What’s New In 2019?

Registration for the SERVE 2019 teen mission trip season is about to open NOW OPEN and we wanted to let you know about some new things!

If you ever have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

  1. New SERVE Youth Mission Trip Sites for 2019
  2. New Background Check Policy
    • In year’s past, we have required that all Adult Leaders (21 and over), as well as host team members, have a background check on file with their church. This year, in order to have better accountability and peace of mind at our sites, we are requiring that a copy of each background check be sent directly to our office.
    • We are also changing our definition of “current” to three years instead of five. (For the 2019 season the background check must have been completed after June 15, 2016)
    • For more information and details on how to get a background check CLICK HERE.
  3. The Cost of SERVE
    • For many years, we have been able to keep the cost of SERVE steady at $360 USD. Because the cost of living continues to increase we have raised our price to $375 USD* for 2019 youth mission trips. This price increase will allow us to continue providing you with quality experiences as well as increase the amount our host teams receive in order to cover their costs for the week. *These reflect the cost of a high school SERVE site before April 1st. Please double-check the site description page of the site you are attending to confirm the price.
  4. Revised 3 Step Registration Process
    • Step One: Save Your Spots!
    • Step Two: Complete Your Online Paperwork. This must be done by March 31, 2019, or there will be late fee charges.
    • Step Three: Payment Due. Payment in full for all SERVE Sites is due on May 15, 2019.
    • Learn more and complete step one HERE.
  5. Sending Leader Training
    • We are excited to be piloting a sending church leader training program for the 2019 season. These short videos will help your Adult Leaders prepare for the SERVE week, covering topics such as what it means to be a small group leader, leading with integrity and modeling a safe culture.
    • More details about this program will be released later. Make sure to follow along with our monthly newsletter and social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for details.

Christian Community

by Adrianna Wimmers

Stress is mental or emotional strain caused by demanding or adverse circumstances. Stress can come from many different situations and can be overwhelming, leading oneself to not know where to turn to or what to do about the stress they are experiencing. Balancing school, friends, relationships, extra-curricular activities, jobs and everything in between can add unnecessary and often unwanted stress.

Stress and being overwhelmed can blind us to many things like the people who can and are willing to help us get out of our hole that we have stressed ourselves into. Our stress can also blind us to the other people around us that are stressed too. We become unable to see the world around us; we become too consumed with what we ourselves are dealing with.

We often take stress out on those around us, instead of turning to them for support and comfort. We believe that isolation is what we want, but we do not have to be alone.

Community is the feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals. Building community is important to do, and a supportive community is helpful in so many ways. God even tells us this in Galatians 6:2 “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” We can share our stress and burdens with our community and turn to them for support and comfort. We can also look around at those in our community and show them our support, show them that they are not alone and that others have felt what they have felt as well.

Community is where you can turn in all circumstances, not just in times of sadness or stress. We can rejoice with our community and celebrate together.

Romans 12 says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other.”  Stressed and overwhelmed or joyful and prepared to celebrate, community is where we can turn to.

Turn to the community, build community and invest in community. Our God did not create us to live in solitude, but with people, who can help, love and support us.

Our God loves us so deeply and will never leave us, he will always give us strength for what we need, whether that be strength found within ourselves or strength gained from the support of our community.

Students this summer are learning and growing in Authentic Community. To find out more about what they’re learning, click here.

LIVE IT: Documenting our Journey

The following is an article from our Spring 2016 magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.

I recently had a discussion with some high school students about whether or not I was going to lock up their cell phones during our week long summer mission trip. They listed many reasons to keep their phones, but the one that surprised me most was their desire to be able to “check-in” to all the landmark locations we will be visiting while away.

Cell phones have become a modern day “Captain’s Log” documenting significant events, adventures and discoveries along life’s journey. In my new role as the LIVE IT Director for Youth Unlimited, I have been considering how our students log their spiritual journeys and what locations they’ll remember as the landmarks of their spiritual adventures.

Those of us who grew up without a cell phone can recall a specific service trip where our faith grew outside of our comfort zone or a youth convention where we discovered how our talents and abilities fit into God’s Kingdom.

