3 words you should never say to our sons

What three words have the potential to result in long term, psychological damage and stress for our sons? What three words should you avoid saying at all costs?
In an up and coming film from The Representation Project (from the team who also brought us the confronting Miss Representation), you’ll see what’s happening in today’s society that is threatening the emotional wellbeing of our boys – and even our girls.
What are your thoughts? Please share them in the comments box below. Also, check out our awesome article for mothers: 5 Guidelines For Mothers Of Sons.


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Intentionally Connecting With More Than The Kids

Sitting in the Senior Pastor's chair, I getting a new perspective on the importance of cross-generational connections. Youth workers can find it pretty easy to spend all their time and energy with the kids. After all, that's what the role is, right? Spending intentional relational time with the adults (even sr. adults) in your church or organization makes all the difference in the world. Let me look at just two if these as examples....

 Parents of teens
How important is it to spend quality connection time with the parents? I hope that this is obvious! I didn't even begin to think about this until I was about 40 years old and still a youth pastor. At this point, the parents of the kids I was working with were all my age - and my friends. After 40, the ministry with parents became easy. I started to see that connecting with, supporting, networking, and communicating with the parents is absolutely crucial to my effectiveness with kids.  It really had a multiplying effect on my effectiveness.
Parents need to trust you. As they see your heart, understand you, and your vision, they will be far more likely to support your programs and invite your influence into the lives of their kids. Parents need to see you as "on their side" as they raise their families. You are not raising their kids, nor are we responsible to! Parents need to feel that you are on their team! 
Intentionally hang out with the parents, share your heart and vision, tell them what you see in their kids, describe the spiritual direction/jouirney that you are taking their kid on, listen to their heart, understand their family dynamics, hear about the kid from the parents perspective! Have fun with them and get to know them as people and as friends. This will pay huge dividends in ministry effectiveness.
We would all agree that it really is the parents responsiblity to raise, teach, and train their own families in the ways of Christ. Work to set the family up to be successful in that. As long as I avoid parents, I am stealing it away for myself and potentially undercutting the overall fruitfulness.
Ideas? Constant/regular parents meetings for communication and prayer. Communicate clear avenues to hear complaints and suggestions. When you visit a kids home, don't just disappear downstairs with the kid - spend intentional, pre-thought-through time with the parents too. Try parent/teacher interviews just like the schools do - work together in developing kids, ask about how their kid learns and reacts, talk about the progress you see in the kid's life. Make short videos where you can share your vision and your heart or just communicate purpose and reasons... and post them for parents to access - you can do this often! 

Churches are famous for poor communication with and little relationship between the youth groups and the older folks. This really makes no sense to me. The best way to keep these folks happy, keep them praying and supporting your ministry to to open a constant conduit of information. These folks need to hear that God is at work! They want to see life transformation, vibrancy and growth. Often their complaints or suggestions come from the simple longing for evidence of the Spirit's moving.
We know that kids are coming to Christ and lives are being transformed, we see if day to day. Then we hear complaints about the noise, the mess, the drums and get suggestions that we should be doing what they did 40 years ago - - -  I'll bet that most of those comments come from the simple fact that they don't see any evidence of God's transforming power in the church!!! They long for this! Tell them! Share it regularly! Be intentional in communicating with these folks. Get them excited that God is alive and active and that the youth ministry is expereincing God and lives are changed. Chances are, if they know that God is at work, we will get less criticism and more support - they might not like the music, but they will beam with enthusiasm because they see God's hand at work.
Relationship is this is critical. Communication in this is critical.
Ideas? Create some events where the youth and the seniors can be together and have fun. Go to their bible studies and prayer times, drop in on the quilting meeting... share the stories of successes. Put names to the faces and the prayers. Make some of them "greeters" (like walmart) at youth events and have them stay to pray.

Two examples of many needed relationships.

Get my drift? As a senior pastor, I get a different view of the congregation. I want to see people on the same page. I want to see the different generations working with and for each other.
I'm not interested in the different ministries functioning as islands in the church.
I want my youth workers to be loved, supported, and gushed on by the rest of my church. I want to see God at work in people's lives - and I want everyone in the church to hear it, recognize it, and expereince it.

