A Journey Away From Contemporary Music

(from Fusion Musing)

I was not familiar with Dan Cogan or his blog before someone shared it on Facebook.  I was rather stunned to read that this guys experience and thinking in so many ways mirrors my own.  I too really disliked hymns in our church and favored contemporary music until I realized the difference between the two in terms of depth of history and theology.  Now, the worship music on my iPod is nearly all contemporary renditions of old hymns and new hymns.  I still like Crowder and Redman and others, but it's just more exciting for me to be immersed in rich hymns.  Dan writes:

I have been what many would call a “worship leader” for close to two decades. When I first became
involved in “worship ministry” in an Assemblies of God youth group we sang such songs as The Name of the Lord Is a Strong Tower, As the Deer, Lord I Lift Your Name on High, and others of the era of the 1980s and 90s. Ours was considered a stylistically progressive church since we used almost exclusively contemporary songs. 
This meant that if I were to visit a “traditional” church, not only would I be unfamiliar with the hymns, I would also likely cringe when they sang them and in my heart ridicule them (the people rather than the songs) as being old-fashioned. 
It was during these formative years in my experience as a worship leader that I began to introduce even more contemporary songs to our youth group. It was then that I discovered artists like Delirious, Darrel Evans, Matt Redman, and Vineyard Music with their songs Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble, Trading My Sorrows, Heart of Worship, and Hungry. 
As a young musician who desired to honor Christ, I found these songs to be particularly compelling. I felt different when we sang them. The way Nirvana gave voice to the angst of Generation X, bands like Delirious were giving voice to a generation of young Christians who didn’t feel they could relate to the songs of their parents and grandparents.

Read the rest!

Youth Group Made Easy! (Well, a bit easier)

From Ken Moser's Blog

It is September and that means three things: 1 Back to school and youth group. 2 Time to start writing more thoughts about youth and youth group things. And, 3 McDonalds Canada has handed out their biannual “Two for one coupons!” I am not ashamed to admit it … but I love the 2 for 1 deal, it makes choosing what to have so simple.

Now let me make a parallel with youth ministry. It is my contention that we have made youth ministry just a bit more difficult than really needed. Attractional v. Missional? Lots of games v. no games? Is the group for Christians or for non-Christians? Etc.

I want to say that there are some things that we can do to make things just a bit easier, sort of like that handy coupon that comes in the mail twice a year. With this in mind, here is Ken’s list of “things you must do to make your year of youth group a bit easier:”

Work with those kids onside; these are probably the “church kids.” They are your base.

As I have said many times in the past, your greatest strength (next to our Lord), is those youth who love the program and give it a high priority. I am still amazed to see the number of groups who neglect these youth in their efforts to reach the unchurched. Big mistake.

Run a weekly meeting that is high on relationships, high on spiritual input done in an enjoyable way.

This probably goes without saying but run every aspect of your weekly meeting through the filter of “does this activity promote good relationships between all involved? If it doesn’t, drop it!

Run a good network of small groups.

Again, a given for must of us. However, many of us still run small groups that are squeezed in at the end of the program giving them too little time and too little importance. We also chop and change these groups in the name of “meeting more people.” To be effective you need the same amount of time, same group of youth with the same leader.

Adult mentoring in a consistent considerate fashion.

Intergeneration mixing is key. One component of this is having parents and older leaders around—regularly and often. This generation of youth love oldies so run with it! Kenda Dean makes a persuasive case in Practicing Passion when she says, “The presence of an adult guarantor in faith is cited repeatedly as the most important factor in a young person’s decision to claim faith as her own” (Practicing Passion, 243).

Work at making youth gatherings a place where friends are welcomed and desired.

Again, this is more of a reminder than anything new. However, far too many groups are simply … not all that welcoming. Are newcomers welcome, met with smiles and the invitation to come and join our circle (or any other activity that the particular group is doing at any given time)?

Listen to the youth and show interest in them. Speak to them and with them, not down to them.

When you are talking to a young person, look them in the eye, listen to what they say, show interest in their world. You don’t need to be an expert on youth culture or youth issues—you simply need to be an expert in “being interested in them!”

Finally, be patient with the youth and with the program. Build for the future, think long-term.

