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God's Mission and Youth - November 2023
Youth Ministry:
Simplicity & Belonging
North Park Community Church
London, ON

Despite growing up with the youth ministry hype of the 80’s and 90’s, Joshua Black is establishing a different approach at North Park Community Church (London, ON): Believing that in our cultural moment of over-the-top entertainment and flashy amusement, it is the simplicity of relationship and sense of belonging that really matter to youth.

This world can be a frightening place for those who are just finding their way and discovering their place. It means something to have a safe place for conversation with people who can engage in a non-judgmental way. In a world where lies and deceit run wild, it’s important to have a place to discover the truth. About ourselves, the world around us, and God.

Joshua ran a couple of day camps for junior high students this past summer. Focussing more on intentionality and relationship, it was a simple program of icebreakers, devotions, wide games, and snacks. About 20 to 25 teenagers attended. It was a safe place for them - low pressure, time for them to think and feel and talk. Decisions were made more democratically and there was a real sense of belonging and ownership.

Instead of being segregated according to age, Joshua hopes that these junior high campers will find their place in the larger body of Christ.
Actually, one teenager from the community showed up at Sunday church after the week of camp and was welcomed by adults and invited to a fall event!

It was just what Joshua was praying for - this bigger welcome into the church family.
Expanding Youths' Worlds & Thinking Missionally
Scarborough Chinese Bible Church
Scarborough, ON

Namrata Sun is the youth pastor at Scarborough Chinese Bible Church.
During seminary in Taiwan, she was a missionary in south east Asia as part of a cross culture mission. She was a little surprised when she was called back to Canada to serve as youth pastor. She didn’t expect to be a missionary in Canada!

However, her missionary experience has been influential as she has discipled young people in what it means to walk in the ways of Jesus. The Great Commission is a central theme as she invites her youth to see beyond their own lives, their own country and to consider people who have never known Jesus. She asks them to consider what faith is really about.

So Namrata regularly provides opportunities for youth to expand their worlds and to think missionally - both locally and internationally. They participate in a local outreach program (ReMix) organized by Youth Unlimited.
It’s a chance to interact with other youth from their community. They’ve just started to visit refugees who live near by which is helping them understand the refugee experience. There’s also short term mission trips to Honduras and Lima - a chance to serve and learn and see what life and faith look like in other cultural contexts. And then there’s a summer camp that the youth run for kids in their community. Namrata encourages them to see it more than just volunteer hours - but as a mission opportunity - to live and tell the good news of Jesus.

Namrata sees these practical experiences as doors that can open the hearts and minds of youth to the missional possibilities around them.

Intergenerational Missional Activity
Ministik Community Church
Ministik, AB

The question is - how do we help our youth understand the mission of God?
Here’s one approach.

Of course, youth group evenings are important. Worship, prayer, Scripture, and conversations about how to follow God.
What it means to go beyond the right answers to being formed in the ways of Jesus. There’s a spirit of acceptance and love and youth know that they belong. The youth leaders at Ministik Community Church, a small rural church near Edmonton, AB, are sure to focus on these ways of helping their youth understand the mission of God.

Ministik Community Church is also intentional about including their youth as part of the church body, making sure they know that they belong to the bigger church community. Like their Christmas in the Country event that they host every Christmas. A live nativity, lunch, Christmas crafts - it’s a big event and youth work alongside adults as they welcome their friends and neighbours.

Or the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser for the Mustard Seed. Together, youth and adults and children walk together to raise money for the hungry, homeless, and hurting in Edmonton.

Sometimes it’s working together and helping someone out. Recently a bunch of them provided unskilled labour for a basement renovation due to a flood or yard work for someone going through cancer.
It’s loving well the household of faith.

By purposefully including their youth as part of the community of faith, they are teaching and modelling the mission of God.
Spiritual Formation
Capilano Christian Assembly
Edmonton, AB

The question is - how do we help our youth understand the mission of God?
Here’s one approach.

The Friday night event for the Refinery Youth Group is fun and something easy to invite friends to. But it’s the Tuesday night Growth Group that Jason Lechelt (a pastor at Capilano Christian Assembly in Edmonton, AB) points to as the primary spiritual formation time for youth. Every Tuesday, there’s Growth Group. It's a thoughtful time of teaching and a culture of learning for 25-40 youth. The evening starts with a ridiculous question that involves everyone’s participation that sets the tone for inclusion and a sense of belonging. Then it’s an in-depth study based on Scripture.

