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Identify Who and What are the Constants – They are what we hold on to.

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Ever wonder when churches, youth groups, or most organizations lose the most people? It is during times of transition. In Canada, the largest drop of in church attendance comes between Children’s ministry and Jr High. Then there seems to be some significant drops later on, as well, like when students graduate.

When life seems to be changing quickly, it may be a good idea to find a few things to hold onto.  Times of transition can uproot youth from everything that has helped keep thier faith strong. Everyone has had people, places, and things which have helped them in their spiritual journey. It can be devastating to lose one, or several of these constants simultaneously.

The good news is we’re aware of this and you can be proactive. There are steps you can take so people never lose all their constants. However, you may need to take a moment to think about what they are. A parent? Family member? A youth pastor? Your church? Time spent alone reading your Bible? Christian friends? If we plan ahead we can discover ways to keep them or find new ones to replace them as things in our lives change.

Here are a few ideas that can be adapted according to the age group. If you go to college or university and do not connect with a church, or some sort of faith group, in the first few weeks it’s likely you never will during your time at that campus. So if faith is a priority then be sure to get connected people as soon as possible. Before students leave home start searching for groups, ministries, and churches to connect with while they are away at school. The first place they go to may not be for them, but encourage them keep looking. Make sure they get connected somewhere. It takes time build relationships and connect sometimes. Work hard at it, it will be worth it. The same principle applies to kids transitioning into new age groups with new ministries in your church.

Perhaps, you need to ask parents, friends, or youth pastors, to hold students accountable to connect with a new church or ministry. In the months before students leave for school, a new location, or a new age group, sit down with your accountability people and schedule when they will contact during the new school year to follow up (tell them to mark it on a calendar, or put a reminder on their phone so they won’t forget). 

Once you recognize what the constants are go out of your way to make sure some will remain through life’s major transitions in your youth’s lives. In time, some or all of their constants may change, this is just part of growing. But recognize these constants really are strength points. They are where we get encouragement, and a kick in the butt when we need it.

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Does Church Attendance Affect Faith? Yes it does.

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Does attending a church, or not, affect your faith? According to our Canadian stats the answer is definitely yes. Over 60% of young adults who stop attending their faith groups (Church, Home groups, Etc) will drop their faith affiliation within one year of leaving.

Another truth worth looking at is the result of a parent’s church life of the faith of their children. While church attendance does not guarentee your children will be active in their faith, a parent’s non commitment to ‘Church Life’ (Attendance with ministry involvement) almost insure’s their children will drop their faith as they grow up.

You can look at more stats like this in the Hemorhagging Faith Survey. Regardless of the stats, what is evident – ‘We need each other.’ People need community. Faith is best, and was intended, to be lived out in community.


The question should never be whether or not  you attending a church. Attending does not ensure spiritual growth, involvement, or your desire to be there. The question needs to be, ‘are you living out your faith within a community of friends?’ It isn’t just about the location, style, or traditions of your particular church. It is about, ‘are we growing, moving, and becoming more like Jesus together?’

The Church is meant to be a ‘covenant community.‘  This is a group of people which has committed itself to the growth, provision, and care of all its members. If we begin to think of ourselves as a covenant community we can see the real meaning of scriptures which speak about the Church.

As an example the Bible tells us there are things Christians ‘must’ do for each other.  The first one, which is the foundation for the rest, is love.  Jesus said, ‘Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.’ (John 13:35)  Many faith communities are not known for being loving, but it has to be our goal to be known for that.  If we’re known for something else, before this one, we are dead wrong and need to change.  Loving others is not presented as an option for anyone who says they are a Christ follower.  We are commanded to love. ‘Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning’ (2 John 1:6).

If we are going to enter into a covenant community, we need love because the truth is, it’s not easy to love everyone.  It is something we need to ask God to increase in our lives, groups, and churches. We need it if we are going to work out of pure and Godly motives.  1 John 3:16  says, ‘We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.‘

There is a story in the Old Testament that shows us what a covenant looks like. It is the story of two young friends, David and Jonathan. Jonathan was the son of King Saul.  After the success David had fighting Goliath and many other foes, Saul became jealous to the point he tried to kill David. However, David and Jonathan became friends. In I Samuel we read, ‘After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son.  There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David.  And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself.’ (18:1-3)
Jonathan vowed to try and keep David from harm, even from his own father and he did just that on many occasions.  The covenant they shared meant Jonathan lived out what it meant to lay down one’s life for another.  

Consider this. Jonathan also heard what was  being said about David. People all over were saying, ‘Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.’ By remaining in his covenant with David and protecting him, Jonathan had to have known he may never be king. Church is meant to be free of self serving, selfish ambition, and people seeking power.  We should be a community of serving, love, and dedication to the success of those around us.  This is Church.


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Religion and Your Evil Grandmother

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There are people who have very strong anti-religious and anti-faith messages. Not only are they questioning aspects of religion or faith, they are also saying even the idea, or practice, of a religion is in fact, dangerous and the cause of evil.

Let me be the first person to point out that much evil has been done in the name of a god or religion. In fact, many religions, belief systems, or ideologies are not peaceful at their core. We all should be appalled and fight together against evils done for any reason, not just religious ones. However,  can you make a blanket statement that all religion, faith, or belief is evil? Those thoughts are certainly hailed as truth by some but does it stand up to the facts? In an attempt to come to conclusions I decided to look around my own community.


I went looking for the people who have been poisoned, are practicing evil, or perhaps people who were in some sort of immediate danger because of religion.  However, what I found was a few churches who were holding services this coming Sunday (for those wanting to attend).  Then I discovered a few senior teas and dinners happening. I also came across a place working to help drug addicts and alcoholics get cleaned up and find freedom. Then there is a church running a youth centre (which is open to people of every faith, or none, or sexual orientation).  There are even several other organizations helping our community who were started by Christians. Individuals who’s practices are in fact called dangerous.


To be blunt, if belief in a god is dangerous according to some people, I am practicing something evil.  As a person of faith, I am told by critics I cannot think critically and could be a potential threat.  I’m told what I believe is not just untruth, they are in fact, dangerous myths.  Your grandmother, who you thought was just trying to live out her life being a good Christian lady, being nice to her family and neighbors, going to her senior tea every Wednesday – well it turns out her practices and beliefs are dangerous and evil too.


To accept this sounds ridiculous. However, it is the implication of what is being said. It is being sold as truth when it’s not. The truth is the vast majority of Christian people, and many other faiths, are just regular people, trying to live out their lives the best they can. They have hopes, dreams, they want the best for others, they love.


Every day I see people of faith, and many without, do great things for others. I have personally witnessed people who say God has increased their love for others, sacrificially give of their time, money, and abilities to help others. I have visited countries, missions, and orphanages and have met people who are giving their entire lives to help the poor of the world. This is not evil – it’s incredibly good.

This week I did not find a bunch of examples of evil taking place in the name of God, or by people of faith in my community. In the past I have heard of some examples, so it has happened, apparently. I also know that there are places in the world today where people are being persecuted, killed, and mistreated for many reasons, including religious ones which truly is wrong. All our fights should be against extremism, and those who would use religion, force, intimidation, ideologies, or poverty to control others. However, to simply blame the failings of evil men on if they have a level of belief a deity is a stretch.

To imply religion is the root of all evil is incredibly simplistic.  Why do I say this? Because every time I meet a true Christ follower, someone full of the love, compassion, and mercy of Jesus, I see something beautiful. I see someone who does not hate, whose thoughts are not about destroying others.  

I encourage you to look around your own community.  Go out and find those who are helping others.  Go visit a church, or look around your own church.  Search online and you can read stories of millions of people and thousands of Christian organizations who are giving their lives to help others around the world.  Ask yourself – are these people dangerous? Are you?

This is what should set Christianity apart from everything else.  At the core of our faith is the sacrifice of Jesus. It is love. As those who follow Christ we are to be known first by our love for one another.  If this is truly how we live, all arguments calling us anything else just don’t make sense. In the end, I don’t believe your grandmother is evil (well unless you had a mean one). Neither is her faith.

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Teaching Others to Learn to Fight for Themselves

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I have always been a laid back person. I have only gotten really angry a few times in my life. I have been upset, but there have only been a few times when I was truly angry. I remember one such day quite well. My son Matthew, who was eight at the time, was playing with a friend on a playground beside our apartment while I was doing some work in the backyard.

I heard a bit of a commotion and when I looked over there were two of the neighborhood teenagers throwing rocks at my son and his friend. Standing between the playground and myself was an eight-foot high chain link fence.

While no one has ever accused me of being a speed runner or high jumper, I could have qualified for the Olympic team that day as I somehow scaled the fence and ran across the field in a matter of seconds. Suddenly I was next to my son with words coming out of my mouth that I normally didn’t say. There were threats made, and fear was placed into the hearts and minds of a few young people that day.

My son is in his twenties now. I still want the best for him and I still want to protect him. However, I am not always going to be there to beat up the neighborhood bullies his whole life, nor should I. To protect him now, I need to let him fight his own battles. As a father, I just hope I have taught him how.

God puts people around each one of us to help us spiritually. For some it is our parents, some a friend, a pastor, leader, or a combination of all of these. We need each other. We learn from each other.  We watch out for each other. We also need to grow up.

While we never completely stop needing each other, you still have to learn to fight for yourself. There will be times when we need to stand strong. You will face battles alone. There will also be days you need to be strong for someone else.

Romans 12:11says, ‘Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.’ Each of us has a responsibility to keep our spiritual lives strong. It is not enough to lean on others. Develop your own spiritual disciplines.

Also, identify how you recharge spiritually. If you recharge in prayer, make it a daily habit. Do you recharge reading scripture? Take time to read. Do you need alone time? Get alone. Do you need to get in a group of Christian friends and worship together? Then break out your guitar.

Become a self feeder and keep your spiritual walk hot by continually fanning it into flame.  Depend on others, but depend on yourself as well.

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How Do You Handle Other’s Questions and Doubt?


There was a night I was sitting in a church event when I was a teenager. As usual I had taken a seat in the back with a few friends and really wasn’t paying attention. Well, until I heard someone say ‘Doreen’ (my mother) was being taken to the hospital right then. My brother, sister, and I found someone to take us to the hospital so we could find out what was happening.

It’s strange the things you remember when you look back on events in your past. I remember seeing my mother’s coat at the hospital, in the emergency department. Then my father came out to see us and said, ‘Mom’s gone’. My mother was a Christian, did many good things, but she died. I have lived with a lot of questions for God.

I think everyone has some ‘big picture’ questions for God such as, ‘why am I here?’, or, ‘why is there such suffering in the world?’ And then there are questions we have about ourselves, ‘Why did You make me like this?’, for example.

Then there are questions about what, and why, we believe. Why can’t we do this? Why do we believe that? Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any good answers. Sometimes there seems to be great ones. And at other times no ones seems to know anything. It can all lead someone to wonder if they can have questions and doubts and still be following Jesus.

As we read about the disciples through the gospels we do discover a few things. They didn’t always get it. At times they didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. They certainly had their doubts. One disciple betrayed Jesus. Another denied he knew Him. When Jesus was arrested they all ran away. The great leaders of the early church all had seasons of doubt, failure, success, and faith.

Throughout the gospels we see Jesus speaking to the masses but then explaining things to His disciples. These times would have taken place sitting around discussing the events and teachings of the day. They asked questions. They talked it through. This was part of their learning and growing process. If this was a normal practice of Jesus and the disciples then it is definitely ok for us to do the same. It is how we will grow in our faith.

This has some other implications. Jesus, who was fully man, and fully God surrounded Himself with these young people. Despite the fact they had failures, doubt, and questions He did not reject them. Instead He poured Himself into them. From Jesus’ own example we know He will not reject you either when you go through these seasons as well.

It’s normal to have questions. What we also learn from Jesus and the disciples is that in order to grow we need a place to ask questions.  We need a place to discuss beliefs, the Bible, our lives, and what and why we believe. This needs to be a part of every youths’ and young adults’ spiritual upbringing. If you never have this opportunity, your beliefs will never be as rooted as they could be because you’ve never had to wrestle with questions of faith yourself.

What this means is you may have to be proactive in finding such a place. You may have to ask questions. You may have to find a group of friends and have these discussions together. Your church youth group may need to be a place for you to discuss your beliefs. What is certain is, if this was part of what Jesus and the disciples did, it is important.


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Me To – Some of the Best Words You Can Hear.

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Me too. These two very short words have incredible impact. When people have questions and doubts and feel like failures these words can be powerful and life saving. The truth is you are not alone. You are not the first person with questions. Every person has had them. Everyone has gone through seasons of doubt. No one is perfect. We all have our own issues. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be human.

Here is the test to know if you are missing something in your journey.  When can you, along with other believers, confess your sins and ask for help?  When is it okay to admit you are struggling? When can you ask for help? When can you admit you don’t know or understand something? If the answer to these questions is, ‘you don’t know’, you are missing out.  Without these things we miss out on the healing that comes with our confessions.  When you are left to think you are screwed up, a failure, and alone in your battles, you are sentenced to spiritual misery.

You need opportunities to be real with others. To admit it when you make mistakes. Incredible things happen spiritually, emotionally, and physically when repentance and forgiveness happen. In this place we give an opportunity to let God minister to the real issues we are facing and let the healing begin.