Today, LIVE IT is an “unconventional youth convention” where students learn about their value in Christ while exploring how to use their talents to spread God’s love to their friends, community and world. By pairing students with like-minded peers and adults, they will see how God created them with a purpose so much greater than self-gratification. By offering different tracks in athletics, arts and service, students will recognize how each person comes to the table with their own personality, interests and God-given talents. Within each track they’ll learn spiritual disciplines to help discover how their voice helps create the body of Christ. Students are also challenged to return home and use what they’ve experienced at LIVE IT to spread God’s love throughout our communities and our world.

On July 30, 2017, hundreds of students and adults will converge in Estes Park, Colorado for LIVE IT 2017. It is my prayer that during this five-day event, students and adults will document deep in their hearts and minds their tremendous value in Christ. That they will discover their unique talents and abilities necessary for the building of God’s Kingdom. Most of all, I pray that LIVE IT 2017 will be more than just another place where students “check-in” but that it will be a place that will launch them into the next phase of their journey with Christ… And if they happen to have their cell phones with them, I hope they check-in, tweet and Instagram every adventure, every discovery and every new friend they meet, and that they tag it all with #LiveIt2017!

A Thread in the Tapestry

The following is an excerpt from our Spring 2016 magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.

A Thread in the Tapestry

by Kyle De Boer

Joining forces for the third straight year, three Montana congregations are collaborating to host Gallatin Valley SERVE. We are an eclectic bunch with diverse gifts. Farmers and ranchers work side-by-side with educators and entrepreneurs. The unique community of volunteers for GV SERVE is the locale in which youth and adults offer their gifts for something greater than themselves. SERVE volunteers and participants are the needed characters in a much larger, gospel-centered story of love and transformation.

Youth are an integral part of Gallatin Valley SERVE. Consider a large tapestry—one larger than the size of a tall Dutch man! This aesthetically pleasing piece of art conveys a message as you soak in its magnitude. Step a little closer, and you begin to notice the detail of this magnificent work. Step even closer yet, and you notice how small strands of thread comprise this masterpiece. Students are some important strands of the thread that comprise GV SERVE.

Before GV SERVE came into existence, three “youth”, functioning as adult leaders, led a group on SERVE to Sioux Falls, SD. Ranging from 22 to 25 years old at the time, these three individuals returned to the Gallatin Valley with a conviction to host SERVE. Support for SERVE quickly expanded to include: area councils, high school students and many adults. Preparations were underway.

Since the inception, youth keep the pulse of GV SERVE beating, possibly even racing! On our day away, students want to summit a mountain. Their effort to conquer the high elevation is motivation for our adults to keep up! Students can step out of their comfort zone in order to engage the opportunities that are part of Montana. Conversation around the supper table can get quite loud in the Fellowship Hall as stories of relationships and service are swapped. Singing, clapping and dancing are expressed in evening worship, in both a church sanctuary and an alpine shoreline. Students from different churches in Montana join with peers from across North America to enter into a story that is much greater than themselves. All the while, adult volunteers and leaders have the privilege of learning from and growing with these important strands of thread.

I have the privilege of seeing both youth and adults integrate their gifts with Christ’s work in Montana. GV SERVE keeps the eyes of our Host Churches open to our community. With wide eyes, our congregations are able to engage the Gallatin Valley in continued and new ways because of the SERVE participants. However, the Gallatin Valley is only a small part of the large tapestry that God is weaving.

Youth are empowered at SERVE to live a transformed life of love and service at home. After seeing a new community and joining in Kingdom service during SERVE, adults and students have an opportunity to enter God’s redemptive story in their church, community and family. Some SERVE participants return home to provide support for a local non-profit. Some seek reconciliation with a parent or friend. Others allow the grace of Christ to shape their view of self.

Gallatin Valley SERVE has taught us that whether we are on SERVE or at home, we can continue to offer ourselves as thread, purposed and placed by the master weaver, Jesus Christ.

To connect with Gallatin Valley SERVE, click here to visit their Facebook page.

An Open Letter to Our Graduating Seniors

Dear High School Seniors,

It’s here! Your long-awaited, joy-filled, nerve-racking day is finally here! You are graduating from high school, and today we are certain you’re looking back saying, “Wait, where did the time go?!”