Remember what I have written long ago: you are not building a speedboat, you are building an aircraft carrier. You want this group to get better and better, but that will take some time, some prayer and a good deal of effort. You also want this group to be around for a long time. This means you must always work with the future in mind asking questions such as, “How do I build these youth to be strong disciples when they are young adults and older?”, and “How can I develop youth to be well-trained, productive leaders for the future?”

Intergenerational Ideas

A helpful article over at Morf gives five good ideas for making a youth ministry more intergenerational. They include:

1. Invite parents and grandparents to join us in service opportunities.
2. Set up events designed to speak to all generations.
3. Sharing life experiences.
4. All-play events.
5. Weekly emails to our parents letting them know what we are doing in small groups.

It's worth reading!


An excellent post over on The Gospel Coalition blog where Anglican Youth Minister Cameron Cole shares some great thoughts on sustainable faith. (Note also at the bottom of the post, the bit about the Rooted Conference coming up in October.)

As I listen to and observe the faith journeys of former students and young adults, I often see pivotal moments along the way that constitute “make or break” tests of their faith. Discipling my students, I am preparing them for these four moments.

Read the rest...

Youth Conferences

The latest issue of Modern Reformation has an article on Youth Conferences that is worth reading. Keep in mind it is not a youth ministry magazine and I think it's the first time they have really featured youth ministry in an issue. It is read primarily by pastors and theological thinkers.

The stage is set. The sound check is done. Leaders huddle for one last prayer. Cue the music. Dim the lights. Open the doors. A swarm of excited students pour into the venue. Many eagerly race to the front for the best seats. The emcee takes the stage and welcomes the crowd to what is promised to be an exciting, inspiring, and life-changing event.

Welcome to a youth conference. Thousands upon thousands of students every year for decades have experienced these events. What takes place next is largely dependent on the ministry philosophy of the organizers...

The article can be read online at Modern Reformation until June 22nd.

A Message From Archbishop Duncan...

21st May, A.D. 2014

Dear Friends in Christ,

I want to commend to your attention the Provincial Gathering for Anglican Young People at the upcoming Provincial Assembly. This is a crucial time for the Church to multiply Godly young leaders. This track represents a great opportunity to take a real step forward with college and high school students.

We must appeal to the idealism of young people, leverage their energy, and engage them as a vital part of the missionary Church. This generation has a hunger to know God and to serve the Lord Jesus, a desire unparalleled since the great Missionary Generation at the end of the 19th century. Various points of evidence of this movement can be found in our Church, but we still have quite a way to go. Our young adults need training and encouragement and clear means to serve. Too often our only offer is to commend the (seemingly distant) ordination process to them, instead of exhorting them to the plain consequences of their first ordination, their baptism.

Many of the speakers for the overall Assembly will be of great interest to young people who are serious about their faith and advancing the Kingdom of God. There will be opportunities to worship both with the whole assembly and in a contemporary style in their own meetings as well. This Provincial Gathering will serve to equip young people for the Kingdom, to connect them with one another, and help them find a unique point of contact with our Church. I look forward to meeting this group as we host them in Latrobe.

Our Church has begun to emerge into a new season of health and growth. Please encourage the college-age young adults, youth leaders and high school youth groups of your parish and your diocese to register and attend.

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan

PS: Students 18 and up may register directly through http://anglicanchurch.net
An adult leader attending the Assembly must verify responsibility for any high school youth 17 and under before the young person can complete the registration process. At $245 for high- schoolers and their adult leaders (room, board and program) and $195 for collegians (not including housing) this is an amazing bargain! 

If you want to end up with a temple, don’t begin with a beach house!

Final Part of Ken Moser's Series on Starting Out

I need to tell you from the outset that I’m a hopeless carpenter. I don’t know if it was my propensity for bumping my head as a child that caused some synapse malfunction or merely some faulty DNA, but my brain doesn’t allow me to build even the simplest of structures. That is, when it comes to earthly structures. However, I can give a bit of wisdom when it comes to building youth groups, and here is your main thought as you start out (or continue) in youth ministry: don’t try to build a temple by first building a beach house.

I want to ask you to take a look at 1 Corinthians 3:10-17.

