WOW!!! What a kick off to our year of midweek meetings! There were 35 people at our High School Kick Off at Common Table and 27 at the Middle School Kick Off at Nativity Lutheran!
It was a great week to be a youth pastor…or should I say Youth Mini-STAR!
This Sunday is “Back to Church Sunday” and I hope you will come to church this Sunday. We will start our new Sunday School classes for 7th-8th Graders and High School Students during the Second Service (10:45-11:45)
Here’s a little about what we are doing on Sundays this year:
· 7th-8th Grade– Confirmation- Using an expanded version of the re:form curriculum. re:form is a totally new approach to youth ministry that trusts youth to wrestle with the historic Christian faith and theology.
· 9th-10th Grade– Leadership Development- Young people in these ages will have the opportunity to learn and grow through teaching Godly Play, those interested in this will need to contact Janet Pearson. There are also some other options for learning and service on Sunday mornings, be sure to talk to Greg.
· 9 th-12th Grade– Conversations- Our older youth will have the opportunity to discuss what they have heard in the sermon, through the Scriptures or in their daily lives. This informal time will be open to questions, prayer and anything else we can thing of.
· High School Students (9th-12th Grade)– Fellowship- Once a month we will go out for coffee or breakfast. We could be at a shop, a restaurant or someone’s house. This will be a time to sit and be with one another after worshiping together at First Presbyterian.
REMINDER for High School Students!!
This Monday, September 18th we will be announcing the 2012 SUMMER TRIP!!!! Be at Common Table at 6:00 PM to hear what exciting locality we will be embarking too AND when we are going! Stay Tuned for more details!
As always here is the link to this month’s Heartfelt Newsletter, this month is all about Reclaiming the Family Dinner and National Family Day. (http://www.thelogosministry.org/heartfelt.html)
PARENTS—PLEASE FILL OUT REGISTRATION FORMS FOR YOUR YOUTH!! WE WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU STAY UP TO DATE WITH ALL THE EXCITING THINGS HAPPENING AT FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AND WITH THE BEND YOUTH COLLECTIVE!
Pastor for Youth and Their Families
First Presbyterian Church- Bend, OR
Summer is coming to a close and we are getting ready for another great year at First Presbyterian. I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of some stuff coming up in the life of the youth.
Sundays this fall we will offer several educational and fellowship opportunities for youth. Keep your eyes peeled for updates coming soon! If you’re interested in teaching or subbing for any of these contact Greg!
There will be a Teacher Training, Sunday, August 28 9:20-10:45 AM. If you’d like to attend contact Greg.
Condega Connect! Check out the displays in the Commons Area to learn more about the trip to Nicaragua and the life changing experiences of the participants.
Kits for Kids: Friday, August 26 10:00 AM meet at First Presbyterian to pack the last 10 Kits for Kids and move them all into the Sanctuary for Sunday Worship. We’ll have fun and go out to lunch afterwards. Contact Greg for more details!.
Youth Over-Night Hike: August 30 – September 1 – Obsidian Falls and Middle Sister
Youth Day Hike: September 24 – Soda Creek Loop
Youth Day Hike: October 14 – River Rim
Also check out this month’s Heartfelt Newsletter this month’s edition “Nurturing Spiritual Growth in Our Children”. (http://www.thelogosministry.org/heartfelt.html)
Pastor for Youth and Their Families
First Presbyterian Church- Bend, OR
I am reading this book called “OMG: A Youth Ministry Handbook” edited by Kenda Creasy Dean. I’m only a couple of chapters in but I came across this quote that I wanted to get some feedback on. I wanted to see what you thought.
