As The Kids Roll In….
You know, I am not really sure how many people are reading this but I hope that this blog can also be a place where the Flint staff can share some of their thoughts with the rest of the family. I remember it was only a few months back, after a game of dodgeball that I thought to myself, “Wow, we are going to lose more than HALF of these kids.” Out of 30 kids literately 20 of them were being promoted. Just the thought of it got me anxious. “God, what is going to happen next year? Were we faithful with the kids you gave us? Is the team ready to form new relationships?” Sometimes people don’t realize that when it comes to “growth” in a ministry – we naturally measure it by numbers. Now of course in Flint we don’t, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel the pressure when being compared to the other ministries. There have been many occasions where people have come up to me and said “Oh, wow you guys are going to lose like all of your kids huh? So, what are you guys going to do?” What are we going to do?! What can we do? I’ve even had kids in Flint say, “Joe, next year we are losing everyone huh? Flint is going to really suck.” See what I mean?- pressure. The truth is, there IS something important about having great “numbers” – it isn’t the MOST important – but it sure says, “we have something that a lot of people want and that we are doing something right.” And to add on to this point, it is EXTRA important in Jr. High to have “a lot” of people because social acceptance plays a big role in the attractiveness of the program. So if EVERYONE goes to Flint then that is way “cooler” than if no one goes to Flint – regardless of how good the message is, or how good the worship is. Who cares about that anyway? – this would be from a Jr. High perspective.
Ok, so what can we do? And here, I felt like God said: “Joe, there is A LOT that you CAN do but all I WANT you to do is to be faithful and focus on the development of this program.” I don’t want to drag this out longer than it needs to be but those of you who know me understand the gravity of that statement. I ABSOLUTELY HATE administrative work. Not to mention, I am HORRIBLE at it. Through my eyes, “caring and developing God centered relationships” is the solution to almost every ministry problem. So pretty much God was saying: “Joe, I want you to let me take care of all the things that you are passionate about and good at, and spend most of your time engulfed in the thing that you find most difficult and useless. This of course would be a test of faith.” Now, I am not saying that I succeeded, but after countless hours of program development, sending out e-mails, printing and organizing packets, setting up meetings etc. etc. I understood why this was important. Structure and order are fundamental to the achievement of any goal for they are the “bridge”- so to speak – that connects you to the goal. It’s like trying to guide someone to get to the Staple Center without knowing directions. But more specifically, this was important for us because even IF we had a lot of kids, what would we do and how would we get them to the vision? From this perspective a bigger group would potentially be dangerous because we are like lost shepherds guiding lost sheep.
Anyways, I am proud to share that within the past three weeks, we have had an average number of 35 – not including counselors. Most of the kids are new and I honestly don’t even know where they are coming from. Our Flint staff has grown – in numbers as well as in the desire of “owning” the ministry. We have gained the respect of the parents. We know what we are doing for a whole year. Our program is better than ever and I have even had a handful of parents come up to me and say, “Wow Joe, good job you have taken this to another level.” or “Wow, this is impressive you sure have grown.” Indeed, I have grown and in fact I think the whole ministry has grown. Spiritual formation is so hard and humbling but through times of surrender, we find the favor of the Lord and people who are willing journey with us. I am eternally grateful for my Flint family who teach me and expect the utmost out of me. I am so proud to be apart of “La Familia.” Special thanks to Steph and Kindra for your support and training over the past few months – There really are no words, I appreciate and respect you guys so much.
May all glory and honor from all that we do be directed and given to God. Praise you Lord, you are incredible.