"How easily we forget that the church was founded by disciples who betrayed their master. None was willing to stand by Jesus as the religious and political authorities condemned him to death. At his moment of greatest need, the disciples fled in the darkness. The boldest of the lot, Peter, was the very one who cursed and denied him three times before the cock crew. It was for traitors that Jesus died." Philip Yancey, Source: Soul Survivor Daily Dig
This is a guest post from Mac Maser, Sports Supervisor at Youthfront Camp West
This is my fourth summer on staff at Youthfront Camp West and my third summer as a Sports Supervisor. I am going to be a fifth year senior at the University of Iowa studying Electrical Engineering. My first Youthfront experience was back in 2009 as a camper at Youthfront LaCygne. I camped at Youthfront LaCygne all throughout high school and it is where I first gave my life to Christ. I grew up in a Christian home and had learned about God, but I grew up thinking that there were a limited number of ways to worship God; you can worship through prayer, song, or studying scripture, but God is separate from the rest of your life. Camp is the place that taught me that we can also worship through our playfulness and having childlike curiosity.
After my last year of camping, I came on staff at West as a Cabin Leader. As a camper, I always looked up to the Sports Guys so that was always my dream job. They were always having fun and got to be in the tower of power for Nightstrike (there’s nothing cooler than that). Now, I’ve had the privilege of being one for three years.
My favorite part of my job is that I get to be goofy and carefree with hundreds of campers every week in a safe, Christ-loving, intentional environment. I get to witness the joy of Christ shine through these students as they have fun dancing to worship songs, playing with their friends on the Splash Park, singing along to Disney songs at dinner, and so many more activities. Even if they don’t realize it now, they are worshiping and spreading the love of Christ just by being themselves and having fun. These students are at a critical point in their lives where they are figuring out who they are and wanting to find their identity in something that makes them feel secure. Watching campers come out of their shell throughout the week and have fun is proof of Christ’s love for us and the reason I keep coming back every summer.
The Didache, or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is dated to the first century by a majority of scholars. What if we allowed this very first church planting book to shape the way we led churches? For instance, "Be gentle-minded, for those of a gentle mind shall possess the earth. Be patient and have a loving heart. Be guileless. Be quiet and good, trembling in all things at the words you have heard. You shall not exalt yourself or allow your heart to be bold and presumptuous. Your heart shall not cling to the high and mighty, but turn to the good and humble folk. Accept as good whatever happens to you or affects you, knowing that nothing happens without God." The Didache - Source: The Early ChristiansDaily Dig, June 4, 2016
We are excited about this new feature at Youthfront Camp West. This will be a record setting summer for us at West, with waiting lists for every week. We keep building our capacity and it keeps filling up. We are proud of what we think is the best middle school camp in the world.
Last spring break. People from Iowa and Kansas visit CROC as their missional journey destiny. It was a good time to spend time with each other and see God in our differences and similarities. Also, it was a good opportunity to do painting and construction work which is always a blessing to people from CROC.
We hope you enjoy the story through the pictures below.
Pricila has been part of our community since she was in 2nd grade. Now as a 9th grader she is a volunteer with us. She helps out with different duties, but most important she is the 2nd grade teacher. It’s great to watch her grow as a person and as a leader in her own community. Our goal of running the programs with locals is still going.
Imagina works as a bridge between the church and the community. People that wouldn’t come church at first, feel safely doing it through us. We can humbly say around 40 kids have come to Torre Fuerte church through Imagina teacher’s guidance and invitation. This could be useless or a dead end without the great job and attention from Pastor Humberto Flores and his wife Myrtha Alvarado. We’d love your support through your prayers.
Rodolfo is Back! You may know pretty well this guy. He’s been around for 10 years as a full-time staff member. Rodolfo now lives in Monterrey with his family, his wife Eunise, his five year old son Diego and 1 year old daughter Renata. He will be week in and week out. You could find him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How's this for a birthday present... an unexpected note from a 19 year old young man that I received on my 59th birthday. Grateful and fulfilled.
