This past weekend some of our high school youth traveled to Charlottesville. We stayed at the Wesley Foundation at UVA. We based the weekend on the show Shark Tank. We broke the group up into teams of youth. Each team met several times throughout the weekend to come up with an idea of a new way to be in ministry in Caroline County. On Saturday evening each group presented their ideas to the adults and the adults picked an idea that the church would help fund with $500.
I was so impressed with how seriously the youth took this. They all wanted to win but more importantly they were willing to support whatever idea did win. One youth stated “I’m here for us to start a new project, even if it is not the idea my team came up with”. They started off the weekend brainstorming ideas. I have to admit after that first night I wasn’t so sure where we were going to end up. One group had the idea of giving everyone in the county puppies. Because you know puppies make everyone happy! But by Saturday morning they had narrowed their ideas down and I was more hopeful. You as a church have a lot to be proud of with these young people. They can dream big but have the ability to figure out how to make those big dreams a reality.
We had three teams and they each presented their ideas on Saturday evening. One group came up with the idea of high school students mentoring elementary aged students with service projects. The idea is to start students early on the importance of caring for others. The second group wants to start a garden in the back of the church and use the fresh produce for the mobile ministry. They want to build several raised beds in the back and get the youth group and others to help take care of it. They see the value of being able to hand out fresh produce to those in need. The third group wants to help expand Cindy’s Closet, our thrift store, so that people with special needs can have a place to work. They mentioned that the students that currently come to Wright’s Chapel twice a week, from the special education job training class, often times have a really hard time finding a job after they graduate. They said Cindy’s Closet is the perfect place for them to work but needs to be expanded into a bigger building.
On Saturday evening just before dinner the adults got together to discuss the three plans. I will tell you it was really hard to choose just one. We were so impressed on how well thought out the plans were and how they would use the money to help get their ideas started. So we chose to fund all three at different levels. The team that had the idea of mentoring younger students we suggested they talk to Susan, the church’s children’s ministry director, and set up service days during the summer. The youth would help in the planning and leading of each of the days. We offered to help fund a couple raised garden beds in the back of the church so the youth can plant some vegetables. We encouraged that team to talk to Christina, who leads the Mobile Ministry, about what kind of vegetables would be best to grow for those that have limited cooking facilities. We gave the $500 to the Cindy’s Closet idea. The team recognized that $500 wasn’t going to be able to build a new building or rent a bigger store for Cindy’s Closet. But they wanted to use the money to host a dinner and invite community leaders to pitch the idea too. Their hope is by getting the community on board a new building for Cindy’s Closet, and a place for those with special needs to work, can become a reality. That team will meet with the leaders of Cindy’s Closet and the administrative council and trustees of the church before they move forward with the idea.
Over the next few months you will be hearing lots more about all of these ideas. Our youth will be leading us in those discussions. I’m excited about all of them and I’m looking forward to seeing where these ideas will go!