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Cultivating Students with a Missional Mindset for their World

globe-with-people-holding-hands I have said before in conversation with friends that I think that the world today is smaller than it ever has been. No, I am not crazy and do not believe that our planet is shrinking... but I do think we are more connected globally than ever before. An increase in affluence and a decrease in the inflation adjusted cost of travel means more and more are travelling and visiting different cultures and countries. Also, the global reach of the internet and social networks like Twitter have given us access to real-time unfiltered information about global events. No longer are we reading or watching the news the next day, instead we are following real time updates from the people who are actually involved.

The bottom line is this – Our students are citizens in a global community. They are more connected globally than ever before. And I believe that this reality demands a faith that is lived out on a global scale. It requires a global discipleship. I believe that the mission of the church begins in and is centred in its neighbourhood, but must also have a global reach and impact.

This really isn’t anything new. God’s plan has always been global. God told Abraham that “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3). He sent Jonah to call the foreign people of Nineveh to repent. Jesus told his disciples that they would be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8) and called them to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28). God’s plan has always been global.

In light of all this, I believe that effective student ministry will be centred in the community while at the same time reaching to the ends of the earth. We need to cultivate in our students a missional mindset for the world.

So practically, how do we do that? Here are a few suggestions. I’d love to hear how you are doing it in the comments section.

  • Talk about it. This seems simple but I think it is so important. Take time in your youth ministries to actually talk about things that are going on in the world. They have already heard about it so take the opportunity to frame it in light of God’s story. Ask them what they’ve heard about the earthquakes in Nepal… Highlight the Syrian refugee crisis…
  • Pray.  Again, this seems like a no-brainer but I think it is a good reminder for us as leaders. Make it clear that God cares about these situations and that have the awesome opportunity to pray about them.
  • Be an Advocate. Get students involved and challenge them to be a voice for people who do not have a voice. A great example of this is Canadian Baptist Ministries “She Matters” campaign. Some of the youth ministries in our region have become involved with this.  Others have tackled issues like human trafficking or been part of letter writing campaigns.
  • Raise Money. I believe that one of the ways God calls us to be good news on a global scale involves our wallets. There are great organizations doing great work (our Springforth partnership with CBM is at the top of my list) and this work requires financial resources. Challenge students to give sacrificially and think creatively about how they could raise more as a group. You will be amazed at the great ideas they come up with!
  • Involve them in a short-term mission.   There is no learning like actually going and sharing life with brothers and sisters in Christ from a different culture. Far from mission tourism, when done right I think this can be foundational for a life of global discipleship. This has certainly been my experience. Again, our Springforth partnership with Camp Tumaini is a great place to start. Just make sure you don’t make these mistakes I wrote about before.

Our students are more globally aware and connected than ever before and are longing for a faith with a global reach and impact. I’ve given some suggestions on how to do this… what would you add?

- Adrian (@AdrianDGardner)

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25 ways to be good news to your local school

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25 ways to be good news to your local school

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As we are being transformed by the Gospel it overflows from us to our world.Often the world needs to see we care before they will begin to believe God cares. Often the world needs to see our goodness, before they will believe God is good. Often the world needs to see we’re not just out for our self-interests but for the interest of others and the community, before they can recognize a God who is interested in them.

Christians are invited to participate in God’s redemptive work in the world - righting wrongs, healing, restoring, bringing hope, caring for creation etc. In addition, we participate in God’s redemptive invitation, by being God’s messengers inviting others into God’s redemptive story with words and actions.

It seems to me as if, in many ways, we’ve abandoned or learned to keep our faith separate from our schools. May God give us redemptive, creative ways to be His presence in schools again and may it lead to many redemptive conversations! I know some of you are doing wonderful thing to be the presence of Christ in word and deed in your schools – I’d love to hear these stories! Comment below or send us a message.

