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. 



Just for High School
Jeff Shankel   Message from Jeff.....
July 1, 2020 - SUMMER 

Bethany, Rob, and I have written out a 30-Day highly interactive devotional guide for our youth.   The Weirdest Summer Ever?

They take about 5 minutes or so each.  We would love it if you would encourage them to take advantage of it.  Among the topics covered:

*   Social Justice
*   Black Lives Matter
*   Sheltering-in-Place
*   Family Dynamics
*   Friend Dynamics
*   Frustration with God
*   Listening to God
     and more...

One essential part of the mission trips and other overnight experiences we do are the guided quiet times we facilitate with youth and adults.  They usually take 10 minutes or so and help our youth reflect and process recent events gently guiding them on their walk with Jesus Christ.  While we normally do them after breakfast you can do them whenever works best for you.

Most of our youth have more time on their hands.  At the same time, we have been attempting to join you (the family) to help them process all the events of recent days.  While this devotional has been written and formatted for teens you would enjoy it also!  Lead by example and get a couple copies or you could share the same one (doing it separately).  While you’d lose the chance to write down your truest thoughts you and your kids may enjoy reading others’ reactions when doing it themselves.

I’ll be texting all our youth shortly so they can access the book directly.  Just as we encourage healthy eating habits or study habits, we hope this makes it easy to encourage healthy spiritual habits.  We encourage all of you to take advantage of it and of course you can pass it along to others.

June 29,  2020

It’s with sadness that we are cancelling our mission trip to San Diego for 2020.  With cases rising and new orders being implemented this trip simply couldn’t proceed.  After talking to those who are in the know at the church and those in San Diego it became clear that things have changed recently.  To make matters worse the very places we were intending on going (West SD and South near the border) are the places that are hot spots in the San Diego area. 

Might I make a suggestion then? We are refunding all of you who have paid directly back to your CC on file.  Would you consider making a charitable donation to one of these organizations with some portion of what you had budgeted to pay for this trip?   

Even better, ask your teens which one they’d like to contribute towards.  They may remember some of these organizations and it can help them feel like they’ve contributed in some way.  Here’s a list of the organizations who were expecting us along with links to their donation pages:  (FYI, I’m putting this in order of perceived need)

  • Back in the Saddle - Therapeutic horseback riding and animal-assisted interaction program serving individuals with special needs, veterans & families
  • New Life Assembly – Bilingual church who not only has housed us but also a variety of community charities for at-risk children and youth, the homeless and more
  • Christian Community Services Agency - Provides transitional help (clothing, food, financial, and housing services) for those in need
  • Border Angels – Humanitarian work for migrants and refugees along the California/Mexico border
  • Father Joe’s Villages – Helping end homelessness in San Diego through a variety of services. 

1.  Prodigal Parent Series #10: Worshipping at Home

    * 5  Youth Pastors in Marin talk about things anybody can do at home to bring their families closer to God. And you get to watch!

    * This week - Memorization and Reflection 

    * New episodes broadcast on Facebook and YouTube!

2.  Special Graduation Tribute Video  - Happy Graduation!     

*  We've gathered a number of loved ones to offer some high praise of our graduates and we want to share it with you.

3.   Virtual Homebound Visits  (see more information below)

3.   Wednesday Bag Lunch Program (see more information below)

*  THIS Wednesday, 7/1, 10:00am – 11:00am

*  Westminster Presbyterian Church Parking Lot, 240 Tiburon Blvd, Tiburon, CA

*  If you’re able, we are collecting bag lunches for the food insecure

*  Contact Jeff Heely (High School Leader) if you have a question at: 

Have 3 Minutes to Read? - Empty Nest Around the Corner

One of these days your children will move out of your house.  I know it may not seem that way.  Sometimes they may seem fully intent to live with you for little to no cost whilst eating your food and slowing down the laundry rotation.  But unbelievably, it will happen someday.  You will have empty beds, empty seats at the dinner table, and yes… an empty nest.

Our church is fortunate to have lots of talented people.  The first time I really “met” Lisa Bartschat was at one of her daughter’s track meets and you’ll find her to be thoughtful and incredibly down to earth.  Lisa, a certified Life Coach, is putting together a series of conversations on the dreaded empty nest.  If you or someone you know are about to begin or are in the midst of the empty nest you’d certainly benefit from this conversation.  If anything, you might be a huge help to other families!

Lisa will be reaching out to a handful of you to gauge how much participation she needs to prepare for.  Enjoy!

Have 7 Minutes to Read? - Using the Prodigal Parent Video Series

It can be hard trying to figure out what sorts of spiritual routines or practices would be beneficial in your home.  Most of us are lucky enough if we can just “say grace” before dinner.  We know that it’s not enough, yet we feel stretched so thin to do more. 

