Thank you to everyone who attended last night’s WSM Townhall. This annual get-together is a great time to reconnect, share ideas and dreams, and look forward to another year. I feel truly blessed to be a part of such an amazing community of leaders, parents, students and staff. Here’s a recap of what we spoke about last night as review for those of you there and for those who missed it.
After lots of changes last year, Jr. High programming will be relatively similar this year. Sundays start at 10:30AM at Westheights Public School. The school is open at 10AM and will be closed at noon, so please be there to pick up your students before then. If this is challenging, many parents have arranged car pooling with other families to reduce the inconvenience of the program being offsite. For all other events, check the Jr. High calendar feed at calendar.westheights.org and, of course, check out the blog!
The Jr. High Small Groups this year are:
Grade 6 Boys – Josh Bacvar
Grade 6 Girls – Gillian Fenske
Grade 7-8 Boys – Matt Reist
Grade 7-8 Girls – Amanda Burns
As we continue to grow numerically and as we understand more of what it means to effectively disciple young people, we’ve modified our approach to Sr. High programming this year. Students will now be meeting in small groups with set leaders.
The Sr. High Small Groups this year are:
Grade 9-10 Boys – Shane Gallian, Liam Flagg
Grade 9-10 Girls – Heather Noble, Gillian Fenske
Grade 11-12 Boys – Adam Noble
Grade 11-12 Girls – Heather Gallian
After careful evaluation and feedback, we’ve decided to stick with a 6:30-8:30PM format, without a meal every week. In the last school year (2011-2012), we had a meal to start each meeting however, we found that the time need for food preparation and the added cost made it impossible to have a meal every week for the 2012-2013 school year. Meals provided a great time to catch up and build relationship so we wanted to find a way to incorporate that into our method going forward. To keep the spirit of this alive, we’re introducing a hybrid format where the first three weeks of the month will be in mentoring small groups, followed by a week of large group teaching, games and a potluck meal. Our hope is that this hybrid approach will maximize our leaders’ ability to mentor the Sr. High students and still have the advantages of eating together and in-depth interactive teaching from years past.
We also have a great slate of events and retreats this year for Sr. Highs, including YouthQuest. Costs for YQ are still in flux but our hope is to have a more realistic picture by middle-to-late September. For more information on YQ, head to yqbic.com.
Organic Discipleship and Student Ministry
Much of our evening involved an ongoing discussion about the effectiveness of current youth worker practices and our evolving understanding of the Church, culture and young people. In a continual effort to partner with parents, we discussed why we exist as a ministry and what parents’ roles are in that ministry. Here is a summary of our discussion:
- Influence is a combination of time, empathy, knowledge and engagement.
- Our kids are being discipled no matter what, either by culture or by us. Our job is to “swim” in analysing culture: swim downstream when it aligns to our faith and upstream when it doesn’t.
- Kids need multiple adults in their lives.
- Programs can facilitate relationships but will not replace them (activity instead of connection).
We as a ministry are in a year-long process of discovering a new way of evaluating and planning our ministry goals. Your feedback was important in this process, and we hope to bring more to you in the new year for continued input.
I’d like to say again that it is a blessing and a blast to get to work alongside such a fantastic community. As Gillian and I step into a new season, we’re impressed again that community is the heartbeat of the church. Our connections with each other will be the only means by which we can communicate and embody the lifestyle of Jesus to students. Thank you for making coming to work such a thrill.