through your twenties?

Body image. Friendships. Career. Money. Dating. All these issues and more serve as points of stress for the 20-something woman, and combined they can make for a decade of drama in a girl's life. Sarah Francis Martin is the slightly older girlfriend who’s been there, done that, and got the not-so-cute t-shirt. Through this interactive Bible study, Sarah helps young adult women address each stress point by encouraging them to wait on the Lord, worship Him, and make Him the focus of their lives.



In Stress Point you will:
  • Find interactive chapters covering ten stress points for the 20-something woman
  • Dig through Scripture to apply truth to each stress point
  • Engage with real, raw, and relevant stories from girlfriends just like you
  • Journal through each chapter to engage with God in a meaningful way
  • Interact with Sarah through her video blogs for each chapter
  • Connect with your girlfriends in a Stress Point Survival Group; leader guide included

Sarah Francis Martin has a passion to encourage and relate to women in their twenties, and is honored to do so through She Seeks, the 20-something ministry of Proverbs 31. Her relevant and conversational style will lead young adult readers to live out the Kingship of Christ in everyday life in order to find godly success, purpose, and well-being. Obsessed with pink lip gloss and all things artsy-crafty, Sarah lives with her husband and son in North Carolina. Her ministry, LIVE IT OUT!, is a space for 20-somethings to connect with one another and grow closer to Jesus.



An excerpt...





Ellen's Picks
Born and raised on Vancouver Island, Ellen Graf-Martin now lives in the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite country with her husband Dan, where she continues to work in publishing and ministry.Learn more about her work at www.grafmartin.com
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It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye: Transition in Leadership


This past Sunday, our assistant pastor said goodbye to our parish after three years of faithful service to our parish community.  As Father Swann Kim reflected on his time at St. Paul’s at the end of Mass (one year as a deacon and two years as a priest), he choked up in a touching and genuine display of emotion.  On cue, many in the congregation (including this writer) had to wipe away tears as we listened to Fr. Swann speak about how we had all become his family and that he was sad to move on.

Fr. Swann won’t be too far as he takes up residence at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Port Coquitlam.  As with many of the priests who have lived with and learned from Monsignor Luterbach, Fr. Swann will likely become a pastor somewhere in the not-so-distant future.  Life at St. Paul Parish will go on, in large part to the strong leadership of Msgr. Luterbach and countless others in the parish community.  As well, we are all excited as to what our new assistant pastor Father Rodney Nootebos will bring to our parish.

In reflecting on this transition, I started to relate it to youth ministry (surprise, surprise).  In particular, it underscored for me the importance of having a good transition plan in place when a parish youth ministry coordinator or youth minister moves on...for whatever reason. 

It’s happened before:  a popular, highly-competent and highly-effective youth ministry coordinator leaves a parish and youth ministry seemingly leaves with her.  The parish is apparently caught off-guard (even though it knew this day was coming) and youth ministry has a hard time recovering, if at all.  All because the church’s youth ministry efforts were tied directly to its leader and not to the community.

Part of my role is to aid in this vital transition period so youth ministry doesn’t fall off the map in both the eyes of the pastor and the church community.  Thus, I offer three ways to ensure that youth ministry doesn’t leave with the outgoing youth minister:

1.     Mentoring.  Youth ministry is a prime opportunity for solid mentoring and leadership development.  Even the best youth ministers know that they aren’t going to be around forever; the smartest ones will realize this before it’s too late.  A strong leader should be able to identify and perhaps even groom one or two people to take his spot...without feeling threatened.  Leadership always needs to be evolving....otherwise our ministry isn’t growing.      

2.     Create a Job Description & Procedures.  You might be turned off by reading this one thinking that it’s way too much work.  Realize that I’m not talking about lengthy, complicated, air-tight dissertations here.  But I am talking about concise, pointed documents that will bring consistency and transparency to the ministry.  Thus, I encourage you to spend some time creating some of these documents.  The last thing you want to happen is for someone to leave and to take all of the “trade secrets” with her.

3.    Know what you are doing and why.  If we are truly doing our job as youth ministers of leading young people to an encounter with Jesus Christ, then it shouldn’t matter just who on the team is doing it.  Ideally, young people will relate youth ministry to a multitude of people rather than to just one person.  Youth ministry is more than one pastor, one priest, or one youth minister.  We’ll know we’re doing it right when a prominent leader leaves yet the young people stay.

I pray that all of our youth ministries are designed so young people relate their leaders to youth ministry, and not the other way around.  That way, when it’s indeed someone’s time to move on, young people will be able to see that it’s a natural part of growth and evolvement.

Then it won’t be so hard to say goodbye.


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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Routine: The silent killer


Often times in youth ministry we tend to get into a ‘religious’ routine that we feel very comfortable in.  Maybe it is the way you do your lessons, or the way you hang out with your youth, or maybe it is even your fall back method of handling a night of low attendance.  Routine is comfortable, it’s a known quantity, or it is the warm fire in the mist of the torrent rains that can be youth ministry.  I have found over the last number of years that far too often I began relying on routine to get me through a particular rough evening of youth, or used as a way of only putting in half an effort.  Most of the time this routine is ok, but relying on it far too often creates a pattern of staleness and creativity can die a very quick death if you rely on it too much.  Creating a bit of surprise can go a long way for your ministry.  I’ve provided 3 small tips on how you can get yourself in a good place to start thinking a bit differently this week.

Here are three ways you can break up routine for good:

  1.     Read something out of your comfort zone: A good way to begin looking at situations is to go and pick up a book that you would consider out of your comfort zone.  It could be a book from someone who has the complete opposite opinion of you on a topic, or a maybe just something as simple as a piece of fiction in a genre you don’t generally read.  Changing things up in your reading time is a good way to start looking at things differently.

  2.       Hang out with someone different: Is there someone new in your youth group you haven’t gotten to know yet? Give them a call and go for coffee.  Is there a youth pastor who runs a group down the street from you? When was the last time you two had a chat? 

  3.       Reverse the order of your evening: To throw kids off try completely reversing the order of your evening.  Do you start with a game, then go with a lesson and end in a snack?  Try on your next youth night the complete opposite order and see what kind of reaction you get from the kids.  Your evening may be a complete flop, but I bet it will get the youth talking and just maybe a great idea on how to change things up might just come to the surface.

At the end of the day we end up settling on routines because we find they work the best.  Most of the time there will be nothing wrong with the order of your evening, or even your lesson.  What you do not want to happen is that you let your routine dictate everything you do and allow you to become complacent.  I let that happen far too often and missed a lot of opportunities to reach kids on a deeper level than I did.

What is one thing you have done that was out of the ordinary that turned out well? Or what is one thing that you did that didn't work out?

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CYW does not necessarily endorse the views shared on this forum. This site was developed to allow people to think through a variety of issues that are youth ministry related.