That’s why we created the Prodigal Parent Video Series to be consumed in short, bite-sized chunks.  Maybe you’re cooking breakfast and can play a 7-minute video in the background, maybe you’re sitting on hold at your desk and can try the 5-minute one, maybe you’re commuting and can play a full 10-minute one.  These weekly videos are made to be taken on the go.  We’ve even gone the extra step of including any resources discussed in the description of each video for you.  You don’t even have to write it down!

(Insider tip – we’ll be publishing the entire conversation on our podcast channels next month.)

If you’ve been watching, you may have noticed that the ideas haven’t followed a particular theme.  That’s on purpose!  We know your house is made of unique personalities and while one kid may enjoy deep talks over a hike another would rather have spent some time colorfully crafting a prayer ritual.  Some will benefit more from writing down uplifting Bible verses and others will benefit more from immersing themselves into another global culture learning what the Spirit is up to over there.

Just use what works for you!

We oftentimes explain to our youth that the way we take care of our spiritual lives isn’t much different from the way we take care of our physical bodies.  If we’re not taking in healthy content, we shouldn’t expect to be healthy.  Likewise, if we’re not actively exercising those parts of our life, we shouldn’t expect to be healthy either.

It's our hope that you’ll find at least one thing you can begin to incorporate into your family’s routine.  Whether it’s peaceful coloring, scattering quotes to commit to heart around the house, painting rocks together, airing Bible Project trailers before movie night, whatever it is we just hope that you’ve found something in the vast amount of options that are out there.

You can find the full playlist of the Prodigal Parent Video on YouTube and Facebook.

Have 8 Minutes to Read? - More about Parental Influence in Children's Spiritual Lives


And here’s one specifically about mothers…


Have 8 Minutes to Read? - Even More on Family Meals

But don't just take my word for it, or my anecdotal study. Read this from article from the American College of Pediatrics: https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/parenting-issues/the-benefits-of-the-family-table

Have 5 Minutes to Read? High School Mission Trip Update

We are currently still planning on going to San Diego on the original dates given, 7/26 – 8/1.  We are still planning on working with the same partners we always work with there as well.  Having checked in with several of them this week they are worried about how they will cover an increasing workload without the necessary volunteer infrastructure that groups like ours provide.

Youthworks (who hosts this site for us) was considering shutting it down for the entire summer but we have offered to run the site for the one week that we will be there.  I just got off the phone with one of their directors and they are taking us up on that offer.  So, this year will be different.  WPC youth and leaders will be leading the trip for all incoming churches!  Youthworks is currently reaching out to churches to see if they would like to partner with us in San Diego from 7/26 – 8/1.

We get asked from time to time, “Why do you always go to the same place?”  This year we’ve discovered another reason.  We can be a resource that others cannot.

Obviously, this is all happening assuming that shelter-in-place orders have been lifted.  It's our goal to give you at least 20 days’ notice of trip departure.  In other words, if we say we're going to leave July 26th then we would let you know by July 6th.  With so much in flux I'm afraid that's the best we can do.  But please know, we are currently committed to going.

We plan on serving the people of San Diego if for no other reason that all our partners plan on and expect us to be there.  We don't want to let the people of San Diego down.  We also recognize that each of you has a different situation.  Some of you can't wait to give your child this opportunity while others of you would rather your child sit this one out.  Please know, we are going to respect every family decision.

We will keep you posted.  I welcome your feedback on this whatever it is.

Have 5 Minutes to Read? Opportunity to Serve Others Now (Wednesday Bag Lunch details)

We’ve been in touch with families wishing there was something they could do to alleviate some of the suffering and also just to have a good reason to get out of the house.  At the same time, we’ve been in touch with our friends at Sausalito Presbyterian Church who’ve been hosting our hot lunch program about their needs going forward.  Since many of their volunteers are seniors and considered “at-risk” and many of the vendors who’ve been providing them with food have had to scale back service we thought you might be able to help in a small way.

 Further, the Marin Health and Human Services (our public health department) asked us to help so we could spread the word about COVID-19 best practices.  Since many in the homeless population place far more trust in churches than the government they’re hoping we can relay some information to protect that population with the meals we provide.  This is considered an “essential service.”

 This is what we need:

1.  Brown Bag Lunch (in your bag please include) 

  • * Peanut Butter and Jelly

  • * Thinly sliced deli meats and cheese

  • * Bananas, Oranges, Cuties

  • * Yogurts

  • * Hummus, Guacamole, etc

  • Soft foods such as:

    • * Juice or Water

    • * Chips/Crackers are okay and appreciated

    • * Soft Cookies or other soft treats

2.  Say a prayer for each bag.

3.  Print and enclose the attached flyer for each bag.    Flyer Insert for Bag Lunch

4. You’re also welcome to include:

    •  * An encouraging note

    • *  Sanitary supplies

 Feel free to make as many as you’d like.  Our goal is to have at least 25.  Please do keep in mind that we’ll be doing this every week for the foreseeable future.

