3 things summer is great for! Especially if you are a leader or volunteer somewhere.

3 things to do this summer: Play, reflect and experiment.

1.       Play

Play and celebration can be a glimpse of God’s Kingdom, the way things are supposed to be and will be, when Jesus returns. Play is not a denial of reality it is an acknowledgment of the ultimate reality! Jesus is coming back to set all things right, so go ahead and play. Play can be a glimpse of the way things will one day be, when Jesus reigns –
where death’s sting is gone,
where tears of sorrow are wiped away,
where everyone is valued,
where there is no hate,
where there are no weapons,
where there are no titles before or letters after peoples’ names,
where there is great joy,
where the best of life – food, art, relationships is enjoyed,
where justice reigns,
where we celebrate the Kingdom come.
 So go ahead – play this summer! Can you taste the goodness God has put in the world?
Isn’t it fantastic?
One day, sin, sickness, death, and evil will be gone. One day, all will be right.
Enjoy the preview now!
Celebrate all that is good, even in the midst of living in our fallen world, knowing that Jesus is setting all things rights.
Celebrate all that is good this summer – eat foods you can only really enjoy in summer, play in the ocean (or a lake/river for my friends reading this who are not living in Canada’s ocean playground), stroll through forest, splash around with kids, enjoy a drawn-out meal, laugh with friends, spend quality time with family, pull out a board game, invite the neighbours for a BBQ, do stuff that makes you forget to check your phone…

Play this summer. It is good for the soul.

2.       Reflect

The change in seasons and routines creates the right time to do some reflection, especially before the craziness of September and school, work, ministry, and schedules hit.
Take some time this summer to reflect.

Look back at the past year:
a.       What went well?
b.       What did not go well?
c.       What area of your life seems to be slipping?
d.       In which area of life are your thriving?
e.       What should you keep doing next year?
f.        What should you do differently next year?
g.       How are you doing after the year that’s been? What’s the state of your heart & soul?

Look ahead at the coming year:
a.       What is God calling you to give more attention to? How?
b.       What do you (in-line with God’s leading) really want to accomplish over this next year?
If you are looking for more reflection questions, I wrote a previous blog "Mountain Time" with lots of reflection questions.

Reflect this summer. It is good for the soul.

3.       Experiment – Experiment personally and encourage or lead your church to experiment too in the summer.

Personally - Try some new things and experiment with different activities, routines, and possible connections. Summer is so short, you can experiment with different ideas without feeling like you have to commit to them forever. Spice things up!

  • try a new routine for meals, God-time, exercise, family time….
  • try new foods
  • try reading a new genre
  • explore a new location
  • try connecting with new people and neighbours
  • invite someone new out for coffee or ice cream
  • have some sort of gathering (BBQ, Canada Day celebration, horseshoe tournament, ATV ride…) to connect your neighbours
  • invite someone from your neighbourhood to join you for a walk
  • try picking up a different version of the Bible
  • try a new Bible app or sermon podcast
  • check out a different church, especially if you are away on vacation or check out church for the first time

Church – Summer is a great time to try some new things! Everyone’s schedules slow down and change in the summer, and the church crowd tends to shrink. It’s perfect for trying new experiments!

I’m so excited to see what Timberlea Baptist, outside of Halifax, is trying this summer! Recognizing peoples’ realities and how few weekends we get in the sunshine in summer, they are coming together for church services on Tuesday night! That’s right – Tuesday church! They’ll have supper together at 5:30, then the service starts at 6pm and will be an hour or less. It’s perfect, you could get home, change, grab the fam and head out to church for dinner and engaging help in following Jesus in this world. Great idea Timberlea! Let us know how it goes. You can see more on their website.

What experiments could your church try?