The fact that we have questions and need a place to ask them seems obvious. However, one the main toxins that repels this generation from the Church is that they feel the Church can’t handle their failures and doubts. This is a problem for two reasons. Most churches really don’t handle failure well. Secondly, people who have doubt and failures don’t always handle it well.

It’s no secret you will mess some things up in life. But what happens when you do? Do you try and make it right? Ask for forgiveness? When you have a doubt or questions about the Bible or your church’s beliefs have you sought out answers?  Have you read your Bible? Have you asked people you trust about their beliefs? There is a responsibility on your part to get the answers you need.

As individuals, groups, and churches we need to extend the same grace Jesus did to the young men He was with. This does not mean we tolerate things we shouldn’t. Jesus corrected His own disciples when they needed to be corrected and it was done in love, in grace, and mercy. Even if these haven’t always been extended to you, you need to do the right thing: be like Jesus and extend it to others.

Also, realize that many people don’t know how to handle other’s failure, or those who think different, and have doubts. I wish I could say it would never happen to you but perhaps it already has, or will. This does not mean God has rejected you. Perhaps a person has, but they aren’t Jesus. This is the time to ask God to examine your own heart and attitude. Maybe there is something that needs to change in you, or maybe God can lead you to a place or person to help walk you through your own failures, struggles and doubt. It is important you have a person, a group, or a church that will help you in your journey.  I pray, as you should also, that you will find those people or places.

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Free E-Book – Goodbye Generation – The book that started it all.


As part of the ’10 Weeks before Grad’ campaign we want to also give away an E-Version of our very first book, ‘Goodbye Generation’. This book quickly became a Canadian bestseller and is now available to download.

In a day when many denominations are struggling because they have lost almost all of their young people, we need to address what is stealing them away. David Sawler invites you to look at what the scriptures really say about the reasons that many people are giving for leaving.  This is a book that gives hope and honest insight into one of the biggest struggles of the Church today.

This is not a book on stats or cold hard facts.  It is true at times we need to hear those to wake us up to reality.  However, this book came from a different source.  We simply sat down with youth, young adults, and adults who used to go to church and asked them, ‘why did you leave?’  Goodbye Generation is a result of hearing those stories. It is not a top ten list or a book on a new program you need to start.  It is not meant to just present an obvious problem, but rather to in-still hope for the future.




Download Goodbye Generation

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An Open Letter to Senior Pastors about the youth who attend their church.


Dear Senior Pastor and Leadership Team,

My name is David Sawler. I am senior leader of a Church in Glace Bay, NS. For the past decade of my life I have been studying and speaking on the topic of why a vast number of the children, youth, and young adults who grow up in our churches do not remain, and also why many stay.

There has been a lot of debate, worrying, wondering, and panic in some churches as there is an obvious problem. You may or may not be in this situation. However, this information could be invaluable to you now, or at some point in the future.

I have just spent a significant amount of time speaking to churches, ministries, and youth groups on this topic of why youth either stay or leave. I believe I have discovered, at least in part, some of the problem of why many leave while actually speaking at these churches and events. In over ninety percent of the places I have been asked to speak in the last five years, the people who hold the most influence on whether the children, youth, and young adults remain in their churches have not been present.

I do not think people are intentionally avoiding, afraid, or unaware of the topic. I don’t think people are actually that cold hearted and uncaring about the upcoming generations either. I believe that the people who hold the most influence don’t know who they are. Which is why I am writing this important message to you today.

The person who has the most effect on whether the youth in your church remain in your church is not the children’s pastor. It is not the youth pastor. It is not even the young adult pastor. It is not even the parents of these groups. The number one influencer is in fact you. It is the senior leader.

Two other groups who follow a close second are parents and the church leadership team. Parents are one of the biggest influencers in if children remain in their faith (Notice I did not say their church). Your leadership team / elders / board who oversee how all the ministries flow together are the next group.

If you have mistakenly thought that loss of youth was primarily your generational workers fault I am hoping that you humbly accept this message. It is not. Again please realize that you have more effect of if the youth and young adults in your church remain than your generational workers do. A truth few want to hear is this, ‘If you have zero connection with the kids and youth in your church now, they will have the same amount of connection with the church you lead when they are adults.’

As I am traveling this year, perhaps at your church or nearby, I am hoping to see you, your leadership team, and the parents in your church. I would encourage you to make this a priority. I would also encourage you to let your church and leadership know the influence and power they have. I know as you personally get involved with this generation you will blessed to see this generation stand and work with you and your church for many years to come.

Be blessed,

Rev David Sawler

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Turning the Tide on Judgement

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When youth and young adults, who grew up in the Church, were asked, ‘What repels you from Church the topic of judgement rose to the surface. It seems it has affected them in two ways. They have felt judged, and they feel that judgement exist in their church setting. It is such a big issue for some, it is the reason they give for leaving for good. It is worth having a discussion with those you work with about this topic, how they feel, what they have experienced, and how to move forward. Here are a few thoughts.

We all judge people, because of the way they look, their weight, style, clothes, or smell. We also judge people because of what they do. We put people into classes because of the sports they like, the way they live, their beliefs, and endless other ways.

It is difficult to not be judgmental in some way. What’s remarkable about Jesus is despite the failings of people, even those closest to Him, He always accepted them. Even though they made plenty of mistakes, even though they doubted, denied, had questions, and ran away, He never gave up on them. This is an incredible picture of what grace is.

When people think about Jesus, judgement isn’t usually the first thought which comes to mind. But yet it is what many people think of Christians.  Some would say, ‘Christians are judgmental. They are quick to point out the faults of others and don’t accept people who do not agree with them. They don’t deal with the failings of others well.’

Of course faith and the Bible can be very touchy subjects. We want to hold the standards, directions, and moral truths of these. So how do we find the balance, if there is one? I believe it starts with a few ideas and words from scripture. First, it was said Jesus was full of ‘grace and truth.’ (John 1:14) He definitely spoke the words of God but always seasoned His words and actions with grace.

This doesn’t mean everyone will agree with what Jesus said, or what you’ll say, but truth outside of grace can often be offensive. Truth spoke in relationship is most easily accepted.  It is not our job to convict the world of sin, the Bible is clear the Holy Spirit does that. I think this is why scripture tells us to ask God for wisdom, to know what to say and when to say it. The right words at the wrong time, become wrong words. The right words at the right time can do incredible things.

A second piece of advice comes from 2 Corinthians 5:16. It says, ‘So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!’ It seems we can be out of focus about how we look at people. Just like people did not always see Jesus for who He was, we also don’t always see each other the right way.

We cannot repair all the judgement people have faced, or fix all the
judgmental people. However, a starting point is deciding we will not be
part of it. Our beginning point needs to be looking at people differently
and to stop evaluating them from a worldly point of view. Instead we
should view them like God views them.

Here are just a few things we know from scriptures about us,
and those around us. We are created in the image of God.
We are an eternal being that will spend eternity somewhere.
Jesus died for us, despite being sinful. God loves us so
much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross for us.

Once we see people in a new light we treat them differently. God
has given us the ministry of bringing the broken and lost to know
Him. When a Godly view of others is our starting point, we can
learn how to speak truth to them with the same grace He extends
to us.



“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.  (Zechariah 7:9)

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)

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Giving It All Away – 10 Weeks Continued

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For eight more weeks we are giving away all the resources, stories, and ideas that we have collected through the Goodbye Generation ministry over the past ten years. We are posting as many blogs as possible, which will be filled with ideas you can try with your youth and young adults before Grad of 2015.

Our goal is to simply resource those who are working with kids, youth, and young adults, to help them engage, and to stay engaged in their faith. Here are just a few things we are doing to help you in your ministry, family, and church.

1 – We will be posting over fifty articles, ideas, and videos over the next few weeks. You are also free to use them, copy them, and give them out to as many people as you want.

2 – Every two weeks we are going to give a link to download one of our books for free. Over the ten weeks all five e-books books on this topic will be available to you at no cost. You are also free to share these with your teens, youth, and church. This will include Goodbye Generation, Before They Say Goodbye, The Disciple, Beautiful Christ, and our newest Web-Active Book for youth and young adults, ‘Before You Say Goodbye’. Keep checking back on the site to see when downloads are available.

3 – Last, all our printed books and resources from this website have been reduced to cost plus shipping. Until Monday, July 6th, all our are hardcopy books are at the absolute lowest we can sell them for. All prices are print cost plus shipping included. (In Canada only). 

We have limited quantities of every title, so this offer is available until all copies are gone. We do hope this will be a blessing to you and those that you work with.

To see prices click here –

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Why I Believe – Reason Number 8


I do not even pretend to know everything about God and how He works. I am surprised sometimes with the things that have happened in my own life, despite my own limitations and failings. I have had my own share of questions of faith, times of doubt, and then also days like today, which go beyond any human explanation.

For the next week I am leading a team of youth and young adults on a trip to build homes in the Dominican Republic. We have youth from Hamilton and Cape Breton with us and it all kicks off in the morning. My son and I came down a few days early to prepare.

A while ago, I started writing posts about why I have faith. Some people think there is no proof that God is real and that Christians only believe because someone has told them to. That has never been my experience, nor it the experience of billions of others.
 This is another reason I believe. Here are two stories that turned into one today.

Today a young mother, and her family, living in the Dominican Republic were praying that God would provide a miracle for them. The young mom had a serious injury which needed medical care but they had no means to get help. All they could do was pray.

For many years our church and youth group have been sponsoring children and teens from the Dominican Republic. My family, and some church members, have had the opportunity to visit these kids almost every year when we travel there with our short term mission teams.

A few months ago we found out one of the sites where two of our kids were being cared for was closed down and they would no longer be sponsored. We were quite sad as they have been a big part of our lives for years. We regularly take time to talk and pray for them as a youth group, church, and personally.

Next week we are going to be meeting our new sponsored kids, and some of the older ones we still sponsor. We had even tried to find out if there was any way to connect with our kids we had lost as well, be we exhausted every way with no success.

However, something happened a little out of the ordinary. Today I woke up and I had an idea. It didn’t even seem like a good one either, which is normal when it comes to ideas I have. I decided to rent a motorbike and drive towards where I knew our former sponsored kids lived. I didn’t know exactly where it was but it was somewhere between thirty and sixty minutes down the coast in the forest. Also, to make it a bit more of a challenge I do not speak Spanish.

I drove way beyond where it could possibly be and turned around to come back. I was searching for a church / school which are no longer in use, and I never did find them. However, as I was driving I saw a road into the woods. One of many I had passed.

This could have been the beginning of bad horror movie, but I walked to one of these kids houses years earlier through a small dirt road. I had no idea where I was going, if it was the right place, but I drove into the woods. 

As I was driving up a small mountain I am wondering will I die today, be robbed, or how crazy is this?

I past a few little homes on the way up. The first person I see is the reason all of this happened. Sitting on the side of this road, right where I am driving, is our former sponsored girl, with her family.

It was these same people, who today were praying for a miracle. They had a need they could not meet. Once there I saw the worst wound I have ever seen in person. Things are now in process to get her medical care, and nurse Shirley (my wife) will be visiting her in a few days.

Last week I was sharing about something I felt God was saying to me. What was going through my mind, were the words of the song, ‘You Make me Brave’. Even today as I was driving it was going through my head over and over again, which I understand so much better now.

Being brave simply means having the courage to follow what God puts on your heart to do. It may seem absolutely crazy, but when are brave you can become the answer to someone’s prayer.

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You make me brave

You make me brave

You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave

You make me brave

No fear can hinder now the Love that made a way


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Slowing Down – The key to moving forward? 10 Weeks

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For most of my life I have been involved with various extreme sports. If there is something I love, it is to go fast. Whether it has been mountain biking, snowboarding, four wheeling, or being on my motorbike, there is a personal enjoyment in going fast. This has led to a few injuries in my life, but I wouldn’t take them back. However, as I have gotten older it seems I take fewer risks. We do gain some wisdom from life’s lessons as we age.

Sometimes we learn more in a moment than through months of reading, classes, or sessions. Two winters ago I had one of those unexpected moments where God spoke something into my life through my own children.

My youngest, Amanda, decided that it was time she learned how to snowboard. I had been taking her older brothers for years and now she wanted to join in. What you need to know though is that snowboarding has been a passion of mine for over twenty years.  I started skateboarding when I was seventeen. Then two years later started snowboarding and have never quit. There are few things as enjoyable in life to me, as carving down a mountain at high speeds. I think I was made to go fast.

If there is something that annoys me and even drives me crazy it is going slow. When I come up behind a car going below the speed limit I admit I wonder, ‘what is wrong with this person?’ I was never made to stay still.

The first five days I took Amanda snowboarding was painful. For her, because she kept falling, but also for me because I never got to snowboard. I mean I was on one, but I never once got to go fast, I never once enjoyed the speed. Instead, every ten feet I would pick her up, give her some instructions, a push, and waited for her to fall again.

On this particular day I was sitting in the snow waiting for Amanda to catch up. We were on the trail right beside the snowboard park. I was watching different young people go over the jumps and slide on the rails. As I was watching, my middle son Jordan came through the crowd, went over a jump, and was gone from view as quickly as he had come. He was going fast.

It was in this moment a realization of a deep truth hit me. There were years earlier that I hardly had a chance to go fast and snowboard either. It was during these years when I was teaching my boys how to snowboard. Now here I was sitting on a hill seeing him fly by me just as fast as I could go. Today, we all get to the bottom in a reasonable amount of time, and fall only occasionally. Today we can all go fast. If I had never slowed down though I would have been the only one going fast. I would get to the bottom, but I would be all alone, with my children watching from the sidelines.

