Guaranteed Investments

4:45 a.m. That’s what time I awoke this morning. It hurts to think about it. Christy and James had to be in Plano by 6:15 or so to join another nearly 100 middle schoolers and parents going on choir tour. Custer Road UMC is well known for its choir tours. They’ll spend five days on charter buses to parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, and East Texas. Today, they performed at a Baptist Youth mission in Waxahachie, and Baylor University. The tour ends Sunday night with a home show at Custer Road. Of course you are welcome to attend!

As many of you know, I spent last week at Camp Bridgeport with my boys and another 200+ kiddos. Well, many of the “adult” counselors-- probably six or more-- were seniors or college aged students from Custer Road. One of the first exposures Christy and I had to Custer Road students was on Youth Sunday, the first Sunday of August 2013, just before the graduated seniors took off for college. Several of those seniors lead worship on that Sunday every year. They were so impressive. I leaned over to Christy and said, “I want our boys to be like those kids.” They are all on their way. Bias aside, we’ve been blessed with three wonderful boys. Many churches have helped us in their formation!

I mention all of this not to inspire jealousy about numbers or finances-- it’s true, Custer Road is a large church with enormous resources. What’s remarkable about the place is its commitment to young people. Which leads to other blessings. For years, Custer Road has been a pipeline of clergy for the North Texas Conference. Rev Melissa Hatch, campus pastor of The Mission at Prosper United Methodist Church and Rev Dana Compton, newly installed as the lead pastor at Bonham UMC, both came out of Custer Road. Rev Jenna Morrison, whose father Tim has been the music director at Custer Road for 20+ years, was ordained this summer at conference. The list goes on and on.

My career in ministry began 23 years ago with youth. I was 22 and volunteered the summer after graduating from college with the youth group of my home church. For the two years following that summer, I served as a youth pastor in Missouri City, TX. One of those youth, Rev Ben Rigsby, is the newly appointed pastor at FUMC Archer City on our district. Which means, yes, that I am old.

Good things happen when investments are made in young people. I see the potential for such investment at Grace. The joy of hosting the children at VBS a couple of weeks ago was obvious. Seeing so many of our own youth serving others there-- and on the recent Guatemala trip-- was wonderful. Grace sent readers to Waples UMC in Denison this week for Project Transformation students. I heard so many readers showed up some had to be sent home. Thank you for being the kind of place where children and youth, not just our own but others in the community, are safe and valued. When was the last time you invested in a student? One of the simplest ways to do that is to follow them on Twitter or Instagram. Favorite a few of their comments every now and then. They’ll know you see them and are interested in their lives. When the schoolyear starts in a few weeks, show up at a band performance or volleyball game. When a child or youth participates in worship, make the extra effort to show appreciation. It adds up. May you give, and receive, many blessings from the children and youth God places in your path!