  • Different sermon format and style – interviews, a sermon bite and then discussion back and forth, small groups, lectio divina in place of a sermon, participatory/responses to sermons, let others try preaching, short videos & discussion, look-up CBC news app and talk about the news from a Christian perspective and how we might respond, engage in different spiritual disciplines or worship stations together instead of a sermon…
  • Put the church service on a different day
  • Meet in a different location for the summer– in a park, in a different part of your building, in a coffee shop, in someone’s home… (Just make sure to make it really clear where you are meeting so people can find you!)
  • Do a BBQ for your small groups & their friends/neighbours they’ve been building connections with
  • Throw a neighbourhood party
  • Intentionally have all generations together for the summer service. Make sure to engage all ages.
  • Do a story-telling/testimony service
  • Try church in peoples’ homes for the summer
  • Add a visiting time in the middle of church over watermelon, coffee, popsicles or strawberry shortcake
  • Cancel your “regular” type of service and make it a time to together go out and bless your city/town as an act of worship
  • Try the 31-Day neighbouring challenge as a church – Summer is a great season for building connections in the places we live, work, study, and play.

Experiment this summer. It is good for the soul.

Happy summer!
May you enjoy some play, reflection and experimenting this summer! May it refresh your soul.
May God invite you to join Him in our neighbourhoods as you play, reflect and experiment.
May God connect you to neighbours as you play, reflect and experiment!



ONE Conference Frequently Asked Questions

We’re hoping you have heard the BIG news!!! At Springforth 2017 we announced that for 2018 Springforth is combining with an event called Rally in the Valley (a Wesleyan event) to make ONE big event, called the ONE conference, where together we’ll worship our ONE God, in ONE location and be inspired to join God in changing Atlantic Canada ONE neighbourhood at a time. #ONE #1neighbourhood

It’s going to be historic!!!
We’re praying it’ll be transformational!

Imagine a room full of 2000+ middle schoolers, high schoolers and their youth leaders worshiping God!

Here are some questions you may be asking about the ONE Conference. Let us know if you have more!

NOTE CBACyf = Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada Youth and Family

1.       Why the change?

Because God always has been and always will be bigger than one denomination. God is at work across Atlantic Canada, across denominations, across all people and across all pockets and regions of our beautiful provinces. We want to join God’s work, especially among the younger generations.

On a more practical level, in order to continue to reach more youth with the invitation to follow Jesus and join God’s work in their neighbourhoods, we recognized it was time for some changes to Springforth. We (CBACyf team, Springforth team and the CBACyf working group) got talking about what needed to change to reach more youth and be even more effective. We talked about what would be most helpful to youth leaders and churches. As we were talking, our friends, the Wesleyans, approached us. They were talking about similar things regarding an event they have called Rally in the Valley. We started talking more, and realized that together we had similar goals and together could reach even more youth in Atlantic Canada.

The ONE Conference was born.

We believe that when we bring students of all backgrounds together as ONE church, worship our ONE God, in ONE location we’ll discover that our faith comes alive in a powerful, new way. We’re not on this journey alone, and we believe that we’re better together. Together let’s inspire a generation to join God in their neighbourhoods

2.       Who, what, where and when is the ONE conference?

WHO: Students in 6-12 grade with their youth pastors/leaders

WHAT: A two-day event designed to be a catalyst for growth in the faith of students and youth ministries and inspire them to join God in our neighbourhoods 

WHERE: The Moncton Coliseum in Moncton, New Brunswick.

WHEN: May 11-12, 2018

3.       Will middle schoolers and high schoolers be together?

Yes, they will be together for the rallies with amazing worship bands and engaging speakers.
However, during the workshop sessions, ONE Conference will have age-specific speakers and content for your students so they get exactly what they need. Middle schoolers/Junior Highers will have their own workshops and High Schoolers will have their own workshops, with some specific workshops for grade 11 and 12 students!

4.       What will the cost be for the ONE Conference?

$75 for early Bird

$80 for regular price

$90 for late and at the door

5.       Why does it cost more?

It has gone up a little from Springforth because we want to up the quality and experience of the event. We are renting a larger facilitating and inviting high quality bands and speakers. We'll have various options for fun activities. We are working hard to create an environment that is awesome for middle schoolers and higher schoolers! We're aiming to financially create an event that breaks even.