This great section of scripture teaches us a ton about building a solid youth ministry, but let’s just concentrate on just a couple of things from this passage. First of all, notice that what is being built is a temple (v. 16-17). It is not a recreation center nor a beach house—it is a mighty temple of God’s Spirit! Note the second thing: there is a wide choice of building materials and we must use those things that will withstand fire on the day of judgment (v. 12). The bottom line is this: how we build our youth ministries, and the materials we use are of primary importance. This, fellow youth ministers leads me to our …

Two golden rules that must guide our path

What you start out with is what you want to continue doing in the future.

What is used to attract youth must be the same as what is used to keep youth.

Now these two rules will, in effect, dictate much of what you do as you begin your youth group. You do not start with one program (designed to attract the hordes) and then hope to shift into a more ‘godly, spiritually mature’ program once they get switched on. This is the oldest of youth ministry myths and, quite frankly, it doesn’t work.

Nor do you want to attract young people with one thing (a ‘fun program’) and then hope that they will find out about Jesus and stay because of him. Again, this type of program has been tried and found wanting. This is a case of “building with straw, in hopes that they will turn to gold.” (Didn’t the alchemists of an era long ago believe that you could build a machine that would turn straw into gold? This is simply the youth ministry equivalent!)

You simply must decide what type of program you can run that will help the youth to get to know Jesus better. The rule is simple, if you want a group that takes the Bible seriously, you must have solid Bible teaching from day one. If you want a group that helps students to rely on Jesus in prayer, make sure you pray from the first meeting—you don’t suddenly “discover prayer” sometime around week 30. If love is to be a defining characteristic of your group, make sure that you yourself are a loving person, the leaders or volunteers are loving, and, that you run activities that promote genuine love.

So, here’s your homework:

  1. Look at your program, is it built with straw or gold?
  2. Take another look: is your program designed to build a temple or a beach house of straw?
  3. Are you running a weekly program that will be similar to the one you hope to run in five years time?
  4. Finally, are the activities that make up your program the same ones you want your youth to be undertaking in the future (or, are you hoping that there is some ‘magic shift’ that occurs causing them to suddenly become spiritual)?

It is easier to float with the iceberg than to prop it up

Continuing Ken Moser's Series on Starting Out...

Today we are going to talk about icebergs even though I don’t know a lot about polar exploration. I’d love to give it a shot but I just don’t think this Arizona boy will ever have the chance. I guess winter in Saskatchewan can at least count for a distant second.

I want to continue to focus our thoughts on starting out—what do we do to get our youth group going in a way that is profitable for long-term discipleship and ministry.

If you’ve read my earlier posts you may remember that I’ve encouraged you to do some things that will help your time in your new youth group to be more profitable. I want to now focus on a question that is basic and yet foundational to your work: Who will this group be for? Most youth leaders begin with dreams of reaching out to the lost and so they aim for a group filled with nonChristian youth. While this is understandable, be very careful. A group that is predominantly nonChristian will lead you to, what I have described in Changing the World, the upside down iceberg.

As you know, icebergs have all the weight at the bottom. This base supports the top, which, while visible, is the minority of this great structure. The principle is the same for any effective youth ministry. If you want to see a group that reaches out to those who don’t know Jesus, you must have the strongest base possible. This base must be made up of two key groups: Christian youth from the church/local area, and youth who, while they may not yet be strong Christians (or even Christians at all), are willing to wholeheartedly participate in every spiritual activity that you run.

I think about many of youth groups that I have either heard about or participated in the past few years. They are designed to attract the lost. When the lost do come, there must be activities that will be enjoyable and will keep them coming. This becomes a tremendous burden to the volunteers and to the leader themselves. This is an example of an iceberg that is wrongside up. The leadership team must then prop up this iceberg to keep it from crashing down.  In my experience, gravity always wins and inevitably, the group crashes.

The better way

Your goal must be to build a strong base of Christian youth. These youth can then minister to nonChristians youth. As the base grows, so does the top—the whole thing gets bigger and bigger!

