An investment is where you put something aside now so that you can benefit from it, with growth, in the future. Many churches have property investments, such as their worship building and perhaps a rectory, vicarage, or manse, as well as some cash in the bank as reserve funds. The rest of their money goes on staff costs and maintaining the current programmes. I want to call the church towards a bigger and longer-term view, and to add a new investment to your portfolio. I will set out five reasons why you, as a church leadership, should be looking to invest into your young people in partnership with Reign Ministries.
Reign Ministries, in conjunction with ForMission College and Newman University, offers a three-year BA (Hons) in Theology, Mission and Ministry with a Youth Ministry specialism. What sets this course apart from others is that the student will do a work-based placement throughout the entire course, usually in their home church. They would then come to six week long intensive residential’s, spread out across the year, where all their classwork and lectures take place.
Why to invest #5: Retain your key young people.
The usual pattern of recent decades sees a slow drop off of young people from the church during their teens, until they finish school and then move away to university or for career opportunities. We accept this as inevitable, yet don’t have to. By encouraging your young leaders to stay around the church, by earning a degree at the same time as serving as a part-time volunteer staff member, you’re saying there’s a reason and a future in the church for them. They can help attract others of a similar age who may feel a bit lost seeking out other Christians their age. Your investment also says that you’re interested in every stage of their life, not just until they graduate from the youth ministry. We also believe that a “home grown” young leader, who knows the church already and has good relationships developed, has a great chance to thrive rather than always relying on imported talent.
Why to invest #4: Grow a healthy youth ministry.
Envy is not a healthy quality to have, yet most churches will usually be a little bit envious of another church. It might have a newer building, or with more people and therefore a higher budget, or seem to run better programmes and ministries. By investing into supporting a student at Reign Ministries, they will seek to grow a healthy and supported youth ministry, regardless of budget, numbers or resources available. One of our fundamental beliefs is in discipleship, where one Christian disciples another, so that they can in turn disciple another, and so on. Each student will fully understand this model and have strategies on how to establish this within their church. You will remove the barrier of needing a large enough youth ministry to justify employing a youth worker. Your investment into the student is effectively an investment into the whole youth ministry; an investment into your own programmes and health. In their three year placement, they will seek to build good habits and a sound ministry philosophy into your volunteer teams and young people.
Why to invest #3: Development of future leaders in the church.
Most of the British two pound coins in circulation carry the quote “Standing on the shoulders of giants” on the reverse image; a quote attributed to Sir Isaac Newton. It reminds us that we have built upon what others have done and learnt before us, and in time, others will build on what we do. Nurturing and developing leaders, pouring your heart and energy in to them, only for them to move on to another church or role, can be a very demoralising experience. Yet if we see that our role, right from the start, is to raise up and then release leaders, when that happens it is a measure of success. We become like teaching hospitals, that bolster their staff numbers whilst training students and giving them the experience they will need to thrive in their career, yet recognise that they will not be able to retain most of the students upon completion of the programme. The student you support may need to move church at the end of their studies, perhaps to earn a salary your church is unable to offer, but know they are taking the DNA of your church to another church, and influencing the new church with life and experience. And the Church across the UK has now become richer, with a new leader in the ranks.
Why to invest #2: Secure partnership with training provider.
After the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Northern Rock Bank among others, knowing who you are investing with is crucial to make sure the output at the end is secure and worthwhile. Reign Ministries has been training up youth ministers for 15 years, producing over 130 leaders, many of which are now working in church youth work roles. Whilst many theological institutions are shrinking or closing, Reign continues to attract students to its degree programme. It has developed good systems of supporting and training students, through weekly peer clusters as well as through academic lectures and classwork. We place a high value on the graduating student being a disciple maker and being able to plant and lead disciple-making ministries. By a collaboration between the student, the church and Reign Ministries, the students will benefit from support, learning and experience. Reign does not seek to proselytize students to join us, as we do not run our own youth ministry; instead we seek to support and empower more churches to have healthy youth ministries.
Why to invest #1: The church needs new ideas.
In Matthew 9, we hear Jesus talking about not pouring new wine into old wineskins, but to make new wineskins for the new wine. The church across the UK desperately needs new leaders, with new ideas, of new ways to connect with our communities and maintain the Gospel message in innovative new methods. The church has seen some radical changes during the Coronavirus pandemic, shifting to online services and small groups, serving local communities in new ways they never felt capable of before. Teenagers today, who will start being church leaders, deacons and volunteers in 10-15 years, are very different from teenagers just 10 years older than them. Reign Ministries trains leaders on how to work inter-generationally, to be a cross culture missionary, to be innovative and fresh, whilst holding firm to fundamental Christian truth and a strong personal relationship with God. Your investment into one of these leaders may start to infect and infuse new ideas into your own church, and to demonstrate how to pioneer new initiatives.
Church investments aren’t just something your treasurer or accountant should be concerned about. Reign Ministries is presenting a new opportunity for your church to invest in future leaders by raising up indigenous young people, encouraging them to train in ministry, gain a qualification, whilst doing this in the context of your church, where they can shape the youth ministry and look to grow more leaders to succeed them and to ensure your investment returns with interest.
Click here to learn more about the degree programme, or click here to jump to more details of what it means to be a Work based learning provider church, supporting a student.
Charlie helps much of the behind the scenes work happen smoothly. He heads up our Operations, Recruitment and Donor Support Teams. He first started as a volunteer youth leader back in 1988, and has worked in churches and Christian youth organisations in Australia, England and Scotland.
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