April 27, 2011
As you all know… our teens are absolutely filthy rich, and the youth ministry is self-supporting! Not quite… but we wish, sometimes!
The purpose of this letter is to simply convey to you that we appreciate and understand your position and want to help you financially in any way that we can. With SO many things to do, your teen will most likely not be able to make it to every activity. However, I can’t let that stop me from pushing each trip I feel will benefit some people in some way, and I carefully analyze each trip, each cost, and every bit of promotion.
We try to be as intentional and deliberate as we can be in every decision we make, and while some things may not make sense, it has usually at least been discussed by me and my wife. For instance, earlier this year we simultaneously promoted the Youth Winter Rendezvous (Jan. $120), the Preaching Rally (Feb., $5), Heartland College Days (Mar., $200), the Youth Conference (Apr., $120) and Camp Ironwood (not until July, but $50 registration was due in Mar.) Not everyone was able to sign up for each event, but that wasn’t the goal. Most of the teens we wanted to see go on each trip were able to make it (i.e. some of the seniors for the college trips), and the ones who were willing to put some effort into raising some money were able to either 1) get sponsored, or 2) at least offset the total cost.
My desire is to eventually get to the place that if a teen really wants to go and is willing to work, we will make it happen. I won’t personally be able to finance every teen that wants to go, and I don’t want to take away all parental responsibility. But I DO want to make sure each person gets a fair shot at attending these trips, and I WILL take as my main responsibility the job of motivating them to want to come on these trips with us! I’d like to discuss a few things with you, and if you have any additional thoughts, please let me know.
Sponsors. First, God’s been good to our ministry, and we’re always deeply thankful to those who want to sponsor kids for big trips. I’m humbled by those who approach me and ask how they can help, and it’s a bitter-sweet time when I tell them I don’t need their help. One side of me wants every teen to be able to make it to camp and other trips, and another side of me hates to impose. However, when I think of the big picture from different angles, I then have NO problem asking for money. Mainly, those benefits are: 1) it’s a blessing to give, and 2) it allows a student the opportunity to be in prime environments (godly preaching; cell phones, tv and other distractions are absent; etc.) If youth ministry provides those types of opportunities… I’m in! J
On that note, if you like what you see going on and want to be involved, we’ll basically always have needs from those who can’t make it to trips because of money. We’ve told the teens that if they’re willing to put out and really show an interest in going to anything, we can make it happen financially. What we DON’T want is a welfare, communist, lazy mentality, so we’ll definitely make them earn it as best we can; but I just wanted to communicate that with you. I’ll try to think through what each sponsored teen is involved in and almost judge it as an hourly “rate.” (i.e. “John” anonymously had $200 given to his account to cover the difference, and I would expect John, then, to put in roughly 15-20 hours at the church. These types of “hours” might include a couple mornings of soul-winning (3), a couple afternoons of work (5 including drive time), and maybe a nursery slot for the ladies or a special cleanup after church for the guys or something.)
All of that is to say… we won’t just give them loads of cash and let them off easy. That literally goes contrary to a Bible principle, and I don’t want that mess on my hands. Mostly what I’m after is a grateful spirit, and from that gratitude a willingness to serve and work. “Wow… someone paid for me to go? Oh man… I want to do something in return!” I’ve heard that very thing said and I appreciate that spirit very much.
Budgets. If you’re ever concerned (or even curious, for that matter) about our funds and are wondering what we spend money on, we’d LOVE to share our entire budget with you and show you what has been spent where. Please call my cell if you ever have any questions (951) 719-7191, or see me at church and we can show you a spreadsheet of all expenses, income, fund-raisers, certain individual accounts and more. We’re keeping careful records of all that we spend including gas costs, hotels, trips, Preaching Rally expenses and more. As the years progress we hope to simply 1) build trust and 2) more effectively track and plan our budgets. Bear with us especially this first year.
Fund-raising. Sponsorships are not our only way of funding. In fact, MOST of our money will come from fund-raisers. Weekly babysitting opportunities for FPU, the garage sale, Comedy Night, certain work days and more will help offset some of your costs, and we do all we can to help in this area. Without getting too creative, intensive or overbearing, we hope to at least provide a needed buffer for you! This year has been and will continue to be spent tracking and analyzing all the needs, both of the ministry (costs of gas, amount of trips, etc.) and the individuals (camp payment, gas and hotel costs, etc.) Thank you for bearing so much of the financial load, but that you also for understanding the amount of input from our church members, also.
Dreams. Go big or go home… that’s my motto sometimes! Some really great things could be done in the future, and some of those might be things like missions trips, senior trips, and rewards trips, to name a few very broad ideas. I look at what these teens could be some day and think, “What would help this person take the next step?” Some day, a missions trip might result in a teen being called to missions. Or, as the years progress I know we’ll grow closer and closer to the teens and want to spend one last time with them before they take the next huge step of life: college. Maybe some day we’ll be able to take our upper-classmen somewhere for a time of bonding, challenge, fun and final personal goodbyes… I’d LOVE that! And what about challenging them to memorize a chapter of the Bible and taking the ones who do it out to a nice dinner together?
I’m a dreamer by nature and I see such BRIGHT futures for all these teens. What a huge responsibility that you as parents have, but what an incredible opportunity to train up the future of our church. Thank you for letting us have a smidgen of their lives! If there’s EVER anything I can do to help them or help you, please let me know.