Oh seniors, there are so many things we want to tell you, it’s hard to know where to begin. Your life is such an adventure; each day ordained by God. In the days to come, you will know trial, pain, loss and grief. But more than these things, you will know peace, love, comfort, joy and hope beyond what you can even imagine.

God’s plans for you are so much bigger than you can comprehend, and this is only the beginning of a long period of looking back and being amazed at what God has done. Take this moment; take this day to stand in awe of his faithfulness to you over the last 18 years. The things God has brought you through, the doors he has opened for you and the passions he has placed on your heart are the opposite of small.

Perhaps as you look back you feel a mix of things. There are seasons where your life looks more like a battlefield than a safe haven. You have known loss and trial beyond what any 18 year old should know. You are in his hands, and yes, he IS working all things together for your good. There is time for things to improve. He has an amazing plan for YOU.

In other seasons, looking back is sweet. God has filled your life with joy and good things. Rejoice in what he has done and the ways he has provided! Know that every good and perfect gift is from above, and praise him for how gentle he has been with your heart. Use this season to pursue him more, so that when trials come, you have a solid rock to stand on.

Seniors, we want you to know how much we have loved you. Our prayer for you is that you go forth into the world in confidence and hope; knowing his ways are higher than your ways and his thoughts are higher than your thoughts.

We are so proud of you. You have accomplished much; you have amazed yourself, your parents and us through your service, love, commitment and growth. You’ve been leaders this year through your words and actions. As you step into new adventures, be they college, work or missions, know that we are right behind you, cheering you on and believing in you more than you’d ever think possible.

We are having a hard time letting you go. You’ve brought us joy, laughter, life and love. You’ve led us into a deeper knowledge and revelation of God; you’ve driven us into the throne room for intercession, and you’ve shown us what it means to live in wonder of God. Your leadership in your schools and youth group has inspired us to say “yes” to the Kingdom more, and you’ve blessed us beyond what you’ll ever know.

As you step into a new season of life, know that we are never far away. In your youth leaders, you will always have a confidant, a prayer warrior and a friend. God goes before you; do not be afraid.

With all our love,
Your youth leaders

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Learn about our SERVE high school summer mission trips.

Combat the Ministry Blues

We love the students in our ministry, don’t we?

They cause us to laugh so hard we cry. They challenge us to staring contests with billboards (we always lose). They come up with the wackiest ideas, and they try their very hardest to keep us up to date on the latest slang (bless their hearts).

We would do anything for them.

They are the reason our cell phone is on loud next to our bed at 3:30 in the morning. We have cried tears of bitter pain on their behalf and along with them. They have shown us the incredible amount of hurt in the world, which seems to be exposed to our high schoolers at younger and younger ages.

I know I am not alone in saying if I could, I would give my students the world. I would take away the pressure of being skinny enough, of making the baseball team or of finding the perfect date to the prom in a heartbeat if I were able. But I can’t.

Youth ministry (or any type of ministry, really) can be just plain emotionally draining. We feel it – the ache, the tension, the joy, the excitement. A text from a student can change the entire course of our day. A Wednesday night at youth group tires us out in ways we didn’t even realize were possible. Sometimes, we come back from youth group and want to share the amazing ways Jesus was working in our students’ hearts in such a short amount of time, and sometimes we come back and just want to throw a pizza in the oven and have our backs rubbed.

Both are legitimate.

Youth worker, your emotional health matters. Because each day has the power to be filled with such intense emotions, we need to recognize the mood swings and learn how we respond to them. It is downright difficult to lead a student who struggles with depression if your own depression is out of control. It feels like the straw that breaks the camel’s back when a student makes a joke about how “old” you are after a long day of fighting for more funding for your summer mission trip. Sometimes, stress from our own personal life causes us to have to take the night off, or the month off, or the rest of the year off.

Learning to cope with the different mood swings you will have in youth ministry begins with recognizing that this is not an easy task. Retreats and Serve trips can make it seem like youth ministry is a lot of fun, and it certainly is. However, if we are only in it for the fun we get to have sporadically throughout the year, I would argue we are in it for the wrong reasons. High school is hard, and it tests our kids. Being an adult is hard, and it tests us in some pretty significant ways as well.