So, one of your first steps is to begin your youth group with the above two groups (Christians and any youth who willingly participate in Christian activities) as your base. Find out exactly how many Christian youth are in the church or have gone to the previous group. Meet with these youth and explain to them your desire to run a group that will be built on getting to know Jesus each week and encouraging each other to follow him. If there was a youth group before you moved into the leadership role, find the next group; those youth who came to the youth group and were willing to participate in the spiritual activities. These two groups are your core, your bread and butter, your pizza base and every other metaphor that you can insert here.

A word to youth ministry vets

I’m not talking about those of you who look after animals but anyone who has been in youth ministry for a while. We all need to be careful of the upside down iceberg—even seasoned specialists with the best of intentions can be sucked in to running a group that is upside down. This will make things so much harder in the long run.

Starting Out (Part 2)

Continuing the series from Ken Moser's Blog...

Last time I asked you to go through three important questions. This time, let’s steal something from real estate and apply it to youth ministry.

In real estate there is one key rule: Location Location Location. It is where it’s located that matters. In youth ministry, especially when starting out, it is Relationship Relationship Relationship.

So, let’s take the first step

Here is the first thing you must do—and it is very, very important. Get to know your people. Find out about them as you spend time with them. A wise man with the last name of Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” Since bacon is awesome, and must be listened to, it is worth thinking about this quote. You must get to know as much about the place you are working as you can. What worked in the past? What didn’t? What about the previous youth leaders—why did they leave, how long did they stay? What are the hopes of the youth in the church for the youth group? What do their parents think?

You must get to know as many people as you can, as well as you can, as quickly as you can. For Canadians, this is where Timmie’s is your best friend. For Americans it’s Starbucks. For Aussies it is one of any of the 1,000 fantastic coffee houses within walking distance of your front door! Spend time in these places getting to know your volunteers, potential volunteers, youth in the church, parents of the above, staff members etc. In fact, by the end of your first month you should be so full of caffeinated beverages that your eyes glow.

You will also want to take the bold step of inviting yourself over to everyone’s house for lunch or dinner. I realize that this can be awkward, so tread carefully, but I probably don’t need to convince you of the value of sitting in a family’s home to gain some knowledge and appreciation of who they are. As soon as someone from the church says “we really should have you over for a meal” you grab your calendar and say “how about this Thursday?”

As you meet with people you must learn to ask the right questions and to listen, really listen to the person across the table from you. You must also take this opportunity to begin the job of earning their trust and their willingness to follow you.

Your needs:

  • Some $$ to cover coffee (& meal?) expenses
  • The right set of questions


  • Tell me about yourself, where did/do you go to school? Was/is it a positive experience?
  • Tell me about your family?
  • Where are you in your relationship with Jesus? (How/when did you become a Christian?)
  • Describe for me what you like about youth group (if they are involved)?
  • What are some things that you would like to see happen in youth group?
  • Would you be able to be committed to the youth ministry regularly?
  • [For Parents/older people: Do you think you could give us some help at all?]

Now, get to it. Find those people and grab a coffee!

Starting Out: 1st thoughts

There are three key areas that you need be very clear on:

Who you are (your gifts, what you can do, what you can’t)

What you hope to do in the next year or three

How you hope to do it

Having a firm grasp on these three areas will make your life go a bit more smoothly. (I am going to assume that you, dear reader, have some self-awareness of who you are, what gifts you have and don’t have etc. I am going to assume that you also have some people around you who are honest and can speak truth into your life. A good mentor who is familiar with youth ministry is going to be a real help here!)

Read More

I love this guys heart

At one of our 2012 events in South Carolina, we hosted Nathan Tasker to lead worship music and do a concert. It was an incredible time. If you are not familiar with Nathan, he is an award winning singer songwriter from Australia (Anglican Diocese of Sydney) and is currently living in Nashville. I ran across this interview with him that really says much about who he is and what he is about.       An excerpt...

Do hymns have a special significance for you? Yeah they do. I first started getting into hymns when I was in university; my best friend died in a car accident and I really struggled to deal with that – I had a lot of questions and a lot of doubt. [My friend sent me a hymn book and] encouraged me to read the lyrics … And I found a lot of help in those. And my first hymn album called Prone to Wander – which is a line from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing – was years of having wrestled with some of these hymns and my friend’s death. Then, when my wife and I went through a tragic year in 2011, losing twin babies and her dad as well, I went back to the hymns once more. And The Bell Tower is really the outworking of that period of grief and sorrow. It’s probably more personal than any hymn album I’ve done because every hymn genuinely brought me great comfort.

