On behalf of the Canadian Baptist National Youth & Family Ministry team, I would like to express how excited we are about the upcoming Invitational Forum happening in Niagara Falls from April 25-28, 2016.
There is a genuine sense that this gathering is going to be something quite important in the life of the Canadian Baptist Church and may well mark a historic moment for Canadian Baptists. You will be joining 50 other significant youth/family ministry leaders from across the country. Together, we will provide a national voice, in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing Canadian Baptist Churches as we are called to engaging youth with the person and message of Jesus.
In this post-Christendom, post-modern, post-literate generation, there is great hope as well as great opposition to being a follower of Jesus and joining as not only the local church, but being united as the body of Christ. It is to this reality that we will gather to listen, learn, share, and unite amidst our diversity as Canadian Baptists. While we are aware of the decline in young people connecting to the life of the Church, we believe that there can be a brighter future for our young people and their faith community. We will be gathered as ministry leaders who need to be a bridge between the Church and this younger generation. With this in mind, we will need to work and learn together in order to proactively influence the Church in being an effective faith community that will do whatever is necessary to reach and disciple this emerging generation.
While I will be in touch with you a couple of times before our official gathering in a few weeks, I wanted to captured a few important items that you need to read through thoroughly so you are well aware of them before your arrival.
- FACEBOOK GROUP: We will be inviting each of you to join a closed Facebook group. The purpose of this group is to help allow us to get to know each other prior to our gathering, to give us a chance to be kept up to date with latest research and findings on an ongoing basis, to provide a safe place to post ministry questions, to keep us connected beyond the Invitational Forum and to provide a central space for the sharing of resources to allow us to be more effective by learning from each other.
- INVITATIONAL MICROSITE: We will be launching an app/microsite that you will be able to connect via your smartphone prior to your arrival which will include such important elements as the Invitational Program, schedule and additional resources – please be watching for this email to give you the link for where this can be downloaded. There will also be a .ics (Google calendar) link so you can download the schedule right to your phone.
- CLUSTER GROUPS: Throughout the Invitational Forum you will be part of a cluster group which will be made up of invitees from across the country. These groups will meet following each general session as the critical point in which your voice will give insight and findings for arising challenges & opportunities in ministering to the next generation. In order for everyone to get to know each other, we will have a preliminary Cluster Group gathering from 4:00-4:45pm on Monday afternoon prior to the start of the Invitational for you to meet those in your cluster group.
- LOOK TO BE GETTING THE LATEST RESEARCH & RESOURCES: We will have David C. Cook Bookstore & Resource Centre onsite with the latest resources and research available for purchase. We strongly encourage you to stay up to date on the latest findings related to effective ministry and leadership to youth & family by setting aside some budget to pick up these resources.
- TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS: In a couple of weeks, you’ll be receiving an email from Alvin Lau (firstname.lastname@example.org) to work on travel arrangements if you indicated that on your registration form.
- SPECIAL PERKS: We are committed to serving you well while you are here so we have arranged that you will have free WiFi access, a bottle of complimentary water each day in your room, unlimited long distance calls from your room to anywhere in Canada, a WEGO ticket (state-of-the-art bus system connects you from the hotel to attractions) plus more resources once you arrive at registration.
- MEALS: Through our special sponsors, we will be providing the following sit-down meals: Monday Dinner, Tuesday Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, Wednesday Dinner, Thursday Breakfast. We will also be providing snacks, coffee & tea during all breaks. You will only need to look after Wednesday Breakfast & Lunch which we hope you will use to network and connect with other leaders whom you meet at the Forum from across the country.
- PRAYER TEAM: While we believe that this Invitational will be a significant gathering for the purpose of the Canadian Baptist Church being more united in engaging youth with the person and message of Jesus, it is important that we too are being covered in prayer. We ask that you would invite 4-5 people to be a prayer team who will be praying for you as you prepare for this Invitational, who will be praying for your family as you are away from them, who will be praying for wisdom for you as your give voice to this group, and who will pray for the impact that you will have coming from this gathering into your sphere of influence.
I want to once again thank you for carving out time in your busy schedules to make this Invitational Forum a priority for the larger sake of the Kingdom and strength we can be as Canadian Baptists Youth & Family Ministry leaders as we act more united across this country in our learning, sharing, laughing and resourcing with one another.
There are great days ahead for this emerging generation, for the church and for the movement of the gospel across our country.
It is with gratefulness and anticipation that I look forward to being with you at the end of April.
Chair, Canadian Baptist National Youth & Family Ministry Team