moved website

We’ve moved to

Our blog has moved to:

We so appreciate how you have read and engaged with this blog! Let’s keep the conversation going! Join us on our new site.

If you’d like to receive our blogs directly to your email you’ve got to subscribe at the new site, where it asks for your email at the bottom of the page. IF you were subscribed on this old blog you’ll have to re-subscribe on the new site or you will not continue to receive the blog via email.

This is all because we have created a new one stop shop website for the CBAC Youth and Family. {CBAC = Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada, but anyone from any denomination or wherever you are in your journey of faith are welcome to join us, use the resouces and come to events.}  You can find resources to help your kids, youth and young adult ministry, neighbouring month, all our events, how to videos, the blog, more about us etc…  Check it out  We’re a work in progress, so let us know how we can be more helpful and what tweaks are needed on the new website.

I’ve posted a new blog on the new site today (Sept. 1, 2016). Check it out.

Thankful for you and how you are seeking to join God in your neighbourhoods!

-Renée @r_embree #1neighbourhood

teen feet

Are we equipping kids and youth to engage the world?

As followers of Jesus we are in the world, but not of the world (John 17:14-18)
We are a part of this world, this culture, and cannot be separated from it – it is the water we swim in. At the same time, we belong to Jesus and we are a part of His Kingdom, which is not of this world.

If in our kids’ or youth ministry (or adult ministry for that matter!) we are trying to separate people from world and protect them with platitudes, Christian circles and discussing only in-house issues we are not serving them well or helping them grow to maturity in Christ. It will not go well for them when they encounter the real world or hardship! Further, it is not going to help them connect with people that have not been a part of the Christian subculture. It is not ultimately going to help their own faith or someone else’s faith.

Without realizing it our ministries we often encourage kids/youth to lead a double life – one life at church/youth group and another life at home, school and in their neighbourhoods.
We encourage this advertently or inadvertently
by only celebrating what happens in our ministry not in the community,
by encouraging kids/youth to only hang-out with Christians,
by talking about issues that are irrelevant to the rest of the world,
by encouraging them to miss out on other events/sports for the sake of the ministry,
by labelling certain things “bad” without nuance or discussion etc.
What if instead we celebrated kids/youth being the light in the world and equipped them to live their faith everyday, everywhere?

Here is my hope:
We would be leaders, mentors and parents that support and equip our youth/kids to know how to live in the real world, prepared for complexities and challenges.
Often kids/youth are in better positions than us to join God’s work in the world. They are a part of the culture and have lots of connections in their neighbourhoods. IF they have been prepared to recognize God’s work around them and have been given the tools and encouragement to engage thoughtfully with the real world, watch out world! We’ll see them join God’s transformative work in the places where they live, work, study and play.

My prayer is our youth/kids would…
• be in the world and know how to reflect Jesus in the world.
• be in the world, but know how to think rightly about what is going on. They’d be able to discern what is reflecting the messed up, distorted part of our fallen world and what is reflecting God’s goodness in the world.
• be in the world, but asking the tough questions.
• be in the world, knowing their deepest, truest identity is as a child of God.
• be in the world, showing and telling the Gospel in today’s culture
• be in the world as God’s light in places where they live, work, study and play.

Let me give one example of how we can equip kids/youth with tools to do this.
One big area that can lend itself to these conversations is media.
It is estimate that teens spend an average of 9 hours/day on media!

In talking to kids/youth about this I’ve stolen a line from Walt Mueller and talked about “using your head to guard your heart” (Here’s a great resource from him.)
Rather than mindlessly absorbing the messages coming at us, we talk about stopping and examining the messages coming to us in ads, songs, TV shows, movies, tweets, Instagram pictures, facebook feeds, YouTube video, snapchat… and compare it to God and God’s ways.

Look at an ad, YouTube video or song together and talk about it.
Ask these questions:
1. What’s the main message/topic?
2. How does the video/song/post/media make the person watching it feel?
3. Are they trying to make you feel, act, think, talk or live a certain way? What are they suggesting?
4. Are they suggesting a certain way to happiness/fulfilment?
5. How’s that line-up with who you are?
6. How’s the line-up with who God is and God’s best?
You could add more questions.

