A Little Bit of Hope and a Little Bit of Help – Kurt Johnston

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Kurt Johnston, junior high pastor of Saddleback Church in Saddleback, California, was the main speaker during the CE Leadership Summit for Youth Workers last March, a regular teacher in The National Institute module, and in January will be the featured speaker for Grace College chapels for TNI’s Youth Emphasis Week.

In this short video Kurt encourages all youth workers to give parents of their students “a little bit of hope and a little bit of help.”

Defining Vision Leads to Action

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Some of the most famous companies in the world are as such because they are indelibly branded in our minds—their slogans firm in our memory.

  • “I’m loving it”
  • “Just do it”
  • “Eat fresh”
  • “Finger licking good”

Can you name them? Most of us don’t even have to think. We know the McDonalds, Nike, Subway, and KFC mottos without hesitating. When it comes to the ministry of your church—do your congregations have to think about the core of who you are, or is there a different answer depending on what segment of the ministry you are asking? Read more…

Social Media and Youth Ministry

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Social Media. Two words which have changed the cultural landscape of our day. How does this platform help or hurt youth ministry and whether or not it is redeemable is today’s topic of discussion as we continuously seek to “make ministry simple.”

Scott Feather, lead pastor at Gateway Church shares his insight as our guest practitioner today:

“Anytime you create more ways for people to connect with you, you open up yourself to new possibilities. Some of these are good, some can lead to harm. As with any cultural focus, you have to be careful how it is being used to connect with you.” Read more…


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God is so good. He continues to work in people’s lives and build His kingdom. In gratitude to Him, we have constructed a webpage at cenational.org/thanks sharing all kinds of testimonies of changed lives. Please join us, read the stories, view the videos, and write your own post about God’s goodness! Here are just a few…

Jeremiah:Very thankful for the role that CE National has played in my life. God has worked through CE to encourage our students to not be passive with their faith and trust God to take big steps of faith.

Marc:CE National has impacted my life through the immense amount of training that I have been given through Operation Barnabas and City Life. I want to say thanks for all they do and pray that ministry to make disciples who make disciples will keep on going!

Brad:Since I was a young teenager CE National has made a major impact on my life. Whether it was through programming, training, mentoring, or leadership development CE has helped shape me as a follower of Jesus and as a pastor. I have seen the impact that God makes through what CE is doing and I am so thankful for them.

All of this is gearing up towards Tuesday, September 1—a culmination of celebrating God’s goodness.

Say Thanks

As part of the Say Thanks campaign, we’re asking God to provide $10,000 by September 1 through people like you. Would you help?



Kingdom Kids at Camp Conquest – Thank You!

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Each year, Camp Conquest in Denver, Pennsylvania, hosts kids from Urban Hope‘s Kingdom Kids program. The kids get the chance to enjoy God’s nature, have a lot of fun, and learn more about the importance of having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Here Amber Mallow, children’s ministry director, talks about this year’s camp which took place last week.

We have been so amazed by how God has blessed Kingdom Kids at Camp Conquest through your generosity and prayers this year. God did amazing things in the lives of 70 campers and 40 staff members. Thank you so much for the role you played in helping children and adults to grow in their knowledge of who Jesus is.

At chapel, we studied Ephesians 6 and learned about putting on God’s Armor. Monday, we talked about putting on the Helmet of Salvation and were challenged to think about whether we have ever received the salvation that Jesus gives. Tuesday, we learned about the Belt of Truth and the Chest Plate of Godliness by talking about how to ask God to forgive the things that we have done that have made our hearts dirty with sin. Wednesday, we learned about the Shield of Faith and how to fight the flaming arrows of doubt that Satan tries to send our way.

Thursday, we saw the battle that happens in our heart when we fight temptation with the Sword of God’s Word. Friday, we put on our Good News Shoes of Peace to return home and tell friends and family about Jesus.

At ‘Sista Time’ the girl campers learned how to be godly sistas who fight the battles of how they see themselves, others, and God. They talked about how to believe that they have been created wonderfully and amazingly by God. They also learned that we need to encourage other sistas and think of others before ourselves. Lastly, they learned that even if our earthly dad has hurt us or is not around, God is our perfect, loving Father.

At ‘Man Time’ the boy campers learned how to be men of courage. The ‘men’ learned how to ask Jesus for help. They also talked about how to respect women. Finally, they learned that real men work hard.

Each night at campfire, members of our staff who are from the neighborhood and have been transformed by Jesus shared their ‘battle stories.’ This time was dedicated to showing our campers that fighting on God’s side isn’t always easy, but in the end Jesus always wins. Through all of these teaching times, many campers and staff left camp ready to fight the good fight of the faith!


Don’t Miss KidMin 2015

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Round table discussion for children's workers

Round table discussion for children's workers
CE National encourages children’s ministry staff to attend the KidMin conference sponsored by Group Publishing. KidMin is September 25-27 in Chicago. Visit group.com/kidmin to find out more.

