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.
On April 3rd, Andrew Zirschky will be our guest for a day of conversation, learning and theological reflection. This year we featured a session in the Theology Track at the National Youth Worker Convention led by Andrew entitled Communion Beyond Connection: Youth, Social Media, and Christian Sociality in an Age of Networks. This session was a highlight so we are bringing it to our Kansas City area youthworkers.
Social media, text messaging, and other forms of technology-driven interaction are changing the way adolescents and young adults craft identity and find community. Through “selective sociality” in a culture of “networked individualism” teens write their own identities and communities into being — a process that increasingly leaves them lonely and anxious.
Andrew will help us explore changes to adolescent understandings of personhood and social connection and will consider opportunities for a faithful response by Christian communities. The training will happen at Second Presbyterian Church (318 E. 55th St KCMO 64113) from 9a to 1p.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to register.
I am still glowing from Sunday night's special, The Night That Changed America, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. I remember watching as a six year old boy that night 50 years ago with my Dad and Mom. I have been a life-long Beatles' fan. I also like the fact that my kids also share a passion for the Beatles and also my other super group - U2. I love these guys and I'm looking forward to the release in June of their upcoming album Songs Of Ascent. Gotta love that name. Here is the new video of Invisible, the first song released during the Super Bowl from the coming album.
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.
One year ago today, my parents joined our family for a vacation in Hawaii. My parents had never been to Hawaii and Vicki and I make an annual vacation here so we really wanted them to have the experience.
About a year and a half ago, I had an intuitive impression that now was the time for Vicki and me to get our kids, granddaughters and parents all to Hawaii for a vacation together. I wanted us all to have that experience together and wondered if it would be our last chance to pull that off with everyone. So we cashed in a lot of frequent flyer miles and went for it. At first my father thought it might be better for them to wait until a later time but my mother worked him over and he quickly relented.
Vicki and I got here on Wednesday of Super Bowl week last year and both sets of our parents arrived, one year ago today on Super Bowl Friday. The Monday after the Super Bowl all of our kids and granddaughters arrived. We had an amazing time hanging out at the beach, eating fresh caught fish, driving to the North Shore and around the island, but most of all, just being together in this tropical paradise.
Unfortunately, my intuitive hunch proved to be too true when my father unexpectantly passed away in August. The last couple days here in Hawaii have been bittersweet thinking about last year. I remember them arriving at the hotel one year ago tonight excited about being here. I remember the funny things that happened. I remember how somber my father was while visiting Pearl Harbor.
Being here reminds me of how hard it is to come to grips with the reality that my dear father is dead and no longer around.
Below is my favorite pictures from last year. I especially like this because I took it after we had made an all day trip around the island and just barely made it to a wonderful point on the island for a spectacular sunset. This picture is such a great symbo of my father’s life. We miss him and long for the day when resurrection puts the final explanation point on the promise given to us by Jesus Christ through his resurrection.
In Matthew 25, Jesus shares a parable in which he says, "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." The righteous ask, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?..." And the King replied, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
This teaching of Jesus fires my imagination and provokes a response. What are we doing in this to literally minister to Jesus himself by serving others? Desiring to shape young people formationally as disciples of Jesus in the context of this teaching we started Something to Eat™ several years ago. By the end of this year young people will have raised money and packaged well over two million meals for those lacking proper nutrition in Haiti, Africa, Central America, the Philippines, and also throughout the USA where millions of people are dealing with food insecurity everyday.
We have developed amazing collaborative partners such as FH and Generation Alive. We've had incredible support from foundations, donors and others who believe that it's not only part of God's mission to "give them something to eat" but who are also passionate about discipling a generation of young people to follow obediently in the way of Jesus.
This weekend, I'm working with my dear friend Jeremy Affeldt, who has provided deep vision and passion for Something to Eat™ , to package 250,000 meals. The cool thing is that the teenagers packaging the meals are from East Palo Alto. Most people know Palo Alto as the home of Google, Facebook, the Silicon Valley, the wealthy land of the innovator and Venture Capitalist. On the other side of the highway is East Palo Alto, a place that many people have written off. But that is not the story that these young people are embracing. Through the opportunities provided by organizations like Able Works, these young people are leaning into a different story, a story that mirrors the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25. Pray for us this weekend.
Pray for young people who want to not only give something to eat to those who are hungry but also want to stand up for the stranger and push for immigration reform; shine a light on the naked and end the scourge of sex trafficking; and cooperate with God's mission in the world in hundreds of other ways that bare witness to the reality that a day is coming when restoration will be completed and God will get God's way on Earth as in Heaven. This is a generation of young people that according to some of the latest research by Barna are more faithful than any other age group to speak up for Jesus and the Gospel.
In Matthew 25, Jesus was not giving an exhaustive list of the things we should be about in order to come alongside the "least of these." What are ways that you can minister to Jesus directly by serving the least of these? Listen deeply and allow God's Spirit and your imagination to open up the possibilities all around you.
If you are a pastor or staff member of a church, we want to extend an invitation for you to join us at LaCygne any Monday or Tuesday night in February. You are welcome to stay both nights and leave sometime on Wednesday or just one of the nights. You can set your arrival and departure times. This is a great way to start off 2014 with a time to replenish your life with Christ.
LaCygne is a community centered on 3 daily prayer gatherings, contemplation, and serving others. You are invited to study, rest, pray, walk the trails, or work. The community will take care of everything for you at LaCygne: a private room to stay in with a bed made up, meals, and space for work or study. There’s wifi available too.
The community prays at 8:30am, 12pm, and 5:30pm. On Monday nights prayer is at 8pm instead of 5:30. Prayer times last 15-20 minutes. You are invited to join the community for prayer if you would like, but you are certainly free to use the time however you wish. There are no requirements. You are free to join the community for meals or eat in solitude, or with others who have joined you for this time.
This special absolutely free of charge. It would be a gift to us to be able to serve and host you. LaCygne is about 1 hour south of downtown Kansas City on highway 69.
Hey all youth workers in the Kansas City area, on January 9th we are going to try to get 2014 started off right by taking some time to play together at the Gage Center in Blue Springs, MO. This is a fun place - check it out here -> www.gagecenter.com The Gage Center will also provide lunch for us. The experience will include:
Largest indoor ropes course in the Midwest
Inflatables, giant foam pit, trampolines & rock wall
If you can come, email Jamie Roach at email@example.com and let us know.
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.