When it comes to those you lead, you to ask yourself this question, ‘Who am I slowing down for?’ My prayer for you is that you will find several people to invest in.


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Trouble is Coming, Get Ready – 10 Weeks Continues

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God blesses.  It is His promise.  This truth is stated repeatedly in the Word.  He watches over us, protects us, sustains us, and hears our prayers.  These are truths.  There have been some who have taken these truths out of context and have turned them into something that is incredibly destructive. The culture in which we have grown up in has effected some people’s very theology.

The gospel has been presented as a shield against harm, hardships, trials, and even death. Scriptures, however, need to be looked at as a whole. An extreme prosperity centered gospel is a false gospel.  We do not just become Christians to avoid the problems of the world or for Jesus to make our lives better. There are many benefits to living for Jesus, but a focus on our lives and our own betterment is the wrong starting point.

The reason that this is so destructive is because it doesn’t work. Reality will prove it to be false. Sickness, death, suffering, pain, or loss will come. However, if we were promised only blessing, health, and goodness without any problems, we would have questions.These things were definitely not on the menu. If your relationship with God is based on the prosperity and comfort of your circumstances, it will change.  When trouble comes you will question, “Why? Why won’t God listen. Doesn’t God care. Isn’t He able?” There will be a group who will even come to the conclusion that the Gospel was all fake.

While this may seem like a great way to present the gospel it is shallow and wrong. The Biblical text proves otherwise. Jesus told his disciples upfront there will be trouble. ‘I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33)

If you study the lives of the disciples and early Church leaders you will discover their lives were far from being free of pain and sorrow. All the disciples except one were killed for their faith. Many were tortured and persecuted. Paul, who wrote many of the books of the New Testament, was beaten, flogged, shipwrecked, stoned, left for dead, and eventually killed. There seemed to be a huge price to pay for being a follower of Jesus. Do I believe they were blessed? Yes. Were their lives free of trouble? Definitely not.

In Hebrews 12 we receive some great instruction on how to endure and not fall away. ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;  then you won’t become weary and give up.’ (1-3) We actually become stronger, building endurance, by keeping our eyes on Jesus: The one who suffered for us.

When people believe in a gospel which is about freedom from problems they end up running from God when it comes. However, when we read scriptures like these we begin to understand that Jesus becomes our hope in suffering.  When we have our eyes fixed on Him we don’t give up.

This scripture starts off talking about a huge crowd of witnesses that surround us.  I have heard many messages about the great exploits mentioned in Hebrews eleven which has been coined ‘The Hall of Faith’ by many.  The faith and exploits of mighty men of God like Enoch, Noah, and Abraham are mentioned. However, there is also another group of people written about.  Scripture speaks very highly of them. It says, ‘They were too good for this world.’ (39a)  Who were these amazing people?  They were people who had trials and hardships of many kinds.

Just listen to their stories.  ‘But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.  Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.’ (35b – 37) Trials, torture, chains, prisons, and even death were not signs of sin, that God had forsaken them, or that God never heard their cries. Instead through His Word He lifts them up as examples. They are the great crowd of witnesses. We are in fact surrounded by those who have suffered. They are cheering us on.

We cannot reduce the gospel to a blessing only gospel. Trouble will come and unless there is a proper foundation it can destroy your faith. The stories of the men and women in the Bible must be told. The good, the difficult, the real. We don’t have to go looking for for trials and hardships, they will find us sooner or later all on their own. It is through these times we need to lean on God more as it creates perseverance and maturity in us.

Here is a video link from the ‘Before You Say Goodbye Project’ to a story of a family and their faith journey after they lost their brother.

So what can you do with the youth you work with to prepare them for when trouble comes? (1) Tell then to expect it. They do not need to go looking for it, it will come all on it’s own. (2) The testimony of someone who has walked through trouble is a powerful tool. (3) Read through the section in Hebrews mentioned above and have a discussion on how you, and your group, deal with hardship.

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Do Christian Camps Matter? Apparently so – 10 Weeks

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It would pretty hard, or impossible, for me to ever say that God does not exist. Not because I have been told He is real, but rather because I have experienced far too many ‘God Moments.’ I have personally experienced times of forgiveness, love, and acceptance. However, I have also seen incredible answers to prayer and miracles.

Of all the youth and young adults who grew up in the church who still are engaged in their faith, most would make similar claims. They have experienced God at work in their own lives. 
You can’t make someone have these experiences. However, we can help lead people to them. As parents, leaders, pastors, and churches we can recognize and encourage things that work.

Here is an easy one to see the results. If you asked all of the young adults presently engaged in their faith today in our country, you will discover that over half of them attended a Christian camp of some kind. If you asked those who grew up in the church, but are now atheist / agnostic, you would find out only about 20% of them were a part of camp experiences. Another surprising finding is that of those who are presently studying for full time ministry, the amount of them who have a camp experiences is over 90%.

It is quite obvious that everyone who has attended our camps across our country does not continue in their faith. However, they seem to be having a huge effect on the lives of many, and it is undeniable.

 God is always waiting for us. Sometimes it takes us stopping everything else we do, getting away from distractions, and putting ourselves in a place to see how real He is.

All of us, including our young people, will face their own questions of faith. By having times when we have our own experiences with God it has a long term affect. We may not know all the answers, but we can always lean on the fact we met God, and we know He is real.

Camps and retreats are some of most effective growth times for our youth. It takes a ton of work sometimes to get them there but it is worth it.

If these are not presently built into your discipleship process, it may be something to consider. 

This does not need to be limited to summer experiences. For example, in my own situation we encourage our youth to go to summer camp, but also have two young adult retreats per year. If you are in a denomination, or have local groups, to work with then find ways to do this together. Find what works for you, your budget, and situation.

Help point those you lead towards their own God moments.

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Free E-Book to kick off 10 Weeks of Ideas – Beautiful Christ

Beautiful Christ

Click link to watch the promo video.

To help kick off ’10 weeks of ideas before graduation’ we are giving away a pdf copies of Beautiful Christ for one week. Remember this is only the beginning. Over the next 10 weeks we are going to be constantly posting ideas you can try to help connect your youth to faith. We are also going to be having these surprise give aways. Free free to share this book with everyone you know. Be blessed.

There are many objections and questions people have about faith, life, and the Church.  This book includes topics like creation, science, evolution, suffering, science, church failures, difficult issues in the Bible, the evils of religion, can people be moral without God, and many more.  In a unique and thought provoking manner, I try to present an incredible picture of Jesus, and show how He can be seen through many of these modern questions and objections.

This book reveals why despite the many attacks on faith that is continues to thrive.  Even though many claimed advances in science would destroy faith in this century.  Despite the teaching and understanding on evolution.  Despite a rise in skepticism and atheist thinkers.  Despite incredible failures in church leaders.  The Christian faith keeps increasing worldwide.  Could it be there is more at work than just words?  Could Jesus be greater, more beautiful, than all of these?

Beautiful Christ Click to Download

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Do not stop doing Short Term Mission Trips – Another Reason To Go.


There is a lot of hate towards short term missions. There seems to be a ton of resources spent to help make people’s facebook and instagram pics look good. I understand the complaints, as there is a ton or waste, misconceptions, and people who are a bit delusional as to how effective some things are.

I want to make one thing clear though, ‘I will not stop doing short term mission trips’. I one hundred percent believe short term mission trips should be part of every church’s discipleship process.

Just to give a bit of perspective, I have seen short term mission trips from two perspectives. I have helped to lead over fifty short term mission trips in Canada and overseas. Over the past ten years we have also hosted over sixty short term mission teams that have worked with our church starting ministry. I have personally seen the best and the worst when it comes to short term teams.

Here is one reason why you should be encouraging good short term mission trips, one that is rarely mentioned, ‘They help to build longterm faith.’

Recently, there was a Canada wide study done examining why youth who grow up in the church stay connected to faith, or leave. One surprising finding was that over 50% of all Christian young adults said that their faith grew the most, or became the most alive, as a direct result of going on a short term mission trip.

Obviously, not everyone who takes part in a short term mission trip has this experience. However, to downplay what has happened in the lives of millions of people is just wrong. Just to very clear, according to our own youth and young adults, STM’s have led to more positive change in their lives, than almost everything else we do.

 If those leading teams can understand this important result of short term missions they can even become more effective for those going. It starts with us being honest, and not delusional, about the real effects of short term mission trips.

Here’s a few thoughts on how to make them even more effective.

(a) Find a missionary, or mission site, that you can go and serve in ‘their mission.‘ This means you need to go somewhere that is on a mission. When you serve a place on a mission, you are then coming along side an existing ministry already engaged in reaching a community. It is not a waste, you are then pushing that ministry ahead, right where they are.

 As a mission team host I love teams who come to serve. When a team serves it give the host the opportunity to do ministry that they normally do, and can follow up way more effectively.

(b) Have a plan. If you know that the trip you are planning could lead to the greatest spiritual growth period of your team, what will you do? Put a plan together that starts before you leave, during the trip, and when you get home. Do not think of your short term mission trip as a one week experience, instead plan a journey for all those going.

(c) Have Fun. This is your opportunity to get to know everyone on your team on a whole new level. Your trip is your chance to build relationships that will outlast the few days you are together. Do not neglect the time laughing, eating, talking, and doing site seeing. Use this time to invite people into your life so you will have even more opportunity to speak into their lives later.

(d) It is an invitation to discipleship. Not a discipleship course, but rather an opportunity for a few days and weeks to walk / talk / and minister in a similar manner as Jesus and His disciples did. The setting and context may be different but Jesus invite young people (the disciples) into ministry. STM’s are our opportunity to do the same. By having a plan you can ensure that invitation exists when you get home.

One of the biggest reasons young people say they leave the church is because they have never been given meaningful ministry to do. Make this your chance to invite them into the mission Jesus has called them to. 

By having a follow up plan you can ensure that invitation exists when you get home.

Now go get planning your trip.

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Before Graduation – 10 Weeks of Ideas

10 Weeks

Over the past ten years I have done my best to research, study, and share about the faith journey of our youth and youth adults in Canada, and around the world. It has been an incredible journey and I still have the same passion to see people connect to genuine faith and live with purpose.

With another graduation coming up in a few weeks I felt it was time to do more. Myself, along with many other great speakers, leaders, teachers, and experts have spent years putting together several resources for youth, parents, youth workers, and churches. This work, advice, thoughts, and ideas were not meant for us to keep to ourselves, instead, over the next ten weeks I am going to give it all away.

On this blog, several things are going to happen. First, I am going to post as many articles as I can of ideas you can do to help your young people grow in faith.  Also, I am going to be posting links to download free e-versions of every article and book we have ever produced. Each book will be free online for just a few days each so keep checking the site.

My hope is that you, your family, and those you work with will be challenged by what is being shared. Also, that those who are struggling with knowing how to engage this generation will be encouraging and be given new tools to work with. Let’s make this a year, before this graduation, a time we examine what is working, what isn’t, and put some practical tools into action.

This generation is worth it. Let’s work together to see change for our country.

As well, every e-version of all our books have been reduced to $1 each for the next ten weeks. Every printed book is now being sold at, or below cost, while available. All prices include shipping in Canada.




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Is This An Emergency, or Just the Way It Is?


NORMAL. Activities that are ’normal’ are things that that reoccur, are regular, happen a lot, or just ‘the way it is.’ What we grow up in, or live with, ‘becomes our normal,’ the way we think life is. I do not claim to be an expert on this subject, and the following is only my opinion.

There are things here in the Cape which have become the norm for many people, but in reality are far from normal. If some of the same things were happening in another community, I believe it would be considered an emergency. It is important to step back and see outside our own view sometimes, and to see a bigger picture.

Here in Cape Breton we have an unacceptable amount of youth and young adults struggling with addiction. Not only is this true, but the level of addiction and types of drugs has made death from of addiction issues incredibly common. I was told in the past two weeks we have had five more drug related deaths in our community. This should be shocking, and it would be except it is the norm, it happens all the time.

I believe if you sit down with most high school students, or young adults, in Cape Breton today you will discover that they have had more friends die than the average fifty year old. Death from drug and alcohol use is normal.

My family moved back to Cape Breton almost ten years ago and I work with Undercurrent Youth Centre and Lighthouse Community Church in Glace bay and Sydney. While I know our age demographic may be different than some churches, I have yet to do a funeral service for anyone who died of old age. Every one has either been a unexpected event, tragedy, or the most common, a drug or alcohol related death.

If you are are a young adult male in Cape Breton you are more likely to have an alcohol addiction problem than not, as the percentage of problem drinkers in the age group has exceeded fifty percent. The amount of that are needles getting exchanged at our ‘safe programs’ has been increasing at least 25% every year for many years. This year we are on track to see the biggest increase ever. If the trend continues, within 4 years the amount of needles being exchanged per capita will be 1000% higher than the mainland.

Things are not the same as they used to be. The use of highly addictive and very destructive drugs is increasing. The evidence is clearly seen the amount of deaths. However, the pain, issues, problems, guilt, and destruction is felt in the lives and homes of thousands.

Stating the obvious may not change the present reality. In fact, the issues are so big it may seem too daunting to change. Perhaps, this is why we accept a ‘normal’ which is not really normal. Change is difficult and it costs. However, it is worth it to see our kids, youth, adults, and families living free.

