In Seminary we talked a lot about the importance of inter-generational ministry. How it was important to involve adults of all ages in your ministry. We read statistics of how every student needs at least 7 different adults investing in their lives. And there were a lot of ideas of how this should be done. But nothing is better than the natural outpouring out of who someone is and the organic expression of that idea.
There are so many fantastic adults that invest in the lives of students in the youth ministry. Some come week after week, building relationships in the youth group or in Sunday school. Some take a week off every summer and serve with youth on our summer mission trips. But I want to take a moment to highlight an amazing woman in my congregation who is ministering to youth in a unique way that is all her own. I don’t know if she would want me to share her name. But it is pretty impossible to talk about what she does for youth, without everyone knowing who I am talking about.
For the past couple of years Carol Knauff has been making fudge for the college care packages. Every year during finals we send our students care packages. They include things like Starbucks giftcards, popcorn, gum, drink packets, the church newsletter, and most of all Carol”s fudge. This is no small feat, since we send out over 40 care packages each semester. This fudge has become somewhat legendary around the church and especially in the youth ministry. This is partly because whenever I get a chance, I am telling someone about how awesome this fudge is.
But this ministry of fudge has grown from there. This past year Carol also mentored one our high school girls for our Confirmation program. And hearing about this fudge, she asked Carol if she’d make some of this fudge for her. And then the rest of the Confirmation students heard about how great this fudge was. So at our Confirmation dinner, as even a complete surprise to me, she brought enough for all 10 confirmands to also have a large bag of fudge of their own. There is something about love that expands and spreads. College students, high school students, and middle school students have felt loved as a result of something as simple as some fudge making. (Carol makes so much of it, my office fridge is filled with extra fudge for days) When she makes fudge, students are talking about it. She’s has become somewhat of a celebrity in the youth ministry. Kids have started asking me to point her out so they can thank her.
God has used something simple, like the gift of making fudge, as an inroad to build relationships with students. She has gotten to know many of the youth. And the youth have another caring adult in their lives. Carol has moved from making fudge to mentoring students to taking students out for dinner.
This illustrates something important. It doesn’t matter how much time you have to give. It doesn’t matter what age you are. It doesn’t matter if you have little experience with youth ministry. YOU have something to offer youth. God will use what you have. Your gifts and talents. Sometimes in ways you won’t even expect.