Youth Voice Interests for April EYCs

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

With only a few EYCs left this year in April, we wanted to give youth one more opportunity to raise topics and questions for our discussions.  This past Sunday, we polled Jr EYC, and this is what we received:

What Things Don’t We Discuss at Church That We Probably Should?

  1. Stress and staying positive when we feel down
  2. How to be inclusive when there are things about other people that annoy us
  3. Things about ourselves that are good; things that others see in us that we sometimes don’t see
  4. How to deal with bullying in school
  5. Adapting to new things
  6. Loosing faith in God after a traumatic event, because he wasn’t there to help you through it
  7. How we spend our free time
  8. Our futures
  9. Dealing with failure

What Question Should We Explore Together?

  1. Why are all the set-ups of the altar different at each service?
  2. If someone is mean to you and keeps being mean to you, how are you supposed to forgive them?
  3. Why is it so easy to lose faith in God and so hard to believe?
  4. What is your favorite part of being a Christian?
  5. Is hell a real physical place?  What does it take to go, if so?
  6. What’s a good way to pray
  7. What makes you happy?

Looks like we’ll have some good discussions together in April!

A Complicated Problem

By Bill Andersen, Jr. EYC Mentor

Last evening, Jr. EYC engaged in another one of our  “Things we don’t talk about at church, but probably should” sessions.

The topic was homelessness. And more specifically, the following question:  “How should we – as followers of Christ – interact with the people we see begging for money on 15/501 and near exit ramps?”

Everyone shared an observation.. some were emphatic in their views …. others were more reserved… but all had empathy.. and all realized this was a complicated problem.

Then we tried to “physically categorize” ourselves by moving to one of 4 couches, each signifying a position,  from “never” to “no, but because..” to “yes, but because” to “always” (interact/give money).

Some knew right off where they fell .. many switched as the discussion went on.. some couldn’t bring themselves to align with a single position and so straddled in between couches..

Mentors were careful to avoid injecting their opinions .. but prodded with questions that began with “why..”

We ended with more questions and opinions than we could get to…. but it was clear – our youth are definitely paying attention when we
drive up to those intersections and exit ramps…

[This discussion will continue next week with a stirring documentary about how some Episcopalians in Durham are engaging the homeless… Here’s a short preview. -PMC]

Sometimes Awkward, But Important

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

Every once in a while, EYC devotes a few nights to discussing “Things we don’t talk about at church, but probably should.”  For two weeks in October, we discussed how women are portrayed in the media.

In Jr. and Sr. EYC, we devoted sometime to the topic of Women and Beauty, using a video from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.  In Sr. EYC, we complicated things further with a few clips from the 2012 documentary, Miss Representation about how women in powerful positions are portrayed (i.e. Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin).

Week one, we divided by guys and girls to discuss.  Week two, we grouped back up to discuss with each other.

How might these portrayals of women affect young women?

How might these portrayals of women affect young men?

How do we, as Christians, respond?

Youth: “It’s false advertisement.  That’s not even a real person.”

Mentor: “That’s easy to see here and now.  Is that how you normally respond to images like this?”


Mentor: “Where do you see images like this?”

Youth: “Internet. Magazines at the grocery store. Billboards. TV. School. Movies.”

Mentor: “How do you think it affects us to see images like this so often?”


Mentor: “So even if you become educated about images like this – even if you know they’re false, does that solve the problem for you?  Does that make these sorts of images harmless for us?”

These were not smooth conversations (Youth: “Um… that’s awkward.”), but youth and mentors were both engaged and seemed to know something was at stake here.  Something was wrong with this, even if we could only articulate parts of what seemed wrong as a whole.  And there didn’t seem to be an easy way out or an easy way for us to avoid these sorts of images.  So what were we as Christians supposed to do?

We began to explore a Christian response, but only just began.  What about you: how do you, as a Christian, respond to portrayals of women like this?