In 2012, hundreds of leaders, ministers, volunteers, parents, and students gathered in Washington, DC, for “Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity” (CYNKC) a groundbreaking gathering about spiritual formation, young people, and the future of the church. After the success of this event, CYNKC founder Dave Csinos launched Faith Forward as a not-for-profit organization aimed at continuing the movement that began at that seminal event in Washington. Faith Forward is an ecumenical Christian organization that brings together forward-thinking leaders in children’s and youth ministry for collaboration, resourcing, and inspiration toward innovative theology and practice.
It’s with this vision in mind that Faith Forward will host its 2014 gathering in Nashville on May 19-22 (www.faith-foward.net). By bringing together pastors, Christian educators, youth leaders, denominational representatives, parents, and allies, Faith Forward will deeply explore what it means to really form sustained faith in youth and children. The 2014 gathering will be really unique. Events include:
· Presentations from an all-star lineup of speakers, including yours truly, Phyllis Tickle, Brian McLaren, Andrew Root, Sandy Sasso, Anne Wimberly, Melvin Bray, Mark Yaconelli, Ivy Beckwith, and many others
· Unique workshops offered by cutting-edge practitioners and leaders
· Music led by Aaron Niequist and Sharon Irving
· A spoken word performance by teens from Southern Word
· Resources and exhibits from all sorts of organizations
· Opportunities to forge relationships across denominations, traditions, and perspectives
Join me and many others in Nashville as we re-imagine children’s and youth ministry, May 19-22. Visit www.faith-forward.net for more information and to register.
We have been able to work closely together to grow Something to Eat™ into something unique that not only provides food for those who are hungry but challenges young people to lean into the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25.
The best part of this video is that it features Larisa, who is much better looking than Jeremy and the dynamos in their relationship.
Everyone gives lip service to helping without hurting. We all know about toxic charity. But your mission trips and your service projects still don't look any different. And every summer we bypass our own city's blighted neighborhoods on our way to help out another city with theirs.
This summer, do justice right. Come alongside vulnerable neighborhoods and bear their burdens with them. But go deeper. Unearth the tragedies that have been inflicted upon them. Learn how they got that way and what we can do to heal these wounds by more than good intentions. This summer, join a Youthfront Missional Journey in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas or at our newly-reopened site in Croc, Mexico where we'll help your church move from charity and mercy to justice. Talk to one of our staff today.
The word advent means the coming or arrival of something important. Advent is the season when the church celebrates the coming or arrival of Jesus. The Advent Season is all about anticipating the arrival of "God with us" as a human being born in Bethlehem. Traditionally, Advent is celebrated on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Youthfront invites you to join us during this Advent season by participating in this Journey to the Manger, a guide available to you through download.
Suggestions for observing Advent together as a family:
1. Create the right atmosphere. On Sunday night, turn down the lights, light some candles and play some soft Christmas music. Gather your family together in a comfortable room and sit close together.
2. Go through the appropriate week's lesson provided in this guide.
a. Set up the manger scene as described for that week
b. Read the assigned Scripture with quiet enthusiasm. Consider taking turns reading each time.
c. Select some questions that seem to be most appropriate for your family and discuss them together.
d. Engage in the activity together. Be sure to read through the activity beforehand so that you are prepared. (Note - week 2 the activity is before the Scripture reading and discussion).
e. Read the closing prayer.
f. Sing a Christmas song together.
3. Enjoy a favorite family snack together. Consider choosing a snack that is usually enjoyed only during the holidays. Over the years it is fun to see how your family comes to associate that snack with Advent and Christmas.
The most important thing to remember is that being together is the most important thing! Don't try or expect to create the perfect evening (especially if you have a two year old or an adolescent!) It is not about perfection but being present to God and one another. Expect that there will be fidgeting, bizarre questions, distractions and maybe even some fighting. That is all OK. Know that what you are doing matters deeply and will be remembered. It will shape and form your family for years to come.
On Baseball's Opening Day, Youthfront supporter, friend and associate Jeremy Affeldt
releases his first book taking readers off the field and into his life
story. The story of Jeremy’s relationship with our President Mike
and his involvement in our ministry, as well as details of his active
participation with Youthfront’s Something to Eat™ initiative are
featured prominently in the book. Expected to make multiple
best-seller lists, this book offers a compelling, page-turning story for
all readers. Another fan of Youthfront and five time Major League All
Star, Mike Sweeney says, “Jeremy Affeldt may be a two-time World Series
champion and one of the greatest left-handed relievers in major league
baseball but that is just the tip of the iceberg as to the man that he
is. As you will read in this book, Jeremy Affeldt is not defined by
baseball. He is defined and validated as a child and follower of the
most high God.”
Affeldt, pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, tells of the ups and
downs of his life and major league career beginning with his childhood
spent in a military family, the impact his parents had on his life, and
his tumultuous high school years. Affeldt admits that he was often an
uncaring, self-centered athlete who was difficult for his parents and
teachers. So much so, that his dad kicked him out of the home on more
than one occasion. Although he attended a Christian school, Jeremy
wasn’t buying any of it until a series of events led him to see his need
After being kicked out of games and sitting the bench because of his
behaviors and his attitude, one of his coaches gave him books on
attitude and anger control as well as scriptures that Jeremy read mainly
so he wouldn’t have to watch the games from the stands. As the Bible
began to come alive for him, he was also influenced by God’s
transforming work in the life of another student who had been Jeremy’s
archenemy. That was the beginning of Jeremy’s close walk with Christ.
