Youth leaders column from Dave Fenton: What is a youth leader?

Youth Leaders Column

A seemingly simple question. It’s the person who looks after the young people. 

But what are they supposed to do? Whether they are salaried or volunteers, youth leaders need to have some idea of the expectations of the church they serve. If they are told to simply ‘look after’ the young people, the church’s expectation is probably close to babysitting. Keep them amused while the adults have a proper service.

Teach, disciple, care

Whatever the level of the appointment, your youth leader (or even better ‘youth minister’) is one who is set apart to teach, disciple and care for the young people of the church. That may sound obvious but, increasingly, in my conversations with youth ministers, I find that they are not clear about their role. They feel they have been given a role and left to get on with it. What can be done to counter this feeling of isolation?

A church is a complex place, with many activities and pressures on the leadership of the church. But, if they have been appointed by the church, they must be aware of what the church is thinking and planning. Whatever the plan, have the needs of the young people been considered if it affects what they do? When new initiatives are discussed (e.g. a new set up for small groups) are the youth minister and her/his team included in that conversation. If a youth minister is not included in such a conversation they will increasingly feel like a sideshow.

A youth minister is one who is serving in one facet of the church’s life. Whatever is in place to support those who are serving should be in place for the youth minister. A regular meeting with church leaders to pray and consider issues of common interest can be helpful. Most churches commission youth and children’s workers, but then can easily neglect them and assume the work is progressing. Home groups can ‘adopt’ a member of the youth team, invite them occasionally to their meetings and pray for them whenever the home group meets.

Needing support

So, in general terms, youth ministers are key members of a church community who need to feel supported and cared for in their work. I spoke to one lady recently who worked in her secular employment all week, came home on Friday night and then got herself out to meet with the young people. In eight years no one in her church had asked her how she was doing. She was about to write a letter of resignation – that can be avoided and those eight years of experience put to good use.

Dave Fenton – associate minister at Christ Church Winchester and Training Director of Root 66 which runs training courses for youth ministers across the UK. 


This article was first published in the March 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. 0845 225 0057

Prayer fuel: News from the UK and around the world

Prayer FuelHere are a handful of news-bites from around the UK and around the world included in the June issue of EN. May these encourage us as well as spur us on to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world facing severe persecution.

WEST by Northwest

WEST teamed up with the North West Partnership in April so that students will be able to study together for the Graduate Diploma and Masters-level degree programmes at the centre in Liverpool.

Jonathan Stephen, principal of WEST, said: ‘This is a highly significant development for WEST, as we continue to fulfil our commitment to “bringing the academy into missional church”’. WEST

Less protected

Christians are afforded less protection for their beliefs by the state compared to those who practise other religions, suggests a late April survey.

Of the 2000 people surveyed exclusively for The Telegraph, nearly half thought British believers had less protection. This figure rises to 62% among those who identify as non-practising Christians. The poll also reveals that 56% see Britain as a Christian country.
The Christian Institute

NI: rejecting SSM

The Northern Ireland Assembly rejected gay marriage by an outright majority for the third time on April 29.

Assembly members voted 51 to 43 against redefining marriage at Stormont. Pro-traditional marriage campaigners say those pushing for a change should ‘take the hint’. The private member’s motion in support of same sex marriage was tabled by six members from the Alliance, Sinn Fein and the Green parties, and called on the Minister of Finance and Personnel to introduce gay marriage legislation.
The Christian Institute

Australia: Christian

The April elected Premier of New South Wales, Liberal MP Mike Baird, is reported to be a committed Christian.

Baird, 46, was elected unopposed. He attends an Anglican church in his electorate of Manly (a beachside suburb of Sydney). Bruce Clark, senior minister at St Matthew’s on the Corso, said that Baird is a strongly committed Christian man.

Fellowship of European Broadcasters / Eternity Newspaper

Google: 0 results

Google has bowed to pressure from American ‘pro-choice’ group NARAL by agreeing to ban advertisements for crisis pregnancy centres that educate women on the alternative options to abortion, it was reported in early May.

NARAL campaigned extensively to force Google to remove advertisements for pro-life pregnancy services after complaining that the adverts appeared 79% of the time when users entered the search terms ‘abortion clinics’. Christian Concern

USA: illegal meetings?