The album takes its name from St. Philips in York Street, Sydney? That’s correct. One of my really good friends, Justin Moffatt, is the senior minister there. And we were visiting him about a year and a half ago and he invited us to go up the bell tower with him onto the roof. We were a long way up and we stared at these skyscrapers that surrounded us in that moment – and it made me think that church has stood there for well over a hundred years. And yet, every Sunday, and through the week, the truth continues to ring out, just like the bells of that tower. And in many ways I think of the hymns in the same way: you can read a hymn that was written 400 years ago and it still has the same truth even in our modern age. So that’s how The Bell Tower name came about. And it’s kind of cool that we get to do one of the major concerts actually in St Phillips on Saturday night. We’re really excited about that, it’ll be a full circle … That building sounds amazing when people are singing, so it should be a really awesome night.

Read the rest of the interview.

The Price of The Gospel

The following post comes from Adventures of Lauren. She is a senior at Grove City College majoring in Biblical and Religious Studies and attends Grace Anglican in Slippery Rock. Lauren wrote this during an internship in youth ministry at a church in Virginia having had a eye opening experience on a mission trip to Philadelphia, which is what this post is about.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 Andthe King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:35-40 Work this past week was a real eye-opener!  I have been to the streets of northern Philly that are clothed with drug abuse and poverty.  I have cleaned some of the streets of their cocaine bags, trash, and other items that should not be seen in public.  I have refilled jugs of water to thirsty men in a shelter that provides them with their daily lunch.  I have seen the face of poverty in one of the poorest areas in the nation.

The organizations I have been working with has a heart to eradicate injustice and poverty in this city.  They seek to show the love of Christ by services that enable the homeless to: eat, sleep, shower, get clothes for interviews, create online applications, have a mailing address, and so much more.  God is doing fabulous work through them!  They have touched countless lives, as have groups of volunteers.

I honestly and truly appreciate the work they are doing.

Planning-wise, the organization I am with has helped the leaders by taking the teaching and scheduling responsibilities.  We have had quite the rigorous schedule!

I love that they have the passion for social changes to take place in this city, but it seems to have come at the cost of openly proclaiming faith to those they interact with.

Sitting in the evening sessions, we have been discussing the encounter Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well- found in John 4.  It is obvious to make the social distinction between Jesus and this woman, and they have in the teaching.  Fair enough.  However, I feel as though this passage was stretched too far to apply to our acts of service.  Each night we talked about the issues plaguing this world, yet failed to mention the need for a Savior.  I have heard the Gospel proclaimed twice by those we were working for, but not by the organization leaders!  The focus has been on overcoming boundaries and prejudices.  Yes this is needed, but the emphasis is extremely strong.

Several of our students asked after the first day if we get to actually share the Gospel with people we might interact with.  As the week progressed, we had little one-on-one communication with those we were serving.

One of the organizations, where one of our groups was working, is led by a minister that teaches art classes to students.  Not once did this minister pray or mention the Gospel or Christ to the kids.  She is claiming to show the love of Christ and help the families that have been hurt by the church…but fails to mention the reason she is doing this program.  I don’t want to judge her intentions, but it is difficult to stomach that a minister would set aside any discussion of faith because she has private, secular donors.

The notion of acting out our faith is good, and Biblical, but we are called to proclaim our faith as well.

We live in a time where the distinctions between faith and being a generally “good” and moral person are becoming too blurred, which in turn jeopardizes the proclamation of the Gospel.  Liberal theology and interpretations of Scripture rob us of a Divine Christ, who loved and cared for all… but make Him just a good man.

Knowing this, then, why are we not allowed to share this Good News of Grace and Salvation, while working with Christian organizations.  These people- the lost and “least of these” surely need to hear it too!


'This group is like a crazy family!'