Here are a few thoughts on where to begin.

(1) Admit it. Too often we don’t want to tell the truth about what is happening. Even talking about our issues can be painful. But, know that you are not alone. We need to hear each other’s stories. We need to know the truth about what is really happening. My own family has been affected by drug use. Here is a link to an article about this–famil… If your are struggling, or a family member is, talk to someone. We have great people working with many organizations here in Cape Breton.

(2) Work Together. It is true that no one person, or organization, can save everyone. However, together we can do so much more. Every community has groups and organizations who need people to run. Commit to one group for a season. Regular, consistent volunteers are what make programs work. Find an organization and help, get involved, and stay for a while.

(3) Prevention. In my opinion, this is by far the most important thing we should be doing, and it is the thing we are doing the worst at. I believe it takes about the same amount of resources to get one person off of drugs as it takes to keep ten people from starting. It seems every organization, committee, group that I am a part of has the same message. The best and most effective thing we can do is to keep people from starting and become addicted. So if we know this, how are we doing? Not well.

We do have some great organizations here in the Cape, with great individuals, who are doing amazing things for their communities. A few examples are Community Cares, Big Brothers / Big Sisters, Whitney Pier Boys and Girls Club, Undercurrent Youth Centre, YMCA, and many more. While I do not speak on their behalf I do know their leadership spend significant time and energy just to stay operating and provide some of the best ‘addiction prevention’ programs in the area.

It may be assumed that these organizations receive funding to run programs, have staff, and stay open from government sources. In general, this is not the case at all. The vast majority of government funding is presently spent on dealing with addiction recovery. The organizations dealing with prevention are in constant fundraising activities and only work while they have staff and volunteers who are gifted in raising funds. Most of these incredible organizations are extremely underfunded and are only open because their leadership work tirelessly to keep them open.

I can only use our own centre for exact numbers. While we were building our centre we did receive funds for capital projects from every level of government which was extremely helpful. However, here is where government is lacking. We have been working on Undercurrent for nine years now. We have had between 10-12,000 visits from kids and youth this year (200 plus weekly). In those years the amount of federal money we have received for running programs, keeping the doors open, or having staff is zero. The amount of municipal funds we receive for the same things in the same time period is zero. In the same time period we did receive a provincial crime prevention grant of $1000 one year.

I use this as an example that in a community where perhaps millions are spent on dealing with addiction related issues in health care, addiction services, police services, etc we are putting almost no resources into what we say is the most important thing to do to in order to change out community, ‘Prevention.’ I am advocating for huge changes in this.

Dealing with addiction recovery, and not addiction prevention, is not bringing the community change we need. I totally believe in, and support addiction recovery programs. However, we need to stop the increase in the numbers becoming addicted.

What does addiction prevention look like? Safe hang out places. Introducing kids and youth to as many positive recreation, arts, social activities as possible. Letting young people have positive role models who will speak hope into their lives and be an ear to hear their struggles. To give options as to what healthy living and choice can look like. To provide activities in communities where there is not a lot for our young people to do. It really isn’t that complicated, but it takes work.

While I know prevention won’t stop all drug use I believe that if we want to see community transformation, and a downturn in the present drug use increases, we need to invest.

I am calling for all level of our government to rethink what they are doing here in the CBRM on this issue of prevention. However, government alone is not the answer, we need to each ask ourselves what are we personally doing? Are you involved with helping an organization? You can do this in a few ways. Volunteer, help fundraise, ask how you can help. Give. We should all do our part as individuals, organizations, and businesses. It is not about how much you give, together we can make a huge difference.

* This is part of what I am sharing at the Undercurrent Youth Centre fundraiser we are doing Saturday night. I want to persoanlly thank every person, business, and organization for your help and support. It is very much apprecaited. I hope this helps you understand how your support is helping to better our community. I believe Undercurrent is one of the few addiction prevention organizations for children and youth in the area.

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Being an Advocate and being Annoying


I live a life of extremes. I know I am involved with too many things and have far too many passions in life. My head sometimes spins with ideas, thinking of ways to create something, challenge people, and then sometimes I am overcome with the needs of where I live.

I know all of this makes me incredibly annoying to some people. I can’t seem to stop talking about these things. Whether it be fighting the drug culture in my town, fighting for money to keep a youth centre running, or trying to bring hope to new communities.

I am guilty of speaking about things that are my passions and throwing them on others. This may challenge some people into action but it also can cause friction as some already have their own passions, or perhaps are happy to have none.

For many years when I spoke at various youth events I would be the guy who would be talking about sponsoring children with various groups, taking up offerings for various causes, and inviting people to go on trips with mission organizations. Looking back, I know I have been very blunt with people. I know I even offended people with what I have said about people in North America who do not help the poor of the world in some way. I know I have definitely offended religious people as I have quoted scripture verses about what Jesus said would happen to those who did nothing. (You should look these up)

However, for a moment let me explain why I think I am so annoying at times.  Some of this is based on my life experiences, some on my faith, and some on just being a person on the planet.

Every year when we take teams to do mission work we do several debriefs. At the last one of every trip I ask everyone to bring a rock with them. There is a story I tell about how ancient groups would take stones and make a pile where some event happened. The purpose was simply so a genration later if someone was there and asked, ‘why are these here?’ Someone would say because this certain event happened, right here, and we need to remember.

I then ask everyone to write something on the rock that they brought. Just one word. Just one thing, one change, one thought they want to remember. In the midst of a mission experience where people have experienced poverty, the joy of helping, suffering, love, and other things most people write something extremely meaningful.

I then ask everyone to take that rock home and simple put it somewhere in their house where they will see it. This is just meant to be a simple reminder of the promises we all made to ourselves to change or work on.

One of mine many years ago was simply this, ‘Remember’. Not the most creative, but it certainly has been costly. The reason I wrote that was because I had been on many trips, I have seen terrible things, and I have then gone home and lived the same. I wanted to remember. I wanted to remember the people I met. I wanted to remember what I thought. I wanted to remember how selfish I have lived. I wanted to remember the promises I made in my mind to help in any way I could. I wanted to remember because I know I didn’t follow through.

There is a scripture I heard someone speak on several years ago that I will never forget. It is Proverbs 31:8 and 9. It says this, ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.

You see I have decided to be an advocate. This means I am someone who speaks on behalf of the poor, broken, or voiceless. I have decided to speak and call othes to action even if it annoys people. Being annoyed is one of our 1st world rights and pleasures. I have decided to be a voice for every person I have met on those trips.

So in the end I do not mind asking others to help. I know I will annoy people. I am ok with that.

Today I challenge you for one moment to think about someone who has far less than you.

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If I was the Devil? What Can You Learn From One Picture


I have been called a devil, but I am not the devil. However, let’s for a moment, for the sake of this story, pretend I was in fact the real devil. If, as the father of lies and deceit, my purpose was to try my best to slow down, trick, and harm the Church then I would come up with plans to carry out, and then I put them into action. Also, I may need to grow some horns.

As the devil it may be a good idea to try and convince Christians that the people God wants to use to change the world are incapable of doing it. What if I could convince the Church that those with the most passion, the most energy, the most zeal, can’t be the ones who God wants to use?

This would be a great plan if I was the devil. I would figure out who God had chosen and make sure they are never given the opportunity to be who they truly are. I would convince everyone, including themselves, they are incapable and useless.

It’s just a thought, as I am not really the devil, but some people have fallen for this lie.  Much of the present state of many churches rests on the fact they we have fallen for this deceit. It is obvious many churches don’t have a lot of young people attending, but in most cases there are only older people serving in those churches as well.

You have likely seen a picture of the last supper. The night before Jesus was crucified he spent time with those closest to Him.  Of course we don’t have an actual picture of that night, but we do have many artist’s renditions of what they think the last supper may have looked like. So now there are paintings hanging in homes and churches all over the world of this occasion.

I’m slightly annoyed each time I see one. Not because it is painted poorly, or is hung crooked on the wall. No, it is because there are specific things wrong with it. This may be a good time for you to look up a picture of it. They may not be obvious at first but keep looking.

First, if this was your last supper you would think there would be more food. It is looking pretty sparse if this will be Jesus’ last meal until we all eat together again in Heaven. Second, for a bunch of Jewish guys they all sure look strangely European. But often when I share this picture no one sees the major thing that is wrong and inaccurate.  What is it? The people in the picture all seem to be between thirty-five and seventy.

In all honesty, it is painted this way because this is how a person imagined them to be from what they had been taught or read. We likely think of them this way too. But the picture is wrong and so are our thoughts about the disciples.  The disciples were possibly all between the ages of fourteen to twenty-one when Jesus called them to follow him.

Can you imagine any modern day minister, church, or denomination giving the leadership of their movement to a bunch of teenagers? Could you imagine the response of anyone saying, “I just prayed and God told me to choose these twelve kids to lead this whole thing?” Almost all of us would think this is foolishness, or at best, have some major reservations.

Yet, this is actually what Jesus did. He chose a group of young men to invest in, spend time with, impart wisdom and teach. He sent these young people out to do ministry in His name. They messed up, argued who would be greatest, and ran away when trouble came. They stood up and spoke to thousands, dedicated themselves to following Jesus, gave their all to be with Him, and made incredible statements such as, ‘You are the Christ’.  They seemed a little unstable, prone to make rash decisions, doubted, and didn’t understand a lot of what Jesus was telling them. You put all that together and you have a pretty good description of what the life of a teenager or young adult looks like.

The decision to pick these young men was God’s will. This was the plan. It may not be ours, but it worked. I would even go as far to say He was right and we’re wrong when we exclude youth from ministry. I encourage you to reread the gospels, not in your own preconceived contexts, but knowing now that these disciples were in fact young people.  This opens up a whole new view of these books of the Bible.  It also leads to the question, ‘If this is what Jesus did, what does this mean for me?’
I don’t think this means the Church should only be led by young people. The disciples did not stay young and they still were leaders. It means young people are needed and should have equal representation. Most important, we have to know Jesus believed they could lead and were worth His investment.

Of course some people will say the culture was different – which is true and needs to be taken into consideration. At thirteen you were considered a man. By eighteen you could have been the master of your craft or occupation. Young people had responsibility.  But you can’t have responsibility until you are trusted with it.

Keep this in mind: in most countries, even today, where Christianity is growing the fastest, youth are involved. They are leading. They are doing ministry. They have not believed, or fallen for, the lie that God can’t use youth, that God can’t use you.

Here is a short video that was used for the Canadian Youth Workers Tour this year but is taken from a section in the book ‘Before You Say Goodbye’.

Click on the picture to watch the video.
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Being Good without God?


I have seen this sign and similar bumper-sticker sayings in the past. I am sure it is unintentional but this group is doing more to promote faith than destroy it. By talking about ‘good’ they are bringing up something that can actually turn people to faith.

It is true a person without faith in God can certainly do good, and even great things. I wish every people on the planet, regardless or culture, beliefs, ideology, or religion would all do good to one another. The world would be a better place.

The question that comes up though is whether good can exist with God. What if, as it is believed by many, ‘God is Good’. What if the reason there is a deep, ingrained  desire to do good exists is because we have been created in the ‘image of God’, who is good.  In the end when really considered the idea of goodness is yet another sign of God.

Here is a long blog I wrote about goodness and how it points to Jesus.


It is amazing how even a small gift of goodness can change your day.  A simple smile. A kind word.  Encouragement.  A small text message, note, or email.  All have an incredible power that can change attitudes and break us out of cold heartedness.

Somehow, even doing good ourselves seems to have the same effect. Those who receive are blessed by our actions, but for some reason the giver receives by giving. It is here, under these circumstances, that the verse, “Give, and you will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38a), can be best understood.  Those who give the most are those who most often seemed blessed in many ways.  It may be in peace, in appreciation, or in reputation. Giving causes those who do it to feel good about themselves and the world they are living in.

Sadly, there are signs that there is not always enough goodness going around. One indication is that when some people have received goodness they don’t know how to react.  They may just be in shock goodness has found them. They may not know how to accept things. They don’t know how to respond to a compliment. Our past sometimes makes it difficult to accept even that God is as good as He says He is.  We have been let down so often we have a hard time believing this level of goodness is even possible.

An example would be forgiveness. The Bible teaches when Christ forgives, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). It means it is put away and not to ever be held against us.  Yet, how often do we keep going back to ask forgiveness again, trying to do penance over and over.  We can be caught in the lie that because of our mistakes God could never really accept us.  Why do we think this?  Because we limit how good God could be by measuring against how good we are.  We need to be thankful His goodness, grace, and mercy are not limited by us. Instead He is just good all on His own.

We all certainly want to be on the receiving side of goodness at times.  We need it.  The world, it seems, could use a lot more of it.  If there was a goal each of us could set it should be to fill the world with goodness. It could be the means to overcoming hatred, evil, injustice, and lifting people out of despair. How truly wonderful goodness is.

A question some ask is, “do we need God for us to be good?  Is it possible for someone who does not have a belief in Jesus, God, or some faith to do good or to be a moral person?” These questions and their answers are often used by Christians and Atheists groups to discredit each other’s beliefs.  However, I would like to present a different perspective.

Some Christians have argued that the belief in God is necessary for real morality.  That humans on their own will always fall to the lowest levels without God.  This belief is seemingly backed up by scriptures like Romans 3:10, which says, No one is righteous–not even one.” Or perhaps, Psalm 53:1-3: “Only fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!  God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God.  But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!”  The idea many have taken from these scriptures is that life without God means you, and everyone, will be morally corrupt.