Youth Workers, spend intentional thought and time in building relationships, pouring into, communicating, and exciting the rest of the church. You will see the result - you will like the result.



Dave Brotherton now lives in Sauble Beach, Ontario and is the Lead Pastor of Sauble Christian Fellowship. Dave was a youth pastor for 20+ years, taught youth ministry at Ambrose University in Calgary for 8 years, and was the National Youth Director for the Alliance Churches in Canada since 1999. Now Dave leads a church and speaks into youth ministry from the Senior Pastor's perspective.

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THE SERIES REVIVE US : Time to Implement

This past summer I was away speaking at a number of different teen camps and it has been an incredible experience. I have been learning so much as I began implementing and applying what God has been showing me through this Revive Us Series. For those of you who are new to Canadian Youth Workers, I started a new series just before the summer as a result of the startling responses from a grade 12 class project at a Christian School where they had to create their own church. Holy Spirit convicted me and opened the eyes of us ministry leaders that were in involved with that project. Our students know how to do church but they lack the heart of Christ which is the motivation for why we do what we do.

We have a crisis on our hands. There is a model of youth ministry that is producing church doers instead disciples as mentioned in Matthew 28. These church doers will not be able to withstand the global pressures and pop culture of this age or carry the torch after we are gone.

Revive Us is not about what we need to do to fix the students…No, we are the problem. Our students are a reflection of us. Youth Worker this Fall do not go back to doing youth ministry. Re-examine yourself. This year 'Consecrate yourself for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things amongst you.' Joshua 3:5


1. Be Bold, Strong and Courageous. If He is for you, don't worry about who is against you. Think Big, Act Big, Be Bold. This is bigger than think Big Youth Ministry. When was the last time you prayed the prayer of faith and stuck around believing that God would heal that person right then and there? Yeah, that takes courageous.

2. Preach Jesus. The Gospel Message of God's Love Through Jesus is what makes darkness flee and students free.

3. Take Time To Hear What God Is Saying In The Morning. Are you still in love? Were you ever in love with Jesus or has your relationship with him been more out of gratitude, a Sinner to a Saviour relationship. Yes, that is the relationship Jesus died for but that is not all that He rose again and lives for. Do you love him? Love compels one to listen and seek to understand.

These factors are at the core of what we need within us to go make disciples who will remain standing through all uncertainties. We cannot reproduce what we do not have. It is time. Revive Us O Lord. 

* The purpose of this blog series is not to tear down the students projects for they worked hard on them.  This problem is not a reflection of a school or isolated to the specific city or an age demographic. The views and concerns addressed in this blog are bigger than our youth, I believe it is a reflection of how Christians young and old view the church and what we've sacraficed to make Jesus look cool. 

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

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Back at my blog - with a new twist

Hey folks,
It's been a number of weeks since I blogged here. Sorry... not that anybody even noticed.... I'm settling into my new role as Sr Pastor after 30+ years in youth ministry. This is a very strange place to be.
I hope to pick up my weekly youth work blog beginning next week - but now it will come with a twist. I will begin to put down my thoughts about youth work from the perspective of the lead guy in the organization - and as a parent of teens. These should provide some different insights - - maybe even wisdom, as we look at working with kids on a daily basis.
I gotta say, it feels a little weird - like I'm sitting in the wrong office.

Organization, vision, direction, outcomes, life change, relationships, accountability, work hours, visibility, future, networking, training, caring for volunteers, staff meetings, wow - the list is long!

So next Saturday we will begin. Journey with me? See ya next weekend.
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5 Wrong Motivations for Serving in Youth Ministry

Here are 5 wrong motivations for serving in youth ministry:

1. To make new friends.  You are bound to make new friends and forge new relationships with those who serve with you.  But these should be a by-product of your ministry and not a main motivation.  If you focus too much on friendship with your co-leaders, then you're not focusing enough on the young people.

2. To feel affirmed or appreciated.  Teens can be high-maintenance people.  They are often needy and they don't often thank you or pray for you.  You need to be confident that what you are doing is having an impact and making a difference, whether you're told or not.

3. Because the ministry "needs" you.  It might be tough for you to hear, but you're not irreplaceable.  Serving because we think the ministry needs you is only inflating your ego.  And speaking of which, is your EGO one of Edging God Out or do you Exalt God Only?