I am a liturgically-rehabilitated Evangelical nomad who has found a permanent home in the Anglican Church. I grew up as a church kid, involved in scores of ministries, and a youth group faithful. When I was in college, I volunteered for almost 4 years as a youth leader in a low-church Lutheran congregation, and spent my summers as a Bible camp cabin leader.

With all of this behind me, I don’t think I could’ve imagined that one day I would say, “The Anglican parish is the most enriching and exciting place to conduct youth ministry.”



Incorporating Liturgical Prayer into youth ministry


I didn’t attend an Anglican youth ministry when I was in junior high or high school, and my training in youth ministry came from Moody Bible Institute was a solid, but liturgy-free environment. So when I started to work as a youth pastor at an Anglican church that was wanting a ‘distinctly Anglican’ youth ministry, the only experience that I had to work with, was three years of attendance at an Anglican church.

Since then, the last 7 years has been spent in Anglican youth ministry. I have fumbled here and there trying to figure out exactly how to structure our ministry in a way that reflects our church and tradition. I don’t have it all figured out, but the one area where I have had success is bringing liturgical prayer into the rhythm of our group. Here’s how it has worked with my group:

1. “The Lord be with you”
As simple as this sounds, by opening prayers at youth group the same way we do during our Sunday morning services, we remind students that the two are similar. Prayer at the end of a Bible study and prayer before communion both bring our thanks and requests before the same God. I also try to have students close any prayers they say during open intercession with “Lord, in your mercy”, so that the rest of us can join in by responding, “Hear our prayer”. These simply serve as helpful signposts for praying.

2. Collects
Wherever possible, I try and use collects when praying. One of the reasons I fell in love with the Anglican tradition was the beauty of the collects in the Book of Common Prayer. They express things in a way that I couldn’t possibly do without significant effort (and an excellent editor). 
And it doesn’t only have to be the weekly collect that is used. At our midweek Bible study we usually have a portion in which the students just hear from God’s word. Before we start we would together pray the collect for purity (“Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known….”). Again, since my students were used to hearing this prayer at the beginning of a worship service, it helped frame our evening with a request for God to come in and prepare us for encountering His Word.

3. Morning and Evening Prayer
I recently used morning and evening prayer on a mission trip for our devotionals. I had the Psalms and readings printed up for each day. This was a lot of paperwork ahead of time, but I wanted to make sure that there would be as few roadblocks as possible for fully engaging with these liturgical services. I was a bit nervous about the students being able to do responsive Psalm and Gospel Canticle readings, and I was cautiously optimistic about having one or two of them lead by the end of the week.
They loved it! With adequate preparation and instruction on how we would do the responsive readings, they jumped right in. After only two services (one morning and one evening), they were ready, and they led the prayers the rest of the week. (One of the best things about those services is that they don’t require a collar to lead them.)
**If you want to ease them into running this kind of service, you can always opt for the shorter “Noonday Prayer” and “Compline” services. 

4. Communion
If you are on a retreat, especially a longer retreat or one that takes place where they may miss the regular eucharistic service, I can’t recommend more highly celebrating communion. Part of youth ministry is introducing adolescents to adult life in the church, and celebrating the Lord’s Supper is one of the primary ways that the Anglican church worships together. 

One important note: in order to incorporate these well, especially if you are going to run a full service, you have to do the heavy lifting ahead of time. Make sure any printed material is crystal clear. Include extra instruction ahead of time so that no one gets left behind. And be patient. It may take a few tries to get everyone used to using these structures. 

Liturgy isn’t magic, but it is the framework by which we, as Anglicans, worship and pray. A distinctly Anglican youth ministry doesn’t have to have incense and vestments when it meets, but including these prayer structures will be a way to pass on the beautiful tradition that we inherited from those who have gone before us. Hopefully we can help our students anchor their lives in Christ through ways he has been worshipped throughout the ages

Youth Ministry Webinar with Ken Moser

Our webinar by Ken Moser on 'Relationships that Transform'

Ken's main outline:

1.  God the God of Relationships!

2. Relationships must be structured!

  •      Work on your leadership team
  •      Work on your main meeting.
  •      Work on good small groups
  •      One to one

3. In the end, see your youth ministry as a rope!

(you can see some of his materials at http://www.effectiveyouthministry.com)

You can also watch our other webinars on our youtube channel.