Spotlight on Volunteers – Youth need YOU!

1238896_10151690919973918_1412994744_nYou might have heard the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. In my years of youth ministry, I have seen this proven time and time again. Youth and children flourish and grow into young adults when they have adults invested in their lives. Numerous studies have shown that ONE youth needs FIVE adults invested in their life. That is just for one youth. We have been entrusted with many more than that as a congregation.

 

581725_10151591594098918_1388062124_nThe youth of this church have been blessed by adults that have invested in them. The work of youth ministry in not just the responsibility of a few; it 530840_10151109921068918_1525170628_ntakes a whole church to raise these amazing youth to adulthood. And one place to invest is through the youth ministry. Throughout the year we meet weekly for youth group, monthly we share in fun events together, and throughout the year we go on mission trips, weekend retreats, and service projects. None of this would be possible without the many, many adults who have invested their time to listen to, hang out, and make lasting memories with our youth.

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There is often the impression that youth only connect with adults who are a certain age, or who are young and hip. But I truly believe and have seen that all is takes is someone with a little bit of time, openness, and a listening ear. There are so many ways to get involved. From confirmation mentors to providing a meal. From event chaperones to weekly advisors. From church school teachers to mission trip advisors.

 

Thank you to the many adults have invested their time and talents!

Lives have been changes because of YOU!

 

One Great Hour of Sharing

A couple months ago a representative from the PCUSA, with Special Offerings visited the area. While he was here he interviewed some of my youth and I. From that this amazing video emerged. It was personally so moving to see my youth in this video and to hear them share their experiences so articulately. Take a look! And be sure to support One Great Hour of Sharing. Part of the money goes to support Presbyterian Distaster Assistance trips, much like this one.

 

The fable of the forgotten furniture

shelfChurches are notorious for collecting items. Between the number of staff and church members, and the donations given to the church, and the longevity of an institution in one place, stuff can accumulate in churches pretty quickly. And my church, like many is always trying to update and to make sure what we have is useful and needed. In addition to the fact that we are in the middle of a captial campaign renovation. So we have to make room for new things and for change.

In the midst of this, there has been this rolling cart with drawers hanging out in one of our main spaces. Unfortunately, this piece of furniture, with its drawers and cupboards really only became a place to store clutter and other long-forgotten items put there by someone years ago for a long-forgotten purpose. Today I was cleaning out this piece of furniture. Admittedly, we had put it next in line of items who had run their course of usefulness and needed to be tossed. While digging through the drawers and dumping markers that probably stopped working early 2000, I found packs of unopened thank you notes. I found a stack of paper pads that I am fond of using. And I found this strange orange pouch.

When I opened the pouch there were some plastic things that weren’t all that interesting. But there was also a white of sheet of instructions. And on that sheet of instructions was a piece of furniture that looked exactly like the one I was cleaning out! Except one extra thing I had never noticed, it had a room divider hidden in it. Now let me tell you, in the four years I have been here the middle school church school class has always met in a rather large room. And we have always used a divider to break up the room. However it wasn’t the divider hidden in this piece of furniture. No. It was something that the church had purchased, probably long after this piece of furniture.

Anyways. That’s a lot about a forgotten piece of furniture. But it got me thinking. What other things are laying around our churches, real or metaphorical, that have been forgotten? And because they have been forgotten, we have just thrown them out? What has someone invested in, in the past, that we have now deemed un-useful? Perhaps not because it isn’t useful, but because we haven’t taken time to understand its real purpose there. And so there it sits, in some forgotten corner. Collecting other forgotten things with it.

What have we cast away due to lack of knowing? What lurks in the forgotten corners of our churches?  And do they have new purpose today?

Can we look at these old, forgotten things in fresh and new ways?

Thistle and weeds

Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.

Genesis 3:17-19

2013 State of the Youth Ministry

Every year I have to write an entry for my church’s annual report on the State of the Youth Ministry.
Thought I’d share with you all. Think of it as my Christmas letter.

 

Youth Ministry

The Youth Ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown exists to

EXPOSE students to God’s love, to CONNECT them to each other, to help them GROW in their faith,

so they can HONOR God with the their lives as they SHARE in His mission to change the world.

 

2013 was another great year! At the beginning of 2014 I will have served here 4 years and have seen a whole high school group graduate! The youth ministry continues to be a strong ministry with students invested and well-connected. This year we have seen a continued increase in new students joining our groups. Students continue to invite friends. We have many new faces this year. Our college ministry also continues to grow. We sent out college care packages in the spring and fall to over 40 students. The response to these packages continues to be strong. And we hope that this will continue to keep our students away at college connected to the congregation.