Mike! I only see you a few times a year, but I want you to know how much my family admires you! My dad and his brothers and sisters all have stories that they passed on to their kids about how you have changed their lives in amazing ways! God is working through you so much and we are so thankful for what you do and the role model you have been for us! You're a wonderful person that I love and respect! Have a great birthday!
Save the date for our last training session of the school year! Dr. Jason Lief will be with us to talk about "Poetic Youth Ministry," and will explore the issue of young people and faith, specifically focusing on the various responses of the Christian community to the research suggesting young people are leaving the church.
Don't miss this opportunity and register now for this session!
I've always wanted to sky dive but haven't worked up the courage, YET, to jump out of an airplane. Experience iFly just might help me cross the line to courage. I'm excited about this Youthfront event coming up on May 5th because it will also help send lots of kids to Youthfront camps that otherwise couldn't afford to come. Check it out and come join us.
For the last two years I have been a part of an amazing project called the Museum of the Bible. I have served as a Senior Advisor for the museum. I am working closely with former Youthfront staff member and current Youthfront Board member, as well as my dear friend and colleague for the last forty years, Tim Smith. Tim is a Vice President and Director of Development. The video below is is an extended virtual tour of the 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible being constructed in Washington, D.C. The Museum is slated to open in November, 2017 and is located a couple blocks off of the Washington Mall, near the US Capital Building. Watch the video and you will see why I am so excited to be a part of this legacy project. Below the video is the Official Executive Summary for one of the projects that I'm heading up for the Museum. In the fall I secured a substantial planning grant from the John Templeton Foundation for Museum of the Bible and I'm excited about the potential to change the conversation concerning the Bible and Science.
Official Executive Summary for the Museum of the Bible and John Templeton Foundation Planning Grant:
A narrative has developed in the Western world that scripture and science are incompatible. Many believe science has shown the Bible to no longer be relevant and even responsible for holding back human progress. There are also those who believe that scripture necessitates an adversarial position against science. While elements of this narrative are certainly understandable in our current cultural milieu, we believe they are mistaken and damaging. The MOTB has an opportunity to help overcome these misleading views. We will use this planning grant from the John Templeton Foundation to determine the best, most effective ways to develop initiatives, programs, research, scholarship and exhibits focusing on the Bible and its impact on science in an accurate, comprehensible, compelling and memorable manner. This grant will support planning for the Bible and science portions of a signature traveling exhibit and for the Museum itself, and add rich science and scripture content to other projects and initiatives of MOTB. The planning grant will enable us to plan and facilitate up to seven strategic gatherings involving scholars, theologians, scientists, practitioners, literary and cultural experts who will together explore how MOTB and its initiatives can enhance the public dialogue concerning the convergence between the Bible, science and scholarship. In addition, we will engage in a small but high leverage research project to assess secular openness to initiatives we hope will change the conversation in the broader culture concerning the relationship between science and the Bible. This project will produce a detailed plan for compelling exhibits focusing on science and the Bible and create a fully- developed proposal for the John Templeton Foundation requesting support to implement plans. We believe the stakes are high if the presentation of the Bible and Science relationship is not informative and intelligent.
Jason Lief teaches Theology and Youth Ministry at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. He is also the founder and director of The Prairie Project—a week long ministry event that introduces high school students to the diverse culture of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Jason is the author of the book Poetic Youth Ministry: Learning to Love Young People by Letting them Go and is currently writing a book focusing on the intersection of Theology and Heavy Metal music. Jason is married to Tamara and they have three kids: Naomi (13), Christian (11), and Savannah (8).
Session 1: “I Didn’t Know we had a Pool”: Taking WALL-E to Youth Ministry
This session will explore the issue of young people and faith, specifically focusing on the various responses of the Christian community to the research suggesting young people are leaving the church. Using the film WALL-E this session with explore the social and cultural issues that impact religious belief. This discussion will provide the framework for a “poetic” form of youth ministry that is informed by a particular way of thinking about what it means to be the “church”.