Fairfax County, Virginia, has proposed a new law that some believe will outlaw Bible studies held in a home, it was reported in early May.

The law violates the First Amendment right of freedom to assemble in that it states ‘regular gatherings of 50 people or more cannot meet more than three times in 40 days’. One person is concerned that the law is punishing the many for the actions of the few, as noise orders could be given and cars towed away if they violated laws, which is preferable to making a law that stops lawful meetings. Christian Headlines

For more news and prayer fuel from around the world, subscribe to EN for monthly updates.

A Constant Gardener by Pastor Anonymous: Man of mystery?

Constant Gardener Trowel

Here are 20 things your pastor wished you knew about him.

1. He knows and feels that ministry is a wonderful privilege (despite appearances which suggest otherwise, sometimes).

2. He is sometimes overwhelmed by a sense of failure in his ministry to you.

3. He’s not always sure if you know how much he loves and respects you.

4. He wishes you would open up to him more. He’s not a mind-reader, and he sometimes feels that you are content to keep him at arm’s length. Are you?

5. There are times when all he wants to hear from you is ‘thank you.’

6. He’s been sure that he should leave your church a few times already. He’s slogged through times of almost overwhelming darkness, as well as invitations to look at other churches. He’s stayed because he loves you.

7. He longs that you would say something (anything!) to him about the sermon on Sunday, or what you’re learning in the Bible.

8. He goes home from Sunday services thinking about you. Sometimes he even dreams about you. You are on his heart and mind far more than you realise.

9. He actually doesn’t care if you or anyone else in the church forgets him when he’s retired or gone to glory. As long as you’re safe in heaven, he’ll be more than happy.

10. He (mostly) loves preaching. He would hate you to think that it’s a burden to him.

11. He knows that no one in the church, not even his Elders, knows how difficult it is to preach, week in, week out.

12. Even when you’re at your most spiritually cold and fault-finding, he genuinely longs for a deepening spiritual friendship with you.

13. He puzzles over how much you think about your salary, but never think about how much your church salaries him.

14. He prays for you regularly. This is a heart, will and time commitment.

15. He needs your prayers and your encouragements. Pastors are in the devil’s firing-line.

16. Nothing thrills him more than finding out that you’ve been busy in gospel work, without advertising your work to others.

17. He loves being a part of the church family, as a regular member, as well as the pastor. He loves eating, laughing and sharing life with his Christian family.

18. He deeply respects your complicated,busy life. When he’s calling for commitment to the church, he’s not forgotten all that you’re already juggling.

19. He remembers your acts of kindness to him, probably long after you’ve forgotten them.

20. He loves Jesus. Even when he gets it wrong as he pastors you, he’s trying to work out his love for the Lord to you.

Pastor Anonymous is in full-time pastoral ministry somewhere in the UK!

This article was first published in the March 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. 0845 225 0057

Anglican update: Changing times

Anglican Update

Reactions to the announcement of new guidelines for Church of England Schools on countering homophobic bullying have perhaps been predictable. On the one hand you have those who declare the guidelines themselves homophobic and on the other there are those who believe they will prevent Christian children expressing biblical views in the playground.

The Church of England finds itself, once again, in the eye of a storm. Stonewall may have been key advisors for this report but you only have to look at the comments on Justin Welby’s interview with the gay news service, Pink News, to see that many people will not be satisfied until there is wholesale change in the church’s teaching. But these are not just issues for the Anglican Church. How do Christians learn to live in a country that is no longer shaped by Christian values?

Of course, we have never considered England to be a ‘Christian country’ in any theological way. We know that God’s people are those he has rescued, by his grace, and who seek to live under his lordship. God’s people are scattered throughout the world. God is not actually an Englishman!

We have, however, lived in a country where our laws and customs have been founded on Christian values. This has generally allowed us to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness, without threat of prosecution or imprisonment. We should be grateful for that blessing, but we should also recognise that times are changing.

Exciting or scary?

Perhaps we should see this as exciting and encouraging, rather than scary and disheartening. After all, as Justin Welby said earlier this month, ‘the Christian faith is much more vulnerable to comfortable indifference than to hatred and opposition’. I don’t know about you, but I fear I prefer comfortable indifference. I like to forget that Jesus warned me that his disciples would be hated.

