“When I first started as a youth worker, I feared I was ‘doing it wrong.’ The program I was offering looked different from other youth groups in the city,” said Ashley Patton, children and youth coordinator for Victoria Christian Reformed Church in Victoria, B.C.
“Although I was experiencing growth and success, I still questioned if I was doing it right,” she added.
“The Canadian Youth Ministry Project is showing me that success as a youth worker is figuring out what works best for your group of youth and faithfully making that happen.”
Launched last spring by Faith Formation Ministries, the Canadian Youth Ministry Project is designed to help youth leaders do their work in more meaningful ways. It is overseen by Syd Hielema, team leader for Faith Formation Ministries, and Ron de Vries, youth ministry consultant for Classis Alberta North.
To equip people such as Patton, the project provides webinars, blogs, Facebook postings, various events and retreats, and regional gatherings.
“We see our job as giving support to those in the trenches,” said de Vries. “We provide a range of resources and best practices—both for those who are volunteers and for those who are on staff doing youth ministry.”
To Patton, who literally lives on an island, the project has been an important resource for overcoming the isolation that youth work can entail. By connecting with other people who have similar positions and share similar challenges, she has found a sounding board, received support, and gleaned best practices.
To help others receive similar benefits, Patton agreed to serve as one of the project’s regional champions. In this role she connects with and provides help to other youth ministers and ministries in her region.
“We aren't youth ministry gurus looking to fix or critique other people’s youth groups,” Patton said. “Our hope is to hear each other’s stories and learn about where God is working.
“For those who have questions, we want to come alongside you and help find an answer that fits your unique setting and situation.”
While the Canadian Youth Ministry Project started as a pilot project in Canada, its leaders say they hope it will develop strategies that can be transferred to churches in the U.S. as well as Canada.
About the Author
Kristen deRoo VanderBerg was part of the World Renew Communications team from 1999-2016. She now serves as director of Communications & Marketing for the Christian Reformed Church.