The leaders are highly invested and the youth are eager for spiritual growth. They recently finished a series on the character of God and how that impacts day to day life. There’s a challenge to obedience and an encouragement towards spiritual maturity.

The youth also invite their friends to join in so it’s reaching out to their friend groups.
It’s a natural, organic way of discipleship.
It’s a way of forming youth in the missional ways of God.
Summer Preaching Opportunities
Lambrick Park Church, Victoria, BC

“The Bible is much more interesting than I thought!”

Part of preparing young leaders and nurturing flourishing congregations is engaging with Scripture in a way that brings the good news of Jesus to life.
This can happen lots of ways but here’s what happened at Lambrick Park Church in Victoria, BC this past summer.

The summer was a deep dive into the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134).
Especially for the summer preaching team.
It was a mix of people - age, backgrounds, careers, experience - but all people who don’t usually preach.
They met regularly to share resources, commentaries, and notes.
They gave each other feedback from their sermons.
They talked about the exegesis process and pondered over important phrases and words.
Together they read A Long Obedience in the Same Direction - Eugene Peterson’s encouragement for us to pray the Psalms again.
They prayed for each other.

You can imagine how meaningful this would be for anyone - but particularly for a high school graduate who was preaching for the first time.
Meet Kate.
She grew up in youth group and her youth pastor tapped her on the shoulder, suggesting that she be part of the summer preaching team.
She said yes - which felt like obedience, not satisfying an overwhelming desire for a public speaking opportunity.

She met God in a new way.
And God met her.
God brought to mind stories and illustrations, took away her nerves, and gave her a fresh interest in Scripture.
She said the sermon preparation felt like reading the Bible for all it’s worth - alongside a community of faith.
Adoptive Youth Ministry
by Chap Clark (editor)

Kids desperately need healthy, committed adults who can help them thrive in their faith and become active participants in the life of the church. This requires the efforts of the whole faith community. Chap Clark, one of the leading voices in youth ministry today, brings together twenty-four experts from a variety of denominations and traditions to offer a comprehensive introduction to adoptive youth ministry, a theologically driven, academically grounded, and practical youth ministry model. The book shows readers how to integrate emerging generations into the family of faith, helping young adults become active participants in God's redemptive community
(source: amazon.ca)
Hemorrhaging Faith
with Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

This Canadian study - "Why and When Young Canadian Adults are Leaving, Staying and Returning to the Church" from 2012 remains relevant in understanding young adults and the church. 2,049 young people between the ages of 18 and 34 were consulted for the study, commissioned by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) Youth and Young Adult Ministry Roundtable.

  • Only one in three Canadian young adults who attended church weekly as a child still do so today.
  • Of the young adults who no longer attend church, half have also stopped identifying themselves with the Christian tradition in which they were raised.
  • There are four primary toxins that keep young people from engaging with the church: Hypocrisy, judgement, exclusivity, failure.

For the full report: https://hemorrhagingfaith.com/
RECOV-19: International Research Project
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is encouraging pastors and other local church ministry leaders to participate in RECOV-19, a University of Montreal study exploring how religious groups fared during Covid. 

What is learned in the study will be of interest to evangelical leaders in Canada and will help those forming public and health policy to understand how public health decisions affect religious communities. 

To participating in this anonymous 15- to 25-minute online survey, please go to: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Z75DRP5  
Thinking Shrewdly 2024
April 18 - 20, 2024
Save the date for VMC's national, in-person conference happening next April in Ontario!

Come join others from across Canada to celebrate, learn, connect and be encouraged together! There's lot of planning still to happen but we are thrilled that our featured presenter will be James K. A. Smith. You can learn more about the award-winning author, speaker and philosopher at jameskasmith.com

Watch for details at vision-ministries.org/ts2024
VMC Storytelling
Every week, we share stories from across our network of churches that show how God is at work in and through His people.

Here are a few stories:

Watch for more stories by following us on Facebook, or Instagram or visit vision-ministries.org/stories
Pray with Us
Please join us as we gather and pray together online each month for our VMC churches and leaders.
  
To sign up or request further information contact Henrietta at info@vision-ministries.org

The VMC prayer team gathers on the first Thursday of the month at the following times across the country:  1:00-2:00pm (Atlantic), Noon-1:00pm (Eastern), 11:00-Noon (Central), 10:00-11:00am (Mountain) and 9:00-10:00am (Pacific).