It is ironic that Christians, especially those born into a culture of plenty, buy into the scarcity myth: the fear that there is not enough to go around promotes gratuitous consumption at every level. Despite God’s lavish and prodigal grace, which has showered creation with resources that promote the flourishing of life, sin allows the suspicion of scarcity to supplant our awareness of God’s abundance. The scarcity myth destroys trust and leads people to hoard rather than share life-giving resources. Whether it is an Israelite squirreling away more than his share of manna or a teenager amassing more after-school activities than she can ever invest in, we humans have perfected the art of distrusting God’s providence. We try to protect ourselves against the future. It always backfires.
Given all the directions that our youth and parents are pulled in, I think this quote speaks to our need to trust that God WILL actually provide.
- More teenagers embracing watered-down Christianity, author argues in new book
- Teenagers see God as “divine therapist,” author says
- Teenager: “They don’t want to make sacrifices”
- Who’s responsible for inspiring teens? Parents and pastors are, author says
(CNN) — If you’re the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:
Your child is following a “mutant” form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.
Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Translation: It’s a watered-down faith that portrays God as a “divine therapist” whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.
Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of “Almost Christian,” a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.
She says this “imposter” faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.
“If this is the God they’re seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust,” Dean says. “Churches don’t give them enough to be passionate about.”
What traits passionate teens share
Dean drew her conclusions from what she calls one of the most depressing summers of her life. She interviewed teens about their faith after helping conduct research for a controversial study called the National Study of Youth and Religion.
–Kenda Creasy Dean, author
The study, which included in-depth interviews with at least 3,300 American teenagers between 13 and 17, found that most American teens who called themselves Christian were indifferent and inarticulate about their faith.
The study included Christians of all stripes — from Catholics to Protestants of both conservative and liberal denominations. Though three out of four American teenagers claim to be Christian, fewer than half practice their faith, only half deem it important, and most can’t talk coherently about their beliefs, the study found.
Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good — what the study’s researchers called “moralistic therapeutic deism.”
Some critics told Dean that most teenagers can’t talk coherently about any deep subject, but Dean says abundant research shows that’s not true.
“They have a lot to say,” Dean says. “They can talk about money, sex and their family relationships with nuance. Most people who work with teenagers know that they are not naturally inarticulate.”
In “Almost Christian,” Dean talks to the teens who are articulate about their faith. Most come from Mormon and evangelical churches, which tend to do a better job of instilling religious passion in teens, she says.
No matter their background, Dean says committed Christian teens share four traits: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future.
“There are countless studies that show that religious teenagers do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high-risk behavior,” she says. “They do a lot of things that parents pray for.”
Dean, a United Methodist Church minister who says parents are the most important influence on their children’s faith, places the ultimate blame for teens’ religious apathy on adults.
Some adults don’t expect much from youth pastors. They simply want them to keep their children off drugs and away from premarital sex.
Others practice a “gospel of niceness,” where faith is simply doing good and not ruffling feathers. The Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, she says.
“If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation,” wrote Dean, a professor of youth and church culture at Princeton Theological Seminary.
More teens may be drifting away from conventional Christianity. But their desire to help others has not diminished, another author says.
Barbara A. Lewis, author of “The Teen Guide to Global Action,” says Dean is right — more teens are embracing a nebulous belief in God.
Yet there’s been an “explosion” in youth service since 1995 that Lewis attributes to more schools emphasizing community service.
Teens that are less religious aren’t automatically less compassionate, she says.
“I see an increase in youth passion to make the world a better place,” she says. “I see young people reaching out to solve problems. They’re not waiting for adults.”
What religious teens say about their peers
–Elizabeth Corrie, Emory University professor
Corrie, who once taught high school religion, now directs a program called YTI — the Youth Theological Initiative at Emory University in Georgia.
YTI operates like a theological boot camp for teens. At least 36 rising high school juniors and seniors from across the country gather for three weeks of Christian training. They worship together, take pilgrimages to varying religious communities and participate in community projects.
Corrie says she sees no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the Christianity some are taught doesn’t inspire them “to change anything that’s broken in the world.”
Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on, she says.
“We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake,” Corrie says.
