News, Youth Network

The Challenge to “Take the Next Step”

Reflecting on CrossCulture–Fall 2012

On Saturday, September 22, Hamilton youth and Redeemer University College students met for the latest CrossCulture event — a bi-annual series of service projects designed to integrate worship and justice. Students served with various community organizations, including Micah House, Helping Hands, and City Housing, learning more about poverty in Hamilton in the process. Hosted at Wentworth Baptist Church, CrossCulture was held in partnership with TrueCity Hamilton and Redeemer. We asked Steve Dykstra, Community Development Coordinator at Redeemer University College and Eric O’Neil, Discipleship and Youth Minister at Wentworth to share their reflections on the event.

For some participants, this was “a first-time encounter with people who are struggling with addiction, mental illness or poverty to such a degree,” says Eric. “For others, it [was] an opportunity to see (and practice) faith as something that should have an active component that engages our hands as well as our heads… This is one of the first chances they have had to try to put it all together: responding to poverty with Spirit-led action.” Steve, who also assists in Wentworth’s youth ministry, suggests that it also fuels “imagination for how their high school youth group could incorporate worship and service throughout the year.”

Participants gathered in the morning for a time of fellowship and singing, followed by a day spent serving at various locations across the city. This year’s speaker, Jeff Strong, spoke about “filters,” and challenged students to consider the filters they have regarding the city and how these assumptions affect the ways they live and serve here. But how did the activities help them to integrate worship with service? Eric emphasizes the creation of opportunities for reflection and discussion: “We are able to say:  ‘today we are going to sing, we are going to hear a message rooted in Scripture, we are going to visit places throughout our city where God is working through people to meet the needs of His people, we are going to work, and we are going to eat together and visit with one another.’ For Steve, the goal was “not necessarily to share a big picture…of urban-ministry vocation, but just challenge students to ‘take the next step.’ ”

This phrase, “take the next step,” was one of the themes for the event. What might the next step look like for CrossCulture? Where the Fall event focused on integration, which Eric describes as “exploring what it would mean to make this idea of serving others a regular part of our lives rather than occasional excursions,” the Spring event — scheduled for March 23rd, 2013 — prioritizes exposure, with fewer teaching sessions and a premium on the service activities, allowing for “a slightly shorter, and more action-packed day,” as Steve puts it, and a carefully targeted audience for each event.

When asked how CrossCulture’s vision interacts with TrueCity’s mandate, Eric notes that CrossCulture creates opportunities for individual youth groups to work toward a missional, congregational identity (Horizon 1, “Churches”), and that its Planning Team is currently composed of Redeemer students and youth leaders from six Hamilton churches (Horizon 2, “Together”). CrossCulture seeks the good of the city (Horizon 3) not just by “meeting a few immediate needs” but by supplying “the potential to spark lifelong changes” toward blessing the city, a focus Steve echoes as well.

Throughout the September event, students reflected artistically on their service through photography, using Instagram to snap and post photographs of their activities. These can be viewed at For more information on this and upcoming events, email

* Portions of this article were adapted, with permission, from an article written by Steve Dykstra for an upcoming Redeemer University quarterly newsletter.