“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6: 19-20
A couple of weeks ago, Dan Call, Lauren Wagner, and I greeted the students at the Activity Fair and handed out Frisbees to any and everyone we could hand or throw them to. The Frisbees have the name of our church and the website in TU blue and gold—enough information to point students in our direction, and were designed in consultation with the Church Growth Committee by Kendall Griffith. Thanks for your help on this, Kendall! We gave out around half of the Frisbees we ordered, and everyone was really appreciative. In fact, many students came up to our table and said “Are you the place giving out Frisbees?” We were the only group there with that idea (somehow), and it proved a popular “handout” to give us a chance to make connections with new people. The Frisbees cost the Church Growth Committee around $.75 a piece, and so I guess you could say from a purely fiscal standpoint, the evening cost us around $250 to promote the church among this new crop of students.
However, when it comes to ministry opportunities, we made a fortune. We made several connections with students who are now singing in the choir and playing bells or participating in Sunday school, but we also had some great conversations that I believe opened new doors of insight. One in particular was with a (I assume) non-religious young man here from Iran. He had questions about Christianity, in particular what made us different from other groups of Christians. After discussing this a while, he confided that he’d felt harassed by groups of Christians in the past, but did not feel that way during this encounter. He had many questions about doctrine and why it was that so many Christians seemed so concerned that one should fit their beliefs and ideas into a particular “box” that was rigidly authorized by some particular group or authority. He told me that he had witnessed this attitude about faith in his native Iran, and he found it surprising that in this wonderfully free country, some would willingly subject themselves to this kind of “rule.” He said he had encountered many Christians that he thought would be quite happy with the social order and authoritarian religious perspective of his native country. We had a great conversation, and in the end he stepped forward to embrace me because our presence and conversation there had opened his eyes to a “different kind” of Christian. He had heard our group there articulate a way of being faithful to Jesus in a way that was also open and loving and genuinely blessed by the encounter with the world around us, and this was refreshing to him and us!
So—if you wish you had been there, you can basically be “part of” what happened by contributing to the funds that put us in the kind of position to have conversations like that. I mentioned to Lara when I got home that I would have paid $250 to have that ONE conversation that night, since it so obviously opened this young man to a new perspective. If you feel the same way too, the Church Growth funds need replenishing, and there is no “set apart fund raiser” for them planned. You can “sponsor” this conversation and others like it by making a special gift to the ministries planned by that group. That’s not to say this area of the church is any more “deserving” than any of the other ministries that need your support as well—there is a raffle going on right now for some beautiful quilts that were designed by the children that helps fund our children’s and youth ministries (pictured in this newsletter), and coming up soon a chili supper that will raise funds for missions. I guess I just wanted to “draw attention” to this particular area since it is more rarely encountered by the people in our pews supporting it, and more often reaching out to those who aren’t aware of UUMC. In any case, the three of us who were there that night agreed that the investment was well worth the results!