David Wheaton, an Atlanta high school senior, says many of his peers aren’t excited about Christianity because they don’t see the payoff.
“If they can’t see benefits immediately, they stay away from it,” Wheaton says. “They don’t want to make sacrifices.”
How ‘radical’ parents instill religious passion in their children
Churches, not just parents, share some of the blame for teens’ religious apathy as well, says Corrie, the Emory professor.
She says pastors often preach a safe message that can bring in the largest number of congregants. The result: more people and yawning in the pews.
“If your church can’t survive without a certain number of members pledging, you might not want to preach a message that might make people mad,” Corrie says. “We can all agree that we should all be good and that God rewards those who are nice.”
Corrie, echoing the author of “Almost Christian,” says the gospel of niceness can’t teach teens how to confront tragedy.
“It can’t bear the weight of deeper questions: Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can’t I get the good job I was promised if I was a good kid?”
What can a parent do then?
Get “radical,” Dean says.
She says parents who perform one act of radical faith in front of their children convey more than a multitude of sermons and mission trips.
A parent’s radical act of faith could involve something as simple as spending a summer in Bolivia working on an agricultural renewal project or turning down a more lucrative job offer to stay at a struggling church, Dean says.
But it’s not enough to be radical — parents must explain “this is how Christians live,” she says.
“If you don’t say you’re doing it because of your faith, kids are going to say my parents are really nice people,” Dean says. “It doesn’t register that faith is supposed to make you live differently unless parents help their kids connect the dots.”
‘They called when all the cards stopped’
Anne Havard, an Atlanta teenager, might be considered radical. She’s a teen whose faith appears to be on fire.
Havard, who participated in the Emory program, bubbles over with energy when she talks about possibly teaching theology in the future and quotes heavy-duty scholars such as theologian Karl Barth.
She’s so fired up about her faith that after one question, Havard goes on a five-minute tear before stopping and chuckling: “Sorry, I just talked a long time.”
Havard says her faith has been nurtured by what Dean, the “Almost Christian” author, would call a significant faith community.
In 2006, Havard lost her father to a rare form of cancer. Then she lost one of her best friends — a young woman in the prime of life — to cancer as well. Her church and her pastor stepped in, she says.
“They called when all the cards stopped,” she says.
When asked how her faith held up after losing her father and friend, Havard didn’t fumble for words like some of the teens in “Almost Christian.”
She says God spoke the most to her when she felt alone — as Jesus must have felt on the cross.
“When Jesus was on the cross crying out, ‘My God, why have you forsaken me?’ Jesus was part of God,” she says. “Then God knows what it means to doubt.
“It’s OK to be in a storm, to be in a doubt,” she says, “because God was there, too.”
Here’s a great post that brings up some great points about effective youth ministry. I would be interested to get your thoughts on this post by Tim Schmoyer at studentministry.org
Despite knowing otherwise in my head, the way I actually lead my church’s youth ministry is mostly from the mentality that our youth ministry is a program or service we provide to families. It’s almost like I’m unintentionally feeding the consumeristic perspective by sometimes using language like, “We offer small groups…” and, “We provide connection points for your teens…” Since when was ministry ever supposed to be about what a paid staff member and a couple adult volunteers are expected to spiritually provide for teens and families?
Youth ministry should not be about how the church can serve the youth or even how we can provide programs that help them grow spiritually. That’s the parents’ responsibility. In fact, I don’t think youth ministry should even accidentally enable parents to outsource their God-given responsibility to us, something I know my ministry is all too guilty of. Support parents, yes, but enable them to outsource? No.
The Greek word for “church” is literally “ekklesia,” a community of believers who are “called out” to serve and edify each other and the people around them.
Instead of fueling the consumerism mentality of what a church “offers” or “provides” and which church in town does it best, youth ministry should probably be about helping teens use their God-given gifts to serve the body. It should teach families that youth ministry isn’t just about what the church does for them, but that they are “called out” to think beyond themselves with a servant’s heart. I bet teen church drop-outs would decrease if they actually served as a valuable and essential part of the local body of Christ.