6.       Will there be a leaders’ track?

Yes! We’re excited to be hosting a Leader’s Track during the ONE Conference.  So while your students are being poured into, you’ll hear from dynamic speakers that will enrich your own faith and leadership. This will happen while you students are being well looked after by volunteers and workshop leaders.

7.       Will there still be bouncy castles or fun activities?

There will be built in time for fun activities and memory making with your youth groups!

8.       Who will the speaker(s) and band be?

Coming very soon….you’ll have to keep watching the website ( and our social media (Facebook /cbacyf  Instagram /cbac_yf  Twitter @cbacyf) for announcements.

9.       Who are your partners or sponsors for the ONE Conference?

CBAC and Kings Church (Weselyan Church in Saint John, NB) are seeding the money for the event. CBAC is continuing to work with our amazing family partners – Acadia Divinity College, Canadian Baptist Ministries, and Crandall University – to see how they’ll be involved with the event.

10.   What is the goal of the ONE conference?

To be a catalyst to God’s work in the lives of students, so that wherever they are in their journey they are challenged to take a leap forward in their faith.

The aim of the ONE conference is to inspire students to join God in their neighbourhoods. For some students that will mean responding to God’s invitation for new life for the first time and for some students, it will mean stepping up in joining God’s mission in new ways. We want to challenge ever student to join God on mission every day of their lives.

3 specifics goals of ONE are:

  1. Every student and leader would have ONE Milestone experience with Jesus Christ. Whether this is big or small, our prayer is that they would experience the truth of Jesus Christ in some way that invites them into closer relationship with Jesus and into more faithfully following Jesus in their lives.
  2. Every student and leader would feel part of ONE diverse, united, and loving, church family.
  3. Every student and leader would participate in a ONE Kingdom movement that impacts our world, our region, our neighbourhoods. 

11.   What about accommodations?

Leaders are to arrange their accommodations for their group. Closer to the event, we will provide a list of local Moncton churches that will host students to sleep on their church floors for the night. You need to call one of these churches in advance (the earlier the better!) to reserve your spot.

If you prefer, we’ll also be partnering with the area hotels to secure group rates on a first come, first serve basis. You need to call the hotel directly to arrange your group's accommodations.

12.   What about transportation and meals?

Leaders are responsible for the transportation and meals for their group during the weekend. There are lots of restaurants in the area.

13.   What will the weekend look like?

Attendees can look forward to 3 main sessions and 2 workshops over the course of the weekend, as well as plenty of entertainment and activities.

14.   What if our students don’t have the money to go?

We’ve done our best to offer a high caliber event at the best price. We’re asking you to make an investment in the event. We are inviting churches and leaders to think creatively on how they could get as many students to ONE as possible and keep the cost down for their students and leaders. Invite individuals, groups or community partners to sponsor students to go. Put money in the church budget to send students. Do fundraising to get students to the ONE conference – silent auctions, hire-a-student, cookie-dough sales, paint night, clothing-swap night…

Also, please let us know if you can connect us with people or organizations that would be excellent partners for ONE and might be interested in financially investing in the event in order to give more students the opportunity to experience ONE. This could be incredibly helpful to all of us in Atlantic Canada! This could lower the cost for us all.

Leaders, you know how memorable and transformational events like this can be in the lives of students – so get your whole church, community, parents, and others involved in making it possible for your students to be at ONE!

15.   Who is the leadership of the ONE Conference?

The executive team consists of a mix of leaders from the CBAC Youth and Family team, CBAC Pastors and Wesleyan Pastors. We are united in creating an event that invites students to worship, follow and serve our ONE God, in each of our neighbourhoods.

16.   What can we do to get students involved?

Start talking about the ONE Conference now, get it on your calendar!

Get other students to share stories of what events like this are like and how God has used them in their lives.

Make sure to register your group early to get the early bird rate! Registration will open in January at

17.   Will there still be an intern program?

Yes! Young Adults (17+) will be invited to apply for intern positions to work behind the scenes on such things as rallies, leaders track, workshops, fun events etc.

