I love my youth group. They are incredibly amazing. I realize you probably think I’m biased because they are MY youth group, but in the past ten years, I’ve had a lot of youth group incarnations and all of them have been amazing.
This particular group of students, though? Not perfect, of course, but really amazing. When they are together, there’s a low level of drama. They love to lead and participate. They love each other and love spending time with each other. They love having other groups join them or work with them. They love to plan worship services (we have led worship as a group three times in this calendar year). They are trustworthy and I never worry about taking them anywhere. They love to serve together. They love their Presbytery and Presbytery events. They love Catch Phrase and Apples to Apples.
Most importantly, as a group they love Jesus and they love to find ways to honor Jesus together.
Six of our high school girls went to Hyde County, NC this summer and participated with our Presbytery mission team serving at Youthworks! mission site. It was a fantastic week all the way around. As you leave the site the Youthworks! Staff hands each person a Reverb Magazine (a publication of Youthworks! given to each of their thousands of participants–38 thousand this past summer). This year, this simple act was a turning point for our group.
They read the magazine on the way home and all started talking about this 1K Challenge thing mentioned throughout the magazine. The gist of the 1K Challenge is that you don’t want your ministry work to end when you leave your mission trip site. Short-term mission trips are no good if they don’t have lasting effects. Youth Groups are encouraged to plan a ministry to happen right in their community and apply for a $1,000 grant to help get it started.
Confession: I was pretty willing to brush this 1K Challenge thing aside. 1. it seemed like a lot of work and 2. it seemed like a long shot for our pretty small youth group. But the girls and Ginny (the other adult in our vehicle) were stuck on it.
I still have my notes I wrote on the paper tablecloth in the fellowship hall the night we started brainstorming ideas. I have the notes from the swimming party at the Hodge House when they each volunteered to lead and work on different teams and the middle schoolers and other high schoolers first came on board. I have a copy of their finished application, worked on for fifteen minutes here and 30 minutes there during the months of August and September.
And now I have the post-it with the contact information of the Youthworks! staff who called Wednesday night to tell me that our group had won.
Last year, 9 groups (out of everyone who applied) were selected as 1K Challenge winners. I have no idea how many applied this year or how many were selected.
Here’s their ministry idea (in their own words, straight from their application):
There are many children in our community who do not have a proper balance of nutrition, physical activity, creativity and spiritual leadership in their home and school lives. Our hope is to create a fun, safe environment for kids to express themselves and grow closer to God.
Our project is styled after Youthworks! Kids Club. It incorporates four main focuses:
- Healthy diet
- Exercise and physical well-being
- Creative arts
- Christian formation
We will invite elementary aged children from a local school with the highest percentage of under-privileged students to a monthly Saturday morning program held at our church.
We hope to see an increase in confidence and well-being in elementary kids that can impact them for the rest of their lives.
Our plan was to do this either way. Now that we have some funding, we’ll be able to buy Bibles for the kids and some new sports and game equipment.
We appreciate your prayers for us as we now begin this new adventure!