Here are some ideas on how to join God’s good redemptive activity in the ordinariness of everyday at your school (if you are a student) or at the school in your neighbourhood (if you are not a student):

1. Bring a great snack for the teachers’ lounge with a thank you note 2. Pray every day for your school 3. Join a team (or coach a team) 4. Join a club (or lead a club) 5. Invite new people to eat lunch with you (exchange students, new to the school…) 6. Join the anti-bullying campaign and help it be a success 7. Start a free breakfast or lunch program (or get involved with an existing one) 8. Start a food bank at the school 9. Start a clothing bank at the school 10. Set-up a prayer station or box at the school and faithfully pray for peoples’ requests 11. On a hot day ask if you can give out popsicles at break-time. On a cold day ask if you can give out hot chocolate during recess. 12. Find out what the school really needs (e.g. badminton rackets, flip chart, smart board…) and be a part of the solution to getting those items for the school 13. Slow down and talk to people at the school, find out how they are really doing and what it’s like for them at school 14. Randomly pay for person lunch behind you in cafeteria line 15. Offer to organize/lead a talent show, sports day, or multicultural day for the school 16. Clean-up the school grounds 17. Build relationships with the teachers and administrative staff by taking the time to ask them about their day and their role 18. Join the gay-straight alliance in the school. Whatever your Biblical view of LGBTQ, we can say it is wrong for anyone to be bullied or mistreated. All of humanity is God’s creation, and no one should be mistreated, regardless if I agree or disagree with their current life situation or lifestyle. 19. Offer free tutoring 20. Start a lunch time club for those that want to know they are not alone as a Christian in the school 21. Talk about what you are thankful for and talk about the good in the world to those you hang-out with at school 22. Respond to what’s going on in the world (e.g. earthquake in Nepal) and give others at the school an opportunity to join you 23. Offer to wash the walls at the school 24. Offer to do gardening at the school 25. Give away free coffee to parents and bus drivers dropping off kids one day (with permission)

As are a blessing in your school or to the school in your community I trust God will open doors for you to share about your faith and journey together with people towards God. Please add your ideas to this list!

-Renée @r_embree

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Cultivating students with a missional mindset for their neighbourhood

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Cultivating students with a missional mindset for their neighbourhood

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Our biggest job in ministry is to cultivate environments that are favourable for people to engage in transformation with God. We can never force transformation or force growth. We cannot make something or someone grow. However there are sure a tonne of things we can do to cultivate the environment! As Paul says “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6) You can’t make or will your plants to grow in your garden, but you can spend a lot of time, energy and even money to make sure those plants have everything they need to be able to grow. How do we create an environment that cultivates students with a heart for their neighbourhood? How do we cultivate students that want to see and join God’s work around them?

Here are 6 thoughts on cultivating students with a missional mindset for their neighbourhood…

1. Model it a. In what you do together as a youth group/church – show what you mean by being God’s blessing to your neighbourhood. Model what it looks like to be God’s good news to others. Find opportunities for your youth group, and church or family to serve the neighbourhood around you – invite the neighbourhood to a party, offer to help the church neighbours with their yard work, fix up a local park, do a garbage clean-up in the area, thank the neighbours for putting up with your parking on the street on Sundays, serve the neighbours a meal with the intention of sitting down and getting to know them or find other ways your youth group could serve the unique neighbourhood where God has placed you.

b. In your own life as a leader – make it normal to share how you are getting to know and seeking to be a blessing to the neighbours around your home or apartment.

2. Share stories and celebrate it – what we celebrate determines where we spend most of our energy. What gets celebrated in your youth group or church? Do you celebrate when groups or individuals have been God’s good news to others? Do you tell the stories of how youth and children are blessing their neighbourhood? Give opportunities for stories to be shared of how people are being the mouth, hands and feet of Jesus. Do you ask regularly – where do you see God’s goodness around you? Where do you see God at work around you? It might seem odd when you first start asking these questions every week, but soon youth catch on. As we share more stories it helps each of us keep our eyes open to God’s activity during the week.