18.   What other denominations will be involved?

Anyone, from any denomination, non-denomination, unchurched, dechurched, searching, “not sure yet what I think of the whole Jesus thing” is invited. It’s a party of discovery together.

It’s a great place to invite friends and to have students invite friends, from all different backgrounds.

19.   How can we invest in ONE being a success?

a.       Pray – that God would reveal Himself to this generation, and use the ONE Conference as a place where people encounter the living God and get on-mission with God

b.       Get your students excited – Don’t let them miss out on this event!

c.       Starting planning to attend early – If you want to keep the cost down for your students/leaders start planning your church budget and fundraising accordingly.
Start thinking how you’ll get students excited about this.
Start thinking WHO needs a special invite to this event.
Start thinking HOW to get your students inviting others to the ONE conference.

d.       Connect us to potential sponsors / partners – We want to involve others that have similar goals (to see students fall in love with Jesus and join God in their neighbourhoods.) Please connect us to sponsors or partners who will help our students with this goal AND could help us cover the costs of such a large event. We want as many students to attend as possible! We really need some partners willing to invest with us in the lives of middle school and high school students in Atlantic Canada.

20.   Where do I find out more about the event, watch for details and register?


We really can’t wait to see you there!
We’re planning, praying and expecting it to be an epic event, that inspires a generation to follow our ONE God.
Will you join us?

-Renée @r_embree
-Andrew @drewsie83



Understanding Generation Z (7 to 21-year-olds)

I have some catching up to do. I’m guessing you and your church do too. What do you know about the youngest generation, Generation Z?

I had a bit of an existential crisis on a recent ministry course when I realized a number of the students were born the year I graduated high school! I was reminded a number of times how the younger generation is different than my generation and older generations, and not just by how many times I said “You don’t remember that?” You should have heard us comparing TV shows from our childhood! This youngest generation is much different than previous generations.

Here is what I’m finding, many of us in the church are trying to reach this generation of kids, teens, and emerging adults as if they were Millennials, and Generation Z is not at all the same as Millennials. We’ve got to catch up! The truth is Millennials are not youth anymore at all! (I know…existential crisis, right?!) Millennials are those born between 1980 and 1995, making them 22 to 37 years old. They are pushing 40!
Generation Z is those born between 1996 and 2010, making them 7 to 21 years old. Gen Z is our pre-teens, teenagers, and emerging adults. Let me tell you, they are very different than Millennials.

Church, we better understand this if we are going to reach and engage this younger generation with the Gospel.

Here are a few things to understand about Generation Z. These are all adapted from the book “Meet Generation Z” By James Emery White and a podcast James did with Carey Nieuwhof about the book. I’d highly recommend both. They are full of lots of great, well-researched information and will give you help on how to reach this young generation.

Please remember, as you read this list, whenever we try to capture a whole generation we are making broad generalizations, even stereotypes, based on the group as a whole. As always, the best way to get to know a generation or sub-culture is to talk to them, take interesting in them, and build relationships with them.

Meet Generation Z:

1.       Internet-in-its-pocket generation – they have always been able to google or “ask Siri” for the answer. Millennials can’t remember a world without computers, while Gen Z hasn’t known a world without constant, immediate access to the web. They’ve lived in a world that is “always on” and connected. They’ve lived in a world with few constraints. They’ve lived in a world with a computer and internet in their back pocket.

For Generation Z, social media has always been a primary source of communication and email is archaic. On social media, unlike older generations, they tend to be more private about things. Therefore, they are rarely on Facebook and more likely to change social media platforms often, and use platforms that are more anonymous, like Snapchat and text messaging.

2.       Visual - On social media and apps, and in life in general, they are incredibly visual. Generation Z are more likely to use pictures and emoticons to communicate rather than words. Basically, you’ve got eight seconds to communicate with them, but you better use pictures and do it quickly. They’ve got quick and fast filters. They’ll decide almost instantly whether to ignore you and move on or engage further.

