Investing in the Young

Bishop Scott Jones


How did I get to be 62 years old? When did that happen? Mary Lou and I discuss that often, because we still feel young. There are days I believe that I am still 27 years old. But then my attempts to handle athletic challenges like I did 35 years ago usually do not go well, and I realize I am no longer a young man. After all, I am now a grandfather of three girls. That changes my perspective

So I am embracing our Conference’s focus on “Investing in the Young”. Our website says “’Young’ includes initiatives attentive to pre-K children all the way up to and including young adults.” An important aspect of our Conference’s ministry is to invest in young people so that the Wesleyan movement has a strong group of lay and clergy leaders for the future. Our Emerging Leaders Endowment with its four programs—Advancing Pastoral Leadership, College Pastoral Internship Project, Ambassador Grants and the Texas Youth Academy—is making a difference. The recently established Transforming Pastoral Leadership program, our campus ministries and our summer camps at Lakeview are also key elements.

I think that applies to each of our local churches as well. While many of our congregations have vibrant children’s ministry, I believe that a focus on loving all the children will enhance what God is already doing through us. Such love can be described in three categories.

First, we should love all the children with regard to education. Many of our congregations have developed partnership with local schools. Our schools are underfunded and need volunteers to supplement the increasing challenges they face. Backpack programs, tutoring and other concrete expressions of support can make a difference in the educational experiences of the children in our communities.
Second, we should love all the children with regard to their health. We need to find ways to help every child have access to adequate healthcare. We can explore partnerships with agencies seeking to help children be healthy.

Third, we should love all the children with regard to their salvation. Too many of our churches only provide Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for the children of our members. Instead, we should be inviting all the children in our communities to learn the Bible and come to faith in Christ. If we offer a mother’s day out program or pre-school, we should make sure the curriculum has strong religious content and that participants receive invitations to worship and other church ministries.

Investing in the young takes many forms. We are already doing a lot, but God is calling us to do more.