3 Ways To Tap Generosity With Students
I recently started listening to The Bible Project Podcast, specifically their series on “Generosity,” and I am hooked! Generosity was always something that I thought I understood, but after listening to this series & reflecting on God’s Word, I feel like the concept of generosity has taken on a new dimension in my life and in my ministry. For me “generosity” isn’t the addition, but the foundation of ministry, and I’m sure that for a lot of you, you are already doing many of these things without putting words to them. Here’s my starting place:
Biblical generosity is first, recognizing that we worship a generous God. And second, as image bearers, we should share this generosity with the world; a world that is so fixated on self and selfish, we can choose to focus on the other and be selfless.
We can first be generous by leaving room for our students to have a voice. For many of our students, the context they come from is one of “voicelessness,” being told what to do rather than asked what they would do. I think the Church can be countercultural simply by listening first. Two quick thoughts:
- Do the questions you ask in Bible study offer “right/wrong” answers (i.e. How many days was Noah in the Ark), or do the questions allow for students to include their voice in the story?
- In our small group time, our Leaders are challenged to speak for 1/3 of the time or less. Small group leaders can be facilitators, rather than experts.
There’s a Youtube video called “The Power of ONE Caring Adult” by Josh Shipp. In this video he offers a very simple truth: “Students spell “trust” T-I-M-E.” Let me give you some stats: On average students eat one meal per week with their family and American families spend an average of 37 minutes of quality time together each day. In a world that seems to be so unable to give time to students (for a lot of understandable and unfortunate reasons), wouldn’t it be amazing for the Church to be generous with our time? Two thoughts & a tangible suggestion:
- Never be too busy with programming that you can’t take a student for ice cream or watch a sporting event. You’re paid to run programs; you’re called to build relationships.
- Equip & encourage your volunteer leaders to spend time with students. Supporting and caring for your students can’t rest on your shoulders alone.
- Exam Packages: The week before high school exams our leadership team fills small packages for our students & hand-delivers them to their doors. The reaction from students & parents is priceless and unexpected every time.
When I think about Youth Group, I try to pass everything through this filter: “What would I do if I was hosting a party?” Often, due to our tight-budgets & busy-schedules, we resort to low-budget foods, we finish our last minute jobs while students arrive, and we don’t sweat the details. When you are a guest at a party, you feel valued when your host greets you at the door with a smile. When you see the signs of preparation and unique details, you’re reminded that someone cares about you. In a world that is rushing, it would be amazing for the Church to give students a place where they can slow down. We all have memories with people we love where life slows down for a bit. If I was to have friends over to my home for a party, I would sweat the details because I care about my guests. It should be the same with our students. Think about it, there’s a warmth you feel when someone cooks for you. Here’s two thoughts & a budget-friendly suggestion:
- Being generous with hospitality doesn’t mean big-budgets. Instead, it means using our budgets wisely, and for the things that truly matter. Something as simple as a bowl of chips versus bags adds a personal touch. Sparkling juice vs pop somehow seems more “fancy”. Generosity is often creativity, rather than wealth.
- Hospitality means giving your volunteer leaders ownership over key areas. Remind your leaders how they would like to be greeted/welcomed to a party, and ask that they do the same for your students. The personal details turn a program into a community.
- We decided to ask the Adult Small Groups in our church to cook & serve a meal to our students the first week of every month. The students are given a tangible reminder that there is a community that cares for them! (Humble-Brag) It has been a huge success!
I pray that as your ministries shine the light of Jesus into the world, that you will also seek to show His hospitality.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.