It should not take a Church of England report to remind us that the Bible does not license hatred or bullying of anyone, for any reason, whether at work or in the playground. Neither does the Bible affirm sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage. Some will claim that this makes the Bible (and even God) homophobic, but as Christians we have the privilege of knowing the goodness of our Creator and the rightness of his Word. In a world that thinks tolerance means complete affirmation and the only sins are injustice and prejudice, it will be hard for us to be understood. But that doesn’t mean we should not try. Our task, whether we are five or 55, will be to find ways of expressing the hope that we have with gentleness and respect, so that those who speak maliciously against us will ultimately be ashamed.

Contend for the faith

There is much to do. Anglican evangelical leaders are working together to contend for the faith inside the Church of England and it was heartening that the leaders of GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) met in London this month and encouraged us to persevere. But ultimately we place ourselves in the hands of the one who judges justly and died because we are all sinners; wonderfully, that is a truly ‘safe place’.

 Suzie Leafe – Director of Reform

This article was first published in the June 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. 0845 225 0057

Editors commentary: Time travelling prayers

timetravelWEBBeing the pastor of the same church for a long time is great.

One of the benefits is that you get to see the end of some stories which pastors who only dodge into a place for five or six years and then move on would never see. Recently I had just such an experience. Hopefully it will encourage you.

When I first came to the church over 30 years ago there was a lovely young family – a mum and dad plus three children. The younger two children became Christians but the older girl, Eleanor, did not. She was a delightful girl, bright and knowing her own mind, with the strength of character to stand alone as the unbeliever in a believing family. Many were the prayers to God of both individuals and the gathered church for her conversion. But nothing at all seemed to happen.


The years moved on and tragedy struck the family. The father was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Then, after what seemed to be a successful operation, came the onset of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. I visited him a number of times in the hospital and prayed – he, probably, unconscious of my presence. Sadly he died. The family was devastated. However, the effect was to confirm the Christians in their clinging to Christ and looking to his promise of eternal life, whereas Eleanor seemed confirmed in her scepticism and unbelief. Once again there were many prayers for the family.

Years passed. All the children had grown up and the mother remarried to a good Christian man. By now the two Christian children had married and moved away, but Eleanor remained single. After university she got a good job and had her own home in our town. Some of the church involved in one of the local choirs would see her there. She was friendly, but spiritually there was no change.

Then tragedy struck again. With her new marriage just a few years old, the mother was diagnosed with cancer and later died. Her new husband was heartbroken. Once again the children found themselves bereaved. Once again many prayers were offered by the church and other friends. That was around five years ago. That’s how things were.

Joyful rumour

But just a few months ago a rumour was whispered. After all these years, over 30 of them, Eleanor had become a Christian. She had a Christian friend at choir from an Anglican church who invited her along to an Alpha Course. There everything had fallen into place for her. We were overjoyed. But was the rumour true? Her stepfather, who had kept very much in touch, went to see her. She had indeed been saved. One of the first things she said to him I found very moving: ‘Do you think my mum and dad know?’.

Woman at peace

Then, this Easter, I was asked to go and preach a short message to an ecumenical walk of witness in the town. As a church we tend to steer clear of ecumenical stuff, but I’ll preach to anyone – so I took up the opportunity. There, as 400 or 500 people gathered on Good Friday morning, among the crowd I spotted Eleanor. I was thrilled. I was able to speak to her briefly. Her conversion was written all over her face. She was a woman at peace – at peace with God and at peace with herself.

Prayers of many years ago, prayers long forgotten, God had answered. Jesus taught his disciples that they should always pray and not give up (Luke 18.1).

John Benton

This article was first published in the June 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. 0845 225 0057

100 Bible knowledge questions… and some other great links.

Links Worth A Look

Enjoy the following links!

Kevin DeYoung – 100 Bible knowledge questions – one way to equip those nominated for the eldership.

Thom Rainer – 8 Reasons I’d love to be a pastor again

The Resurgence – 10 ways to make your kids hate family devotions

Gospel Partnerships – Small group leader training

Unashamed Workman – What we need: Biblical bluntness

What’s coming up in the June issue of EN

June 2014 highlightsA few highlights to look forward to in the June issue of EN! It’s scheduled to arrive from the printers on Friday May 23. Of course you can always e-mail as well if you’d like a complimentary copy or if you’d like to subscribe!