Beloit, WI

Beloit, WI
photo by Rod Gottfredsen

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Blessing our children and youth throughout the year . . . .

Dear Friends,

Recently, Dawn and I had supper with a new pastor and his family.  In the days following our time together, I reflected a lot on my own experiences as a young pastor - I, too, was once in my late twenties, albeit a few years ago.  As I daydreamed, I remembered an insight that I discovered in those days - the most effective outreach is taking good care of the members we have.  This came to me as others were drawn to our congregation by members who spoke highly of the care which they were receiving.   Although outreach has become a whole lot more difficult over the years, I still believe this.  Jesus exhorted His disciples on the night of His betrayal that the world would know that they were His disciples by their love for one another (John 13). 

During the Divine Service on Sunday, I offered a blessing to our young people as they begin another year of school.  This has been an important part of my ministry for many years.  In addition to offering them a blessing, I also led a special prayer for them and students, teachers, and staff everywhere.  Please join me in praying for each of our young people regularly.  In addition to praying for them, please tell them individually that you are praying for them.  You may never know the impact that your words of encouragement to a young person has on his or her life.  To that end, please do not allow the lack of visible fruits to cause you to grow weary in the sowing of seeds.  Another insight that I have learned is that we are not to concern ourselves with the fruit itself, but with faithfulness to our callings as sowers.  I learned this from St. Paul who said: "I planted, Apollos watered, but it was God Who gave the growth"  (1 Cor. 3).  What a difference it will make to a young person who may be struggling to remember "that man or that woman is praying for me."

In the coming year, as the plans for the new school unfold, we will begin to see new families in worship.  While I very much want them to see our expanding ministry to children and youth, one of the most moving things for them to notice among us is how much our members love the children of our congregation.  In our culture, educational opportunities and fun activities can be found just about anywhere, but genuine love and concern is a more precious commodity.   

In Christ Jesus,       

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