A song that is getting old now (2004), but it helpful, is “Cult of Cool” by the O.C. Supertones. It is a Christian song talking about not letting consumerism suck you in and make you believe its lies. Playing this song and giving kids/youth the lyrics can lead to an interesting discussion! (See the lyrics here)

One more resources – here is a youth group lesson about social media from the “Ministry to Youth” website. 

Friends, leaders, parents – help kids and youth be thoughtful engagers in this world!
We believe God is using kids/youth to join Him in changing neighbourhoods!

-Renée @r_embree #1neighbourhood


3 Books I’m Reading this Summer

I enjoy hearing what other leaders are reading and how it is helping them in their life and leadership. I look for leaders who are constant learners. We have never master this thing called leadership.
What are you reading? What are you learning?

Here are three books I’m reading this summer.

“Rising Strong” By Brené Brown – This is a great read. It has reminded me of the power of each of our stories, owning our stories and living our stories. Brené tells us, if we’re brave and courageous often enough we will fail. When we get back up we can write new endings to our stories. One of the changes this book has help me to make is to pause and recognize the story that is getting stirred in me in different moments/situations. In other words, to really notice and own the story going through my head, and then choosing what to do, with the Lord’s help, in that moment. I’m using the phrase “The story I’m telling myself is…” to catch myself and then deciding if the story in my head is the true story and asking what it looks like to have God’s courage for the next step.

“Three Cups of Tea” By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin – I was reading this as a fun summer read, but picked up lots of life and leadership lessons along the way. Three Cups of Tea is the story of Greg Mortenson failed attempt to climb K2, but in the process the birth of a new dream to build schools, especially for girls, in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a fascinating read of how the passion of one person can make such a difference – even across political, religious and ideological differences. Through this read I had leadership lessons on perseverance, the power of relationships, rising above politics, mis-management/leadership, and the monumental difference a dream can make in the lives of others.

“Flesh” By Hugh Halter – I haven’t finished this one yet. So far it is capturing my heart and mind with the amazing power and beauty of the incarnation. It is also a reminder of the powerful opportunity and responsibility we have as Christians, embodying Christ here and now in the beautiful ordinariness of every day. Full disclosure, I’m also reading Hugh Halter because he’s coming to Atlantic Canada in 2017. I want to understand more of his theology and praxis, particularly for how it may help us in Atlantic Canada as we join God in changing neighbourhoods.

What are you reading this summer?
What is it teaching you?

Happy reading!
-Renée @r_embree


Availability and vulnerability

Over lunch recently a friend and I were talking about “Rules of Life” that is rhythms we need in our lives that lead to a fuller life with God and with others.

My friend suggested two words for a rule for life – availability and vulnerability. She discovered they are words the Northumbria Community are seeking to live out in their context.

I’ve been pondering the power of these two “rules” – availability and vulnerability.
Availability to God and others.
Vulnerability to God and others.

I really like them. The more I ponder the more it invites me into a richer community with God and others.

These two postures, availability and vulnerability, could be especially helpful to the millennial generation (Here is a previous post about millennials). If you try to fake availability and vulnerability it won’t get you very far at all and life will stay on the surface. If you start plunging into availability and vulnerability it is contagious, particularly to millennials seeking something real.

I also like how having just these two words for a “rule of life” allows rhythms to look different for each person and in different seasons. What availability and vulnerability look like for me will be different than what they look like for you. They likely will look different in this season compared to the next season.

Availability and vulnerability.
Launch off these two words and ponder what they would mean for our discipleship, our leadership, our church, our life in Christian community….
Powerful right?!

Let’s think about them in the life of Jesus.

Jesus and availability

Jesus, fully available to God – Jesus took time to listen to the Father (e.g. Mark 1:35), Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing (e.g. John 5:19) and Jesus came to earth to do God’s will not His own (e.g. John 6:38). What does it look like for you to put yourself in places and in the posture where you are fully available to God?

