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Giving youth a hope base

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MBCM Assembly workshops

At the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba Assembly workshops, Mar. 1–2, 2019, at Steinbach (Man.) MB Church, Steve Bock of La Salle led a youth ministry panel with Dave Lunn (Westside Community Church, Morden); Shannon Girard (Community Fellowship Church, Newton); Dwight Bennett (Eastview Community Church, Winnipeg); and Titus Graham (Living Word Temple, Winnipeg).

What are your challenges?

Shannon: Teens create personas online, but they don’t know who they are offline. They’re the most plugged-in generation,
but the loneliest.

What have youth taught you?

Dwight: If you give students responsibility, it’s amazing what they can do.

Shannon: They’re wanting us to dig past the walls they erect. When a student says, “I can’t,” I say, “You can’t, but this is
where Jesus steps in.”

Titus: When they find something they can do, it grows their passion to do it well. The youth work on my car now because
they have learned those skills and want to give back.

How do you connect youth into the church?

Shannon: We’re moving away from traditional Sunday school, and instead, connecting youth to someone at church with
their gifts – musician, teacher, greeter – for mentoring and a sense of ownership.

What would you tell your younger self?

Dave: You will never be cool enough. It’s not about being cool. Teens want someone they know cares.

Shannon: Your ministry is only as healthy as you are as leader.

A higher-ed calling

“I’m here because someone – my camp director Ted Goossen – tapped me on the shoulder when I was 16, and asked, ‘What is God calling you to and does it include a faith-based education?’” said Rob Reimer, president of Steinbach Bible College.

It’s a story he rarely hears from students. Perhaps it’s time to get tapping.

At Assembly’s higher-education workshop, Reimer, Cheryl Pauls of Canadian Mennonite University, and Pierre Gilbert of MB Seminary discussed Christian schools’ impact on church and society.

“Universities are talking about a ‘new thing’ called service learning,” said Pauls. “The emphasis on being globally
aware is an old thing for us. We have experience to offer.”

“There are three virtues in 1 Corinthians 13: faith, hope, love. We often describe our schools as ‘faithbased,’”
said Pauls, “but in our age, maybe we should focus on calling them ‘hope-based schools instead.”

For more on MBCM’s Assembly, go to mbherald.com/manitoba-convention-2019.

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