Category: Parents (page 1 of 4)

Kenya Training

Just over a year ago I visited Kenya in Africa. It was there that God revealed a few important things to me. He taught me that here in North America we have our wants and our needs very confused. He showed me that I don’t fight for my passions as hard as I could. He told me that I need to appreciate and not take for granted the family, things, and opportunities I have.

Leigh Janssen and I visited Kenya to film some of the youth curriculum that we have been watching at theUNDERGROUND. Neither of us had been overseas, and we had no idea what to expect. We visited a running academy in the western highlands of Kenya. Here we met really incredible teenagers who are gifted in running, and hope to attend the school to get an education so that they may take whatever opportunities their future successes may bring. Many of them want to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, and engineers. They dream big, they don’t let their circumstance hold them back from hoping and trying. They know that God can work miracles. We spent a few days there, training alongside them and getting to know them. We got to see their homes, meet their families and see how different their circumstances are from our own.

These kids have no choice but to run. They live in the most rural parts of the highlands, they have to run to school, train before school starts, focus on academics for a few hours, and then train again after school before running home. The endurance, passion and motivation that these kids have is inspiring. They run in hopes of winning races and marathons in order to get money for their families to improve their living situations.

I don’t have to raise up gardens and livestock to eat. I don’t have to run for 30 minutes just to get to a store to buy necessities. I don’t have to wear shoes with holes in them that have been worn by someone else previously just to be able to train for what I want to do to.

These teenagers showed me that they are just as hardworking, responsible, and disciplined as any adult I have ever met. They don’t have iPods or play video games, they work the land and take care of the livestock. They take care of their siblings, and pool any money they get into their families funds. They spend their race winnings on things like trees for shade, vegetables and their siblings school tuitions.

After being home for a year and thinking back on my time spent at this academy, I realize I’ve needed this reminder again to work harder at my passion and my relationship with God, and be more self disciplined.And I will be reminded yet again when I see their faces on TV after winning an important race or marathon, or an olympic gold metal. They deserve it, and I will praying, and cheering them on from over here on my side of the world.


– Rachael Bawn

Here we go again…

It’s that time again! Everyone is back to school. There has been haircuts, new backpacks, topping up on school supplies, and balancing schedules; trying to squeeze in family time wherever possible! It’s a fresh new school year, full of anticipation for what is to come! Maybe your child has begun their final year of school and is planning on hitting the books hard – ensuring a spot in their desired program for university. Maybe it’s their final shot at taking home the championship. Maybe your kids have changed schools because they just started high school and they are worried about making a good first impression. Or perhaps you have a child who has just started Grade 6 and is has just joined us at theUNDERGROUND for the first time!


Well no matter how far along in school your kids are, we are so excited to welcome EVERYONE back to midweek 🙂 We have had a great start to the year and are so excited to be back into the swing of things! Starting back at midweek is almost like New Year’s Eve for us! We have been thinking through what our “New Years’ Resolutions” will be! And we welcome you to join with us in our hopes for this school year. We have taken a good look at our Mission and our Values over the summer, and we want to be more intentional about living and breathing these values, making them part of our DNA instead of a list of ideals. Our Mission is ‘to lead students into a growing and lifelong relationship with Jesus’. This is no easy task! And I would love for all of us to think about that word, ‘lifelong’ for a moment.


Students are in theUNDERGROUND up until Grade 12. We have seven years with your kids (if they go start to finish). But they are with you for life! As parents, you have an incredible opportunity to speak into your kids’ lives. Sometimes they don’t listen, we understand that. In fact, sometimes they find their youth leaders to be some of the smartest people in the world – and all we do is repeat something that you’ve already told them 100 times! But let’s go back to ‘lifelong’ again. We get a brief time with your kids. Our hope is that in that time, we can work with the parents of our students. One of our values is ‘resourced and spiritually engaged parents’. We believe that parents are the primary spiritual influencers in the lives of youth. We want to communicate with, resource and engage parents in the life of the youth ministry. We want to come alongside you and help your kids become lifelong followers of Jesus.


Parents, I want to challenge you with something. I want you to think about all the activities your kids are involved in, and which ones are the highest priority. Have you built in time for them to grow spiritually? Have you set up a culture in your home where hockey practice is more important than homework? What is more likely to happen: your child becomes an NHL prodigy, or graduates university? What if the students in theUNDERGROUND spent as much time with God as they did in any other activity? What if the primary focus for their future was a relationship with Jesus? My challenge is to be intentional. We are intentional about providing kids with a safe space where they can be themselves, learn about Jesus, and grow as a community. And you, as parents, are the most influential part of that spiritual community.