So when the hard times come, and they frequently do, it’s important to have an action plan in place for yourself to combat the ministry blues. Treat yourself to some alone time, and do what it takes to recharge there: buy yourself a cup of coffee, take a walk, or take a nap. Make time for those you are close to outside of ministry: leave your phone in the car when you’re out for date night, binge watch your favorite series on Netflix with a friend, or call your parents.

Know that your emotional health matters equally as much as that of your students. Do what you need to do to keep yourself healthy for the sake of your family and friends.

Bridging Generations

One of the many tensions in youth ministry is how much to integrate youth programs with the larger church. Many youth programs have their own separate wing of the church and do not feel connected to the church. It is essential that teenagers maintain their Christian identity with the larger church so they continue to attend, post-graduation. However, teenagers have unique needs that are different from children and adults that require special attention. So how does a church find this balance?

The first thing a youth pastor can do is observe and assess what is currently being done. How many graduates stay in the church if they stay local? Do they attend another church if they are carrying out their vocation elsewhere? What types of services do students attend currently? Is the midweek program highly attended by teens but not Sunday mornings? If there is also a Sunday morning youth gathering, and do students attend that and the preaching service? If not, a good, small change to start is to encourage students to attend the preaching service so they will continue to attend upon graduation.

Another area of consideration, in addition to regular weekly programming, is how much to integrate events. Even though many teenagers loathe their parents during their teenage years, they can be connected to other generations. Perhaps high schoolers can join a young adult group for worship or they can share a camp for a winter retreat. Giving students informal ways to connect with older generations, other than their parents, gives them valuable relationships.

Some churches opt to involve parents in annual events such as a school year kick off. It really depends on the culture of the church. Some churches, however, find it best to have parent meetings separate from youth gatherings. Having “parent nights” or events where parents attend alienates students who do not come from Christian families. It wouldn’t be uncommon at an event in which parents were encouraged to attend with their students for the youth pastor to ask the parents to pray with their students. This has the potential to be a difficult situation to navigate, both practically and emotionally speaking, for a student whose parents may either not be present or may be present, but not be Christians. Youth pastors must think through the implications of events like this. Perhaps, the youth pastor could have warned the student before and/or assigned him another family with whom he/she could pray.

Youth can join their parents and be included in annual church wide events such as picnics. However, the key to getting teenagers to attend is getting them to serve in some way, or having an aspect of the events that will appeal to them. (Lots of students have always wanted to put their youth pastor in a dunk tank!) Teenagers have gifts that need to be used by the church at large—from dishing out food to playing music. These experiences are invaluable to their spiritual development and religious identity.

Overall, a youth pastor should not be making these decisions on his or her own. “Outsiders”, such as parents, elders and other pastors, ought to be included on these discussions. Asking outsiders to brainstorm alongside the youth pastor can bring in different perspectives and judgment calls. Ultimately, a youth pastor should be in prayer on this tension to seek the Spirit’s guidance on what is best for the specific congregation.


Youth Unlimited organizes summer missions trips for young adults, high school and middle school age at locations across the United States and Canada. Visit our SERVE page for more information about the trips, or visit our site locations page to see where some of our next SERVE Missions will be held.

He Delights in Using Young People

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.” Joel 2:28-29

Sometimes we forget I’m not old enough to rent a van…or drive a rental van, for that matter.

I started leading a youth group at the age of 19. Being just months older than a handful of my students was daunting at best, terrifying at worst. For every time a student questioned my authority, I questioned my own authority five times. I really did not have a clue, and now in my second year of youth ministry, I can confidently assert that I still have absolutely no clue how this came to pass in my life.

I’m still a baby in the faith, honestly. I made the commitment to serve God with my life five years ago this summer, and though I am a theology student at a brilliant private college, I find each day I have more questions about who God is and what he is doing than I did before I started.

My church is made up of young leadership. We have a young pastor, a young worship leader and a young youth leader. This has its negative aspects, for sure, but there are certainly some amazing positives.

I often feel like I have an incredible advantage because of my youth. The insider perspective I have on youth culture helps me to have grace for the students’ situations, however large or small they may be. This gives me grace to be an advocate for them, an advocate to their parents and an advocate before the throne of Jesus to intercede for them. This is a responsibility I do not take lightly.

I love to watch my students grow. I love to grow with them. I love that we are all new to this “follower of Jesus” thing and I love that we are asking the same questions. I love that we are asking different questions.