 

As a leader, I continue to look for ways to continue to grow. In 2011, I began a Certificate in Youth and Theology at Princeton Seminary. I have enjoyed my involvement at Princeton Seminary and will continue to attend their forums on youth ministry and network with other Presbyterian Youth Directors.

 

This year I also took on the big task of being Triennium Registrar for our Presbytery. I spent the year connecting with and contact churches in our presbytery and  inviting their youth to Triennium at Purdue University. July 15-21, 28 students and 4 adults travelled on a charter bus together for a great week with thousands of Presbyterian all over the country and world. We had the opportunity to hear great speakers and be in small groups with other Presbyterian youth.

 

Weekly programs are an important component of the ministry. Students come each week to hang out with one another, with adult leaders, and to learn more about being a follower of Christ. This year we made some changes to our schedule, moving Koinonia  to Wednesday nights. Ekklesia (middle school) continues to meet Wednesdays.  Each group has a normal attendance of around 20 -25 students. Having both groups on Wednesday nights allows us to have a big youth meal each week! These meals are currently provided by local restaurants, with the cost supported by families.  The evening includes fun community building games in the gym and ends with learning more about being a follower of Christ. The Confirmation Class graduated 14 new members, and they enjoyed a great year discovering more about their Christian faith.

 

Students greatly anticipate our summer trips and winter retreats. These trips are great momentum builders in the ministry. It is a great time for bonding as a ministry and growing spiritually through service and great teaching. Over the summer, the middle school went to Harrisburg, PA and the high school went to Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. It was our first summer doing an intergenerational mission trip, with adults, youth, and college students. We had a great week serving together and interacting across generations.  During the school year, middle and high school students went on winter retreats to Lake Champion in New York. Serving others regularly is also an important component in the youth ministry. Some ways that students served others are Souper Bowl of Caring, the Community Soup Kitchen, helping with the bazaar and Operation Love, and YSOP in New York City.

 

 

We also have many great fellowship activities planned throughout the year. Some of these events include lock-ins, laser tag, mini-golfing, scavenger hunts, game nights, pool parties, roller-skating, visiting Alstede Farms, and our yearly Christmas parties. These activities provide opportunities for students to have fun together, and students often bring their friends to these fun events.

 

Students were an important part of the Capital Campaign this year. Led by student leaders Paige Boyadjis and Grace Godfrey, we spent part of the fall talking about finances and stewardship. This culminated with a commitment made by 30 students to give about $2,500 in the course of the next year. I was so encouraged by the faith and commitment of our youth.

 

Finally a huge thank you to all of the adults who invest in the youth and youth ministry in our congregation.  Thank you to the Youth Committee and Committee Chair Marcia Heiden for all of their support. Thank you to the advisors who make a commitment to invest in teenagers each and every week. Thank you to the adults who give up an evening to go to a youth event or a weekend to go on a youth retreat. Thank you to advisors who give up a week in the summer to serve with teenagers on our summer mission projects. And thank you to church leaders who take time out to mentor our confirmands. This ministry could not happen without the investment of each and every one of these adults. I am blessed to serve with them and to be a part of the lives of the youth of our church.

 

2013 was a great year, and I look forward to 2014!

 

Angela Rines

Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry

Reflecting on Money, Possessions, and Giving. Part 1: The Bible and Money

This past month my church has been in the midst of a 3.5 million capital campaign to renovate the gym, education spaces, kitchen, and chancel, as well as creating a new fine arts space. Anyone who has been a part of a captial campaign knows that a big undertaking this is. From creating initial plans, to raising money, and don’t get me started on what will happen when construction actually begins.

Initially when I was charged with the task of teaching youth about money and possessions over the course of 4 weeks and encouraging them to make their own sacrifice to the campaign, I honestly felt like I was the last person qualified to talk about money. But as I thought about it more, I have both made some really great decisions about money and have handled my finances wisely, as well as had some moments where I have made some missteps, that I have learned from. I’d like to spend some time sharing what I have taught my youth about money. We’ve have some great conversations!

To kick off my thoughts about money, here are some pretty amazing facts about how frequently money and possessions are mentioned in the Bible.

  • 16 of the 38 parable of Jesus deal with how to handle money and possessions.
  • 288 verses in the gospels (about 1 out of 10) deal with money
  • Over 2000 verses deal with money and possessions, compared with only 500 on prayer and less than 500 on faith
  • Jesus said more about money than heaven and hell combined.

As much as money is mentioned in the Bible, how often do we talk about it beyond a stewardship campaign? I know I have rarely given time to teaching about money with my youth.

I am excited to continue sharing my reflections.

In my next post I will reflect some on what society has to say about money.