Some atheists say that people can do good and be moral without faith.  I also believe it to be true.  In fact, there are those who are opposed to faith in Jesus, or faith in general, who are doing great things for society and their neighbors, who are loving people and fighting against injustice in many ways.  Some would argue that because they are capable of doing good and being moral it shows God is not necessary for goodness and morality.

Looking at this under a new lens may be helpful, though, because both side’s arguments may be flawed.  The truth is, those of faith, and those without, have proven that they are both capable of doing good, having morals, doing evil, and causing harm.  We can look at the lives of both groups and find examples for whatever we are trying to prove. Even looking at the scriptures above, how can we say that with the millions or billions of Christians, “all have turned away, no one does good?”

One reason there has been such a backlash from non-believers has been because of the condemning message and attitudes from those of faith. Through the use of scripture we have emphasized they are not good, or capable of doing good.  Without Christ they can have no purpose and will remain second class citizens to us. It seems we have had a message that we are good, and you are not, even if appears you are doing good.

When someone called Jesus ‘good teacher’ he had an interesting response: “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good” (Mark 10:18). Notice His response was not, “Yes God is good, the religious people are good, and everyone else is bad.” He said only God is good.  These verses were not meant to divide humanity into the ‘good group’ and the ‘bad group.’ Jesus put us all into the same group together.  The religious, the faithful, the skeptics, the doubters, and those opposed.

Instead, the real implication of this message is incredibly Good News.  Yes, God is good. He is pure. He is light, with no room for darkness.  Next to Him none of us compare.  Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, or something else, each one of us has moments when we have thoughts or actions that are less than desirable.  We have had ideas and thoughts that included harming others, deceit, and the like. Even those with great morals, ethics, and faith have done these, and will in the future. No one is immune. It is part of being human.  I believe this is why it says in Romans 3:23, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

So, yes, if Jesus is the measuring stick for goodness none of us quite measures up. No one can say they have never acted outside of God’s, or even their own, standards of morality at some point in their lives. So our lives are not absent of some darkness. However, all of these scriptures were never spoken to divide people, but rather, to show we are all in the same boat together.

There is even more to this, though.  We sometimes take a very negative view of humanity in general.  This is all so obvious in how the news is usually focused on all the negatives but not as many positive stories, even though they do exist. However, if we take a look even into Genesis we see how God was involved with creation.  What was His reaction to how things were made?  To humanity and creation, He said, “It is good.”

Further, we see it revealed that humanity was created in the image of God—That there is something of the divine nature within us.  We have been created as free thinking conscious beings, again, having the ability to do good and evil.

It is claimed by some that because those without faith can live moral, good, and outstanding lives outside of God, it is a proof He does not exist. However, it can also be argued that the fact that all of us, in and out of faith, are capable of goodness, and of having morality, shows there is a common bond between us all.  Could it be that the divine imprint of goodness is in all of us?  I have come to believe that this common bond has only strengthened my belief in a creator.

It feels good to do good.  Have you ever considered why? If there is no God, no real moral code, no absolute right and wrong, where does this internal reaction come from? These thoughts, feelings, or emotions that seem to exist in most of humanity again show there is some connection between us all.  They speak an incredible message to us.

Could it be possible that the scripture Ephesians 2:10, is the key? “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  If so, then, for a moment when we do good, we are stepping into the reason for our existence.  When we do good we are experiencing a God moment.  It is a taste of what God is; He is good.  For these moments we are walking in what we were created to be.  It is a taste of what the Kingdom of God is and our divine purpose.

So I believe that morality and goodness can exist without one having faith in God.  However, it is not a proof of the non-existence of God.  Rather it may be one of the biggest signs of how real He is.  Even His goodness is not limited to those who believe; instead He is good to all.  “For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:45b). For Christians to ever say those outside of faith cannot be blessed, or even used for His purposes, even His redemptive plans, is to deny scripture. This scripture even increases a believer’s responsibility to do good to everyone, not just those who agree with them, because the one who they follow does.

One thing that is evident is that goodness has a contagious power.  It is true we can easily come up with examples or people of faith, and not of faith, who have done great evil.  However, you cannot negate the truth that millions, if not billions, of people have sacrificed to do good for their fellow human beings.  When we let this divine nature grow in us, and we embrace the goodness we were created to walk in, we begin to walk in the Kingdom Jesus ushered in.

This understanding of the goodness of God gives us some hope, even in tough and difficult times.  Despite circumstances, He is always good.  It is something we can know and keep our hope in; if everyone else fails and the world seems to be falling apart, we know something still remains. His goodness.  He still hears us, loves us, and He never fails.

James 1:17, sums up where all of this goodness comes from:  “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”  He is good.  Goodness comes from Him.  Ask him to help you walk in the good He has prepared for you.

He is the beautiful goodness.

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How To Make Sure You Will Not Pass on Your Faith To Your Kids

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There is no one thing you can do to guarantee that your kids will be serving God in twenty years. I know this is not the answer many people are looking for when they are trying to do their best they can to raise Godly children. However, there are definitely things you can do that greatly decrease the likelihood that they be actively involved in their faith as adults.


These thoughts are not just based on my own research and ideas but on several recent studies done, especially one called Hemorrhaging Faith. It is evident that young people growing up in Christian homes who do not have the following things in their lives are far less likely to be a person of faith as an adult. The stats are dramatic enough that I would say if aren’t doing these things there is little chance (Not Impossible) that your children will be people who call themselves Christians as adults.

(1) Don’t read your Bible at home. This seems pretty simplistic but this is one of the common factors of young adults who are in the church today. They had a parent who obviously believed in, read, and tried to live out what they learned in the Bible. I believe the reason it is important the Bible was read at home is because it demonstrates that their parent’s faith was not just a Sunday event but rather a part of their entire life. So if you are not trying to pass on your faith keep all the Bibles hidden and never let your children see you reading, studying, or listening to it.

(2) Don’t let your kids see you pray. Again this is quite simple. Don’t do it. If you never pray you obviously don’t think God is involved with your day to day life.  Lack of pray perhaps is a sign of how much we believe God is involved with real life.

(3) Don’t get involved with a local Church. This is one of the most obvious and easiest ways to make sure your children will not be Christians when they grow up.

This isn’t about whether you forced them to go or didn’t. This is about you. It also isn’t about if you attend a Church for an hour on Sunday. If you remove yourself from being involved in the ministry and community of a local church you can greatly increase the chance your kids with have no faith.

Why does this seem to matter? It would appear that if your kids never see a practical outflow of you saying you are a Christian, then they don’t believe it is important either. Also, by never having your kids part of a Christian community, around peers who have faith, and never modelling it yourself, you are almost guaranteeing you won’t pass on your faith to them.

Again, as a parent myself, I know there are incredible struggles with raising kids, teens, and young adults. In the end I know every parent just wants what is best for our children. Over the past years from reading, hearing, and studying this topic I have been convinced that a parent(s) role will play a huge part in every person’s faith journey.

I also know there are always exceptions. I know parents who have seemed to do everything right, and some who seemed to do everything wrong, and there kids are doing great, and some are not.

I do want to encourage you with this. For young people who have walked away from their faith and come back, the number one reason they give for that turn back to faith is this – Influence of family. It is never too late. Read, Pray, Go. You be the example.

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The End of Faith is Near – And other lies we are told.

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I love stats at times. I use them all the time when talking about youth and young adult rentention in the church today. Sometimes I believe people think I must be quite depressed as I have spent a significant part of my life studying, writing, and speaking about the loss to certain age groups in their faith circles.

I read so many articles from faith groups and atheist groups talking about the demise of faith, the decline of the Church, and about a mass exodus taking place on a weekly basis. This is what I do. However, I have not fallen into despair or have lost hope.

Why not? For two reasons. It isn’t true. Yes I said it, and I will explain. Secondly, I believe God is behind what is happening today.

Most of the numbers and stats people use are pointing to a decline in the numbers of certain age groups in some western countries. However, this is a segment. To declare ‘Faith is Dead’ without studying the whole picture is problematic, as you can come to false conclusions, as many have. It may be easy to say ‘American Christianity’ is on the decline but to even state the end is coming is an absolute lie some want you to believe.

The fact is that faith is on the rise. The global percentage of Christians in the world is not in decline at all. This may be disheartening to those who claim otherwise, but you can’t argue with the facts.

Here is just one example. The segment of Christianity called the Pentecostal movement is presently growing at an astonising rate worldwide. I am not speaking about a denomination but rather a group that not only holds a strong belief in Jesus, His divinity, the Bible, but it also believes that God is clearly at work today. In just the last 100 years this group has grown from a handful to a number so large that some claim it has reached over one billion.  In all of history no faith group, or non-faith group, has grown so quickly. Ever. This is happening right now. If this group keeps growing at the same rate, as it consistently has for the past one hundred years, then there will be no non-believers in less than a century.

Even in North America, where many are claiming an end of faith, these groups are not in decline. In 2013 the Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the US grew. In Canada, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, has just announced plans to start four hundred new churches.

As for the second point, I have come to the conclusion that God is behind much of what is happening in some western contexts of where we are seeing decline. Again, let me give a few reasons why I hold to this belief.

First, there are denominational groups who, in essence, have become post-Christian. These would be groups who no longer hold the basic beliefs and practices of Christianity. In every case, these denominations are in steep decline and soon will cease to exist.

Second, the loss of the ‘Americanized Church’, ‘Mega-Church Movement’, or the ‘Tel-Evangelist’ could be a very refreshing change. This is not to say there will not be big churches, there will be. If a church grows it becomes bigger, that is how healthy things are. However, people in general are tired of the ‘show’ and are seeking something far more authentic.

Third, I believe the loss of all our buildings and stuff could be the best thing that ever happened to the Church today. Why? I believe this because it happened before, and it caused one of the greatest growth periods of the Church.

Many falsely believe that Jesus gave the great commission to go and preach to all people, and all nations, and that the disciples and the believers went and did it right then. They didn’t. It seems most stayed right where they were. However, persecution came. They lost their homes. They lost their gathering places. I am sure they felt hopeless and that God had deserted them. I am sure they felt as many people do today who are in the same spot.

However, what they thought was going to hurt the gospel became the greatest tool in its spread. Forcing them out of their safe places made them take the gospel to places it never was, to people who had never heard, to countries both near and far. I have now come to believe God is helping us make a shift in our country where we to are going to be in a place where the Church is going to move outside of it walls. That it is going to have to learn to be salt and light in the community, in our neighbourhoods, and in our homes.

I think it sounds wonderful.

There has never been a better day to be living in Faith. We are literally having the chance to live in an era when the most people in all of history are and will become followers of Jesus.

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My Father

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‘My prayer for my kids is that they will go further in ministry, do more, share the gospel with more people, go places I will never go, and have experiences with God that I never have.’

I heard my own father say that and similar statements many times about my brother, sister, and myself. I know I walk today under the blessing of my father. He prayed for and declared our success all our lives.

I know at times we caused our parents much grief. But there is something about having parents that don’t give up; that stay up praying when their kids don’t come home; that don’t let go when you choose to run away; that stand looking and waiting for their lost son to return.

I have never been without a home, without a family, without someone to call out to when Iwas in trouble. I have always known someone believed in me. I have always known someone was calling out to God on my behalf.

I am what I am today because of my father. I am my father’s son.

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Haemorrhaging Faith Explanation by David Overholt

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This is video featuring David Overholt. It is an explantation of what the Haemorrhaging Faith survey is and also why it is so very relevant to your church and ministry.

You can purchase a copy of the full study at

You can also purchase a copy of ‘Transfusing Life – A practical Response to the Hemorrhaging Faith Report’ here on this website.



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Thank God for Science – It Is Increasing Faith


‘Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.’  Carl Sagan

Science is built on facts. Or perhaps for some it is the discovery of those facts, ideas, and theories which until this point we have not understood. Science is growing and increasing in knowledge. Discoveries are still being made whether it has to do with incredibly large  subjects as the expanding universe or diving into the incredibly small world or molecules, particles, and atoms. At no time in history have we known so much, and understand there is still so much to learn.

Over the centuries many great thinkers predicted that this increase of understanding would cause an erosion, or be the demise, of faith. You can do a quick google search and find many examples of such ideas. However, here is a fact that challenges each person who has ever said those words, and to those who say such things now. Faith had not ended. Instead it has increased.

Not only were, and are, those type of predictions a bit off, they appear to be totally wrong. Instead of an ending as a result of science, there was growth. The facts, and through history, we see see that as the understanding of science increases, faith increases.

I am amazed how many non-religious people will use wording such as people of faith are anti-science, anti-free thought, or that science and faith are in conflict and you have to choose between the two. These are in lies thrown on the masses of reasonable people throughout the world. In fact, as people of faith we should actually be promoting science and the study of the universe. It seems that the more the world knows about the complexity of life, the universe, and how just incredible the world and life is, that awe and belief grow.

Science is turning out to be the biggest testimony of the greatness of God. With discovery comes insight into the incredible nature of the universe, the rules that flow throughout it, the smallness, and in fathomable size.

Know I know some may disagree with that idea. However, look at the facts. The percentage of people coming to faith on earth is not shrinking. There has never been as many people coming to faith as right now in our modern world.  Some may quote American stats about the slowing of some western Christianity, (Which may be a good thing) but world wide faith is on the increase. If you look at the past centuries and study percentages of believers in the world and different time periods you will discover that as science and understanding increased than so did faith.