So how do we ensure that this New Years Resolution doesn’t end up flopping a few weeks in? Communication. Involvement. Prayer. We do our very best to communicate and keep you up to date about what’s going on inside the doors of theUNDERGROUND. We have Facebook pages, blog posts, newsletters, etc. Look us up! Say hello 🙂 Let leaders know what’s going on at school or at home, maybe there is a piece of the puzzle that you can provide! Let us celebrate with you, let us grieve with you. We have committed volunteers who have a heart for ministering to your kids, let them be a consistent voice in the lives of your kids. Midweek is a great, intentional time for your kids to be involved in games, small groups, discipleship, and teaching. Ask them what the night was about! And if they can’t tell you – let us know so we can make adjustments 🙂


Try your best to get your kids on retreats, these a great for building relationships, getting away from life and focusing on Jesus, and for just plain old fun! We understand that it’s not realistic to send every kid, from every family, to every retreat, just know that we are happy to help in any way we can. And lastly, the most important thing you can do as a parent is pray for your kids. Pray for their small group leaders. Pray for their youth coordinators and pastors. Pray for their teachers at school, their coaches, and their friends. There are so many spheres of influence in the life of a student, and we want to remind you that we are on your team! Let’s commit to helping your kids enter a lifelong relationship with Jesus.


– Mark Muller


City Camp is almost here!!!

We are only a few days away from welcoming students from across our sites to the Muskoka Woods City Camp Leadership Trip! We have 20 students that will be joining us this Sunday to serve in Oakville for the week. This is a great opportunity for them to have fun serving kids in the Oakville community, while learning who God has made them to be and exploring their own life story.

During the day, our students will be assisting the Muskoka Woods staff and campers in a variety of camp activities such as; trampoline, laser tag, inflatable slides, and even bubble soccer! Yes! BUBBLE SOCCER!!! Our evenings will be spent together doing some of our own activities and team building exercises, as well as helping students discover various leadership qualities. We have some great things planned for this group! We have even created a special leadership track for some of our older students. Our grade 10s and 11s will have some in depth leadership development that they will practically apply each day by leading small groups of students in grades 7-9. This allows them not only to discover and learn, but apply and share the tools we are helping them develop.

Our goal is that all of our students will step into leadership roles for the upcoming year in theUNDERGROUND, no matter what site they attend! We would appreciate your prayers as we bring these kids together for an incredible opportunity!

Movie Night – This Week!
Unbroken: Week 3 | “To Save a Life”

tosavealifesqOur current series, “Unbroken” is about how brokenness invades our lives in many forms and how God wants to restore us and make us whole. We’ve been encouraged by the conversations our students and leaders have been having already.

As mentioned in this month’s newsletter,  as part of this series we are going to be watching “To Save A Life”. Check out the Trailer here.
The movie addresses some difficult, but very real topics that students do face at school, home and in their friendship circles, from a Christian perspective and we want theUNDERGROUND to be a safe place to talk about these things. The movie was written by a youth pastor, was targeted to the Christian community, and has come recommended to us by parents who are encouraging us to be having this conversation. That being said, we do also want to be very aware that they are intense topics and some parents may not be comfortable with their students watching the movie at this point and we totally understand and respect that fully.

*Junior High Parents – this movie does include some heavier subject matter, including high school parties, suicide, teenage pregnancy. It is done through a Christian lens and you can check out the Plugged-In movie review by Focus on the Family here.

The hope is to continue the conversation and help students ask questions and process through the rest of this series. Next week we’re looking forward to a panel discussion and are thankful for the amazing leaders we have who are committed to journeying with our students.

As you engage with your kids about some of these difficult topics, we want to be a support and resource to you as much as possible. A great spot for articles and resources is the Center for Parent & Youth Understanding –

If we can serve you as a family in any way please don’t hesitate to be in touch!

Jr High Kerr Street Compassion Trip

Gr 7 and 8! Join us for an awesome experience this summer as we serve at Kerr Street Ministries Day Camp!  We have two awesome weeks for you to choose from: July 14-19 or August 5-9.  This is a cross-regional opportunity for our Jr High’s at The Meeting House.  This is an incredible way for you to connect with other students from across our sites as you learn to lead and serve together!


You can download the application form by clicking the link below!  All of the information you might need for the week (and also about Kerr Street Ministries) is listed here as well!  Check it out!

Built2Belong – Parent update week 1

The month of May we are going to be lunching into a brand new midweek teaching series called “built2belong.”  It’s a series about relationships, with God, our families, friends and those who we don’t like.   We will be looking at how God wired each of us to long to be connected and cared for.   We live in the most technologically connected generation in history yet we are the most lonely and disconnected relationally.

BIG IDEA: You were wired in your very core to be in relationship.  You were never created to live your life alone outside of relationship. From the very beginning you were created by God with a deep longing and desire to belong to Him.

God created us uniquely.  There is no one like you!  Yet at the very core of who you are is the desire to be in relationship.  God wired you to belong to Him and only when we begin with a relationship with God do we understand who we really are.  Its like this light/wires, God wired you inside to be in relationship with Him but only when you open your life to a loving relationship with God does the light come on and you truly experience who you really are.   Many people live their lives alone and separate from their creator, they’ve never turned the light on.

1 Peter 2:9   But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Genesis 1:26 – God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness 

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KNOWN – Parent update week 4


This month has been an incredible journey as we’ve discovered that we are sons and daughters of the most high God.  Our retreat was a powerful community experience as hundreds of our youth gathered at Muskoka Woods for a weekend where we encountered the truth of our existence; that we are known by God and created for a purpose worth living for.   