Youth ministry should be less about us doing youth ministry and more about youth doing ministry.
I said that two years ago, but it’s just now starting to really sink in for me. It demands a pretty radical shift, one that I’m not sure I have the vision nor the guts to really carry out yet.
Our programs program people to consume from the church, and I’m programmed to just run programs.
Please note, I’m not necessarily anti-program — I just think that too often we end up serving the programs instead of using them as very dispensable tools to equip teen believers to serve the body of Christ.
What do you think? Should youth ministry be more about providing a service or creating servants? What if focusing on the latter causes all those with the consumeristic mentality of the former to leave the group? Is it okay for your youth group to shrink numerically if it’s for the right reasons?
Also check out this post regarding doing “successful” youth ministry that I wrote a while back.
32 days ago my wife gave birth to our first child. Sophia Ann Bolt came into the world on December 16th at 12:16 AM. (this should be an effective memorization tool). Sophia is the single cutest, most adorable baby that has ever been born on this planet…if I do say so myself. Here is the evidence to prove it! I am sure that I am not the first parent that thinks their child is unbelievably beautiful and intelligent in every way nor will I be the last.
Enough gloating about the utter brilliance of my one-month-old child, what I really want to talk about today is this idea that has been burning in my head since I held my daughter only a few minutes after she was born.
Faith is like a child. Faith is like a child.
I started this week thinking about that idea that related my recent experience as a new father to my experience of recognizing that I, in fact, had faith. It was clear to me what the Holy Spirit was calling me to share, what I didn’t know was that God wasn’t done yet…
I started with the idea that when you have a child your head is swimming, you think you know what’s going on, or what to expect, you get your mind around the idea that your life is about to change radically and at best all you can do is hold on.
You read books, you take classes, you talk to experts, you start making theoretical decisions about how you are going to raise your child, you search the internet, you watch the Discovery Health channel. (just for the record I would not suggest watching any program having to do with pregnancy while you are or your partner are pregnant, it sends my worst case scenario imagination into overdrive, which isn’t a good thing)
The baby comes and then you realize the magnitude of your ignorance. This book said this, that book said that, Bob said this, Karen said that, you become sleep deprived, your reasoning skills go out the window.
Then the “help” comes.
Well meaning individuals tell you how to soothe the baby, get them to sleep, get them to eat, they’ll tell you horror stories about staying up for days on end with a screaming child. You go to the doctor, the lactation consultant, you go in for a weight check and they say, “Do you have any questions?” and you say, “No” not because you don’t have any questions but because you don’t have enough information to ask a question. I, who take pride in knowing a little bit about a lot of stuff, want to the ask the question, “What questions should I have?” I think the doctor is testing my parenting skills or that they are going to think badly about me if I don’t ask the right questions or if I ask the wrong questions. I’m frozen…with anxiety, with fear, with ignorance, with fatigue.
Sometimes in a brief moment of clarity you think of a question or you come to some realization about how you’re going to do it, OR you decide to just ask for help.
Then “help” comes again.
Well meaning people ask you how’s it going, and you tell them, “I’m frustrated, I’m tired, the baby won’t eat, won’t sleep, won’t gain weight, gains too much weight, sleeps too much, etc, etc.” You then might even tell them what your plan of action is…that’s when they you give you that look. You know the one, the “you’re not really going to do it THAT way right?” look smile included.
Before I get to far down this road, I need to be clear all the folks that have provided us information, suggestions, stories, opinions…end up being remarkably helpful, but sometimes it just adds to the feeling of being overwhelmed when we get information from SO many different sources at once. Heidi and I both know that we are incapable of raising our child without the love, support, prayers, and presence of our church communities, our families, our friends, and God. Ultimately, however, it will be up to us, Heidi, Sophia, and me, how we figure out the obstacles in our life as family, we’ll need help but in the end we have to figure out what works for us.