4. To beef up your résumé.  Yes, serving as a youth ministry leader looks good on a resume...especially for those wanting to work with young people as a career.  But if you're heart's not in youth ministry for the right reasons, it will be very evident.

5. To be more popular or more cool.  This one should be obvious.  I mean, come on...does anyone think that youth ministry leaders are cool?  :p

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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An Evening with David Jeremiah comes to Toronto!

On Thursday October 16, Dr. David Jeremiah will be at the Air Canada Centre for a special evening of worship and inspiration. Known to Canadians through Turning Point radio and television broadcasts, Dr. Jeremiah will host this rally to bring a God Loves You message.

Doors open at 5:30 pm and the event begins at 7:00 pm. Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis and seats may be saved up to 6:30 pm. Everyone is welcome to bring friends, family, and neighbours. Get your free tickets today at www.davidjeremiah.org.

The evening will feature a time of dynamic music led by singer-songwriter Marshall Hall with special guests The Martins. Come experience the power of worship with thousands of other believers. Encounter God’s perspective on your life as David Jeremiah teaches from the Word of God.

In addition to various resources that will be available at the rally, Dr. Jeremiah is launching his new book, “Agents of the Apocalypse" this fall. Browse for items that will inspire you and your friends, long after the rally.

Turning Point, Dr. David Jeremiah’s broadcast ministry, is coming to Ontario as part of their North American tour. A multimedia network featuring radio, television, and online programming — Turning Point reaches tens of millions of people with their Bible Strong teaching program and the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

For tickets and more information, visit: www.davidjeremiah.org/site/rallies4.aspx


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The Pharisaical Syndrome - Leaders & Opponents

Jesus and the Pharisees...sounds like an indie-rock band, doesn't it?

I was having lunch with a ministry friend of mine and listening to him share about what God was saying to him regarding the future direction of his role and his church; he began to describe the hope that he had for this new and bright future, but also the nervousness that he felt for potential opposition to this future that he believes he is needing to create. This is a description of a leadership tension that is familiar to anyone who has had to lead people in a direction that wasn't a natural expression of where they wanted to go.

Jesus too faced this sort of tension...from the guys who could have backed up him, but instead were intent on killing him. These guys, referred to as Pharisees & other names, suffered from a human condition known as the Pharisaical Syndrome. This syndrome describes people who can be hypocritical, self-righteous & judgemental. While we all are capable of this type of behaviour, opponents to any form of leadership often exemplify these unbecoming characteristics. And the truth about leadership is that we will always have opponents to what we do or to who we are. Leaders learn to navigate through these tensions, trusting that the God they serve is larger than the perceived opposition they may face.

So how do you know when you are facing an opponent in the form of a Pharisee, or if the opposition you face is actually an invitation to refine your vision for the present or the future?

Here are four signs that you may be dealing with an opponent who suffers from the Pharisaical Syndrome.

1. Murder
Instead of supporting Jesus, the Pharisees engineered his death. Sometimes the opponents we face want to kill something inside of us as leaders. Maybe it's hope, maybe it's confidence, maybe it's something else. The goal of a Pharisee is to get rid of a potential problem or threat. The frustrating part of this reality is that sometimes Pharisees believe their intentions are God-honouring and helpful to the broader community. But the goal of this activity is ultimately to harm, and not to help...that's how you know the difference between someone who has succumb to the Pharisaical syndrome and someone who is speaking truth in love.

2. Pride
Pharisees didn't like Jesus because he threatened their spiritual control of the community. Opponents sometimes lash out because they too feel threatened in some way. Maybe covered up lies will be exposed or a long celebrate program initiative will be dismantled. If your opponent is attempting to protect themselves or something they've created in some way, you may be facing someone who's pride has been hurt.

3. Selfishness
The Pharisees had a different agenda than Jesus. All of us are motivated by something, and there are times when our motivation is distorted towards self rather than towards others. We may take "pride" in being the voice for the voiceless, but have we ever asked ourselves if someone ever invited us to play that role on their behalf? There are times when we need to speak up for justice, and there are times when our perceived pursuit of justice is simply a veiled form of selfishness. What's your opponent truly motivated by: self or others? In Jesus' case, his actions were motivated by his love for people, while the Pharisees were motivated by love of self.

