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Good morning, Covenant Family. We have a special treat for our Covenant Weekly today. This is the first of our ministry highlight episodes. Once per month, we would like to invite a ministry leader to share about the ministry they are involved in. To keep things consistent, they’ll share in response to a few consistent questions. We are looking forward to hearing from them in their voices about the ministries they are passionate about! Today, we’ll be talking with Brent Jefkins about Next Gen Ministry. You know him. You love him. You’ve heard about some of this before, but please stick around because there’s a good chance you’ll learn something new about what God is doing among us in this area of ministry. Next Gen Ministry - that is the focus of this Covenant Weekly for February 20, 2024.

Brent, I’m glad to be able to hear from you about this area of ministry. I’m going to ask you a few questions and after each, the floor is yours to share!

Could you provide us with a brief overview of the ministry? Is there an origin story to the ministry (or parts of the ministry)? Are there program dates and times? What does the ministry look like? How many people are involved in supporting this ministry?

Brent:  I am going to talk about two different areas of our Next Generations ministry: Kids (Grades 5 and down) and Youth (Grades 6-12). I have been at Covenant now for almost 3.5 years. When I came in, both of these ministries were alive and well thanks to a ton of hours put in mainly by volunteers. When I came on board, I was looking to find ways to continue and add to the hard work put into these ministries over many years, as well as look into how we could expand our impact in our community with these ministries. Covenant not only made Next Generations (kids and youth) a focus, but put their money where their mouth was by hiring on staff (me) with a primary focus on this. All of this is to say, I think Covenant cares a lot about Next Gen ministries. We have a couple areas that are our main focus of this: 

  • First, we have our Sunday focus - every Sunday we have kids church (grades 5 or younger). We use a curriculum called OneStory (you may remember the videos we once played in our Sunday services at the beginning of Covid). It includes icebreaker activities that get the kids moving around, a lesson with a verse of the day (taught through the videos) and a closing craft. On a Sunday we have anywhere between 2-15 kids. We however are lacking in the volunteer department here. We only have 5 volunteers that rotate (ideal would be 8). The other half of our Sunday focus is our youth program (grades 6-12) where our youth go out during the Sunday service to watch a video on the Bible Project. Each video gives a roughly 10 minute summary of a book of the Bible. We then spend time discussing that book and looking up stories within each. The goal is to have our youth KNOW their Bible and see Jesus within it all. We have 3 volunteers in this area right now(1 more would be ideal for youth).
  • Another ministry is our Covenant Youth program on Wednesday nights (grades 6-12) which can have up to 50 kids attend! Most of these kids are community kids looking for a place to belong. We run it from 6pm-8pm (sometimes until 9pm for our high school kids). We typically play an hour of games and then have an hour that is lesson/small group focused. Sometimes we do bigger events such as offsite bonfires, games nights at people’s houses, Rounds Ranch, beach days, and more. We are doing great for volunteers here (we have 6 highly committed volunteers).
  • Our third is INSPIRE - this is our 4 night Maker Space Camp in July. It is two hours a night of crafts, teaching, live worship and fun. We rebranded this from a VBS to draw in our community (outside of the church walls). This is a highlight for a ton of kids who ask me all year when it will be again. This needs A TON of volunteers… really it needs most of the church to be involved to run it well. We typically have ~80 kids + another 25 youth helpers.
  • Finally, we have our school ministries - I teach Christian Education for a full day every other week at Burkevale Protestant Separate School. I also run an Alpha Christian Group at Georgian Bay District Secondary School weekly. These are places where I get to connect with a lot of kids outside of church contexts (it’s also where a lot of kids hear about INSPIRE and our youth programs).

Why is this ministry important to you personally? Why have you chosen to be involved and how has involvement in this helped shape you as a Jesus follower?

Brent:  I grew up in church. Though I don’t think my faith then ran as deep as it does now, youth really grounded me in my turbulent teenage years. I wonder if it wasn’t for my youth pastor, volunteers and Christian friends making a significant impact in my life, where I would be today and who I would be today. I personally am the result of people investing in my life in the name of Jesus. The more over the years that I watch kids interact with and find Jesus, the more I am convinced, as Jesus said the “kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”. I can only reconcile that the Jesus way involves our kids and youth being at the centre of all that we do. They are not the afterthought while we seek some “mature adult” faith without them. Investing in them is the way of Christ - they are the future of the church AND something we can sometimes forget - the PRESENT IMPACT of our church. Some of the biggest heroes in Scripture were the age of our youth when God used them (the disciples age is unknown but are often thought to be youth aged, David when he killed Goliath, Esther, Mary, Samuel, Daniel, so many others). Even when Jesus was a youth “everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” This is all to say that Kids/Youth cannot be separated within the church, they need to be at the centre. They need to be the focus as we seek Christ together. We need our church to mentor, disciple, and help these kids grow in Christ.

Are there currently any needs that need to be met for this ministry to thrive?

Brent:  Yes.

  • Volunteers on Sundays: I know that our church is a welcoming place for kids. I see how our adults enjoy the energy that they can bring to a Sunday service. However, it has not translated to people wanting to be part of Sunday kids/youth ministry. We need three volunteers every Sunday to make these ministries happen. We have been running on a skeleton staff of volunteers for over a year, and I would really like to provide support to them, however no one has stepped up. We have had many Sundays where I thought we would just have to cancel the kids church due to lack of support. It really would be a small commitment of once a month. You don’t even need to teach if you don’t want to. Kids are less scary and way more engaged than you think! Frankly the kids are missing out by you not being involved, and you are missing out too!
  • Snacks and crafts: Every Sunday we provide snacks and crafts - if you ever feel like going above and beyond in spoiling our kids by providing snacks - or would be willing to help run crafts (crafts are not my gifting). The kids will absolutely appreciate it.
  • INSPIRE: We are planning for July 8-11. Make it a priority to give 2 hours a night (6pm -7:45pm) to be involved.

Can you share a celebration story about how God is working through this ministry?

Brent:  Our Wednesday night youth program has stories every week. More than I can ever tell. But I will leave this with a comment with you that I get almost weekly. "If it wasn’t for youth I would be _______." We have kids who have had challenges that are beyond what they feel they can handle sometimes from being bullied at school, social challenges, lack of connection, self-harm, sexual identity concerns, rejection, family woes. They show up at youth group being able to take a deep breath. Through our volunteers they are told and even more so SHOWN that they belong and are loved. They see the tangible love of Jesus. We have had some give their lives to Christ. They come with big questions and wrestling in faith. It is messy. It is real. It feels like church because of the messiness and realness of it all.

Thanks so much for sharing about this ministry with us, Brent. And thank you, Covenant family, for (as Brent said it) putting your money where your mouth is. This ministry couldn’t be thriving without your prayers, financial support, and time volunteered. If you would like to get involved in Next Gen ministry (or, even if you don’t want to, but feel God’s Spirit urging you to get involved) - with Sunday morning Covenant Kids or youth, with Inspire, or with our Midweek Covenant Youth - please reach out to Brent. You can email him at or phone the church 705-549-8477 and leave a message so that he can get back to you. Brent, we are so grateful for your ministry and leadership in these areas. Thank you for your time today.

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