This does not mean there has not been conflict in thought. When new ideas emerge people of every mindset hate to change.  You can obviously find religious people who are anti-science and you can find people who despite having an understanding of some piece of the universe don’t have faith in God and are anti-faith. The fighting between a few in each camp is just the same arguments that have been rehashed for thousands of years with none of them coming together because they are looking at the same things but coming up with different understandings.

Needless to say I am not worried. Instead I am hugely optimistic. If the current rate of ‘knowledge’ increases we only have more to look forward to.


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Helping Others Find Their God Moments

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A truth from the Hemorrhaging Faith Survey – Young people who are engaged in the church today are far more likely to say that they have personally experienced the love and acceptance of God, as well as answered prayer, as those who are disengaged. Connection is important.

We are all different, thank goodness. Just as we look different, and have various personality types, we have different ways we connect with God. This is incredibly freeing to know because you may be wondering why others keep talking about about how they love worship services, or love preaching, and you are thinking, ‘Those things are putting me to sleep’.

Throughout scripture we see people who connected with God in various way. For David there was a connection through worship. Some saw God in creation. Some of the gospel writers were scholarly and had a deep theology. We have lots of examples of people running after the presence of God. Others seem to connect to God through prayer. For some it is through serving others.

So it is ok that some people have a leaning towards one of these or perhaps another connection point. It is also ok if you have trouble connecting to God in some of these too. It can obviously be a bit tough if you are part of a group which only focuses on just one of these while you excel in another.

So what can you do? A simple exercise, which someone taught me, can help you out a lot. Simply think back over the last year or two of your life.  When did you have your biggest ‘God Moments’.  Write them down.

For you, it may have been at a retreat, a camp, when you were listening to worship music, after being challenged by a message, reading the Bible, when you helped at a soup kitchen, or perhaps alone sitting under the stars.  If you think about your own experiences and times of growth you will likely notice a few trends.

This will serve two purposes. First, for you to remember that you actually had God moments yourself. Just because we are humans we forget. We will have days that are tough. We will have trouble. Sometimes remembering that God has met us before, gives us enough faith to believe He can again. It is also quite a thing to acknowledge that the God of the universe interacted with you personally. Quite a crazy, but cool, thought when you get down to it.

Second by doing this, you may recognize that you have some obvious connection points with God. This does not mean these will be the only ones you ever have, but they are important to you. Now here is the important part.  If you recognize you have ways you connect to God a lot, put yourself there again. Sow into your relationship with Jesus.

For example, if your greatest spiritual growth was while attending a Bible Camp, make plans to go again. Do everything you can to get there. If you connect to God every time you are surrounded by nature, then put yourself there again. This does not mean you should forsake all the ways people connect to God. It just means you recognize that in your uniqueness this is how God is speaking to you.

If you want to be a follower of Jesus, chase after Him. Experiencing God is so powerful and life changing, He is worth running after. Find your connections.



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Hasn’t science disproven God? by Andy Bannister

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Dr Andy Bannister was one of the people we asked to give some input for the Before You Say Goodbye Project. He was asked this question, ‘Hasn’t science disproven God?’ Here is his response.

A common claim made by many of our atheist friends is that science has replaced religion. Atheist authors like Sam Harris claim that “the success of science comes at the expense of religion” whilst Richard Dawkins says the “God Hypothesis” can be scientifically tested and proven false. In short, they claim that there is a war between science and religion which, given time, science will win.

Yet there are many problems with this view. First, there are many examples of eminent scientists who believe and trust in God. Richard Dawkins snootily remarks that whenever he has met a religious scientist and asked them to justify their belief, they always say they have no evidence but believe on faith. Now I’m not sure which scientists Dawkins has been hanging out with, but this is not the position of John Polkinghorne, John Lennox, Alister McGrath or Francis Collins — all scientists who have written about how their religious faith and their scientific careers cohere.

Furthermore, if you examine the history of science, you discover not merely the fact that the majority of scientists in the past were Christians, but it was their very faith that led them to approach the universe expecting to find it coherent, because a rational God created it. This led them to ask how God did it.

Another of the consistent problems exhibited by many atheists is a failure to recognise where the boundaries of science lie. Science can tell you what will happen if you fire 3,000 volts through your grandma; science can’t tell you if you should do this. In short, science is very good at how questions — how something works. It’s utterly useless when it comes to “why” questions — why should I be moral? Why am I here?

Our atheist friends also forget that science itself rests upon a number of faith-based, metaphysical assumptions about the way that the universe works. For example: why is reality rational and ordered? Why are the fundamental laws of the universe written in the language of mathematics, one we can understand?

Where did rationality and consciousness come from and how can we trust our minds? It’s easy to forget that at the heart of the scientific method lie a number of assumptions about reality.

Finally, there’s the problem of reductionism. Reducing everything to what we can measure scientifically leads to some fairly drastic consequences. Atheist Ingrid Newkirk once said that “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy — there’re all mammals”. Whatever one thinks of the science behind that statement, it leads to a very obvious problem: once you can see people as no more than animals, what’s wrong with treating them as such? Indeed, a fascinating question to ask our atheist friends is “if humans are just sacks of chemicals, why does it matter what anybody does to them?”

The Christian worldview offers a much more coherent, wholistic view of reality. It says that science is important — all truth is God’s truth. But the universe does not merely consist of physical causes, but also personal causes. Why is the universe understandable and rational, why is science even possible? Because ultimate reality is personal. And the Christian worldview says that we can know that reality — because the personal creator of the universe has spoken: in Jesus Christ, his son.

Andy Bannister
Dr. Andy Bannister is the Canadian Director and Lead Apologist for RZIM Canada. He has a background in youth ministry before studying theology and philosophy.  Andy holds a PhD in Islamic studies. Andy is a keen hiker, mountain climber and photographer. He lives in Toronto and is married to Astrid and they have one daughter, Caitriona. Check out Andy’s Youtube Channel that has video blogs about tough questions.

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The Incredible Improbability that there is no God

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It may seem a bit strange to some, however I am part of several online atheist groups and discussion boards.  I’m not there to bash people but to listen to people’s thoughts, perspectives, and reasons why they do not believe in God.  A common theme I’ve discovered is that people believe there isn’t any proof of the existence of God.  I once found a man who was offering money if anyone can prove a miracle has ever occurred.

Since putting myself into these discussions I’ve been frequently asked why I believe in God. One of the reasons I give is that I have seen too much proof He does exist.  I believe there is a lot evidence for God.

Over the past years I have been asking the same question to all the groups, sessions, churches, and conferences I’ve attended.  I want you to think about this question as well. How many times in your life have you had a God experience?  Just to clarify the question, a God moment could be a miracle (big or small), experiencing the love of God, a revelation, a God thought, God providing something you’ve needed or even an answered prayer.

I have been surprised to hear the number of God experiences people have experienced. A few people said it has been hundreds while others have said thousands. Personally I can relate a higher number, although I’m sure many believers would say it is less for them. In most church settings when I’ve asked the question, the average response is usually well over one hundred.

For argument’s sake, let’s use one hundred as an average. Now let’s then put that in perspective according to how many Christians there are, not to mention believers of other faiths. There are around two billion Christians today, not including those throughout history. If two billion people say they’ve had one hundred God experiences in their lifetime, then we actually have over 200,000,000,000 examples of God at work today.  Truthfully this would be an incredibly low amount as I believe that number is much, much higher, as many claim they have had thousands.

In order for me to deny my faith, or ever say there is no God would mean I would have to believe, or know, all these 200,000,000,000 examples of God at work today all are misrepresentations, fake, or were trickery. For there to be no God means none of these God experiences actually took place.

That would be a substantial claim for someone to make, however that’s exactly what people are saying when they claim God does not exist. I, for one, can neither prove or disprove all of these (although I’m sure some were fake or misrepresentations) However, if even one, just one, of these hundreds of billions of testimonies are true – it changes everything.  It is just an incredible improbability that there is no God.

This is an excerpt from the book ‘Before You Say Goodbye.’

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Lost in Transition – Free Chapter from Before You Say Goodbye

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Lost in Transition

Talk about surprises. It has been a long held belief that most young people walk away from their faith after high school and into young adulthood. While it is true there is a decrease then, it is not the biggest one.

The largest decrease in church attendance and faith occurs during the transition into Jr High.

There are also distinct drops in attendance and faith throughout every transition point in young peoples’ lives.

It’s clear that many youth do not handle their faith well through times of extreme change or during the loss of the constants in their lives.

When you are leaving childhood to Jr High, going into senior High, leaving home for work or college, are all times you are likely to struggle. So how can you be prepared?

You can download the entire chapter for Free Here

This is just one of the chapters from Before You Say Goodbye. Order yours today.

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Find Someone Who Believes in You – Advice for Youth

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Sierra Exif JPEGSeveral years ago, I visited a church in Columbia that had a youth ministry which had grown dramatically into the tens of thousands. I had the opportunity to speak to a few of the young people who were part of this ministry. I asked how many people were in the small group networks (cell groups) they all led. I was astonished to be told all of them were leading groups between four hundred and one thousand. I’d never heard of anything like this, yet I was seeing it in front of me.

A year later our church sent teams to work with a few Gypsy churches in Serbia. There I met the young couple in this picture. The young man was pastoring one of the churches which was growing remarkably well. He was fifteen when he became the pastor.

To be honest these types of stories don’t fit within the mindsets of the western church. I believe Jesus’ disciples were young people but in Columbia I was actually seeing it active in the church. It was incredible and almost hard to believe, but it was certainly real.

When I think back on these meetings, and others I have since experienced, I can see there are some common factors between them all. They were completely devoted to Jesus, they had faith and believed they could be used by God, and they had someone who believed in them.

The young people I spoke with weren’t left on their own. They had leaders who were helping them, equipping them, praying they would succeed, and releasing them into ministry. They were doing for these young people, what Jesus had done for the disciples.

Find someone who believes in you.

– A Story from the Before You Say Goodbye Book

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Who do YOU want to EMULATE?

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Who do you want to be like? As a skateboarder there are a few guys I have always idolized. I am amazed at the things they can do and wish I had the same skills they do. You likely have your own people to look up to. But beyond their skills or material things, who has goals, ambitions, and most importantly, the characteristics, that you would also like to have?

Sadly, we all know people who have fame, money,  or abilities that we’d like to have –  but not their character. So forget about the stuff and look at the heart. Who do you want to be like?

I’ve run into people I consider heroes. Many years ago I was introduced to a lady in Mexico who had taken in fifty-five orphans.  She cared for them.  She made sure they were fed. She wasn’t doing it for fame or to become part of a famous organization.  She simply did it because she saw a need and decided that she had to do something.

I saw something in her I wish I had. I wanted to become like her. It may not mean I want to move to Mexico, but I at least want to be willing to help others. To be someone who loves extraordinarily.

I am writing this while in the Dominican Republic working in several Haitian and Dominican towns and villages. What is evident is who is here to help those in need. It is primarily people with strong personal belief in Jesus.

This is not to say everyone who is helping the poor are people of faith. I know many atheist, agnostic, and people of other religions who are fighting and working on the behalf of others. However, around the entire world are millions of people who go to where no one else is going. People who sacrifice beyond what anyone could ever deem normal. I believe one of the biggest common factors you will find in them is they have a strong faith in Jesus Christ. It is because faith in Jesus leads us somewhere.

This is what makes faith beautiful. It is seeing Jesus lived out in real life. It is hope being given to those who are hopeless. It is a meal given to the hungry. It is hurt finding healing. It is living lives in bondage to drugs, alcohol, and addiction being set free. This is where faith and belief in Jesus will take you. To be an agent of change in this world. You can literally become part of the His Kingdom comes to earth.

I do not just want to be part of a belief system that is about arguments. I do not just want to fight about how real, this or that is. I want to believe in something that actually brings something real. If my beliefs aren’t bringing me somewhere, do I want those beliefs?

Personally, no. This is one reason why I believe God is so real. While there may be many who will argue against the existence of God. Many of whom I highly respect. It does not mean I want to emulate their life. However, every time I run into someone who has been completely transformed by Jesus, I see something beautiful in their character. It is evident Jesus is there.

I do not just want to debate and argue. I want to believe in something that causes me to fight for freedom, to take up the cause of the oppressed, to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

My goal is not to prove or disprove God. He should be able to take care of Himself. Or to just debate and argue with others about theology and points of views. Instead I want to ask myself and others, ‘If your belief isn’t taking you somewhere, is it really a belief worth having?’ So in the end we have to ask ourselves who do we want to become like? Personally I want to become like those willing to give. To go. To sacrifice.

More like Jesus.



IMG_2724Meet Anna.  This young adult visited the Dominican Republic several years on a humanitarian trip with Live Different. While in the Sosua area she saw how young girls were entering into prostitution to survive.

Everyone who sees how these young people are abused and used is upset about the situation. Everyone, says someone should do something. However, heroes are different. They decide to be that ‘Someone.’

At the age of twenty three Anna began a new journey. She left Kelowna, British Columbia and moved to Sosua, in the Dominican Republic. There she started the Empower Girls Program, as part of Servant’s Heart Ministries. This program was designed to give girls choices and life skills needed to prevent them from entering prostitution.

