Investing in your most valuable resource
We spend a lot of money maintaining the buildings we meet in, and on the programs we run – but are we spending it in the right places?
In 2 Samuel 7 David reflects on the housing disparity that had become the norm – as King he was living in a very fancy building, while the Ark of the Covenant remained in the tented tabernacle. God, through the prophet Nathan, challenged David not to get his priorities out of whack and spend a heap of time and money constructing a temple… but David misunderstands the prophecy, and sets in place plans to build a permanent house for the Lord.
Thanks to the generations before us we are overwhelmed with buildings, properties and investments to help fund the ongoing mission of God. Some of these buildings require significant maintenance to keep them going; others are maintained for a very small number to gather in weekly.
We must be good stewards of these resources. It makes sense to keep them in tip-top condition so we can use them ourselves, hire the buildings out, or even (sadly) for when we need to sell them on.
What we must not do is invest in property assets or maintain them at the cost of ministry opportunity. We must not preserve bricks and mortar over our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Instead, as a movement of God, we should seek to invest in the ministry opportunities before us. Especially with young people, and especially at the congregational level.
As a part of the Growing Young program from the Fuller Youth Institute one of the six core commitments is Prioritising young people (and their families) everywhere–it’s an invitation to us all to see that the most valuable resources we have are our young people and those that care for them, and invest in them accordingly.
This will mean we have to reconsider some of our spending, channelling money into targeted areas where youth ministry is developing though underfunded, releasing those workers and congregations to lean further into the deep work of God in their communities, suburbs, and towns.
We will need to reconsider our growth strategies and consolidate some congregations into larger, regionalised churches with multiple-member ministry teams where we, in community with each other, intentionally target ministry with young people and their families as we welcome them with warmth and empathy to hear the message of Jesus proclaimed with strength, dignity, and conviction.
It will also mean we need to take a step back, reconsidering what our gatherings are all about.
We’ve had plenty of chances in 2020 to review and reconsider the nature of gathering together for our various weekly activities, including worship. Being completely honest with ourselves have we considered one of the reasons why we don’t have more young people in our congregations is…because of us? In our self-centredness, church has become all about “me”.
Looking to 2021 and considering the future of who we are and how we gather, now is the time to prioritise young people and their families everyone. We do this because the God who called us also calls them, and in doing so he reminds us that we are love them–our neighbour–as much as we love ourselves.
God reminds us that elevating the needs of our neighbour above our own is a part of God’s greatest commandment, and one we can most easily, and, with the most challenge, take part in daily.
Our benefit is a growing and vibrant community of faith, all because we chose to love God and put our neighbour first.
Steve Molkentin is a Senior Field Officer for Pulse. He can be contacted at SteveM@nswact.uca.org.au.