The TOF Update – Vol. 33 (A Major Announcement – Christian And Sarah Saldana To Join Youth Staff)

“I, for one, am a great fan of Roman numeral puns.”

“I began reading a horror novel in Braille. Something bad is about to happen; I can feel it…”  

Welcome to the weekly TEENS OF FAITH UPDATE—Online Edition. Click below for my curated funnies, a fictional student highlight, and updates for the parents of my teens. As a youth pastor, I delight in silliness and want to share.

Enjoy! —Ryan Rench


These Made Me CQTM*

*The ubiquitous term CQTM was coined by my brother, Nathan, whose response to most videos was a chuckle. For intellectual integrity, we will hereafter use “Chuckle Quietly To Myself,” rather than the oft-disingenuous LOL

One Youth Pastor’s Opinion…

A Major Announcement – Christian And Sarah Saldana To Join Youth Staff

Change is a bittersweet thing.

For us, change is coming in our youth ministry as Bro. Christian and Mrs. Sarah Saldana move here in January to come on youth staff and eventually transition as our church’s new youth pastor. I’m so excited for the future of our youth ministry, but I told our church that a little (or not so little) part of my heart gets ripped out every time I think of this change.

We announced this to the teens and parents in a meeting a few weeks ago, and our teens haven’t stopped cheering yet. Just kidding. They’ll miss my wife, at least.

But we’re not gone yet, and nothing will change for most of 2019. The Saldanas will move into our staff house and work a couple days per week in return for their housing, as our church is currently unable to provide a full-time salary for them. That is what my wife and I did when we first came to California, and those years were some of our best.

So, I will remain as youth pastor at least until the summer while Bro. Christian and Mrs. Sarah spend their time getting to know everyone. My wife and I will still be in the church serving in a different capacity after the Saldanas take over (we’re not moving away or anything), and my prayer is that we have the strongest year we have ever had in our teens. How can we?

  • Weekly Bible preaching (always premier in our youth ministry)
  • Daily prep through our missions trip requirements of Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, etc.
  • Three incredible trips coming up: Winter camp at Ironwood, the East Coast Missions Trip over Spring Break, and Summer camp, also at Ironwood.

These things have always been the focus of our youth ministry, as they all focus Christians on the Bible.

I love what a preacher told church planter Pastor AJ Harold, “Teach your church to say, ‘If God is in it, I already like it.’ So you walk in and there’s green carpet, or a different service schedule, or a staff change. ‘If God is in it, I already like it!’”

I like that sentiment. But the first part is key: if God is in it. I believe God is in this move as we have searched the Word, prayed, and sought much counsel.

Nothing is perfect. Nobody’s perfect. But if God is in it, I already like it.  -Bro. Ryan


Sermon Summary

Sunday School

Calvinism at its core says that God does not, in fact, love everyone—not in the complete way that God loves His Son—and therefore seems a sad theology to hold to.

God gives us free choice and has not pre-chosen our desires. If eating carrots was damnable, a rabbit has no control over his instincts and would still “freely choose” a carrot over a piece of meat. This does not warrant us torturing the rabbit for making that choice, as it seems God would do if he had set two options of “God” or “not-God” before us, knowing only his elect few would be granted the grace and enabling to “choose” God. If God created our appetites, he also created our destinies. “Free choice,” then, is a fully free and unforced choice that we make—not instinctually driven like a rabbit, but with a full choice between right and wrong that we can make. If we had the total inability to make that choice, God is lying when he says that he wants all men to be saved, or his love is only on a select few (although he says it is for all.)

Still… so what? Why study Romans 9 when all he’s talking about is ancient Jewish beliefs? Well, 1) because it’s Bible, and 2) we’re getting a great view of the faithfulness of God—something we 21stcentury American Christians can still benefit from.

In my opinion, American Christianity will falter and America will fail, ushering in the end-time prophecies about Israel (like the recent red heifer calf birth, the third temple blueprints, or the pool of Bethesda uncovering, for example). That’s where Romans 9 among other texts makes more sense.

The point for us today is that our sovereign God will undoubtedly accomplish his grand will—with or without our involvement and subsequent blessing. For teens, this means tapping into his intentions for us today by viewing him as sovereign and capable of knowing what is best for our lives, and living and changing accordingly.

Last Wednesday

The Scriptures repeatedly teach us to both hear and do the Scriptures, making us useful to His work as lights on a hill, or as houses built on a rock and not sand. This takes the discipline of meditation and constantly listening to God for a lifetime.

Student Highlight

Maybe true. Probably not. You’ll never know. 

I did not know until last week that Joshua is the president of LEGO. Executives saw a picture of a house he built when he was 3 years old, contacted him when he was 4, and the rest is history. He was instrumental in designing LEGOLAND and “has big plans” to “buy Disney, DC Comics, Apple, and Food Network” to create a new mega-company “like you’ve never seen before,” according to a 2018 exclusive interview with journalists KCBC Temecula Networks. When asked about the timing of it all, he replied, “My mom said I have to finish 7th grade, and then we can talk about it.”


Teen Announcements (click to expand)