Small Things

This is an article I wrote which will be appearing in the June Ambassador, the denominational magazine for the AFLC (Association of Free Lutheran Churches).  I would be interested to hear from other authors and readers about what their churches are doing to reach out to the community during the pandemic.

When I saw the notice in the May Ambassador requesting articles about what our churches are doing to help the community during the pandemic, I felt a little depressed. I wish I could say that here at St. Paul’s in Leitersburg, we are doing great things for the Lord. However, we’re small and have many elderly members, so our abilities are limited. Then I realized our size and our resources don’t matter – the Bible tells us that even small things can be used in a big way by God. We just have to be willing to give what we have, like the little boy with his loaves and fishes.

So here are some small things we have been doing at St. Paul’s:

  • We have a little free library. The emails I get as a steward of the library mentioned that many were removing books from their libraries, due to the fear of passing infection by books being borrowed and then returned or replaced by many people. Some stewards were turning their libraries into “blessing boxes” by filling them with paper goods or other needed supplies. We decided to put canned and boxed food in ours, posting a note to “Take What You Need.”
  • This past year we started a Youth Ministry for the teens who reside at a local mental health facility. Due to social distancing we are unable to see them, or even send them packages. Instead we encouraged our members to send notes and cards, asking for their prayer requests and telling them we loved and cared for them. We are also preparing a “goodie basket” of snacks for the staff.
  • A number of our members carry “blessing bags” of food, a small Bible and needed hygienic supplies to give out to the homeless we see as we run our daily errands. I find that I am giving out even more than usual right now.
  • We could not serve our scheduled meal at the local mission last month. However, we were able to prepare a dinner and drop it off.
  • One of our small discipleship groups is collecting plastic bags (the kind you get in the grocery store) so that they can weave them into mats to give out to the homeless.
  • Of course, we are trying to stay in touch and encourage our own members who are shut-in through cards and calls, and our prayer team is still active and taking requests, although not meeting in person.

I’m sure there are many other churches, community groups and individuals who are doing “little” things to help others. They may not seem like much in the face of a global problem, but they mean the world to each person they touch. The Gospel, after all, is spread by one person speaking to another. So don’t be discouraged. Do the small things you can, and trust God to use them.

” Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10 (New Living Translation)

your first two years in youth ministry by Doug Fields — Book Review

I don’t have a passion for youth ministry, but I do have a passion for research, reading and  encouraging others to find their ministry niche.  Since we’ve recently started a youth group at St. Paul’s, I’ve been searching for helpful material, and this book is one of the resources I’ve come across.

The author, Doug Fields, has been a paid youth leader with more than two decades of experience.  He writes primarily from the perspective of a large church with a staff–a far cry from our situation.  However, much of what he has to say is still pertinent, not only to youth ministry but leadership development and spiritual formation in general.  I was especially interested in the chapters on how to identify and encourage new leaders and conflict resolution.

Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry: A Personal and Practical Guide to Starting Right

Each chapter has discussion questions, and this book could easily be used as a resource for youth ministry volunteers and workers in a small group setting. Information is interspersed  with Doug’s personal experiences, and quotations from other youth workers, making for a style that engages and is highly readable.  The appendix includes frequently asked questions and a youth ministry volunteer commitment form example. There is also a website you can go to for further information.

VERDICT:  4 stars. Definitely worth checking out if you have or are starting a youth ministry.