Sawler to speak at Briercrest's Engage conference

Posted: January 27, 2014

Youth pastor, David Sawler, wants to focus on talking to youth, not just about them during Briercrest College and Seminary’s think-tank Engage scheduled for March 13-14.

“Everything is written to youth pastors and young adults or people working with youth, and a lot of what I have been doing now is taking all that information and saying, ‘if you had the opportunity to address a young person in the church that you know is going to face these things, what would you say?” Sawler, author of Before They Say Goodbye and guest speaker, explained.

“It’s not so much talking about youth, but it is more about talking to youth.”

Sawler said he is excited to come and speak at Engage, a think-tank that is the second part of a three-year project aimed at exploring how to keep youth engaged in the Church.

“Throughout the event I will be hitting on three topics,” Sawler explained. “One of them will be adoption and that is simply talking about how we have many youth who come into our churches who don’t have parents or spiritual parents and the importance of us becoming someone’s spiritual parents.”

“In James Penner’s Hemorrhaging Faith study there are a lot of things that were considered toxins,” he continued. “I want to go through some of the scriptures to show that Jesus and the disciples actually dealt with all the toxins stated in the study in their day.  Also, a big part of what I am going to be sharing about is just exploring the possibility that Jesus actually modeled what we need to be doing to ensure that youth are actually engaged in their faith.”

Sawler said his presentations will not only examine what is driving youth away from the Church, but will also focus on what is working to help them stay engaged.

 “We want to focus on positive influences that some youth ministries and churches are having and find out ways we can connect youth and young adults to faith practices that are going to help them stay engaged in their faith,” he explained.

Sawler is passionate about working with youth because they are an age group that can, and are, having a great impact.

“I think it is an age group that has a ton of passion, but also, even when I look at the Scriptures, when Jesus called the disciples they were actually a group of young people,” he said.

“So I think if you really want to think about starting a movement and seeing a nation or area changed we need to follow Jesus’ example and pour ourselves into young people knowing they are going to cause a long-term effect.”

Sawler said one the biggest things he has learned over the years is that if young people do not remain in a local church or in some kind of faith community, the majority of them will drop their faith within a short period of time.

“So one of our big goals is to make sure young people are connected to some faith community,” he said.

One way Sawler is doing this is by turning his attention away from talking about the issues youth are facing to actually speaking with the youth about the issues.

Sawler said he is looking forward to partnering with Briercrest.

“Briercrest and some of the staff have been on the forefront of addressing this issue amongst youth and the leaders in Canada. It is great opportunity to be a part of that.”

Registration is open to the general public, but attendance will be capped at 150 people.

Registration information can be found at