Mistakes and Wiseness–The Next Pastorpedia Live

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Pastorpedia-Live_logoThe September 16th Pastorpedia Live event will be a bit different from the usual events in that it will be a panel of men who will be talking about “Mistakes and Wiseness” when it comes to choices in ministry.

The varied experiences of these men will give insights and encouragement to your ministry, walk with the Lord, time management, and changes that come in life. You may also find they all have a sense of humor with which they have come to look back on some of those not-so-wise decisions. Each man will share mistakes made in ministry and hopefully warn against them. To balance that, they will also share good decisions they have made and why they recommend parallel thinking to others.

Those who are part of the panel include, Pastor Jim Custer, former senior pastor at the Grace Church in Columbus, Ohio. Jim continues to be part of the speaking staff at the church; Pastor Rick Hawks, pastor at The Chapel in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Dr. Bill Katip, President of Grace College and Seminary; and Pastor Knute Larson, former pastor of The Chapel in Akron, Ohio, and current coach to pastors and churches. Knute will also emcee the day.

Visit mypastorpedia.com to find out more and to register.

Error in Quizzing Books

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Due to some errors and omissions in the Bible Quiz Scripture portions book for 2015-2016, CE National is offering to exchange the books for updated and corrected ones (for free). Please contact Peggy at resources@cenational.org or 574.267.6622 to receive updated portions.

If you just wish to update your books you will find that John 20 and 21 are in the wrong order. There are three verses missing at the end of Acts 7, and 12 verses missing at the end of John 19.


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God is so good. He continues to work in people’s lives and build His kingdom. In gratitude to Him, we have constructed a webpage at cenational.org/thanks sharing all kinds of testimonies of changed lives. Please join us, read the stories, view the videos, and write your own post about God’s goodness!

All of this is gearing up towards Tuesday, September 1—a culmination of celebrating God’s goodness. Be looking on Facebook, Instagram, through Twitter, (#saythanks) and the “thanks” webpage to keep up-to-date and participate!

CE National Welcomes Back The National Institute Students

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The group that gathered for the dinner

The group that gathered for the dinner

Last night (Aug. 21), The National Institute held its annual kick off dinner for new and returning students who are majoring or minoring in youth ministry. This is the 17th year that CE National and Grace College have worked together to offer this degree to train workers to reach, minister to, and equip the next generation to follow Jesus.

Local area youth pastors joined in for the meal at the Russell Center, and upperclassmen shared the ministries they were a part of over the summer. These ministries ranged from local church internships to missions trip coordinators to camp counseling.

Please pray with us for these young adults that God would continue to work in their lives and use them to make an eternal difference in the lives of students and families. For more information about a degree in youth ministry from TNI, visit thenationalinstitute.net.

Transitioning Students from Children’s Ministry to Youth Ministry

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At Grace Church in Akron, Ohio, Youth Pastor Todd Shoemaker works intentionally with his childrens and student ministry staff members in order to provide a consistent tone of ministry to each age group. Each individual department strives to work together to help in these transition seasons. Today, as we seek to make ministry simple we wanted to give Todd the opportunity to share the practical “how-to’s” for this endeavor. Read more…

Marysville Church Uniquely Welcomes Momentum Students Home

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When the Marysville Grace (Marysville, Ohio) students returned from Momentum Youth Conference, many from the congregation lined the sidewalk to clap and cheer as the group came into church.

“It was kind of a spontaneous thing,” said Clancy Cruise, lead pastor. “We knew they would be back in time for the beginning of our second service. We welcomed them upfront and they helped me do the morning announcements. They were very active during our worship time really setting the pace for us. Our worship pastor asked if they could sit in the same section every Sunday after that.”

Randy Smith Receives Wall of Honor Award

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Randy Smith

Randy Smith

The Wall of Honor is CE National’s highest individual award. The CE National board of directors is pleased to present the 2015 Wall of Honor to Randy Smith, a loving and faithful servant of Christ.

Randy Smith, was born September 13, 1961, in Woodbury, New Jersey, third in a line of 10 children.

Randy came to know the Lord at age 13 and continued to grow in his faith attending Haddon Heights Baptist Church and Baptist High School, in New Jersey. He credits many of his high school teachers with prompting his desire to know the Word and to teach it.

After graduating in 1979, and one year at Philadelphia College of the Bible, Randy threw a back pack over his shoulder and headed to Jerusalem. It was during this time his love affair with the land of Israel began. Randy continued to study and learn more about the land of the Bible and how it relates to the understanding of the Scriptures. He attended language school and political Near East courses at Hebrew University. He studied at Ecole Biblique and the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies. One of the highlights of his education was participation in the Pottery and Field Studies in Archaeology at the Ir David Excavations in 1982. It was also during this time he began leading day tours around the city of Jerusalem in order to help pay for his classes.