4. Complexity
Taking something simple and making it more complex - the reality of the erosion of the Covenant first made by God and humankind by those who struggled with the Pharisaical Syndrome. Moses was given 10 commandments to give to the people of Israel...commandments that pointed to God's desire to be loved and to see his created beings love each other. When Jesus walked the earth, these 10 simple commands had evolved into a complex oppressive reality for the people of Israel. Opponents to your leadership may seek to create complexity or demand you conform to pre-existing complexity in some way. It's important to remember Jesus words "unless you change to become like little children" (Matt. 18:3) when we face the opposition of complexity. Simplicity is the currency of hope that the Kingdom of Heaven trades in. If something is more complex than it needs to be it's time to be reminded that living is simple.

Every leader faces opposition. See it. Process it. Respond appropriately. Sometimes our opponents are just like Pharisees.


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I was sitting across the table having a one on one conversation with one of my students. He was stuck. He didn't know what to do and he had just told me another version of so many stories I've heard before. I knew I needed to say something as he looked at me with awkward glances.

During our conversation I was listening, taking mental notes, but most importantly I was asking Jesus to give me the words to say to this young man. I think I was begging with Jesus for the right words to say because my initial thought was to say, "suck it up buttercup."

As I took a deep breath about to impart my amazing words of wisdom to this young man he broke the silence by saying, "I'm sorry to bore you with this but I just don't know what to do." I quickly responded with the first word that came to my mind, "Wow!" I thought to myself, "did I say that out loud?" This young man had just poured his heart out to me for the past 15 minutes, asking for my advice and I started my response with 'Wow'. What was I thinking?

Yet, what I didn't realize was that one word would be the hinge that opened the door to our conversation. We continued our conversation for 90 minutes and it sparked other conversations down the road and our interactions went deeper then I could have ever imagined.

This conversation reminded me of some of things I love about youth ministry:
Shepherding students is messy: when I enter the lives of students I must allow them to enter my life. The pain, hurt discomfort and unsettling frustration that they have going on in their lives is when I share with them my stories of pain, hurt, discomfort and unsettling frustration. if teenagers rooms are messy, so are their lives. the one thing that I have to remind myself is that my life is also messy.

Process with students: life is full of things we like and don't like. when you and your students experience one of those things, process with them, but don't allow your emotions to dictate your response with your students. if something was challenging, process with them on how they can learn from it, wether you liked it or not. the big thing about processing with students is that it is a long journey. You cannot expect things to be wrapped up like a teaching session or telling them to read this passage or to just pray about it.

Resource your students: have follow-up resources on file and ready to help your students process through circumstances. if you don't have the answers, don't pretend you do. get resources from other youth workers or experts in specific fields. this is a really pretty way of delegating. you can say to your students, "you know I'm not really sure about that but I know someone who does. let me get you some information about that and after you've checked it out, let's talk some more." students understand it when adults tell them that they don't know something. what they don't understand is when adults claims they know everything. if you have resource file, keep adding to it. if you dot have one, start to put one together.

These are three things that I've found that help me as a youth worker. What would you add to this list?

Here are four resources to add to your resource list or to help you start your first one:

X3Watch: online accountability and integrity. FREE
CovenantEyes: online filter and accountability software.
Pam Stenzel: speaker and resources on biblical sex and sexuality
Dr. Karyn Gordon: canadian, family and relationship expert, her products are excellent.


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Know Your Role

On our Alaskan cruise last month, we went to get family portraits done in the ship’s photography studio.  The 30-minute shoot went very quickly, and at its conclusion we booked an appointment to go back later in the week to look at the pictures (and perhaps buy some).

We decided that 4 of us would go:  Gail, my brother Jason, my mom Joyce, and me.  We felt that this particular combination of people would give us the best chance of making a good decision without paying too much.

We all had our particular roles too.

I was the “Schmoozer” (surprise surprise) and my job was to break the ice and create a comfortable atmosphere before we talked big bucks.

My brother Jason was our “Quality Control Expert” as he by far has the most expertise with respect to photography and editing.

