At a very young age, I began to associate the word “stewardship” with money and pledging. As I matured in the church, I realized that my very limited understanding of stewardship kept me from experiencing the fullness of my spiritual journey. Stewardship extends far beyond money; it is indeed our responsibility to care for everything that God has given us, including our own gifts and talents—our treasures.
While some of us may have more formal roles in youth ministry than others, we are all youth ministers by default. As such, we are called to be faithful stewards of our children’s lives in Christ, which includes shaping their views about their God-given treasures that can be used to build the kingdom of God. As responsible stewards of our youth’s gifts and talents, we must be careful not to dictate the ways in which they can serve. Rather, we should engage them as they serve in traditional roles in the church, and offer guidance and support as they blaze new trails for service in the church and in the world. It is important that our youth understand that the church does not define their gifts and talents. The church helps children to grow into them, and to use them in service to God. When we invite, inspire and assist in the transformation of our youth, we enliven our own spiritual journeys.
For the youth who may be reading this message, understand that you are not the future of the Church; you ARE the church. Offer your time, talent and treasure to serve the Lord. We invite you to step into your rightful places as leaders in your church.
The next time you find yourself thinking about money when you hear the word “stewardship,” think of yourself. Then take a look around at your brothers and sisters in Christ to admire the treasures of your faith community. We are God’s treasures. He loves us, polishes us, protects us, and asks that we give Him the glory by sharing our gifts and our talents with each other. We belong to God, and are merely the stewards of His treasures (each other) as we journey together in this life.
Adrienne Hymes has recently been the Coordinator for Children‟s and Youth Formation at St. James' in the City in Los Angeles. She has worked with the Office of Black Ministries to contribute to the development of lifelong Christian faith formation resources, and supports the office‟s national youth events. She is currently a student at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia.