The CE Leadership Summit Meets in Philadelphia

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The group from CELS visiting Brooklyn Tabernacle

The group from CELS visiting Brooklyn Tabernacle

The CE Leadership Summit this year included youth workers, a senior pastor, and children’s workers. The group enjoyed round-table discussions, hearing testimonies of changed lives at Urban Hope, visiting Metro Ministries’ Sidewalk Sunday School program, Jim Cymbala’s Brooklyn Tabernacle, and more.

On Monday, the 30 participants divided into various groups for round-table discussions that were extremely profitable. Timothy Kurtaneck, director of youth leadership training at CE National, led the discussion on characteristics of the current generation that apply to youth ministries now.

The group also enjoyed hearing from three key leaders representing thousands of people who work in the inner city. The leaders discussed some of the coming issues we face in our society due to what is happening in our inner cities. The key leaders were the director of Young Life, the director of Esperanza–the largest Spanish speaking training program in North America, and one of the directors of a growing boxing ministry with Calvary Chapels–an organization that has seen over 7,000 trained through sports ministries and Bible studies.

The day included incredible conversations with students in the Urban Hope neighborhood. The CELS participants talked with children and youth who told about their homes, fears, schools and their futures. The participants toured a boxing ministry called ROCK Ministries and learned from their directors how God is changing lives. They also saw a program by Salt and Light, the children’s ministry of Urban Hope. Children from the ministry gave testimonies of coming to faith in Christ and how they share Christ in the schools.

A group of high school students gave their testimonies and shared their stories of coming to faith and how they are living out their faith. The CELS participants had prayer with the students.

On Monday the group also had a session on the essential elements of an effective youth and children’s ministry led by Ed Short and Timothy Kurtaneck. In addition, on Tuesday morning, the group learned 7 principles a children’s or youth worker must practice.

On Tuesday, the group drove to New York City where they experienced Sidewalk Sunday Schools operated by Metro Ministries. Walking the streets, meeting with teenagers, parents, and children, showed the group how Metro Ministries is reaching young people for Christ in one of the world’s largest cities.

The day concluded by seeing the Passion Play at Brooklyn Tabernacle. The group was challenged in their faith though the Easter-season performance. There were many salvation decisions during the outreach event at Brooklyn Tabernacle.

In addition the group enjoyed a picnic in a New York park, eating Philly cheessteaks, having a Puerto Rican meal, and plenty of fun interaction with one another. The group also had the opportunity to pray and to seek God for reaching young people and children for Christ. “The theme of the retreat related to expanding our vision,” said Ed Lewis, executive director of CE National, “and that was certainly accomplished.

“The training was challenging, the ministry opportunities were stretching, the fellowship and fun were fabulous,” said Lee Seese, youth pastor at Community Grace Brethren Church in Everett, Pennsylvania. “It is obvious that the CE National and Urban Hope staff love God and people!”

Introducing Afshin Ziafat – Momentum Youth Conference Speaker

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Introducing Afshin Ziafat - Momentum Youth Conference Speaker
Afshin Ziafat will be one of the main session speakers at Momentum Youth Conference 2016.

Afshin Ziafat is the lead pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas. Before taking his current role in October 2010, Afshin spent over a decade traveling nationally and internationally proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in churches, retreats, camps, conferences and missions. Afshin helped launch Vertical Bible Study at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He also partners with Elam Ministries and travels into the Middle East regularly to train Iranian pastors.

Afshin’s passion is to teach the Word of God as the authority and guide for life, to preach Jesus Christ as the only Savior and Redeemer of mankind and to proclaim the love of Christ as the greatest treasure and hope in life. He and his wife, Meredith, currently reside in Frisco, Texas, along with their daughters, Elyse and Ansley.

Watch a video of Afshin speaking at Momentum 2014.

Don’t miss hearing Afshin Ziafat speak at Momentum 2016! Save your spot now by registering.

The March 31 deadline is quickly approaching! Register and pay your $75 deposit by March 31 to get the best rate for Momentum 2016 (balances due June 15).

Grace Church, Lititz, Pennsylvania, Holds 10th Annual Egg Drop

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The crowd is ready for the helicopter to drop the eggs

The crowd is ready for the helicopter to drop the eggs

Last Saturday (March 19) was an amazing day as Grace Church in Lititz, Pennsylvania, held their 10th annual Egg drop and Easter Party.

Based on registrations over 1,800 children, toddler through 4th grade, along with parents, grandparents, and other family members participated. Estimates are that there were between 4,000-5,000 people on the Grace Church campus.

The church held two egg drop parties, followed by games, bounce houses, and more inside. Each party time concluded with a program in which the gospel was presented.

“Our church rallied to make this event incredible as they gave an abundance of candy to fill 15,000 eggs,” said Heidi Christner, director of children’s ministry at Grace Church. A total of 19,000 eggs were dropped. In addition to candy, the Grace church family donated over 50 amazing prizes that were either raffled away based on the preregistrations or by tickets at the event. The church gave away over 20 bikes, trikes, and scooters, plus some amazing baskets, and large plush animals.

Heidi estimates there were over 75 volunteers reaching out and loving on the community around Grace Church.

The Lasting Impact of the Operation Barnabas Ministry

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The 2014 Northeast Team

The 2014 NorthEast Team

Some may wonder if the impact of being a part of Operation Barnabas lasts or if it fades after a few weeks of being back home.

Recently, an OB alum from the 2014 NorthEast team shared the following on her social media…

“God showed me so much about his LOVE and GRACE through OB. My confidence in Him, and myself, grew so much by God working through Operation Barnabas. I learned how to share my faith with others and come alongside these people and love them. It was the HARDEST summer, but it was also the BEST.

“I want to thank everyone who prayed and donated for me to be a part of Operation Barnabas, summer of 2014. I am still reminded of this trip almost daily…the time spent traveling from church to church in an old, blue bus (without air conditioning) with 30 teens and 5 leaders were some of the BEST memories and I still treasure them.

“I learned so much through this trip, and I want to thank the leaders who made this trip incredible. These people aren’t just disciples, they are disciple-makers!”

This video highlights the 2014 team and explains more about the Operation Barnabas ministry.

It is now “last call” for any 10th – 12th grade students who would like to apply for the few remaining spots on our two 2016 Operation Barnabas teams, June 20 – July 11. Applications and more information can be found at

He Is Risen! Celebrate the Resurrection!

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He Is Risen! Celebrate the Resurrection!
CE National would like to wish you a wonderful and happy Easter as we celebrate the resurrection of the risen Lord. “He is not here–He has risen!  Jesus has risen from the dead!” These words should give us great hope and joy as Jesus paid the penalty for sin on the cross and then bodily rose three days later, just as He said he would. Make someone’s day by sharing with them the good news!

Grand Valley State University Brings 17 Campus Ministry Students to Urban Hope

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Students from Grand Valley State University

Students from Grand Valley State University on the Urban Hope steps

Campus ministry students from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, came to Urban Hope last week (March 7-11).

The team of 17 came with hearts and minds ready to learn. Their week at Urban Hope was filled with prayer walks, homeless ministry, training sessions, ministry under the elevated train, and more. God broke down any barriers they had towards people. Their love for the Lord was evident and they desire to go back home and live for Christ! See more pictures on the CE National Facebook page.

Emily Smith: Being here has not only made me realize that I want to take what I have learned home with me, but it has also got me thinking about looking into either full time or part time ministry as my job.

Rachel Hepner: This week allowed me to further my walk in faith. I am now more equipped to show the love of God everywhere I go. I have been inspired to talk to many more people and definitely not judge a book by the cover. I love Urban Hope.

Allison Hankins: This trip taught me what ministry is supposed to look like.

If you would like more information on bringing your group to Urban Hope, visit

Knute Larson’s Pastorpedia Live Videos Available Online

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Knute Larson speaks on groups during Pastorpedia Live

Knute Larson speaks on groups during Pastorpedia Live

Knute Larson spoke to 60-plus people during CE National’s most recent Pastorpedia Live event on groups. Watch the videos on the CE National YouTube channel.

The next Pastorpedia Live will be June 8. Tom Julien, former missionary to France, former executive director of Encompass
World Partners, and currently an integral part of the Equipping Network for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, will be speaking on leading believers to maturity in Christ and intentional discipleship and the church. Find out more here…

Urban Hope Kicks Off Superkid City

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Kids enjoying SuperKid City

Kids enjoying SuperKid City

Sunday, March 13, Urban Hope unveiled their new church for kids ages 0-10 called Superkid City! From the smallest baby to the tallest 10-year-old, the kids are being taught how to live by the Super Holy Spirit Power.

Amber Besson is Urban Hope’s children’s director. Here Amber talks about Superkid City.

For I am not ashamed of this good news about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes. -Romans 1:16

Have you ever dreamed of being a superhero with x-ray vision, super strength, or the power to fly? Here at Urban Hope, we now have an entire team of Superkids who meet together every Sunday morning at Superkid City to learn how to live by the Super Holy Spirit Power (SHSP). From the smallest baby to the tallest 10 year old, all of the kids who attend church on Sunday mornings are learning about superheroes in the Bible who chose to live by the SHSP. These Superkids also get to see real-life superheroes each week, their superteachers and sidekicks.

In Superkid City, we have three different classes. The Superbabies (ages 0-2) are represented by their superhero, Mighty Mo. Mighty Mo, Moses, chose to obey God and God used him to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Mighty Mo will be teaching all of our Superkids how to be obedient to God in the month of April.

The Superbunch (ages 2-4) is represented by their superheroes, Ruthie Rocket and Joey Jolt. Ruthie Rocket, Ruth, chose to be loyal to her family and God through hard times. She will be teaching us how to be loyal to God even in hard times in the month of May. Joey Jolt, King Josiah, was faithful to God and God’s word. He will be teaching us how to be faithful to God’s word in the month of June.

The Supersquads (ages 4-10) are represented by their superheroes, Sam Strong and Deb Dash. Sam Strong, Samson, was given great strength by God, but he didn’t always use it wisely. In July, Sam will be teaching us about the strength that God can give us, but also how we can make things right with God when we make a mistake. Deb Dash, Deborah, was bold and believed that God would defeat his enemies no matter what. In August, Deb Dash will be showing us how to be bold in what we know is true about God.

As we get started this month, we are talking about our greatest superhero, Jesus, who died on the cross to save us from our sin. If we choose to follow Him, that same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us; therefore, we do not have to be ashamed about the Good News about Jesus.

Our goal at Superkid City is to teach kids more about the Good News so that they can live by the Super Holy Spirit Power to tell others about the Good News of Jesus and be a superkid in their home and school.

See pictures…

Register Now For Awakened

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Join women from all over the country April 29-May 1 for this life changing weekend where you’ll learn about other cultures while staying in a unique urban environment in a Latino neighborhood of Philadelphia. During the weekend you’ll serve women in the areas around the Urban Hope Training Center and Community Church, and minister to the homeless in the heart of one of our nation’s largest and poorest cities. The weekend will culminate with a service project of preparing a special dinner and “spa” time for women from the community. Read more and register…

Knute Larson Speaks on Groups to 60 Plus Attendees

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Knute Larson speaks during Pastorpedia Live

Knute Larson speaks during Pastorpedia Live

Knute Larson spoke to 60 plus people during CE National’s most recent Pastorpedia Live event on groups.

Knute’s written a book on growing small groups that’s available for free download from his website.

The next Pastorpedia Live will be June 8. Tom Julien, former missionary to France, former executive director of Encompass World Partners, and currently an integral part of the Equipping Network for the Felloswhip of Grace Brethren Churches, will be the guest speaker. Read an article Tom wrote on equipping here.

Grow Together – By Summit Ministries

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Grow Together
Something special happens when all of God’s people–children, teens, adults– do life together. Grow Together ignites powerful spiritual growth through family unity across the generations.

Experience growth by finding the answers to Life’s 3 Hungers: Truth, Identity, and Meaning. The Grow Together package including the book, film, group guide, and magazine each explore these hungers through multi-generational relationships.

Visit to find out more and download a free sample.

Grace College Students Visit Urban Hope

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The group of Grace College students at Urban Hope

The group of Grace College students at Urban Hope

Every Grace College student must complete a cross cultural field experience to fulfill graduation requirements. Each spring break, Timothy Kurtaneck, director of The National Institute for the Development of Ministries to Youth (the Youth Ministry program at Grace College), leads a ministry trip to the Urban Hope Training Center in Philadelphia. This year, a group of 30 students participated in this opportunity that provided opportunities all over the city. But the life change that the students experience is the highlight.

Andrea Farren, participant on the Grace College trip, talks about the experience.

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, the go-to place for historical landmarks, classic cheese steaks, and a chance to act like Rocky when running up the Art Museum steps. All of these things reflect life in this great city. However, if you ask the group of Grace College students that just spent their spring break there, they might give you some different examples.

We arrived late Friday night after driving thirteen hours from Winona Lake, Indiana, to the Urban Hope Training Center on the streets of Kensington. Bright and early the next morning our busy week began with training to learn how to talk to people. This came in handy throughout the week as we went on prayer walks through Kensington, South Street, Reading Terminal Market and various cultural areas.

Many were surprised at the various cultures that Philadelphia harbors such as Southeast Asia, Puerto Rican, Latin, African American, Chinese, Italian and more. Through church services, food, and walks through the neighborhood we were able to totally immerse ourselves in these cultures.

But just observation was only part of our mission that week; we also came to serve. While helping with service projects at Urban Hope we were able to participate in other mission organizations such as Sunday Breakfast and Whosoever Gospel mission. Two ministries that help take care of the homeless population.

We then headed to Rock Ministries to help with their after school homework help and various strength training programs. These are offered to the area children to provide them with a safe place. On Sunday we participated in Kingdom Kids which is Urban Hope’s children’s ministry. Our team was able to love on these kids and help share the gospel with them.

It truly was an eventful week. Our team definitely deserved a little rest and some sight-seeing to the Liberty Bell and Dinner at the famous Pat and Geno’s. Our team also had fun giving our best Rocky impersonations at the Art Museum steps and cheering on the 76’s at home basketball game.

No matter what we did, whether if it was service or sightseeing, our team was able to encounter not only the city but how God is making himself known on those street.

Please keep Urban Hope and Philadelphia in your prayers as God is continuing to move.

From one participant’s, Facebook post about the trip:


I wanted to save this picture for last because it’ll have a place in my heart! This is the street that two others and I adopted for the week! We walked up and down this street praying and loving on people who live and were on this street! Before I left on this trip I asked God to give me someone that I could make a difference in their life while in Philly! I never realized that the life God would choose for me to make a difference in was my own!

I went to Philly thinking I was going to help change this city but in all reality this city changed me! I will be constantly praying for Philly and A street! I love all the beautiful people I met and the stories I got to hear! Until next time, Philly! You’ll always have a piece of me!

If you’d like to find out more about Urban Hope, visit

Applications for Operation Barnabas Due Now!

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It is not too late for high school students to apply for Operation Barnabas 2016! From June 20 – July 11, two Operation Barnabas teams will be ministering in Ohio and Pennsylvania after starting with orientation in Winona Lake, Indiana. Team members receive biblical training and practical ministry experience to better prepare them to make a positive impact in our culture by living ON MISSION.

Character development, leadership training, personal discipleship, evangelism training and experience, and serving others are all part of an Operation Barnabas tour. If you know a high school student who loves Jesus, is involved in their local church, and ready to take the next step in their walk with the Lord, then OB is for them! Space on the teams is limited, so interested students should apply as soon as possible. You can find out all the details and applications at

Download the Operation Barnabas promo piece to print and share.

Who Can You Honor in Your Church?

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Each year, CE National provides an opportunity to encourage and honor faithful servants in ministry. The CE National Faithfulness Award is an opportunity to nominate those within your church family deserving of honor. Are there names that come immediately to mind? Maybe the faithful staff member, the long-serving Sunday School teacher, those who have undertaken an event that was helpful in reaching, teaching, and releasing people for God’s glory? The deadline for submitting a nomination for a CE National Faithfulness Award is Friday, March 4th.

Will you help us honor individuals who have served so well? You can find the Faithfulness form on our website at Please take time to consider nominations from your church family.

Thank you for joining with us as we honor individuals who are faithfully serving the Lord.

StreetWise–CE National’s Urban Experience

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In 2008 a historical population shift was made. According to, “…for the first time, the world’s population was evenly split between urban and rural areas.” It is projected that by 2050 more than 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas.

Philadelphia is one of the cities in the United States that has seen an influx of people, not just from the suburbs of America but from around the world. There are now 84 languages spoken in Philadelphia and there are ethnic sections of the city that were not there 20 years ago. New and expanding areas of people who do not know how to speak English are not just part of Philadelphia but they are also part of most towns and cities across America today. The residents retain their culture as best they can and continue to worship as their parents and grandparents have worshiped. These people are at our back door.

These children/young people are coming into our public school systems and our students have open doors to new friendships and to learn a different culture, but most of all to sharing their faith. With the many different lifestyles and religious groups it can be overwhelming to know how best to relate to these peers.

CE National is offering a new concept in a leadership conference called StreetWise. StreetWise is a week-long event that is a catalyst to equip adults and students in how to influence their culture through outreach to Muslims, LGBT, Eastern religion/mystics and atheists.

This new initiative will combine the excitement and challenge of a conference with daily, real-world opportunities to live out what is being taught. It is a conference with a mission’s trip.

The world is moving to the cities and if we are going to reach the world for Christ, we must reach the cities.

Designed for church leaders, youth workers, and students who have a heart for reaching other cultures, those who have a desire to make a difference in all cultures and those who are willing to take risks outside of their comfort zone, this week will impact both the lives of students and people of the city.

The dates for StreetWise are July 4-10, 2016. The cost is $439. Visit for more information.

CE Leadership Summit–Catching a Vision for the Unchurched

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March 21-22, are the dates for the upcoming CELS (CE Leadership Summit) event. This is for BOTH youth workers and children’s workers. The schedule is packed full of good things as well as leaving time for great fellowship and discussions. The theme is CATCHING A VISION FOR THE UNREACHED, Reaching the Unchurched Children and Youth.

The events will take place at the Urban Hope Training Center in Philadelphia and in New York City.
Housing will be in the newly renovated Balmer Building at Urban Hope.

Monday will be in Philadelphia, both at Urban Hope and in the surrounding areas. The day includes roundtable discussions, Timothy Kurtaneck (TK) talking about the generations, learning what any program needs to include (from Ed Lewis and Ed Short) seeing ministries, visiting schools, hearing testimonies of changed lives and sharing what we have learned.

Tuesday we will go by bus to New York City where we will be doing Sidewalk Sunday School with Metro Ministries. Bill Wilson runs this program that reaches 20,000 children a week. We will ride buses and do Sidewalk Sunday School, picking children up and helping with the ministry. We will then go to Jim Cymbala’s church, the Brooklyn Tabernacle, for their very powerful weekly prayer service. We will want to get there early as the place fills up fast. We will than travel back to Urban Hope.

You will learn from CE National and Urban Hope speakers and meet the Urban Hope staff.

You will see the Outreach Boxing Program of ROCK Ministries and the Urban Hope Salt and Light children’s ministry under the leadership of Amber Besson.

You will interact in extensive roundtable discussion times with other church workers about curriculum, ideas, outreaches, discipleship, recruiting, and more.

You will hear testimonies from children and youth.

You will visit local public schools and talk to the students.

You will experience the joy on children’s faces as you work with the Sidewalk Sunday School program of Metro Ministries.

You will feel God’s presence as you pray at the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

You will be encouraged as you share with those who also have a heart for ministry to the coming generations.

You will go home with a vision for those who need to be reached in your area and equipped with creative ways to reach the next generation.

Cost is $119 for one person and another person from the same church, whether it be a spouse, a coworker in ministry, volunteer, part-time or full-time. A youth worker can bring a children’s worker or the other way around or you can bring someone who works under you in the same ministry.

The cost includes three nights lodging—Sunday-Tuesday (leaving Wednesday morning at your leisure), two breakfasts, one lunch and one dinner. One lunch and one dinner are on your own as we travel to and from New York City. Transportation is included for the trip into New York City.

To register, go to Questions: 574.267.6622

Read more and see a video of Ed Lewis talking about the summit.

Sunday and Home Groups can be Weak or Wonderful!!!

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Sunday and Home Groups can be Weak or Wonderful!!! Knute Larson at the next Pastorpedia Live

The next Pastorpedia Live event is on March 9, at the Russell Center in Winona Lake, Indiana (1003 Presidential Dr.). Pastorpedia Live is designed especially for pastors, group directors and lead volunteers.

The topic will be: Sunday and Home Groups Can Be Weak or Wonderful!!! How do we help to shape groups to have their unique #2 role in the church life? This will deal with the confusion, the purpose and the best practices of groups whether in the church or in the home.

Here are some questions that will be answered:

  • Are electives worthwhile? (Why do electives often get tagged as ineffective or too content oriented?)
  • What is the best way to start new groups?
  • Should Sunday and Home groups be “apples to apples?”
  • When is a Home group not a small group?
  • Where does discipleship happen? (What is discipleship?)
  • When are old-time Sunday school classes counter-productive?
  • How do we evaluate whether or not true community and care are happening in community care groups?
  • Where does mission fit?
  • Who really likes their group on Sundays?
  • Was the ABF model really used in the New Testament?
  • What does it mean to “push care” to the groups?
  • What keeps churches confused about groups?
Knute Larson

Knute Larson

Pastor Knute Larson, former pastor at the Chapel in Akron, Ohio, and current church/pastor coach, will address these questions and much more. He has also authored five books including one on Adult Bible Fellowships.

The doors open at the Russell Center at CE National, at 9:30 AM and the program starts at 10. Lunch is included in the cost for the day and we will conclude by 3 PM.

The cost is $33 per person and for every two paid people registering from one church a third person can come for free. Register now.


Pastorpedia Live is sponsored by Grace Theological Seminary and CE National. If you have questions, please call Lois at 574.267.6622 ext. 111 or email