Learning and Growing
By: Andrew Bird, Youth Pastor at Brightview Church
My philosophy of youth ministry has always been focused on relationships. The relationships between God with His people, and between the people of God with each other and with the world. However, my philosophy has developed greatly during my time at Brightview Community Church in Wetaskiwin County, AB. Here is a community of people who have long, family histories of farming, raising families, and doing life together in the county. Over these past 5 years, my philosophy of ministry has developed from an intellectual concept into something active and alive.
In my early days at Brightview, I was encouraged to meet with students in the schools and at their extra-curricular activities as much as I could. One of the opportunities that I had to connect with students was initiated by a small group of teenage boys who expressed a struggle during the days between youth nights. We talked together and decided to start each morning with prayer, so we began to meet in the school parking lot to pray together. Those boys have now graduated from high school, but what they started has grown to include many, resulting in 15 or more students meeting outside of the small rural high school every morning to pray. (We have even prayed in temperatures of -30°C). Little did I know that a time was coming when gathering would be difficult, and these relationships would be vital.
This year has introduced many new challenges to ministry, especially youth ministry, and yet God has, once again, proven to be faithful when the temptation for us is to lose hope. In July of 2020, I was having some difficulties with the home I was renting, but Kathleen (my wife) and I felt trapped there. We did not think we could afford any other living arrangements. We were wrong. With some advice and guidance by some of our friends (and not a few miracles), we discovered a house for sale that we could afford to purchase. We purchased our first home and moved in on August 15th. The house we purchased used to be a teacherage, a home provided for rural teachers at the local high school. I now live less than 100m from the high school. Kathleen and I prayed that God would make our home a useful tool in ministry.
When the school year began, many new restrictions had been put in place, and I was unsure how they would affect the ministries that I did within the school. I scheduled a meeting with the principal. As I sat down, the principal said, “I know you are here to talk about your involvement in the school, so I have already talked with administration. You are not allowed to come into the school during the lunch hour as you have in the past 4 years. However, I asked them specifically about the prayer group outside. That has been approved, so long as you wear a mask.” I was shocked! Furthermore, I learned that the school desires to reduce the number of students in the building during the lunch hour, so students in grades 10-12 have been given permission to leave campus during the break. I informed the students that my door would be open at lunch hour.
This year has been challenging for all of us, especially those of us in ministry. But each morning I walk out of my house and join a group of students in front of their school and we pray. Every lunch hour I encourage a group of students who come to my home. God’s mission continues, and I pray that He finds us faithful and ready to respond when He calls.
The Upside and Downside of Wearing Masks!
We enter the colder months still on the tails of COVID-19 restrictions. Never before, and likely never again, will we enter a banking institution that has a sign: “Put your mask on before entering.” My nephew sent his graduation picture to me… and he was wearing a mask. These days will be remembered, and we will all have stories to tell.
Although we have several churches postponing regathering in person, most are having some form of in-person meetings.
Sunday services look quite different, with people sitting six feet apart and wearing masks. As a speaker in a worship setting, I must say it feels very odd to speak to a group and not see facial responses. With an audience of masks, the speaker is unaware of smiles or grimaces. It can come across as though no one is really paying attention.
None of this is to judge an audience unnecessarily. People are generally happy to get together even without the privilege of personal touch. However, I would suggest that if seated in a pew it would be good to show some emotion somehow. Raising or clapping hands would be quite appropriate at the right time in the service. I highly suggest nodding instead of merely having a blank forward look. Help your presenter know that you are paying attention. After the service, take time and speak (six feet apart, of course) to your presenter to let them know you heard the message.
The extra duty of sanitizers will continue for a while, but when in worship gatherings let’s not sanitize our sense of responsiveness. Now, more than ever perhaps, you have a role to play to support the preacher while sitting, listening and participating otherwise in worship.
Welcome Joyce Rebman – Our New Mountain Standard Administrative Assistant
Joyce began her duties in the Mountain Standard office in August. One great advantage she offers us all is a public availability from 9am-1pm, Tuesday through Friday. She should be on deck to answer the phone and address regional concerns, as well as pastoral settlement items.
Joyce has experience working among a larger church staff and is known for her organizational skills. Among other former experiences, she worked for a number of years working to efficiently recruit and acquire volunteers for a large nursery– known by most church leaders as a thankless and difficult task. She is gracious, hospitable, and willing to learn. She is a lover of Jesus and rejoices to see the church function well and grow.
We warmly welcome her among us as a servant to our pastors, chaplains and churches!
Mountain Standard Region Online Presence Expands
Pictured below are a few screenshots from some of our churches across the CBWC Mountain Standard Region. Each church will set up their website differently. Now we see more recorded video preaching than ever before. Some presentations will be more elaborate than others, but keeping the church community together during the time of COVID-19 requires extra effort. Pastors and church volunteers are working behind the scenes to keep connections with their congregation.
A YouTube presentation of one of these services is only a few clicks away. Most churches are aware that even when services return on Sundays to the worship building, that the online presence will stay a significant part of the church’s future.
It is official: Now the ‘church mouse’ is made by Microsoft, Logitech or some other company dealing with the digital world.
Again, thanks for those who have shared their expertise to assist our churches in expanding their ministry potential!
This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: firstname.lastname@example.org