Session 2: The Politics of Poetic Youth Ministry
This session will focus on the practical side of a “poetic” approach to youth ministry. What are the issues young people struggle with in the West? How do young people form and shape an identity? How can the Christian community engage in a form of ministry that invites young people to embrace their humanity in the new humanity of Jesus Christ? Using insights from theology, cultural theory, and philosophy this session will explore the practical wisdom at the center of a poetic approach to youth ministry that provides the basis for formative practices and a political approach to pastoral care.
Date: Thursday, April 7, 9:00a – 1:00p, lunch included
The losses in our lives are both big and small, and cover a range of experiences. We leave home. We experience physical illness and disabilities. We struggle with vocation and finances. We may long for a spouse or child. We lose people we love to addiction or illness and death. Following is a video featuring my dear friend and colleague Beth Slevcove talking about her new book Broken Hallelujahs. Below is the endorsement I wrote for the publisher, IVP.
"The beautifully fashioned sentences throughout Broken Hallelujahs summon deep contemplation and provoke a wrestling with the realities of our mysterious lives. What is truly refreshing about Broken Hallelujahs is the absence of sentimentalism. However, with a timely cadence, this book moved me to tears – tears of grief, tears of loss and lament, but also tears of joyfulness and gratitude. Beth’s willingness to be vulnerable and to call a thing what it is gave me permission to sink into the profound truth that Jesus Christ shows us it is truly human to sometimes cry out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Broken Hallelujahs ministered to my soul like a Balm of Gilead. I often say, “Wouldn’t it be great if Christians were known in our culture as the people who set aside syrupy platitudes and told the truth about pain, loss and death.” Death is the enemy, but that is not the end of the story… I love this book and hope you take care of your soul by reading this astonishing story."
Mike King, President/CEO, Youthfront; author of Presence Centered Youth Ministry; Twitter @MDKing
On Thursday, February 25th, Ian Cron will be our guest speaker for our third 2015-2016 Youth Worker Training. From 9a to 4p at Christ Community Church Brookside Campus, Ian will be sharing about "An Enneagram Experience for Ministry Leaders." Don't miss it!
The community at LaCygne made me feel safe and comfortable.
People were checking on me and inviting me to activities. I felt like I could walk up to anyone, start a conversation and they would accept me. I want to go back because I loved the experience of community and getting to know others more.
I also really like the environment - especially the Snack Shack and the Blob which were amazing!
I plan to be a volunteer next summer and help create community for others.
Argentine has a lot going for it with new efforts at revitalization, but like many under-resourced, urban neighborhoods, it has familiar problems. Connect with young people who are joining God's mission to restore beauty in Argentine. Hands-on work during a Youthfront Missional Journey in Argentine will include painting, clean up and minor home repair.
Our after-school program in Croc has more than 14 years, and is currently run by a local team. It provides kids with activities and classroom time where they can learn their place within God's mission. On a Youthfront Missional Journey in Croc, your will host a summer camp for local kids, prepare games, workshops, and classes. You'll work alongside a local team to give kids a quality education in subjects like math and Spanish, and also to better understand themselves, one another, and the world around them.
I WAS HUNGRY & YOU GAVE ME SOMETHING TO EAT
Something to Eat is a learning experience where we equip youth to discover the systems that produce hunger. A pulsating spirit sweeps over our events where youth package meals to help families both locally and globally. As they draw closer to the struggle that is faced by nearly 1 out of 6 kids in the US, they also draw closer to God and to one another.
Youthfront Justice initiatives tap into a longing for a more free and just world already stirring in young people's hearts.
These learning experiences equip youth to participate in God's mission to restore the world. We create pathways for youth to stand with hurting people and to discover how ending injustice is central to the heart of God's kingdom and mission. We help youth connect the dots making poverty easier to understand even if the solutions are more difficult.
I spent some time reflecting over the weekend on what a great year 2015 was. For me, the year was EPIC. Here are the top ten reasons why 2015 will be long remembered. I did not list these ten in order of significance (that would have taken several more days to contemplate that) although #1 is pretty much #1.
#1 – Vicki and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We were high school sweethearts and got married at semester break during my first year in college. I married my best friend and she is still my best friend today… that makes for a great life.