She gave a stage of her life to serve the people of the Dominican Republic. She is a modern day hero. It is people like Anna who show how real the transforming power of Christ truly is. It changes us. It moves us. It invites us. Calls us. Compels us to be His hands and feet. To be a voice of hope, healing, and peace. To be one who rescues the lost, hurting, and broken.

Who do you want to Emulate? For me, it is people like Anna.

Visit Servant’s Heart Website

– This is a post from the Before You Say Goodbye Book

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Ashley Gowenlock – A Young Canadian Hero

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In Before You Say Goodbye we have included stories of real Canadian youth and young adults. Ashley’s faith journey is one we could all learn from. Watch her video below.

I was born with Cerebral Palsy, a condition that causes your muscles to spasm and be very tight all of the time.  I had spinal surgery when I was two, to help alleviate some of the muscle spasms.  When I was younger, I remember driving with my dad and deciding to ask him why he didn’t believe in God.  His answer was short and sweet- he looked at me and said, “You. If there is a god out there that is so “good”, then why would he cause something so little so much suffering?”

That could have been the end of my faith story right there.  It would have been easy for me to turn my back on God and walk away but thankfully, God had other plans.  In my late teens I met Jesus, and He made it very clear to me that He was going to use me, exactly how I am, to shine some light into the world.  Little did I know that those plans would include traveling all over the world while riding a horse, but time and time again God has reminded me that you don’t have to be perfect in order for Him to use you.  The world may see my disability as a weakness, but God sees an opportunity to get behind people’s walls and plant seeds of hope, and for that I am humbled and will joyful go wherever He calls me.  Ashley Gowenlock

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Some things change for the better. In the last few years the Gideons have taken huge strides in becoming relevant to the younger generations in Canada. Some people just know them for putting Bibles in hotels. However, they now have one of the best Bible Apps available, some of the most create Bible magazines, and now Sendme. This is an incredible ministry to help youth and young adults groups have tools and resources to share faith and hope with others. We are very pleased to be promoting them in ‘Before You Say Goodbye.’

We asked Ashely Bonnel of Sendme this question – How does SendMe help students share their faith?

SendMe provides students with access to God’s Word—the greatest resource on earth—God’s love letter to humanity. It heals, it transforms, and tells the story of redemption, grace, and love. We are equipping students to share their faith by supplying them with free Gospels of John for their outreach.

When students sign up at our website – – they will receive the Scriptures sent straight to their door free of charge. Along with that, we offer a free Bible app called “NewLife” with a full NLT version of the Bible and basic apologetics. A weekly blog is also sent reminding students of the Good News of the gospel – that Christ did for us what we could never do for ourselves!

Ashley Bonnell, Communications, The Gideons International In Canada, Tel# 1-888-482-4253 ext# 502,

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How can a Christian student THRIVE in university or college – Power to Change

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Sean Cullen is the national director of Power to Change Students. In this blog Sean gives some advice on how to not just survive but thrive in college and university. Their website is – There you can learn about what universities and colleges have groups that meet, mission trip information, and young adult training events.

Question – How can a Christian student THRIVE in university or college and not just survive?

I still remember the intense feelings that gripped my heart as I watched my family drive away. I stood in the parking lot at the University of Guelph that first day of school and swallowed the lump that was growing in my throat. I had grown up in a loving Christian home where the Bible was honoured and service in the Church was a priority. Although I had gone to a secular high school, most of my close friends believed as I did that Jesus was not just another historical religious leader, but in fact the Son of God. I wanted to live for Him, but I also had my own plan for how life should go. I was excited about growing up and the freedom that comes from being on my own, but I was also nervous about what might happen to me and my faith in this new chapter of life.

I spent much of my first year studying in my basement apartment. Alone and living defensively. I was fearful that the world might change me. But this is not how Jesus intends us to live. He came that we might have life, and life to the full. This was not living. I wanted to thrive not just survive. Over the course of that first year, I would begin to thrive, and I hope some of the things I learned that first year might be helpful to you seek to thrive in the University or College context. I would summarize them like this.

1. Jesus changes everything. Jesus is real. He is not an idea to debate, but a person with whom to experience a relationship. He changes my life, and if you want to thrive in University as a Christian you must experience Jesus every day. How has He met your cravings for unconditional love? When you wake up in the morning how is Jesus filling your life with meaning and purpose? Be a student of the Bible, and walk moment by moment in active surrender to the Holy Spirit. Let Jesus change your life everyday, and use you to change your world. This is thriving.

2. Relationships Matter. Jesus has called us into a community. I learned I had to be proactive about finding a church. Alone I was surviving…barely. That changed as I got involved with some people on campus who could encourage me. Be proactive. Make it a priority. Thrive together.

3. Get over yourself. My main goal the first few months of school was survival. It was all about me. As I began to let Jesus change me, in a community of like minded students, I was challenged to be a part of a cause much bigger than myself. How could Jesus use me to change the world? How could I help someone else find love, meaning and purpose in relationship with the Living God? As I began to exchange fear for engagement in Jesus’s great co-mission, something happened. It wasn’t about me anymore. It was about Jesus and His mission to love people. I began to serve my fellow students in love, rather avoid them in fear. Finally, I had began to truly thrive.

Jesus has called us to live life to the full. And in His grace He provides all the resources to do just that. Walk with Him daily. Live it together. Be part of a cause bigger than yourself. You will thrive in University, College and beyond. Praying for you!

by Sean Cullen, National Director of Power to Change – Students

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The Story Behind Before You Say Goodbye

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Only 1 in 3 people who attended church as a child still do so as young adults.

1 in 2 young adults continue to identify with the Christian tradition they were raised in.

3 out of 5 young adults who stop attending church will also drop their affiliation with any Christian tradition.

These are just a few of the facts from the Hemorrhaging Faith Survey. They are quite disturbing and depressing when we realize these are not just numbers. These statistics represent the people we work with and are investing in. These numbers can also raise lots of questions, finger pointing, and blame. However, in the end most people come to the place, ‘So now what? or ‘What should our response be?’

We decided our part was going to be to speak directly to the youth and young adults in the church today. The goal is simple. We want to help connect young people to faith practices, habits, ministries, and online content that will help them remain engaged in their faith.

The idea was to create something young people would actually read and engage with. What was created was a fully web-interactive magazine style resource that will be both in print and e-version. You can watch a video about how this works at

Before You Say Goodbye is a book in itself with eleven sections that discuss how to avoid the toxins which destroy faith, but also how to thrive in your situation, not just survive. However, there are also120 weblinks and QR codes which take youth to stories, videos, and websites that deal with the issues discussed in this resource. This is the best collection of Canadian resources for our young people ever assembled. There are testimonies, apologetic videos, and even websites to let students know what universities have Christian groups in them.

The truth is many churches, youth ministries, and some denominations are doing much better at engaging the younger generations. Instead of focusing on the negative we decided to tell the inspiring stories of youth and young adults who are doing remarkable things across the world. Things like planting churches, using the web to reach friends, and helping the poor.

We also collected the top faith questions of Canadian youth based around the Hemorrhaging faith survey. We then asked a group of youth experts to give answers and advice. The resource includes contributions from Matt Wilkinson, Ken Moser, Laura Bronson, Sean Cullen, James Penner, Andy Bannister, John Latta, Shauna Jenkins, Jonathan Grimes, Sandy Colero, Ken Castor, Danielle Carabin, Caleb Elias, Clint Houlbrook, Dale Stairs, Robb Powell, Sheldon Macleod, Adrian Thomas, Eldon Wright, Brett Ullman, Andrew Lamme, Chris Chase, Carl Nash, Paul Robertson, David Guretzki, Sid Koop, Rob Haslam, Tim Houck, Ron Powell, and more.

We are also releasing a free downloadable study guide January 31st. This will enable youth and young adult groups, families, and churches to use resource as a study.

Also as a bonus everyone who purchases a copy can receive a free e-copy of ‘Beautiful Christ’. It is a book which takes on the most common objections people have to Faith, Church, and God and uses these to present a clear picture of Jesus. The details are in the magazine.

We are trying to make this resource as affordable as possible for students and youth groups. E-versions (Available Jan 1, 2014) will be $4.99 and the print versions (Available Jan 31, 2014) will be $8.99. Also, for a limited time youth groups, ministries, and denominations can order in bulk (25 or more) for $6 a copy and we will pay for the shipping. This offer is good now and until Jan 15th. Click on the Store for more information.

I hope this will be a huge blessing to you and all those you work with.

Dave Sawler

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Before You Say Goodbye Video Explanation

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After a year of work we have finally finished putting together a one of kind resource for Canadian Youth and Young Adults. It is a web-interactive magazine style book that is a proactive response to the Hemorrhaging Faith study. The goal is simple, we are trying to help connect youth and young adults to faith habits, practices, ministries, and online content that will help keep them engaged in their faith. Here is a video about Before You Say Goodbye.

How does it Work?
– It is a book in itself full of stories, advice, and answers to today’s top faith questions from Canadian youth.
– It is the best collection of free online content for this age group. There are literally hundreds of online stories, videos, and websites connected to this project.
– Anyone with a smart phone can simply point their phone at the pages and videos, websites, and stories will open.
– Anyone reading this on a tablet or computer will be able to simply click on the pages and all the web-content will work as well.
– There is a free study guide being released in January so youth groups, families, and Churches can go through this material together.

– Many of the top youth leaders, writers, and pastors have come together to answer the faith questions of today’s teen and young adults. Here is a list of some of the contributors in this project –

Matt Wilkinson, Ken Moser, Laura Bronson, Sean Cullen, James Penner, Andy Bannister, John Latta, Shauna Jenkins, Jonathan Grimes, Sandy Colero, Ken Castor, Danielle Carabin, Caleb Elias, Clint Houlbrook, Dale Stairs, Robb Powell, Sheldon Macleod, Adrian Thomas, Eldon Wright, Brett Ullman, Andrew Lamme, Chris Chase, Carl Nash, Paul Robertson, David Guretzki, Sid Koop, Rob Haslam, Tim Houck, and Ron Powell.

Free Web Content and Resources
– There are over 125 QR Codes and Web-links in Before You Say Goodbye. Each ones takes you to a video or websites. Each one is an amazing resource for youth and young adults. They will discover great online content written just for them. They will hear stories of what youth and young adults are doing across Canada, discover ministries to get involved with, find out what schools and universities have Christian groups meeting in them, and so much more.
– Churches and Youth Ministries are encouraged to use and download all the content, videos, and websites.
– Here is one Example – Click



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Where is God when Bad Things Happen? Watch a story from three siblings who lost their brother.

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Life doesn’t always go as planned. It seems that trouble finds us. If it hasn’t yet, it will. Pain, suffering, sickness, loneliness, and death are all coming. It seems when we go through these things it causes one of two things to happen. We either run to God for strength and comfort or we take it as a sign He is unable to help, doesn’t love us, or is not there.

This is a video from the ‘Before You Say Goodbye’ project. Rick, Josh, and Alisha talk about their experience of when their younger brother was killed in a motorcycle accident.

Trouble, sickness, loss of some kind will come to us all at some point.  Life isn’t all roses but through it all we are promised we have, ‘a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’  (Proverbs 18:24b) In our troubles we can go to the one who also suffered. We can run to the one who overcame.

God is ever present, and ever working, even in our weaknesses and sufferings. At times we will very aware of how close He is, while other times we will have many questions for Him. However, in all circumstances, always stand on the hope that He will never leave us, He is always there to turn to, and to give you strength for every hardship you will face. Even in suffering make sure when you run, you run into His arms.

Before You Say Goodbye contains over 120 QR Codes / Web-links to videos / websites / stories / and ministries.


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Young People Are Starting Churches All Over Canada

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There are so many great stories of things our youth and young adults are doing across our nation. Very often there is a focus on why churches are losing this age group. However, did you ever stop to consider where they go? Some go no where, some go searching for new places to connect with, and then some step out to start something new.  All across our country there are young people who are finding new and creative ways to be the Church. It will be this new generation which propels the Church in Canada in the next few decades.

Meet Trevor and Becky Gingerich. They felt God was calling them to impact the lives of college and university students. They followed that burden and the Embassy at Humber College in Toronto was started. Here is a video about their ministry.

The Embassy is a student “church” that meets right on campus at Humber College (North Campus). Great music, solid teaching, and an opportunity to journey together with other students on your  campus toward spiritual growth.

The Embassy is a community that is passionate about Jesus’ message and mission, and we’re actively trying to live these out at Humber College. We believe that religion is useless if it doesn’t affect your life in a real way, and so if it’s not real, you won’t find it at The Embassy.

The Embassy may not look or feel like a traditional church, but we don’t do this for the sake of tradition. Everything that happens at The Embassy is designed to be relevant to your life, and regardless of where you’re at on your own spiritual journey, The Embassy is a safe place to ask questions and find answers. We hope to see you there!  Visit their site.


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Your Movement – World Vision’s Youth Division

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A few weeks ago we asked Cindy, from ‘Your Movement’ as few questions. One of them was, ‘Why should someone do a mission trip with you?’ This was her response.

We have designed a unique leadership opportunity that deeply connects you with local community youth leaders in creating meaningful and lasting change on the ground together. This immersive experience of a lifetime,  is open to youth and students from 14-24 years old.  The next 11-day adventure is March 22nd – April 1st 2014 and will expose you to both the beauty and the poverty in the Dominican Republic.You’ll gain unforgettable perspective. You’ll be equipped to unleash the leader you have within. You’ll create global friendships. Guided by World Vision staff and local community leaders you will return inspired, built up, with fresh eyes, ready to lead change right where you are.