My lovely wife Gail was the “Negotiator/Closer”.  She knows how to drive a hard bargain and is not afraid to be tough if she needs to.

Lastly, my mom Joyce was the “Benefactor/Banker”.  The buck stopped with her as she was the one ultimately paying for the pictures.

We decided on these roles to take advantage of our respective strengths.  For example, Gail had no interest in making small talk with the photographer; she left that to me and my gift of gab.  And I didn’t dare try to bargain as I am a complete push-over.  In fact, the other three kicked me out of the room when it was time to move closer towards a purchasing decision.  We worked well as a team and ended up happy with the pictures we purchased.

When it comes to youth ministry leadership, it’s extremely crucial that you know your role and understand how your own strengths and weaknesses as an individual help contribute to the bigger picture. 

Here are 4 important things to keep in mind with respect to knowing your role in youth ministry:

1.  Know what you’re good at

At 40 years old (and 21 years in youth ministry), I have a pretty good sense of what I’m good at.  I enjoy speaking, facilitating, and teaching.  I have good relational ministry skills and strong communication skills.  When I’m able to combine these skills effectively, I feel confident in my ministry.  Thus, I’m always looking for opportunities to utilize these skills both at the archdiocesan and parish levels.

Likewise, you may have certain gifts and talents that make you a better youth ministry leader.  It’s important that you continue to hone your craft and sharpen your skills.  I would encourage you to try and become an “expert” or at least a resource in one or two areas of ministry.  It will help you with your confidence and inspire others around you to do the same.

2.  Know what you’re not good at

By contrast, I have a long list of things that I’m not good at.  Dancing.  Art.  Memorizing scripture.  Dressing nicely.  Cooking.   In youth ministry, I don’t think it’s worth wasting time working on your weaknesses.  I am convinced it’s more important to develop and refine your strengths and then lead from them.  Thus, you’ll never see me trying to choreograph a dance routine or offer to bake snacks for the next youth gathering.

It’s important to acknowledge your deficiencies, especially within the confines of a leadership team.  But that’s the beauty of having a team of people – if you’re not good at something chances are someone else on the team is!  Now I’m not saying that you should never strive to improve or that you shouldn’t learn new skills.  But there is a time and place to do these things and you’ll need to exercise good judgement in picking your spots.

3.  It’s not about you

I learned this the hard way early on in my youth ministry career.  Back when I first started, I wanted to be “The Man”.  I wanted to be in every skit, deliver every talk, lead every prayer, and coordinate every ice-breaker.  I don’t think it was a lack of trust in my fellow leaders; rather it was my ego running rampant in my attempt to be the best youth ministry leader I could be.

I found that I was starting to push other leaders away with my self-centered approach.  Thankfully, I was able to change my ways as I matured.  We must remember that our primary goal in youth ministry is to lead young people closer to Christ, and not to ourselves.  We are to always be looking for opportunities to help young people encounter Jesus.  We need to be a conduit – not an obstacle – to making that happen.

4.  Be genuine

It’s my favourite youth ministry mantra:  young people won’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.  In our work with young people, we must earn the right to be heard.  When possible, we need to build genuine relationships with young people before we attempt to evangelize or catechize them.

A big part of this is being genuine with young people. That means being honest with our strengths and weaknesses and admitting when we don’t know the answer to a question or if we’re unsure about something.  Teens are very smart and extremely perceptive – they’ll know if we’re faking it.  So it’s important that you don’t strive to be the most popular leader or pretend to be something that you’re not.  Be humble and trusting enough to depend on other members of your team.

So forget your ego, your popularity, and your weaknesses.  Be a genuine witness of Christ’s love and mercy and do everything you can to help young people experience this love.

That’s our role as youth ministry leaders.

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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Fear or Love - Two Ways to Engage Culture

Photo Credit: dryhead (Creative Commons)

I was hiding. The coffee shop in Fort Langley was supposed to be a sanctuary of sorts, a place where I could quietly study, my headphones and americano protecting me from distraction and sleepiness. I was finishing the final chapter of Richard Mouw's When the Kings Come Marching In, a brief theological study of the vision of the heavenly city in Isaiah 60. Mouw identifies this city with the same heavenly vision from Revelation 21 and 22, examining the city's description and the implications for our present cultural engagement. Mouw contends that the kingdom city will be filled with redeemed culture--art, commerce, technology, politics, race relations, all redeemed by the salvific power of Jesus.