Thanks to Jeff Heely, one of our high school adult leaders who has volunteered to be at WPC on Wednesdays between 10:00am – 11:00am to collect and deliver all the bagged lunches.  

 If for some reason you need to reach Jeff Heely here you go:  .

 Lastly… looking for other ideas or need some help with this?  Call/text/email/Facebook/Instagram/Tweet/Snap/zoom me anytime!

Have 4 Minutes to Read?  - Virtual Homebound Visits

As we all continue figuring out how best to liver during a shelter-in-place some of our friends and neighbors are having a little more difficult time than others.  For just about everyone on this email chain you live with other people.  Yes, your family at home may stress you out but at least you have someone in the home to talk to, laugh with, hug and hold.  For many who live alone that is not the case.  For others who are “at-risk” it is even more difficult to have any sort of real human interaction.

So, we would love it if you could encourage your teen to give one of these friends of ours a phone call, a video chat, FaceTime, Messenger call, etc.  On many of our mission trips and weekend events we visit those who may feel forgotten.  We can’t do that in person so we’re going to bring the Light to them virtually. 

We know this may not be the easiest thing in the world for a teen to do.  When we go to nursing homes and the like we normally resource them with a questionnaire and some talking points.  We’re doing the same this time and setting it up as time capsule to look back on.  “What was your life like during the COVID-19 pandemic?”

Here’s what you or your teen should do:

  1. Contact   (or text) to get access to the sign-up sheets

  2. Use the Google Doc to help with the conversation

I’ll send more detailed instructions for those who need it after they sign-up.  And, of course, your teen can earn community service hours by doing this.  You’re serving the mental and spiritual health of our community in a huge way!

PS – Have a friend, neighbor, or family member you’d like for us to contact?  Let me know!

Have 5 Minutes to Read?  - May They Snap All Hours of the Night

We all recognize that adolescents aren’t normally the group of people to reach out in a time of difficulty.  I mean, that’s assuming they have figured out what they are feeling is difficult.  So, we’ve been trying to reach out through the channels that we have to our youth.  Unfortunately, one of the most effective channels we have, our contact work (showing up at games, clubs, schools, etc.) is unavailable to us during what can at least be described as strange times. Normally, our policy is not to send any messages to youth after 9:00pm any night.  I oftentimes will schedule messages to arrive the following day.  We know that many teens have trouble sleeping because of the amount of screen time they’re getting. But, over the past couple weeks I’ve started to recognize that for many that is the only time they will decompress… after 900pm.  After “school” is over, after family has gone to bed, when you’re finally left to your own devices (in all senses of the word).

I’m not sure if my corresponding with young people later is best but I do know that it’s the only time, so far, that any of them have opened up to me. Naturally, I felt vindicated when reading the following CNN article…

These effects could last a long time

Steve Schneider, a high school counselor in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, said the trauma is already setting in amongst students, whether people can see it or not. "The ramifications of this in the world of education are going to trickle for years," Schneider said. "This will follow any kid that's in high school right now. This will follow them through graduation. It's not short term." Because Schneider can't meet with his students, he's left to guess at how they're faring via emails or phone calls -- though many don't respond.

Some of his students are angry. Those tend to be the teens who enjoyed school or the seniors who looked forward to pre-graduation events. He can manage those students because they're responsive.

But then there are the teens he compares to turtles -- the ones who are so overwhelmed by the shakeup in daily life that they recede into their shells, close their eyes and ignore it all. That's the response that troubles Schneider most. "We just have a lot of kids who've simply said, 'I'm just not going to do it,'" he said.

Still, they're getting through it, little by little

When Schneider isn't counseling other students, he's checking on his 18-year-old daughter, a senior. He stopped outside her bedroom door one night when she looked glum. Without saying anything, he hugged her. She sunk into his arms and cried. "This is so hard," she told him. But she's coping, he said, as best she can. Schneider sometimes hears her up in her room, singing and strumming her ukulele. He knows she stays up until 1 a.m. talking to friends, who she may not see for months.

That wouldn't fly before the pandemic. Now, he lets her talk all night.

Have 9 Minutes to Read?   - Why Teens May Never Be the Same After the Pandemic

Here’s a link to the full article:  https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/16/us/teens-coronavirus-coping-wellness-trnd/index.html

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.


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.