3.       Independent - Individual freedom is their greatest value. They are fiercely independent and self-directed. It has never been necessary for them to use an outside person (librarian, doctor, parent, teacher…) to look something up or solve a problem, why should they start now? They have been leaderless and yet had a plethora of information at their fingertips, so they’ve quickly taught themselves to be independent.

So much of the world has been and is available to them on demand, they’ve learned to be self-directed and follow their own whims and desires. This has also made them the most entrepreneurial generation.

4.       Loss of childhood – more than even the Millennial generation before them they’ve been forced to grow up extremely quickly.

They’ve experienced the loss of their childhood for a number of reasons:

  • they are exposed to many of the worries, dangers , and complexities of our world at an early age
  • a lot of their parents have taken a hands-off parenting approach and have themselves, as parents, only be partially present with their own kids because of their busy lives and their own engagement with technology and social media
  • parents haven’t known how to regulate such a complex, world-in-your-back-pocket society
  • Gen Z is more globally aware and concerned from a young age
  • they've never lived in a world without terror threats
  • pornography has always been, unfortunately, readily accessible and even bombarded them. As James says “Porn is the wallpaper of their life.” 
  • in our sexualized culture, we’ve come to expect them to grow-up and act older sooner

What I'm observing this means is it takes more for them to react. They’ve already seen and heard it all. Nothing really surprises them and they are dealing with the complexities of an adult world at younger and younger ages.

5.       Lack of coping skills & wisdom – Generation Z has been forced to grow-up before they were ready, they’ve had a ton of information and unlimited access at their fingertips, and yet they have not had protection, they’ve not had wisdom, to handle all that comes towards them. This seems to have created a more anxious generation, with a lack of all the necessary coping skills for living in a complex world.

6.       Sexually fluid – Generation Z is a strong supporter for things such as same-sex marriage and transgender rights. They have come of age in the era where LGBTQ has been mainstream and same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada (since 2005). Experimentation, questioning, and fluidity in sexuality has been encouraged. Generation Z has become sexually and relationally amorphous. Sexuality is viewed as something that should be set free from any labels and all restrictions. Generation Z believes people should be allowed to follow their desires, moment by moment.

7.       Post-Christian, Post-Religious – many have been brought up by parents who did not have any religious affiliation (the “none’s”) themselves. Therefore, most of these kids and youth have zero understanding of what religion is, what the Bible is, who Jesus is, any Bible stories, what a church is for etc. They have zero background or understanding. We can’t presume they know anything. In fact, if they’ve picked up anything about Christianity through social media and media it’s likely negative. Unless they personally know Christians, they are not likely seeking any faith, nor do they feel anything is missing from their life.

 I’ll never forget speaking to a group of youth one night and one young man being shocked when I started to talk about “Jesus Christ.” He thought I was swearing, as that was the only context in which he’d heard the name of Jesus before. I had a lot of explaining to do and had to give a lot of back story, before I could unpack the Scripture for that night. We need to always go back ten steps and explain everything carefully, not making any presumptions about previous knowledge or understanding, with Generation Z.

Generation Z

Are you getting the picture? This, my friends, is Generation Z. Our 7 to 21 year olds. It can seem challenging, as you look at this list, to think about engaging this young generation with the Gospel. It is also an exciting and amazing opportunity! Look at the list again, what an opportunity we have to meet this generation and build relationships with them! The Gospel offers belonging, identity, purpose and new life to this and each generation. If we are willing to reach out and engage this generation on their platforms, God is absolutely at work in this generation. We can paint a picture for them of the peaceful, hopefully, joyous, adventurous…Kingdom of God, that invites them to come and lay down their live for God’s bigger story.

Hope this helps.
Thank you for joining Generation Z in your neighbourhoods and networks.

One more spot to look for help on this is at It's a report from Canadian leaders on what it will take to reach this generation. 



