Tag Archives: Ministry

Youth Ministry: A High Calling

by Gerald D. Reimer, Director of Youth and Discipleship

The concept of “youth ministry” began as a para-church ministry by Youth For Christ and Young Life in high schools across the U.S. in the 1940s. Their mission—to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and to help them grow in their faith—remains to this day.

By the early 70’s churches began hiring their own youth pastors to bring this ministry into their midst. Sadly, by the time the 80’s rolled around the pressure was on to provide MTV-style entertainment to attract more students. And with this came a gradual loss of the discipleship-focus that generated the ministry in the first place.

I’d like to suggest that though youth ministry fads still come and go, the focus in most evangelical churches is once again on discipleship, particularly as we’ve become aware of students falling through the cracks in life transitions both in their early teens as well as early adulthood. This was reported on in the Hemorrhaging Faith research done by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada back in 2012 and their follow-up project in 2018 called Renegotiating Faith.

Recently, researchers at the University of Buffalo completed a study of young adults who had experienced difficult circumstances during school-aged years. Subjects consistently indicated that they had wanted adults to stick with them and not give up on them. Isn’t that what Jesus does with us as he shows us consistent mercy and grace? (cpyuparentpage.com – December 2018)

This past October, EMC youth pastors and leaders met at Camp Cedarwood in Manitoba for our biennial youth leaders’ retreat. Among the many topics formally and informally discussed throughout the weekend were the importance of discipleship, of mentoring relationships, of gospel-centred teaching, and of helping our students fall deeper in love with Jesus and integrate that faith into their lives.

I’m thankful to report that the majority of youth ministry in our EMC churches looks very much like this. Generally speaking, gone are the days of entertainment-based programming, Jesus-lite teaching, and games night every other week. Most weeks you’ll find students meeting with youth leaders in small groups as they dig deeper into God’s Word after the teaching time.

You’ll definitely hear laughter and chatter, but you’ll also hear thoughtful questions as students learn what following Jesus looks like in their daily lives. You’ll hear songs of worshipful praise and sometimes quiet sobs as burdens are shared and fellow students and leaders pray for one another. And maybe the most amazing thing you won’t hear is leaders apologizing for doing life-on-life relational ministry that focuses on Jesus above all else.

Gerald-Reimer
Gerald D. Reimer Director of Youth and Discipleship

Our youth pastors and leaders give up hundreds of hours of their “free” time each year to spend with your son or daughter. They want to make a difference and they don’t want to “waste” time simply playing games or babysitting your child. They are called to something greater and so are the students. And that is why your leaders want to partner with you to provide support however they can.

In a few months youth leaders will be taking your students to another discipleship weekend, our national youth event called Abundant Springs on May 17-20, 2019 (abundantsprings.ca). Talk to your leaders and make sure your kids and grandkids are part of that weekend. And thank your leaders for their service!

Two Hills: LFF Serves Low German-Speaking Mennonites

by Ron Wiebe

TWO HILLS, Alta.—As drug violence in Mexico was increasing, many Mennonites were concerned for the safety of their families. There were already quite a few Mennonites living in southern Alberta, and they had heard that land was relatively inexpensive in the Two Hills area.

In the early 2000’s Mennonites started moving to the Two Hills area, most of them being employed in the manufacturing and farming industries. At that time, the only Mennonite church in the area was the Old Colony Church. The local school board was willing to accommodate their desire to have some German programming in the public school, which continues to draw Mennonites from Mexico to the Two Hills area.

As more Mennonites moved into the area, different church groups started forming. Our church group had been meeting for a while and felt the need to join a larger conference, as we were struggling to move forward on our own.

In 2015 we decided on a name for our fellowship, and Living Faith Fellowship was born. Shortly thereafter, we started a conversation with Charlie Koop, and decided to pursue affiliation with the EMC. We have appreciated the support that Charlie and the Church Planting Task Force have provided, and hope to officially join the EMC during summer convention in 2019.

Since the start of our relationship with the EMC, we have desired and prayed for a pastoral couple. We felt that we needed leadership, and Charlie helped us to find a pastoral couple. In the fall of 2016 John and Helen Froese felt the call to come to Two Hills to pastor the church and committed to serving a two-year term with the Living Faith Fellowship.

It is our desire at Living Faith Fellowship to be an evangelical ministry in the community of Two Hills. We desire to keep some of the Mennonite ordinances and desire to be available to serve Low German-speaking Mennonites. We will often have people come through our doors who do not speak a lot of English, so it is important for us to have a Low German-speaking pastor. This will continue to be important as we move forward.

Another key need in our area is the need for a counsellor. Some of the people that come to our church have had bad church experiences in the past; and, although they desire to grow spiritually, they need some guidance in order to move forward.

We appreciate the support that the EMC has provided to Living Faith Fellowship, and look forward to continuing to build God’s kingdom with them. Please stop by for a visit if you are in our area.