This is when I noticed her talking to me. The woman at the adjacent table was looking at me, her mouth silently moving in the rhythm of speech, drowned out by my in-ear headphones and the latest album from The War on Drugs (a fantastic record, and one worth purchasing). I removed my headphones and apologized. "Sorry, I couldn't hear you." 

Apology quickly accepted, she began her speech again, sharing about the article she was reading about the pending economic crisis. Interest rates would spike, houses would be foreclosed, food would be in scarce supply, and no one sees it coming. She introduced herself as Mary, and asked me what I was reading. I shared that it was a theology book, and she wondered aloud if I was a Christian. I said I was a pastor, and she shared her own brief testimony of faith, how she had been connected with a local church, but currently was searching.

At first, I quietly considered her words with a calm understanding and propriety, though I honestly was looking for an opportunity to place my headphones back in and continue my studies. Then the conversation took a strange turn as she moved from the economic crisis and her faith to the need to hoard food and supplies, buy stock in gold, sell our homes, and move to the north of British Columbia to escape the impending tragedy. She spoke of concentration camps being built in California intended to round up the majority of the population; how electric hydro meters were instruments installed by "them" in higher government agencies to cause cancer; how she met a former Pentagon agent in South America who confirmed all her suspicions, that the conspiracy goes "right to the top." She had "connected the dots" and passionately implored me to tell the church so we could take care of our own. Would I tell my church? Would I help save the Christians from the impending disaster?

My articulate response: "Uh....."

While she shared her paranoia and fear with increasing fervor, I silently prayed, "Jesus, what do I say to her? How can I respond with grace and truth?" Her mindset was such a contrast from the book I had before me. While Mouw was speaking about the beauty of the heavenly city, with its rich heritage of art, language, and commerce, Mary was frightened by the very powers of the city and technology (ironic, as she was reading her articles on a MacBook in a coffee shop). She stared at me with frantic eyes, searching mine for a sense of fraternity, hoping for a kindred spirit in her fear.

Then the answer came to mind, a passage from 1 John:
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I looked into Mary's eyes and said, "I hear a lot of fear from where you're coming from. And I don't think Jesus calls us to be afraid. Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. So, I'm convinced nothing can separate us from this love. And I hope you'll experience the love and peace God gives us in Jesus. I think if we're seeking the kingdom of Jesus and entrusting Him with our lives, deep down we have nothing to fear."

She silently nodded, then sighed with a sense of defeat--I clearly hadn't been convinced. I packed my things and turned to go. She thanked me for listening, then turned back to her articles of fear.

I want to be more like Mouw and less like Mary

I believe we're called as Christians to engage and redeem our culture, not condemn or flee from it. I want to be a part of what N.T. Wright calls "building for the kingdom." This requires recognizing that we'll never full bring the kingdom of God to Earth, but that doesn't mean we're to be passive or paranoid about culture. Instead, with grace and humility, we work hard to create and promote justice, beauty, and truth in our world as signposts for the kingdom of heaven. This means moving past the fear, recognizing it's still present, and choosing to allow the love of Christ to be our primary motivation behind all we do. 

We don't avoid the fear; we redeem it as we step out in love. Let's live by love, not fear.

What is your primary motivation--love or fear?

(This post appeared at The Mayward Blog)


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Making Presumptions

My much-anticipated catch-up session with a youth minister got off to an auspicious start.  Upon entering my favourite Japanese restaurant, I told the owner that I would need a table for two.  As one of the waiters led me to a table, a woman who I didn’t know entered the restaurant immediately after me.  Somehow, the waiter thought that the woman was with me (my wife wouldn’t have been too happy) and somehow the woman remarkably didn’t see me sit in the booth first.  Once she sat down she finally looked at me across the table.  Slightly embarrassed, she gasped “Oh sorry...I thought that he was seating ME.”  She quickly made her way to another table as I tried to stifle my laughter.

An honest mistake to be sure.  And in retrospect I don’t blame her for wanting to sit with me.  Kidding.  Sort of.