Jesus, available to others – We see this throughout Jesus’ life in the Gospel – Jesus ignoring His hunger and thirst to speak to the woman at the well (John 4:4-26), Jesus stopping to talk to the woman who was healed from touching His cloak (Mark 5:25-34), Jesus stopping for the blind bagger on the side of the road (Mark 10:46-52), Jesus stopping to bring Zacchaeus down from the tree and go to his house (Luke 19:1-10), Jesus taking time with the twelve disciples even inviting them to group time away from the crowds (e.g. Mark 6:31). The examples here could go on and on. Jesus was available to others, served others, yet was not ruled by others. Jesus was ruled by God, available to God and that overflowed into availability to others. God made Himself fully available to us in Christ. God continues to make Himself available to others through His Holy Spirit in you, if you are willing and cooperate.

Jesus and vulnerability

Jesus, vulnerable to God – Jesus did not hide His feelings, confusion and disappoint from God. Think of the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus asked the Father – “Really? Isn’t their any other way? Do I really have to drink this cup?” (Paraphrase of Matthew 26: 39, 42). Jesus let it be known when God felt distant as He hung on the cross “My God, my God why have you forsaken me.” (Matthew 27:46) How can you enter a new level of vulnerability with God?

Jesus, vulnerable to others – Jesus, the Son of God, entrusted Himself to human beings. Jesus, the Son of God, depended on us and shared His heart and life with others. Jesus depended on others for food and hospitality (e.g. Mark 15:41), Jesus let his disciples in on what was coming during the last supper (Matthew 26:17-30), in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) Jesus invited others into his anguish (even though they weren’t there for him at this moment), Jesus entrusted the Kingdom message to the disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus entrusted His own fate into the religious rulers and political rulers of his day (Jesus before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and the guards) and the ultimate vulnerability, Jesus hung naked on a cross, exposed and tortured for us all. (John 19:17-30)
If Jesus, the Son of God, entrusted His life, heart and message to humans, even while knowing they would disappoint and fail Him to a certain degree, surely you and I can open our heart and life to others more.

Availability and vulnerability in our lives
Ponder how they are key to opening the way to more, to deeper community and relationship with God and with others.

What does it look like for you in this season to lean into greater availability and vulnerability with God and others? I don’t want to prescribe specifics, as it’s going to look a little different for all of us. Instead I want to invite you to reflect deeply on what it means for you to become available and vulnerable to God and others. I am asking myself these same questions.

Availability in our lives
Availability to God – How could you put yourself in environments where you are ready to listen and respond to God? What is the posture of your heart towards God in this season?

Availability to others – Are there times when you can give yourself to others’ agenda instead of your own agenda? Are you ready to pay attention to nudges from the Holy Spirit? Who needs you to listen generously to them? Who could you create space for in your life? As you go through your day are you prepared to stop and be interrupted? Are you available to only those you deem like you or available to whomever God chooses?

Vulnerability in our lives
Vulnerability is not over-sharing – that is just attention seeking. Vulnerability is getting rid of pretenses and being your real self. Being real about what is happening in your life, church, ministry, community… It is not pretending current reality is better or worse than it really is.

Vulnerable to God – When is the last time you poured out your heart to God? Do you put on an “air” of pretenses in your prayers? Have you told God what you really think – about life, about Him? Have you sat in silence and allowed God to examine your heart and reveal what you’ve been trying to ignore or hide? Are you allowing the Lord to speak to you? Are you willing and ready to receive from the Lord?

Vulnerable to others – Have you invited others in? Have you asked others to help you? Who knows your story? Who knows exactly “where you are at” in this season?
C.S. Lewis has said “… your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses?”
Will you be available and vulnerable to them? It will change our neighbourhoods, it will change our world.

I’m on a journey to be available and vulnerable to God and others in my neighbourhood. How about you?
-Renée @r_embree #1neighbourhood