So thank you for that digression, and now after that let’s get back to the point.
Faith is like a child.
The point that I was going to make is when you first think about the idea of God or faith you might do some research, read some books, talk to people of faith, essentially try to figure out this whole Christianity thing. Then at some point you have an awakening, some call it being born again, some call it a burning bush. Whether that experience is one cataclysmic event or a long process, my hope is that eventually you come to an awareness that you are a child of God and that God loves you no strings attached.
(Please let me assure you that this might not be your experience AT ALL, these are the similarities that I have noticed in my own journey as a person of faith and a new dad.)
Once that faith is born, once you realize you have faith there will probably be a lot of people telling you how to live a life of faith or how not to live a life of faith or criticizing you for not living the right kind of faith, you’ll probably read some books, hopefully the Bible will be one of them, you’ll probably listen to experts, maybe even watch a little TBN (much like Discovery Health, I would not recommend this option)
People will ask if you have any questions but you won’t know enough to ask any questions. You’ll have made plans and then life will happen and that thing that Joel Osteen, Pat Robertson, Rick Warren said, the thing that I said won’t make any sense to your faith journey. Ultimately it will be up to you and God to figure out your relationship. You can’t do it alone, I can’t do it alone, we can’t do it alone; we need the community to stand by us, walk with us on this journey, and carry us when needed. When our life events don’t fit with what someone has told us about faith, or what we have come to understand about God. When all that “help” just seems overwhelming and we, when I, can’t figure out which end is up. We remember although we have not seen him, we love him; and even though we do not see him now, we believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy that defies all logic. Sometimes we can’t see what’s next.
That was my message for this week, but God only showed me the first step, then the next step was illumined. Then I heard the news, and the message changed.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” We take the next step…
We hear that a nation that was already one of the poorest nations in the world was hit by one of the worst natural disasters in history. We see pictures and hear stories of dead bodies littering the streets of Haiti and scared children looking for their parents, we hear there are hundreds of thousands left homeless in a matter of minutes tens of thousands of people have been wiped off the face of the earth in the blink of an eye. We look to God and say WHY?!
Why do those who are already weak, already broken down, already forsaken by the world have to suffer this? The pictures, the stories, the horror is too much for me to take! I can’t watch, I can’t hear, I can’t imagine the pain! GOD PLEASE GIVE THEM A BREAK! Please give me a break, give me a sign that you are still here with us, with them.
We see pictures of a 7 month old little girl being held by her neighbor dug out of the rubble after being trapped for 48 hours ALIVE. We hear about people from all walks of life donating millions of dollars for aid. We see faith communities unite, we watch as social networks are used to share news of survival with family members overseas, we hear through World Vision that all of the 52,000 children sponsored through their program are unharmed, we are reminded to hug our children, reconnect with our families, ask our neighbor how they are doing, we are reminded to pray.
We are assured that even if now for a little while we have suffered many trials, so that the genuineness of our faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
We see Jesus revealed to us through the eyes of a newborn baby, through the connection of a community of faith, through the tears of those who have lost everything, we see Jesus revealed when we don’t know what to do but we know something must be done.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a sermon during the Montgomery bus boycott, “we are gravely mistaken to think that Christianity protects us from the pain and agony of mortal existence. Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way which comes only though suffering.”King, Martin Luther, Jr.Strength to LoveFortress Press Philadelphia 1963 pg. 28
I can’t tell you what the future holds for my daughter, I can’t tell you where God will lead you on your faith journey, I can’t tell you how the devastation of Haiti will transform that country or our world, I can tell you that it will not always be pretty, there will be times when I am ready to give up on my dreams for my daughter, there will be times when I ready to give up on God and the world, it is in those times that I will need to remember that by his mercy God has given us a new birth into a live hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. A hope that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.
May it be so.