I love that Jesus delights in using young people, as messy, confused and fallible as we are. I love that his Spirit is poured out on all of us, men, women, young and old – he holds nothing back in his outpouring of revelation. I love that he is raising up a new generation of leaders, and that, for some crazy reason, he decided to give me a front row seat to the most beautiful journey I could ever imagine.

Next Generation Leaders

The following is a millennials response to a recent Growing Leaders post in regards to Serve.
As a millennial myself, I find myself immediately connecting with the “new school” way of thinking but I’m not sure how “new” this way of thinking/leading is. In fact, if I were to categorize Jesus into one of these categories, I’d say he would fit best under the new school. Jesus may not have a wireless connection or a verified social media account, but he doesn’t need one to pursue a relationship with us, empower us, fill our hearts and spirit with passion and lead us to the cross.
Serve is a very important time for students, and for some this may be their only opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and allow God into their hearts. Our host team and host church provide the venue and volunteers to fulfill Gods mission for that week and the number one thing I ask of my team is for them to allow God to work through them as he pursues a relationship with these students, their leaders and the community.
From my perspective, the key to a successful Serve is the atmosphere established by the host team and supporting volunteers. From the moment the students enter the Serve church, they need to be surrounded by a host team and student leaders that have a relationship with God and a strong passion for sharing his love and the gospel with others. Our interaction and activities with the students need to be empowering, thought provoking and encouraging. The guidelines in Tim Elmore’s article, Six Rules Next Generation Leaders Follow provide a great outline…
Trust – an atmosphere that allows the students to feel open and trusting ranks high on the list. From my experience, when these students trust their surroundings, they are willing to step out of their comfort zones and present whatever is on their heart to God. It is also important that they know they can trust God.
Why? – provide an environment that allows our students to ask whatever is on their mind. In most cases, students have an endless amount of questions and we want to encourage them to ask! This is a great opportunity for them to have a deeper understanding.
Relationships/Discipline follows passion – a relationship with God will put the passion in their hearts and discipline will follow. This also follows the guideline, relationship before results. In addition, it’s important for these students to develop relationships within the Christian community for guidance and support
Encourage – leading and encouraging the students will give them a sense of confidence and self-worth. It will empower them. In result, they will lead others to God when they return home.
There may also be a way for the students, with guidance from Serve, to utilize social media to spread the gospel and their love for God.
To summarize, I feel the “new school” leadership qualities is a great way to connect and inspire the students attending Serve. I think this would be a great brainstorming topic and the outline provided in the article would be a good starting point.


What Our Music Reveals About Us

The following was originally posted by Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders. To view the original post, click here.

I just read an interesting case study on the way music has evolved over the last fifty years. You know, from genres like classic Rock and Roll, to Blues, to Disco, to Grunge and Funk, to Rap and Hip Hop—and ranging from Boy Bands to solo artists. The numbers were very interesting to analyze. The rise of female artists, the move from bands to solo artists and the expansion of profanity in lyrics all seem to relay how society is changing.

There are a few highlights I thought you’d find intriguing.

Healthy Changes

  • Increase in female artists.
  • Increase in collaboration between artists.
  • Increase in diversity among artists.
  • Increase in mixed generations within artist groups.

Unhealthy Changes

  • Increase in lyrics about loneliness.
  • Increase in songs about violence and substance abuse.
  • Increase in profanity and sexual perversion.
  • Increase in songs about lust over love.

But there is one discovery I noted that is worth talking about here.

The tangible rise in the word “I” or “I’m.” We’re singing more and more about “me.” Between 2005 and 2015, “I’m” was the number one term in song lyrics. In fact, not long ago, I flipped through stations on my car radio for a few minutes on my drive to an appointment. It may not surprise you that the four songs I heard were:

  • Because I’m Awesome!”
  • The World Should Revolve Around Me”
  • Tell Me I’m Pretty”
  • “Dontcha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?

