At St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton tonight (Friday), there’s going to be a special congregational pot luck dinner that will celebrate youth ministry in our community. Not only do we want to celebrate what God has done and is doing among us and among our community youth, we want to celebrate what God is going to do. The leaders of the congregation, along with the youth leaders, have a vision to see us hire a half-time youth pastor to work alongside our current youth leaders.
There’s a cost involved in hiring staff, of course, which is why our celebration will also be a fund-raiser. We’ll be accepting silent auction bids, gifts, and pledges toward this appointment. But we don’t want people to see this just as ‘another expense’.
Far from it. This is an investment in our community’s future.
Many people in congregations are quick to put their money behind a bricks-and-mortar project, because they can see virtually immediate results. Some are less quick to put their money into staffing, because the results are harder to measure, and are not always immediate. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.
Someone much smarter than me once said, “Vision is planting a tree under whose shade you will not sit.”
Think about it: if you plant, for example, a maple sapling in your back yard when you are in your sixties, there’s a fair likelihood you won’t live to see it tower over the roof of your house. Maple trees don’t grow that fast. However, your children, or at least the next owners of your home, may well sit under the tree’s shade in the heat of the summer, with gratitude to you for your vision in planting that tree.
Funding youth ministry is no different, no matter what church you go to. It’s not an expense, it’s an investment: an investment in your community’s future.
Statistically, teens and pre-teens are a vulnerable group, especially ideologically. By the time a young person turns 13, typically, he or she has already established the values by which she or he will live. And currently, the percentage of young people who have a Christian world view is one-half of one percent. So, church, we have some work to do!
Wherever you are, invest in your community’s future by paying into its present. Support ministry that guides young people in the ways of the Lord.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matthew 19.14, NLT).