3. Practice – we all need practice when we are trying something new to us. During youth group do role plays and have conversation about how to talk about what God is doing in your life in natural ways. Youth, just like so many of us, have learned to be quiet about our faith. We need to help each other recapture how to talk about our faith, not in a shoving it down others throat kind-of-way, but in a way that is authentic to who we are and authentic to what God is doing in our lives. Give youth opportunities to practice talking about the journey they are on with Christ, how they came to trust Christ, what God is teaching them today, and their questions about faith.

4. Pray regularly – let others hear you pray regularly for God to give each person opportunities to be His blessing to others this week. Invite people to keep their eyes open to what God is doing around them and how they can join in.

5. Talk about fear and courage – talk about the fears we face when we see an opportunity to be a blessing, see an opportunity to talk about faith or see an opportunity to invite someone to a youth group event. Talk about the courage it takes to push through, and God’s Holy Spirit presence with us as we take opportunities to follow Him in the world.

6. Ask great questions (and teach students to ask great questions): a. Who do you hang-out with in your neighbourhood? b. What is life like for you and your neighbours? c. Can you see God working in that persons’ life – how? d. Anything crappy going on in their life – how can you show God’s kindness? e. Anything good going on in their life - how can you celebrate with them? f. Anything good going on in your neighbourhood where you could join in? g. Anything bad going on in your neighbourhood (e.g. school closing, graffiti at the park…) where you could join in to make a difference? h. If you are looking for conversation starting questions to help get into deeper discussions check out last weeks blog: 30 Great Conversation Starters

These are just 6 quick ideas on how we can cultivate students with a missional mindset for their neighbourhood. This is definitely an area where I’m trying to learn more! Please comment below and share your thoughts…

-Renée @r_embree  

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30 great conversation starters with Gen Y and Zers

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30 great conversation starters with Gen Y and Zers

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These are great conversation starters on road-trips (like to Springforth this weekend! See you there if you're coming!), around the snack or dinner table, while waiting, in small groups...With this list I have in mind generation Y (born between about 1980 to 1990) and generation Z (born between about the mid-1990s to the late-2000s) people in particular (but I'm sure they'd work with other generations too). The questions in this list are sometimes deep, sometimes simple, sometimes fun..because life is all those things and more.

  1. What is one thing you would love to smash with a hammer if you would not get in trouble for it and why?
  2. What movie or TV show have you seen in the last year that you wish all your friends could see? Why?
  3. What kind of world would it be if everyone in it were just like you? Be specific.
  4. Which is greater - riding a ferris wheel or a rollercoaster?
  5. What would you do if you found out today that you won ten million dollars (tax free!)?
  6. If you went to sleep, and while you were sleeping a miracle happened in your life (in the area you need it most), when you woke-up in the morning, what would be your first clues that a miracle had occurred?
  7. What has been one of the most memorable compliments you have ever received?
  8. Which is greater - watching Netflix or going to the movie theatre?
  9. What are 5 things you love to do?
  10. What are 5 things you hate to do?
  11. Who is your best friend right now? What makes you such good friends?
  12. What are 3 things you strongly believe?
  13. What do you think God's opinion is of you? If you could read God's mind - what would God be thinking of you right now?
  14. If you had the power to recreate yourself, what are 3 things you would not change?
  15. What are 3 things you will never do?
  16. If you could change anything about church, what would you change?
  17. What makes you feel loved and appreciated?
  18. What are 5 things on your wish list?
  19. How do you best hear from God?
  20. What is the biggest highlight in your life in the last 6 months?
  21. What is the biggest challenge in your life in the last 6 months?
  22. What 5 words would you use to describe Jesus?
  23. If God put you completely in charge of making heaven, what would it be like?
  24. If you could be a cartoon character, who would you be and why?
  25. What story do you enjoy hearing your parents or other relatives tell about something you did or said when you were little?
  26. What is your definition of success? Are you successful by your own definition?
  27. What are your biggest questions about your relationship with God?
  28. What was the greatest achievement you have experienced in your life so far?
  29. What is the greatest misconception people have about you?
  30. Who has been the most outrageously loving person in your life? How did/do they show it?

Enjoy the conversations!

Note - some of these questions have been adapted from "Ministry is Relationships" By cadreministries.com

-Renée @r_embree

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