But her innocent presumption got me thinking of the many times we make presumptions in youth ministry.  And as in this case, they often turn out wrong.

1.  Presuming what youth will like.  How often do we think that we know what the youth need?  I’ve been part of teams and planning processes where we jumped right into scheduling topics, nights and themes without even doing a proper needs assessment (formal or informal).  It’s important to balance what you might think the teens need with what they tell you they’d like to see.  Usually, the final result will fall somewhere in between the two.   

2.  Presuming what youth will be like.  We’ve all learned to not to judge a book by its cover.  But it’s amazing how often we still do that in youth ministry.  In our fast-paced world, a first impression may become the only impression.  Thus, it takes discipline not to form a bias or opinion of a young person solely on how he looks, how he talks, or how he shakes your hand.  It’s simply unfair if we do.  We need to take the proper time to forge a healthy relationship with teens.  Which leads me to my next point. 

3.  Presuming you’ve earned the right to be heard.  I’ve written before about the importance ofearning the right to be heard.  When possible, we need to build genuine relationships with young people before we attempt to evangelize or catechize them.  Because they won’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.

4.  Presuming that if it worked before it will work again.  When we repeat and recycle processes we can get complacent.  Thus, an “if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it” mentality can become very dangerous in ministry.  While it might mean that things are comfortable for you, in reality it can lead you to grow complacent.  Eventually, this attitude will stifle creativity, discourage risk-taking, and prohibit growth.

5.  Presuming that your pastor knows what you are doing.  This is not at all a comment on your pastor’s intelligence; rather a comment on your communication with him.  Do you give him and parish leadership regular updates?  Does he know the wonderful things you are doing?  Does he know where you need support?  And do you know his expectations of you and the youth ministry?  If you can’t answer “Yes” to all of these questions, then you need to rethink your communication strategy with him.

6.  Presuming that the parents know what you are doing.  Ensure that your youth ministry is more than a glorified babysitting service.  For the most part, parents are grateful for what we are doing as youth ministers and therefore don’t necessarily need to know every detail of every gathering.  However, regular correspondence with the parents will go a long way towards earning their trust.  It could be in the form of face-to-face meetings, emails, phone calls, newsletters, or a regular place in the church bulletin.  The parents will be more apt to support us and our ministry if they are kept in the loop.

So what presumptions do you make in your youth ministry?

Asking yourself this tough question will give you a decent indication of how well you are doing.  We certainly don’t want to get caught making too many presumptions.  Or for that matter...any assumptions either.

Because we all know what happens when you assume.

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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Canadian Parents Take Note

This week we highlight something amazing and fresh here at Canadian Youth Worker. It's a conversation for parents & families facilitated by a good friend of ours, Dr. Kelly Schwartz, about the concept of Family Assets.

There is so much information about what families are doing wrong here in Canada. Dr. Schwartz reminds us of the many things that families are doing well.

This is the first of many planned parent and family targeted resources from Canadian Youth Worker. Share it, like it, dislike it, view it. This conversation is yours Canada. Where you take it is up to you!!


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Canadian Youth Worker Interview with Danny MacKay

Danny is a youth worker associated with www.iamsecond.com. Listen as he shares stories about mission, Canada, youth workers and also takes part in our Great Canadian Youth worker Quiz.



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Not very often we hear about precision in our business. For a surgeon, yes. For a diamond cutter, yes. For a tree feller... A tree feller?
Discipleship does not happen by accident. Too many ministries keep busy and have lots of fun, but aren't very intentional or precise when it comes to the real Christian maturity process.

Dave Brotherton now lives in Sauble Beach, Ontario and Pastors Sauble Christian Fellowship. Dave was a youth pastor for 20+ years, taught youth ministry at Ambrose University in Calgary for 8 years, and was the National Youth Director for the Alliance Churches in Canada since 1999. Now Dave leads a church and speaks into youth ministry from the Senior Pastor's perspective.

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Canadian Youth Worker Interview with Geoff Stewart

Geoff Stewart stops by to share about all things Canadian, BC, youth ministry & so much more. Listen to his story, have fun and enjoy some creative interaction on CanadianYouthWorker.com


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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.