Jeremy Affeldt tells of his opportunities in baseball, his marriage
to his high school sweetheart and, of course, his success including two
World Series Championships – after many setbacks and injuries – in the
The book includes Jeremy Affedlt’s passion for social justice and his
humanitarian endeavors as he continues to use his time and finances to
do God’s work throughout the world. Available now, discover the side
of Jeremy that thrives off the field; the side that is passionate about
freeing the slave, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty and
seeking justice for the oppressed.
If you are attending the National Youth Workers Convention in Dallas you will notice the lanyards with "LaCygne" on them. You will probably overhear youthworkers talking about LaCygne. So, what is LaCygne? Great question, in fact below are links to frequently asked questions about LaCygne.
Please click any question below to see a detailed
Ideology: a set of beliefs, especially religious,
philosophical or political beliefs on which people, parties or countries base
Ideologue: a person who zealously advocates an
ideology with an uncompromising and dogmatic manner. Ideologues often employ
questionable tactics to advance their positions because they believe the end
justifies the means.
I am a recovering ideologue. Ideologues
often colonize environments and justify the use of dubious means to accomplish
results supporting their ideologies. Because of their passionate advocacy, they
are willing to throw people under the bus to
advance their causes. They are black and white in their thinking. You’re either
with them or against them. There is no middle ground. They see categories, not
people. They guard against looking into the faces of real people, knowing that
might shed light on the hypocrisy of their ideological dogmas.
If you think I’m talking about
someone you radically disagree with, you just might be an ideologue. Perhaps a
little self-reflection is in order.
We must ask ourselves, In what ways am I willing to twist a
theological position just to advance a cause I believe in? We must learn to
read Scripture over and against ourselves instead of assuming the warnings are
always directed at the other and not ourselves.
Having come out of a conservative
background (both politically and theologically), Ironically, I find it hard not
to be dismissive of the people who are like the person I used to be. My world is
more expansive now. As my world of relationships has expanded, I naively
assumed political and theological liberals would be kinder and more
progressive. However, I’ve learned that all ideologues are the same. They want
their way. They’re right; you’re wrong. If you think differently, you’re an
enemy. They label and dismiss those who don’t agree with their positions.
Youth workers, don’t be ideologues!
Our vocation is pastoral. See people as people, not issues. Be open to the Holy
Spirit taking you places you assumed you would never go . I wonder if Jesus was
initially uncomfortable hanging out with sinners. I wonder if Jesus was
troubled with being constantly criticized by the religious elite for pushing
against the prevailing positions of those ideologues. I wonder if we experience
the same level of frustration he experienced when we shed our desire to be
I’m not saying in any way that
this means we should be wishy-washy or unconcerned with truth. I have no
hesitation in saying I am Christian to the core, orthodox in the doctrines
stated in our historic creeds. I believe Jesus Christ is fully God and fully
man, born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and was buried and that he
arose, bodily, physically from the dead on the third day. For some, those
beliefs make me an ideologue.
But I will not torch others. I do
not feel the need to be the Holy Spirit and bring down judgment on those who
have a different perspective than I do. I am committed to conversations and
relationships with those I don’t agree with. I want to be open to learn from
others. I seek first to understand. We can be people who disagree on important
issues without demonizing one another. We can demonstrate theological,
sociological and relational generosity to our students. I’m thrilled that more
and more people are rejecting old categories like liberal and conservative or
right and left and discovering new, more biblical ways to navigate difficult
and complex issues.
If you are prone to be an
ideologue, as I am, please take a few minutes and read what Paul says here in
Romans 12:14-18. Let it sink in. Meditate on these words from the Lord.
those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who
rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not
be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be
conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in
the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at
peace with everyone.
This year's youth worker retreat with Ian Cron is August 6-8, 2012.
We have created an opportunity for you and your family to step out of all the business and demands of youth ministry and into the strong and loving arms of God. Our hope is that this holy rest will restore your soul and help prepare you for another season of fruitful ministry.
We have carved three days out of the schedule at Youthfront Camp South for vocational youth workers and their families. We set these days aside for you in hopes of providing a place and time for you and your family to get away, laugh and have fun together. While there will be things for you to do, there won't be a program to keep up with. You will have the space and time to do whatever it is you feel like doing.
I've had the privilege to work on a cool project called A World Unbroken:Hope and Healing for a Shattered World with Barefoot and a group of authors -- Scot McKnight, Chris Folmsbee, Kara Powell, Pamela Erwin, Ian Cron, Jason Barnhart, Mark Oestreicher and Mae Elise Cannon.
The A World Unbroken resource will consist of:
A Book for youth workers written by various youth ministry thinkers and doers
8 interactive participants guides
A DVD with film shorts, curriculum, communication tools, etc.