High School

Philosophy of Ministry
These are the best days of your life! Well they're supposed to be at least. High school teens have deep friendships, are enjoying new freedoms with growing up, and thinking about what their future holds. Unfortunately high school can also be a time of deep anxiety over self-esteem, preparation for college or other paths of growth and self discovery. 

Fall 2019 Youth Calendar

Just for High School
Jeff Shankel   Message from Jeff.....

December 2,  2019

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving break. As many of you remember, we recently hosted FCD Prevention Works for a Prodigal Parent Series on teen substance abuse including vaping. After some work with John and others there, we're able to provide you a wealth of resources. Please feel free to share.

 For a listing of these articles, please go to:                Substance Abuse Workshop Follow Up

Please know that I am happy to chat with you either in person or over the phone as someone who's talked with teenagers about the topics for 20+ years. We're all in it together.

Coming up, please  check out:

  1. December Fest - High School weekend at Westminster Woods 12/6 - 12/8

    - Get a needed break from the grind with ropes courses, big camp games, worship, and deep conversations all with your best friends

    - Register at: https://westminsterwoods.campbrainregistration.com/

    December Fest Weekend

  2. Small Groups!

    - Tam Small Group - meets every Friday, 6:40am

    - Branson Small Group - in the works!

  3. Save the dates:

    - RECLAIM Weekend - 2/21 - 2/23

    - HS Mission Trip 2020 - 7/26 - 8/1
 Fall Semester

Our fall semester high school Sunday school class focuses on Prayer. This part of our core curriculum was brought up a lot by different people in the church. For that reason we developed a middle school and high school version. This version of it will be much less theory and conversation about prayer and much more actual praying! Our hopes and goals are twofold: to give our youth the tools to pray in ways that come naturally to them and to create a sense of normalcy surrounding prayer. Basically, we hope our youth have a vibrant lifelong prayer life. This series will meet through the first weekend of December. 

Guest Topic Description

Steffen Bartschatt, Spiritual Life Commission member

Traditional Labyrinth A labyrinth helps direct one's focus toward God. Unlike a maze, which has dead ends and the possibility of getting lost, a labyrinth has a clear path, but it sometimes takes unexpected twists and turns. In this way it resembles the journey of life.
Rev. Dave Bray, retired senior pastor of 30+ years Prayer Walking Walking is something we're always doing. We do it down the halls of home, school, work and places of play. We do it outside. Since we believe God's presence is everywhere let's take advantage by entering into conversation with God in the mundane moments of simple walking.
Mt. Tam Cemetery Prayers of Lament Many high schoolers are deeply distraught about the world around them. While visiting a cemetery we consider all the things that scare, worry, and make us indignant including gun violence, the environment, bullying, and simple existential questions of meaning and purpose. What if we followed in the footsteps of those before who "cried out" to God in sincerity, opening our broken heart in prayer?
New Life Assembly youth leadership team How Other High Schoolers Pray Some high school students from new Life Assembly, a charismatic church in Novato, will join us to lead us in some prayer practices they and their youth group do regularly.

Dan O'Regan, Director of Religious Education, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Tactile Catholic Prayers Some Catholic prayer rituals go back 100s of years to the founding of Christianity. Many of them are tactile in nature involving beads, smoke, or other things we can see, smell, and touch.
ReJesus Labyrinth Contemporary Labyrinth We travel through a new style of labyrinth which uses many modern day items we encounter regularly. Walking through the stations affects all 5 senses and heightens our awareness to God's presence in our everyday lives.
Create Stations Our youth begin preparation on our prayer practices for the congregation to participate in.
Outdoor Labyrinth We finish preparations for our own prayer practice session and lead anyone willing from the community and congregation in it.

Have 3 Minutes to Read? - Why Don't We teach Anything?

One of the best features of the Marin Interfaith Youth Group Meet Up is that there is no teaching. There are two main benefits to this. One is that our young people have been sitting in classes all week then again on the weekend at their congregations and we want them to, yet again, sit and listen attentively as someone many of them won't know shares a lesson with them. What percentage of these youth will that lesson be remembered by?

Then again, what if we took that time (because time is of the essence, we can't stay there forever) and used it towards a service project that all of them are passionate about? After all, the point of the Marin Interfaith Youth Group Meet Up is to help normalize relationships between faith communities. Playing icebreakers together introduces them to each other in a fun way. Singing songs like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift bring us together by their harmonies and hooks that we all know. Playing an upfront game gives us all a chance to laugh with each other. Serving together, if only for 30 minutes, allows us to work together on a common task. Working together is a much better conduit to getting to know one another than sitting quietly while somebody else talks.

Going even deeper and behind the scenes, one of the things that prevents many faith communities from getting involved is the apprehension about what somebody else might say from an upfront role. Unfortunately, many youth groups only feel comfortable when one of their own is the teacher. "We'd love to have you come to your youth group," but, "we're not comfortable sitting in yours." When we take the microphone away from each other we allow the youth themselves to be the ones talking...to each other! And that's what these are all about.

We don't have to tell our youth that inclusivity and interfaith relationships are important. They know that. We just have to show them what they look like.

Chin up!
Jeff Shankle 

Parent's Corner - High School


 Have 7 Minutes to Read? – Teaching Grace in the Home

One of the central tenets of our faith that may differ from others is the idea that we don't really do anything to reach God. Rather, God comes to us. regardless of how "religious" we are or how much we know about the Bible. Despite the mess we make of our own lives and others, despite how often we disappoint ourselves or others, we are always loved. Through the Holy Spirit, God's presence is with us always. Even more, God wants to be there with us especially in the messiness.

We call this grace.

You and I might be able to appreciate the grace God gives us. That we are loved by something so holy regardless of what we do or don't do, but it may be hard to instill this sort of thing in the heart (not just the mind) of a young person. We all know that our faith can't solely be taught. It has to be experienced.

So how do we experience it in the home?

Just say, "I'm sorry" to your teenager more. That's a great starting place.
 "I'm sorry for the tone of voice I used when I asked you about your homework."
    "I'm sorry that I misunderstood the conflict you were having with your brother and jumped to an unfair conclusion."
    "I'm sorry that I wasn't sensitive enough to how tired you were from soccer."

In today's world our youth feel extraordinary pressures from all kinds of angles. We want them to know that their family is a safe place. And we hope that they are an example of grace to others.

If you want to make your home a hub of grace, try the following:

1. Keep your personal antennae up for times when your own fatigue causes you to speak unkindly to your kids.
2. When you feel like you've wronged your kids, tell them that you're sorry and ask for their forgiveness. Say, "Is that okay?" or "Does that make sense?"
3. Make sure you are quick to extend forgiveness to your kids when they need to do the same.

Serving Others - High School

Service Projects

Several times throughout the school year, we participate as a group in community service projects. We hosted a Parents Night Out and spent a Saturday working together finishing one of the Habitat for Humanity homes in Marin. Working together in service to others is one of the most surefire ways to help spur those kinds of deeper fellowship we all long for and so badly we need. Check back frequently for upcoming Service Projects or contact Jeff at .

Forms:  High School Mission Trip - Medical Release Form