#2 – I celebrated my 40th anniversary of being on the staff of Youthfront. I came on staff part-time right out of high school and soon became a full-time staff member while I finished college and earned two Masters degrees. I am so fortunate to get to work for such a great organization with amazing and wonderful friends.
#3 – Our oldest granddaughter, Lexi, attended Youthfront camp this summer for the first time as a camper. That was awesome.
#4 – Our son, Daniel married Mariel, this year and we are happy to have her as a daughter-in-law.
#5 – The San Francisco Giants paid travel and lodging for Vicki and me to come to the Giants final game of the season at AT&T Park to be with the Affeldt Family on the field for a forty-five minute retirement celebration ceremony for Jeremy Affeldt. I met Jeremy when he played for the Royals and we became close friends and partners in ministry. Our friendship survived Jeremy being the winning pitcher in Game Seven of last year’s World Series when the Giants beat the Royals. Jeremy was the first to call and congratulate me when the Royals won this year.
#6 – Several days after returning from the amazing experience at AT&T Park with Jeremy Affeldt and the Giants, the Royals called and informed me that they were honoring me for my 40 years of public service by having me sit in the Buck O’Neil seat behind home plate. The Royals produced a video of my Youthfront ministry highlights, provided premium seats for my family, and treated me like royalty. And this all happened as the Royals won game five against the Houston Astros. Watching Johnny Cueto pitch his masterpiece behind home plate was extraordinary. Twice during the night they put my family on the Jumbo tron and ran the video about my ministry. What an amazing night.
#7 – The Kansas City Royals win the World Series. I’ve wanted my family to experience what it’s like to win the World Series like I did thirty years ago in 1985. The parade in 1985 was great but the celebration in 2015 with 800,000 people gathered downtown was EPIC.
#8 – For the last couple of years I have served as a Senior Advisor Consultant for the Museum of the Bible that will be opening in Washington, D.C. in November of 2017. Recently, I secured a significant and generous planning grant from the John Templeton Foundation on behalf of the Museum of the Bible. I will be able to lead a process to explore the issue of science and the scripture as literature. Here are excerpts from the executive summary, “A narrative has developed in the Western world that scripture and science are incompatible. Many believe science has shown the Bible to no longer be relevant and even responsible for holding back human progress. There are also those who believe that scripture necessitates an adversarial position against science. While elements of this narrative are certainly understandable in our current cultural milieu, we believe they are mistaken and damaging. The MOTB has an opportunity to help overcome these misleading views. This project will produce a detailed plan for compelling exhibits focusing on science and the Bible and create a fully developed proposal for the John Templeton Foundation requesting support to implement the plans. We believe the stakes are high if the presentation of the Bible and Science relationship is not informative and intelligent.” I feel this has potential to change the conversation about the relationship between scripture and science.
#9 – In June we completed a four-year, $4.5 million capital campaign at Youthfront Camp West. This will go down as one of the biggest highlights and most significant accomplishments of my lifetime. My spiritual life was transformed at this camp forty plus years ago. I’m so thrilled that the facilities are so amazing and well constructed that young people will be transformed at Youthfront Camp West long after I’m dead and gone. I feel so fulfilled and blessed by the success of this campaign and construction completion.
#10 – There were too many other great things from 2015 to just pick one, so here is my miscellaneous category. * I made my 22nd visit to the Middle East in May, this time on a VIP trip with a small team from Museum of the Bible. * The Chiefs make the playoffs. * In December, Vicki and I visited Micah and Samantha, who are now living in Cabo San Lucas. * In January, I attended the International Association of Youth Ministry Educators Conference in Cambridge, UK. * Featured in a Cover Story in the Youthworker Journal. * Just about every time we are with our grandkids is a GOOD TIME.
My experience at LaCygne has been powerful for my spiritual life.
I went on several hikes and worshiped God in nature unlike any other experience I've ever had. The daily worship, scripture and prayer times combined with the environment of the prayer space were impactful providing me peace and a strong connection to God. Whenever I go to LaCygne I leave feeling reassured in my spirituality and focused on my priorities.
I come home feeling like my experience at LaCygne prepared me for every day life as a teenager who wants to follow Christ.