Your Movement is another amazing testimony of how active youth and young adults in Canada are in finding ways to help people around the world. It is being led by some amazing people including Cindy who are investing in others to create new leaders, doing humanitarian trips, raising funds for people in need, and finding people to sponsor children in need all over our planet.

You can find out more about their humanitarian trips at

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What is ‘Not Who I Was?’


One of the highlights of being involved with Before You Say Goodbye was discovering a few of the people across Canada who are producing incredible resources for youth and young adults.  Shauna Jenkins is one of those people.  Her website ‘Not Who I Was’ is full of extremely well done video testimonies.

There is a focus on addiction and failure.  Shauna, though is not just someone who put a site and video’s together. She has dealt with her own issues and is now using the work that God did in her own life to inspire hope and change in others. Watch her video about ‘Now Who I Was’ and check out her website.

Before You Say Goodbye, along with being a great resource on it’s own, includes 120 links / QR codes to websites, ministries, and videos like this.

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Faith and Short Term Missions

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Last year when the Hemorrhaging Faith Survey came out there was a lot of focus on why many Christian faith groups were struggling with keeping their youth and young adults. However, there was also other information that was discovered through this study. For example, several themes came out about the youth and young adults who are very engaged in their faith today.  In fact, in North America we have many groups and denominations that are growing because youth and young adults are engaged and remaining.

It would seem that the groups who are attracting, reaching, and keeping all the ages groups involved have a few common factors between them. Before You Say Goodbye is really about helping connect young people to these common factors. Some of them are habits, practices, ideas, engagement, and tools. All are faith builders.

Here is just one example. A large amount of youth and young adults who are engaged in the church today say their faith became real, or alive, through a short term mission experience of some kind. This is just one thing we are seeing is a common faith builder. This does not mean going on a STM is going guarantee you will always be a strong Christian, but it could be a help.  There are likely a few reasons why it has such a dramatic effect on people. People see how passionate others are in their faith. They see God work. They see prayers
answered. They discover they can serve others.  Faith moves from being just something you know, to something you live.

Here is a video from Before You Say Goodbye. It is about a young lady named Jessie who went on an STM and how it effected her entire life.

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I Am Second and Before You Say Goodbye

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There are some incredible resources online these days for youth groups, individuals, churches, and so on. We are pleased to say I Am Second is promoting in Before You Say Goodbye. To be honest I had no idea everything this organization did until I was recently in contact with them.

I did know of their very well done testimony videos. However, that is only the beginning. They have resources for small groups, Bible studies, tools for sharing your story,Church planting, and mission trips. I would encourage you to use their resources and take discover everything this organization is about.

Here are a few of their links – and

In Before You Say Goodbye you will find some of their advertising but we also have direct links to several of their videos. Here is one that we are using. It is a testimony from Vitor Belfort which is someone I have been a huge fan of for years. He has quite a story that is worth checking out.

For a limited time you can order bulk copies of Before You Say Goodbye for a discounted price for your ministry, church, youth group, or denomination. This discount will be available for the next few weeks only. Order yours today.


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New Leaders are Changing the Face of Faith

Laura Bronson

There will always be change. The message of the gospel is always true and yet the methods we use to share hope, love, and the message of Jesus may take new forms. Over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing many of the stories of youth and young adults from across Canada who have found their own ways to live out their faith.

Laura Bronson is a passionate young person who travels across Canada, and the world, sharing about Jesus in creative ways while challenging others to do the same. She started a ministry called Keep It Real which uses the mediums of skateboarding, graffiti, and rap to tell the stories of a God who is alive today.

Laura and her team are at youth events, churches, and conferences year round and are having a huge impact on the youth culture of today. Her story is an amazing journey about how God can use the gifts, interests, and even hobbies that God gives us to positively effect those around us.

Check out her website at and watch her story – Click the ‘Watch on Vimeo’ below.

‘Before You Say Goodbye’ has over 125 links / videos / weskits / organizations attached to it. You will be inspired when you hear about the things this generation is doing across our nation.

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An Incredible Future

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Before You Say Goodbye tells the stories of just some of the incredible things happening with youth and young adults across our nation.  Some are in print, but we also have many links to videos, in the print and e-book version, to stories like this one from a Church that recently started in a home of a young family in Cape Breton.

Many denominations are struggling with keeping their youth and young adults and think it is the end. It is not. In fact, we have to explore the possibility God is behind it all. In the days of the early church Christianity spread the furthest when people were forced out of their meeting places, homes, and communities. I believe we are seeing a modern day reformation of the Church in Canada. Perhaps, God is forcing us out of our buildings and comfort and into the world were we need to serve and meet people where they are at.

I am amazed at is the incredible amount of new Churches starting across or nation. Most of these are being started by young men and women. This is incredibly exciting because new churches attract new people, share the gospel with more people, and see larger amounts of new Christians.

I happen to live in Cape Breton where many churches have closed or are closing. However, there has never been a time in recent history that there were as many new churches starting as there is right now. We have so much to look forward to.

If you would like to order copies of Before You Say Goodbye for your church, youth ministry, or young adults they are available in group orders at discounted rates if you order before December 31. Just check out the store link.



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Before You Say Goodbye – It Is Here

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Talk about a panic and lots of misinformation. Over the past years there has been a huge amount of articles, books, videos, and messages about the exodus of youth and young adults from the Church. I personally have been involved with several projects on this issue, and likely have added fuel to this fire, but a few misconceptions must be broken.

First, Christianity worldwide is not on a decline. In fact the ‘spiritual birthrate’ is higher than natural birthrate.  Worldwide, Christianity is growing the fastest amongst young people.  There has never been such a high percentage of Christians on the planet as there is at this moment.

While there are many denominations and church groups in North America and Canada that are struggling, there are in fact many that are actually growing, not shrinking. There were several discoveries made, for example, when the Hemorrhaging Faith study came out last year. Some groups here in Canada are doing much better in engaging their youth and young adults and keeping them.  There are certainly common factors amongst these students and groups who are doing well.

Before You Say Goodbye is a project being released this January. It has been years in the making and it is going to focus on connecting youth and young adults to practices, ministries, online content, and organizations which can help them in their faith journey. One goal is to examine and discuss what the common factors are amongst these growing churches and groups.

It is a one of a kind web-interactive magazine that will be in print and e-book form.  There are over one hundred ministries, videos, and websites from across Canada who are dedicated to serving this age group linked into this project.  By using QR codes and weblinks students can read the content and also be taken to all the online content and websites of each ministry.

There has never been a resource like this produced for the youth and young adults in our country.  I believe every church, ministry, and family could benefit from having this.

This resource will be available to pre-order for ministries until January 15, 2014 at a discount rate, and with free shipping, on orders over 25. Visit the store for more info.

In January a free study guide will be offered for download so that youth, youth adult groups, families, and Churches can use this as a study as well.

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Andrew’s Cafe, Not in Vain

I had heard all my life that people learn from their mistakes. That some people have to learn the hard way. There is a level of truth to these statements, but in some cases it is not true at all. One of the places it is definitely false is when it comes to addiction to drugs and alcohol.

What is true is that we have not learned the mistakes of others. I live in a community where there is an obvious drug issue. Drugs are so accessible to our youth that it is hard to believe that anything is illegal. Everyone knows someone who has an addiction problem. Everyone knows someone who had died from a drug or alcohol related issue. It is almost shocking the amount of deaths, let alone suffering, that have taken place even this year. Everyone knows the end result. Yet it doesn’t stop.

With drugs, come addiction, and this is why everyone can’t learn from their bad choices. Once addiction sets in, learning and understanding the consequences in greatly impaired. Addiction can be so strong that we don’t learn from our mistakes. Sometimes it is too late. Learning the hard way means death. For some issues, this may sound extreme or an exaggeration, but in this case it is not.

Drugs have killed too many of our youth. Andrew Edwards, was a friend, a son, brother, and an incredible young man. He had lots of dreams. He also had an addiction problem. Amazingly, he also wanted help and was reaching out to people. Yet, he was on the losing side of his battle though.

I have decided I don’t want to forget Andrew. It goes beyond us simply putting up a sign in a room and naming our Cafe after him. That in itself is important. I also want to remember his heart for others and all the good things. I also want to remember it was drugs that took him early. I want to tell others that as well.

I feel for his family who deals with their loss every day. I feel for all the other families in our community who are living with the same sorrow today. I feel for every household dealing with addiction in their homes which bring chaos to everything.

However, this needs to lead to some action. I want to encourage people to talk about it. We also need to work to prevent addiction. Those who are selling drugs to our children need to be stopped. While I know the addiction issue is complicated, we can’t get around the fact that our drug issues are staring with children and Jr Highs. In almost everyone of these cases these drugs are coming from adults.

Prevention is needed. I may not be an expert on many things but I will step out on a limb about this. I live in a community that has been in the grips of serious drug issue for a long time. For years I have been applying for every grant and funding opportunity that I have heard about for our youth centre and community. We have received funds for many things, recreation, equipment, etc many times over. However, when it comes to funds for running programs, crime prevention, actual staff, and real prevention programs it honestly should be embarrassing to our governments how little our community receives for these things.

It presently costs just under $100,000 to keep a youth in jail per year. The cost on taxpayer to deal with the mess drugs cause is unbelievable. My challenge to our governing officials, of every level, is to help us keep this generation out of addiction. I believe if we invested what it was costing to incarcerate one person into prevention we could keep many out of the system. Instead, at this point every group dealing with this has to fight to get minimal amounts. It is a broken system.

To the youth of my community, which many are my friends and great kids, learn from Andrew story. Don’t fall for the lie it can’t hurt you or that addiction can’t happen to you. If you need help, lets find help together.

To the adults of my community. Tell your councilors, your MPs, your MLA’s we need funding and programs for prevention in our communities. We have some great community leaders who will fight on our behalf, but let them know this needs to be a priority.  Also, if you have the means to help, why not help fund a program for youth in your community. We have many great options here in Cape Breton.

Lets remember what is at stake. Our Kids. Our Future. The Andrews of our community.

Father of Andrew Edwards. A young man who battled a drug addiction and passed away earlier this year. He was an amazing young man who struggled.
Father of Andrew Edwards. A young man who battled a drug addiction and passed away earlier this year. He was an amazing young man who struggled. This picture was taken in the new lounge at Undercurrent Youth Centre, which is named Andrew’s Cafe.
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Why I Believe – Post 7

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Last year I had several people ask me this question. ‘Why are you a Christian? There doesn’t seem to be any proof that God exists.’ I know there are endless opinions on faith, God, and life but I don’t believe ‘Faith’ is blind as some suggest. Instead I think people believe because God is there, speaks to them in many ways, and is evident all around us. These posts are a few examples of my answer to this question.

I have been a skateboarder most of my life. Yes I am getting a bit to old to be jumping down stairs and handrails and I could possibly break a hip at any moment.

Way back in the day when I started skateboarding I watched every video and read every magazine to see and hear about my skateboarding idols. One of those guys was Christian Hosoi. This video is about his story.

When asked why I believe in God, one reason I give is because things like the story mentioned in this video happen. Over and over I have seen people so messed up, incredibly changed. Sometimes in an instant and some over time. If you listen to their stories they will tell you what happened. Christian Hosoi is one of those guys.

When faced with the overwhelming amount stories of God at work today, and throughout history, it would be impossible to claim that their is no supernatural. All one can do is claim they don’t accept this kind of proof. However, after seeing this happen over and over with my own eyes I am so thankful God is at work in these people’s lives and I know He is real.



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Why I Believe – Post 6 – Goodness and Tim Hortons

Good….. You have likely been told to be good.  To do good.  You likely got rewarded for being good when you were kid.  You may have received money for getting good grades in school.  We also like it when others are good to us. It even feels right when we see something that is good. While Youtube has lots of examples of people doing stupid things there are also many examples of people’s goodness and kind acts that have gone viral as well.

Recently, there has been an outpouring of ‘coffee goodness’. It all started when one person paid hundreds of dollars to simply bless others with a free coffee. Some people heard about this and decided they to should pass on this goodness. I hope more kind acts like this become the norm. Goodness should be contagious.

You may have also experienced something when you have done something good for someone else.  For example have you even given something to someone in need and it felt good to do? Or you were actually excited to give a gift to someone, and not just receive one? Have you ever wondered why the act of giving something that belongs to you to another person actually causes a real physical and emotional response in you?

There are some things about people that don’t make sense without God.  Things like love. Goodness. It is quite a stretch to say that beings capable of these responses to goodness were not created with purpose. Even the fact most people have a moral compass that tells them things are right or wrong has to lead us to some conclusions on common connection.  Without some kind of outside source even our ideas of what right and wrong, and goodness,  are likely couldn’t exist as they would then totally be up to personal opinion.

But let’s get back to doing good for a moment. Here is my theory on why it feels good to do good. It has to do with our purpose. According to Ephesians 2:10 we were created to do good works. That as people we have been formed, destined, and made with an ability to do good. So when we step out and take part in an act of goodness we are actually stepping into the exact thing we were created to do. It is truly a God moment.

Doing good does not just create a physical, chemical, or emotional response in us. I believe it is really a spiritual experience. That is why every person, even those who do and those who don’t believe in God, all have the same response to goodness. We were made for it. It is just another sign of the divine. Go do some good. There is a God moment waiting for you.