[First in series: “Gifts Make a Difference”]
Joseph is one of The Bible’s most famous dreamers. He is also known for his ability to interpret the dreams of others. This first story shows how Joseph’s brothers hated him for his big dreams and how this led to Joseph being sold as a slave in Egypt. But, this story also shows how God used the dreams and visions of this young man to save the Israelites from extinction by starvation. The story of Joseph is about big dreams that ultimately led to the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The prophet Joel told the people of Israel…“I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” (Joel 2:28) Joel is speaking to that same nation, warning them of their need to repent and promising them renewed greatness when they do. Dreams and visions are a big part of our Scriptural heritage. God has spoken to his people many times through the dreams and visions of great leaders and normal individuals who became leaders. Samuel, Solomon, and Daniel; Peter, Paul, and John – These are just some of the people to whom God spoke through dreams and visions in the Bible. One might argue that God has spoken to many people throughout history and led them to do great things. I certainly would not limit God’s ability to speak this way to anyone God chooses.
This morning we wanted to show you some of what our ministries to children and youth are all about. It’s easy for us to look at children and youth ministry as nothing more than glorified babysitting. We would be terribly wrong to think that way. Certainly, there are lots of fun and games going on in Caleb House, in the Youth Room, and at the Family Life Center. Praise God for the fun and games! Even IF that were all that was happening, it would be worth it to know that our children and youth are in a safe place, engaged in appropriate activities. It is worth it just to know that we have positive role models leading these ministries. But, the reality is that these times together are so much more than just fun and games. From the youngest toddler to the oldest senior high student, ministry happens in big and small ways every week.
[Testimonies from volunteers.] These important ministry moments are the result of someone’s dream or vision for children and youth ministry in our church. At some point in time a member of our staff or one of our volunteers had an idea that grew into the element of ministry that inspired a child. God planted a dream or a vision for ministry in the mind of an ordinary individual and that person took the idea and turned it into ministry. The people you have just heard from and many more volunteers who work with these ministry teams work tirelessly throughout the year. Their ideas could not be turned into ministry without your generous giving.
In a planning meeting not long ago we were talking about the “Butterfly Effect”. This is the scientific theory that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever. Even the smallest learning that may take place in Sunday school, Children’s Church, or Youth Group can lead to changes that will affect a person for the rest of their life. Those changes will also affect the people that person encounters. It’s an interesting theory and one we often talk about in terms of planting the seeds of faith and not seeing the results of our planting. Somebody in that meeting said, “Butterflies are free, but hot dogs cost money.” The point is that our dreams and visions are free gifts from God, but the actual “doing” of practical ministry costs money.
We have spent time this year talking about what we promise when we become members of the United Methodist Church. The focus of these messages has been our promise to support the church with “Our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.” Here we are, talking about our gifts, and trying to make it easier to understand how your financial gifts are important to the real ministry of the church and not just what we need to fund a budget. We want you to see that money in the church is really about what we do for God and how we use our gifts to do God’s kingdom work. Today we have shown you what children and youth ministry is really about here. We have given you a document called “Missional Budget” to take home and review to help you understand even better. We are also getting ready to join together the things that you say you value about our church into a QUILT that will demonstrate how all these things fit together. I want to leave you with this question now: ARE YOU A DREAMER TOO? What dream or vision has God placed in your heart about this church? How do you see our future in ministry in Sand Springs? What gift is God calling you to share that will make this dream or vision a reality? I challenge you to be bold like Joseph was – tell your dream, even if it’s unpopular with some. Seek God’s help to bring God’s vision to reality. And – Keep Dreaming! In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.