Please forgive me if you feel I’m over-speaking. I’m not trying to turn all of life into a lesson or the world into a classroom. But I believe this shift is a commentary on our culture. I’ve written before that we live in a time of self-expansion. When I play sports, I am not as concerned about the team this year as I am about my own playing time. (After all, I am playing for scouts.) When I perform on a theatre stage, I’m counting my lines in the script more than paying attention to the plot as a whole. When on the job, I’m obsessed with getting noticed or being recognized; I’m building my personal brand. In life, I am about building my platform: my followers, likes, shares and views. When it comes to music, I’m obsessed with me. In the report, I identified that while musicians were collaborating more these days, there are fewer bands. In other words, artists are singing solo, but will do a “gig” or a group collaboration with other performers as long as they don’t lose their individual identities as solo artists.

In fact, while fifty years of music has always included themes like love, partying, sex and loneliness, 2015 produced a whole new category: “being awesome.” Never before has there been so much sung about me being so awesome.

What Signals Genuine Maturity

When I step back and evaluate what this says about the society we live in, I wonder if it informs us about how we’re failing to help kids mature. My short summary of what I believe about human maturation can be boiled down this way.

Maturity is generally about two feats:

  1. Discovering who I really am.
  2. Getting over myself.

As we educate and equip students, we must help them accomplish both of these feats. They must identify their strengths, their personality, their interests and passions. Once they do, however, we must help them see that life is about playing a role in a larger community—and fitting into a bigger picture. When I left for college at 18, my parents had done both. I knew I was loved and I recognized my gifts and value. Just as clear, however, was the fact that life wasn’t about me. There were thousands of other “special” kids at my college. I had to learn to play the cards in my hand and leverage them to solve the problems in front of me. My career choice was not just about “what I liked” or what “paid well,” it was about meeting a need in the community in which I found myself.

The four common categories we measure for maturity are:

  1. Biological
  2. Cognitive
  3. Social
  4. Emotional

In each category, we must help adolescents and young adults get over themselves.

* Biological—to use their bodies for the good of others, not merely for personal pleasure. They must harness their physical prowess and energy to serve people.

* Cognitiveto learn and to engage their minds to solve problems. To develop the mental discipline to handle complex challenges that will help the larger community.

* Social—to cultivate interpersonal skills to connect with the needs of others, not just my own. They must cultivate relationships in order to contribute to others.

* Emotional—to become emotionally intelligent, so that I empathize with others and add value to them. This skill separates us from the automation of technology.

When Dwight Eisenhower was ten years old, his older brothers were permitted to go out trick-or-treating on Halloween. (It was a more adventurous activity than it is today). When young Dwight asked if he could go, his parents told him he was too young. He pleaded with them, watched his brothers leave, then went into a fit of uncontrollable rage. He screamed and yelled and beat his fists against an apple tree in their front yard. His father disciplined him and sent him to bed. It was a night he’d never forget. After sobbing in his pillow for a while, his mother entered his room and sat quietly beside his bed. After he grew quiet, she spoke a Proverb softly to him: “He that conquers his own soul is greater than he who takes a city.”

As she began to bandage his hands, she told her son to beware of his anger and hatred inside. Of all her sons, he had the most to learn about mastering himself.

For Ike that night was a turning point: “I have always looked back on that conversation as one of the most valuable moments of my life,” he said. The concept of “conquering his own soul” became a significant one in his leadership in both the military and his presidency. It’s the acid test of growing up.

Let’s get beyond ourselves and help our students do the same.

– See more at: http://growingleaders.com/blog/music-reveals-us/#sthash.IcWftlfj.dpuf

Faces of ThereforeGo – Winter 2016

The following is an excerpt from our Winter 2016 Magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here

Aaron Au

Q. Where could we find you at 10:00 AM on a Saturday morning?

A. One of the incredible Farmer’s Markets that we have in Edmonton. I love the local produce and goods.

Q. What’s your favorite place to meet with students, and why?

A. I often meet students (or anyone for that matter) at our local, neighbourhood coffee shop, the Carrot Arts Coffeehouse. Our neighbourhood plays such an integral role in the lives of my wife and me and our church plant and the Carrot is one of the hubs of our neighbourhood. In a community that is struggling to overcome poverty and crime, it’s fun to bring people into a warm, safe, inviting place and show them what our neighbourhood is really about!

Q. What resource has inspired you for ministry lately?

A. I’ve been loving the many resources that Tim Keller has on the Gospel in Life website and their new YouTube channel. I’m learning how, as a church planter, the message I preach and the ministry I live has to be grounded in the truth and expressed in love and grace in a way that makes sense for the culture we’re in and connects with people’s hearts.