Week 4 of our midweek curriculum this month centered around the fact that we as children of God have been given a purpose and a mission.   Here is a short snapshot of what was taught with some questions to engage your kids with.


BIG IDEA: As children of the Most High God, we are called to be a part of his mission. 

–       Whether you know it or not, because of our identities as children of the Most High God, we have been created to be people with a mission. We are on a mission from God.

–       Matthew 28:18-20 (NIrV) “Then Jesus came to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.’”

–       Over the night we look at people in the bible who God calls to be on Mission and they give excuses why they shouldn’t participate.  Moses, Jeremiah and Jonah.   We then look at a few characters who risk it all for what God calls them to do; Noah, Esther and the disciples.

–       Esther 4:13-16  Esther doesn’t let an excuse stop her. She says: “If I must die, I must!” That’s living out your mission! That’s being all in and being willing to get it done.

–       You know other people in the Bible who were flawed and messy, but all in at the same time—the disciples. Their mission—and ours!—is to “…Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you…”

–       This is our mission. Let’s not make excuses—especially bad ones. Let’s be ALL IN. Let’s step up and make disciples. Let’s share the hope of Jesus with people. Let’s learn and grow and commit together to our mission.


Questions around the dinner table:

  1. Have you ever had an important challenging mission, task or purpose that someone gave you that you had to complete? What was it? How did you do?
  2. Why do you think we often make excuses to get out of having to engage in doing something important?  Consider characters in the bible who made excuses to get out of what God was calling them to do. Moses, Jeremiah, Jonah.
  3. What would it look like to be like Esther who said “if I die, I die”?  What would make you think this way?
  4. What is the mission that God is calling you on?  How do you feel about it?
  5. What does it mean to be on mission at your school?  Do you have a hard time doing what you know God’s calling you to do?  Why?

Transform – Invite – Week 2 – Parent Update

Hi Parents!

We at theUNDERGROUND hope you and your family had a great march break!  We are back this week into our midweek routine and excited to be on week 2 of our Transform series.  Here’s a bit of what we will be talking about.

Big Idea: God calls us to share the good news about Jesus with others and invite them to get to know him too!

Key Scripture: Acts 2:37-47 & 2 Timothy 1:5-10


What is so cool about this passage is that it’s a picture of what we talked about last week, a community that is committed to growth—to becoming a transforming community. This passage says that after they believed, people continued to learn, they met together, they shared everything they had, and lived on less so that they could give to others. That’s such a beautiful picture of a community becoming more and more Christ-like!

And that last line of the passage is one that really hits home tonight. It doesn’t say all these amazing things about how they were living and growing as a community and end with, “And they retreated and lived happily ever after”. It says, “And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”

Others were invited into what God was doing, invited to join in this crazy experience, and to be part of it! Others heard the good news of Jesus and jumped on board.

We live in an age where eye contact, quality time, and meaningful discussions are being replaced by texts, likes, and 140 character or less messages. We are more connected than ever, but do people know what matters most to us? Do they know what makes us who we are, what we’re passionate about?

If you were to ask your friends to describe you, what would they say? If they were asked what kind of person you are, what you are all about, what is most important to you, how would they respond? What makes you, you?

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Bringing Sexy Back…Again – Wk 3 Parent Update

Hi Parents, 

We just came through an awesome and slightly awkward week talking about Sex.  We feel it’s so important to partner with parents to address issues that dysfunctionally dominate youth culture.  As a youth ministry team we feel it’s so important to address these issues from a Jesus centered healthy perspective.  This week we are talking about what it means for us to have healthy view and relationship with the opposite sex honour God.

Intro – Where do you find healthy relationships on display in pop music and movies? When I listen to pop radio almost every song is about unhealthy sexual relationships or at the very least short term romantic relationships. When I watch movies almost every time you see a girl and a guy as lead actors there is a 90%  chance they are going to get together romantically and probably a 70% chance they are going to have sex at some point in the movie. Our culture has a very unhealthy view of the opposite sex, a view that is immersed in sexuality and objectification.

BIG IDEA: It’s important for us to learn to treat others as brothers and sister in Christ with honour and purity.

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Bringing Sexy Back…Again – Week 2 Parent update

Sex – Sex – Sex – Distinguishing truth from lies

Read 1 Corinthians 6:15-20

This is the week of the year when awkward conversations reign supreme at theUNDERGROUND.   This is SEX week at theUNDERGROUND the week when we dive into the topic that everyone is thinking about but never feel its appropriate to talk about at church.   This week we will be talking about how Sex was created and designed by God to be good and what his intentions are for it.

BIG IDEA: God created sex to be beautiful, amazing, and fulfilling within the specific context of marriage.

We live in a sex-saturated world. And for many of us, sex has become a purely physical act, fully divorced from spirituality, love, and commitment. Sex, pornography, and “hooking up” are all met with the same response in our culture: “It’s no big deal.”


Let’s look together at 5 lies about sex from our culture:

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