Randy returned home to the United States in 1982, and while teaching an adult Sunday school class in Maple Shade, New Jersey, met his wife, Dottie. They married three years later and moved to Elkhart, Indiana, and started attending Elkhart Grace Brethren Church. There he ministered as youth director and along with his wife started a daycare ministry at the church.

In 1987, Randy moved his family to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, accepting the position as head master of the Christian school at the Ft. Lauderdale Grace Brethren Church.

One year later, Ft. Myers Grace Brethren Church, found themselves without a pastor and the Smiths were called by the congregation to shepherd the flock located there. During his time in Ft. Myers, Randy not only earned his masters and doctorate, but continued his love of the Holy Land.

So in 1989, the Smith family packed their bags and headed for Jerusalem. Randy began working for Biblical Resources, and returned to the land he loved and doing what he does best, teaching. The family was only there for a short time when the Gulf War erupted and tourism died and the family needed to return to the USA. Randy began a new pastorate at the Ft. Lauderdale Grace Brethren Church.

The Smiths continued to feel called to the Holy Land and the family was able to move back to Jerusalem in 1995. It was during this time Randy started his own business leading study tours to Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, and Egypt. Unrest included numerous suicide bombings and bus bombings. The Smiths lived surrounded by sandbags and yet felt a sense of peace about being right where they were. It was in seeing the tragedy of war, Global Vision Outreach was formed as a humanitarian organization to provide food, medicine and blankets for victims of the war.

In 2002, the Smith family returned to Florida and began attending the Grace Brethren Church in Sebring, Florida. Two years later the church approached Randy about being the pastor and he accepted. Randy started The Great Commission Bible Institute. GCBI, now in its 10th year, providing in-depth, tuition-free Bible instruction, page by page, over 1 year.

The Lord has given Randy a real sense of purpose and drive to teach His Word. He finds nothing more humbling and fulfilling than following that path.

Ed Lewis, executive director of CE National, has this to say about Randy, “Randy is a man of the Word.  I love that about Randy.  There are few people who are so devoted to studying the Bible like Randy Smith is… and he understands the culture in which the Bible was written and how it applies to our lives.  I know he loves the Word… and he loves the lands of the Bible… and he loves impacting students to learn Bible truth…but above all he loves Jesus.   He is a motivator and he loves to see that others know and learn the Bible. What a great gift he is to the body of Christ.”

Antioch School–Training Leaders

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Gain biblical knowledge, character, and ministry skills through the Antioch School.

The Antioch School allows development for emerging and established leaders in the context of their own churches and within their own church networks. Programs focus on character, ministry skills, and biblical knowledge through a curriculum based on doing biblical theology in culture. This is an innovative, degree-granting school, with a truly church-based, theological education. You may also contact Steve Galegor, Jr. at sgalegor@gmail.com as he is providing support for the Antioch School within the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.

New in the CE National Lending Library

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Community: Starting well in your small group A DVD and study guide by Andy Stanley

In this eight session, video-based study, you’ll explore how building deep relationships with the people in your small group and serving in the larger community around you will grow your faith. You’ll learn why your unique story matters to God and to the people you do life with.

Love Worth Giving: Living in the overflow of God’s love. A book by Max Lucado

Low on Love?
Finding it hard to love? Someone in your world is hard to forgive? Is patience an endangered species? Kindness a forgotten virtue? If so, you may have forgotten a step, an essential first step. Living loved.
God loves you. Personally. Powerfully. Passionately. Others have promised and failed. But God has promised and succeeded. He loves you with an unfailing love. And his love, if you let it, can fill you and leave you with a love worth giving.

To see these and other resources, visit cenational.org/library.

6 Rhythms to Establish Missional Living

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At the recent Flinch conference, Pastor Kalownaski encouraged pastors and church leaders to embed a missional lifestyle into our daily habits. His six takeaways allow us to glimpse life-on-life ministry as simple and attainable. We have one life. He shared. How we spend it has little to do with you or me it is about our purpose and the mission God has for us. Implanting missional life rhythms into your everyday structure allows for God to use you in simple, ordinary ways making ministry simple, doable, and a part of your natural life. Using these six principles, our church has shifted into easy to grasp missional lifestyles.

Read more…

Urban Hope Kids Go to Camp Conquest

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Urban Hope kids enjoy Camp Conquest 2014

Urban Hope kids enjoy Camp Conquest 2014

Next week will be exciting for many of the Urban Hope Training Center neighborhood children as they have the opportunity to attend Camp Conquest in the hills of Denver, Pennsylvania!

For many of these children, this will be the first chance they have had to be out of the city and enjoy a “camp” experience. A large number of adults and 72 children will be a part of this trip!

Please pray that this will be a great time for the participants, as well as a time of spiritual commitment and growth.