Q. What do you do in your free time?

A. I love my sports! I play goalie in ice hockey and also enjoy cheering for the Blue Jays.

Annika Bangma

Q. Where could we find you at 10:00 AM on a Saturday morning?

A. On my family’s farm, having coffee with my husband, parents, and grandfather – and planning out weekend projects; which could include anything from fixing fences, to mucking out a chicken coop, to refinishing antique furniture.

Q. What do you do to stay relevant to youth?

A. I have come to the conclusion that, for the most part, I don’t have to do much to “stay relevant”. I simply need to form caring relationships with students and they will KEEP me relevant (and they are also quick to let me know when I’m missing the mark)! In practice, this means taking a caring but “unknowing” stance and letting them see that I am actively looking to learn about their world – asking them things that aren’t immediately obvious to me about their choices, likes/dislikes, etc.; and showing up at the events they are involved in (concerts, games, etc.).

Q. What resource has inspired you for ministry lately?

A. The list of ThereforeGo Serve Outcomes. 2016 will be the first summer that our church is hosting Serve in many years, and we are utilizing the Outcomes to set the tone for our entire ministry year.

Q. Where would you like to travel someday?

A. My husband and I have a goal of visiting every United States National Park in our lifetime. Sixteen down, forty-three to go!

Natasha Veder

Q. What do you do to stay relevant to youth?

A. I talk to my own youth! It’s more important to me to know what my own students are into than the general teen population, so I find out what movies they’re watching, what music they listen to and attend some of their sports games and school performances.

Q. Where could we find you at 10:00 AM on a Saturday morning?

A. The first place you’d want to look would be my couch or kitchen at home. If I’m not there, check my local independent coffee shop, a nearby thrift store or I might be hiking one of BC’s beautiful mountains!

Q. What resource has inspired you for ministry lately?

A. Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden

Q. What is one website that you visit every day?

A. Facebook – I get world news updates, updates on my students lives, learn about youth ministry resources from my colleagues in other churches and can keep in touch one-on-one or in small groups with my students.

TV and Kingdom Work

by Barry Ruiter, Youth Unlimited Account/Business Manager

The following is an excerpt from our Winter 2016 Magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.

I admit to often watching television shows that feature buyers looking for a fixer upper home to renovate, programs that chop, cut and rebuild cars, or even the show where a specialty builder constructs treehouses for clients. I generally like shows that renovate and restore. In watching these types of shows, I’m reminded of my role and yours in the Kingdom, and specifically how it relates to Youth Unlimited.

For Youth Unlimited, I have a very much “behind the scenes” role. I pay bills, make deposits and generally put the dot on the “i” and the cross on the “t”. I am quite removed from the ministry work that happens when Youth Unlimited holds or arranges their events and yet, I am an important cog, as are you, in the Kingdom work that flows from this building.

Let me take you back to the TV theme to explore that thought. On a show called The Guild, cars are routinely rescued from slow erosion at the hands of rust and moth. In a twist, a recent episode revolved around an antique toy car, about the size of a shoebox. Besides the intrigue of assigning this “miniature” work to mechanics used to working on full size cars, there was the challenge of finding or creating parts. One such part was a small brass internal gear that was stripped and unusable. The mechanic scratched his head several times and remarked that he wasn’t a “watchmaker”, but in the end, he hand filed a brass rod down into a working gear. The payoff came when the owner of the car received a restored car that looked good and was functioning exactly as it intended.

I help Youth Unlimited function as intended by virtue of being a little, but important, internal gear. If you are reading this, then you should also know that you play some role in helping the functionality as well. Imagine if the miniature car were presented to the owner, but was missing one wheel. What if it was repainted, but the rear window had a big crack or was missing.

As I think of how I support the work of a Serve project, I think too of how it requires teens willing to put hand to shovel. I think of how it requires volunteers and host churches and I think of how it requires finances. There are many cogs, parts and pieces that make up a functional ministry, one that lives up to the owner’s specs. The staff at Youth Unlimited, you and I are a “Guild” of a different sort. We are craftsman charged with completing the King’s ultimate restoration project. I’m praying that we function exactly as intended.