Mountain Time - Taking time for the mountain top view of your life and leadership

It is easy to get stuck in the valley and only see impossible mountains to climb. On top of the mountain everything looks different. In the valley, you only see what is right in front of you. On the mountain top, you step outside the valley and can see the whole picture. In the valley, it can be hard to see the way through and the way out. In the valley, you can feel like you are stuck forever. In the valley there are many paths to take to the top of the mountain, and you know more than one person has gotten lost trying to get to the top. On the mountain top you can see everything and it feels like all things are possible. You can look back and see the path you’ve come, you can see there is in fact a path out of the valley. You can see a lot of neighbourhoods from the mountain top. #1neighbourhood

Can you tell I have hiked up a mountain recently? I’m currently traveling in the Czech Republic and last week we hiked to the top of Lysá Hora Mountain. It’s a steep climb up 1324 m. The climb is worth the experience and view, but it’s hard slogging to get out of the valley, up the quad-burning climb, to the mountain top.

Ministry and leadership situations can make us feel stuck in the valley. It can be hard to see the way out and the right path to take. It is so easy to get stuck and be indecisive which was to go. It’s easy to lose perspective. It’s hard to see if you are still leading in step with God’s desires and purposes. It’s difficult to see if you are moving in the right direction. Valley’s can be very confusing.

As ministry leaders, we need time on the mountain top, time outside of our ministry and situations to step up and try to take a bird’s eye view. While I’ve been on this ministry trip in Europe it has afforded me time to look at my life and ministry from the mountain top view. It is good to get out of the valley. Each day I’ve been working through two or three questions that help me reflect on my life and ministry from the mountain top view (I’ve also heard it called “balcony time”).

May I encourage you to step outside of your regular routine and take some time to reflect from the perspective of an outsider looking at the whole picture of your situation, life and ministry? You don’t need to travel all the way to Europe, you could simply travel to a coffee shop a few neighbourhoods away or a nearby hiking trail.

Here’s the various questions I’ve been using during my mountain top time. I try to be really honest with myself, seeking to gain a realistic, whole picture view of my situation, life and ministry.

1.       What are the bright spots in my life and ministry?

2.       What is not going so well in my life and ministry?

3.       How am I actually doing at fulfilling my mandate and vision?

4.       What is wearing me out?

5.       What is giving me life?

6.       In this next season, what primarily needs my attention?

7.       What, more firmly, do I need to say “no” to?

8.       How is my heart and soul?

9.       What has my posture and attitude been like in this season? What do I want it to be?

10.     Where have I been slacking off in my leadership and responsibilities?

11.      Where is my imposter (shadow mission) sneaking in and tempting me off course or tempting me to forget my true identity?

12.     What longings or temptations are surfacing in my life? What does it look like to surrender these to the Lord?

13.     What is the big picture?

14.     Who needs my attention? (Notice I didn’t ask what needs my attention, I asked who.)

15.    How am I joining God in my neighbourhoods and networks? Where do I need to lean in more?

16.   As I enter back into the next season:

a.       What rhythms do I need to keep healthy, thrive in current reality and hear from the Lord?

b.       What two or three things especially need MY focus?

As you can tell, these are tough questions. They force me to get rid of my own pretenses and false images. They force me to take a hard look at reality, starting with myself.

Let me be honest, it has been really hard taking this mountain top time this past week.

I’ve found myself trying to avoid answering these questions I’d written out for myself before this journey. I’ve found myself inventing other things that need my attention instead of the question at hand. 
I’ve found myself trying to make my answers sound better than they really are, even when the conversation is just between God and myself.
I’ve discovered my own self is the hardest person to face.

It’s so easy to create an alternative reality, even an alternative self, when you are in the frantic pace and limited perspective of the valley.

It is hard to get to the mountaintop perspective. It is hard to pull myself out of the valley and force myself to take a good hard look all around.

However, the fresh perspective is just what I needed. 

Climbing the mountain, asking the tough questions, is difficult work. Just ask those who climbed the mountain this week whose legs are still aching! Taking this time to get out of your current situation and ministry will not be easy – you’ll have to work for it, and the toughest person you’ll have to fight is yourself. Force yourself to take mountain time, look all around, ask the tough questions and trust God to bring His fresh perspective. You will be a better leader, and person, for it.

Friends - Get to the mountain top. Take a look around!

Hope this helps.