Written by Jason Brereton
Montreal has an amazing number of church buildings, but many of them have very small congregations, and some are even needing to shut down for good. Most churches that have youth groups do not have very many teenagers in them. For years there’s been a real need to bring together small groups of Christians from across the city.
At Montreal Youth Unlimited (YFC), we felt this need already several years ago, and have since been trying to love and help churches in this area. How? Through games, worship, a message and a lot of cotton candy.
It started small, with about 30 teens and some leaders coming to Terra Nova Youth Centre in Dorval city once a month. Some churches brought as many as 12 teens, while others brought the two or three they could muster. Our goal was to encourage, unify, and equip young people from smaller churches. We did this for about two years.
After the two years were up, the small groups of teenagers who were coming out to these events had formed one cohesive group. It was no longer a gathering of fragmented individuals. So we opened wide our doors to the Christian community in Montreal, and waited to see if anyone else would come.
I remember telling the speaker that first “open doors” night to expect between 30 to 40 teens. He seemed comfortable speaking in front of that number. When 120 teens flooded into our building, we knew God was at work, and I knew I owed our speaker an apology! Since then numbers have varied from 80 to 170 teens. Several teens have given their lives to Christ, and many have been encouraged in their walk with God.
It gets better. At one of the rallies, a youth pastor named Cheryl Johnson said something profound — she said to me, “Jason, this is great. What’s next?” Initially, I wasn’t sure that there needed to be a “next.” What was happening was already a good thing. Then some youth pastors invited me to a meeting where they wanted to dream of what could eventually be.
Over the next few months, we continued to meet, dream, and pray. At one of our meetings, we realized God already has a plan for our city, we just need to line up with it. With that in mind, we prayed hard and looked to the Lord for an answer.
We left that meeting with two main goals: First, we needed to launch Youth Alpha into Montreal schools through Christian students. Secondly, the launch of Youth Alpha needed to mark the beginning of something great — an era where youth leaders across the city lower their denominational guards and work together as the brothers and sisters in Christ that they are. With this goal in mind we have created a group called EPOCH MTL. We feel God is leading youth workers in Montreal to love each other and work together for Kingdom purposes long-term.
A few weeks ago we held another event at the YFC centre where we aimed to challenge youth workers to run Youth Alpha in their groups. Our hope and prayer was not only to encourage and inspire the youth, but also to motivate them to run Youth Alpha in their own schools.
Hours before the event, things weren’t looking good. The weather called for freezing rain. It was freezing outside, we were just missing the rain. The other organizers and I hadn’t spent as much time as we would have liked to promote the event. So, as leaders working for the King of Kings, we laid our situation before God.
To my great joy, there were approximately 110 teenagers and 40 youth leaders present. The teens were challenged to commit to sharing the gospel with one friend before 2018 finishes. The youth leaders were challenged to become an effective team, working together to launch initiatives like Youth Alpha across the city. The freezing rain began about half an hour after the last person had left Terra Nova, leaving just enough time for people to get home safely. God is good.
Here at Montreal Youth Unlimited we see the hope and potential in every young person. We are so excited to experience what God will do through His teenagers in the coming years!