Churches make decisions on investing. Either that do or they don't, and just as in financial markets when and if they do invest some of those investments are wasted and lost, while others pay a big return. Everyone wishes they knew the "winners" so that all their investments would pay off, and thereby minimize risk. Since there are no guarantees in an investment risk is necessary, but there is one thing we can all be pretty confident about; if we make no investment there will be no return at all.
Targeted investment requires focusing on where you think there is potential and then putting into that target enough to show significant return. To "starve" an investment means there might not be enough capital to bring the investment to success. To "drown" an investment might be to too generously swamp the target and not allow for the industry that arises from hunger. It is a delicate balance, and needs a lot of research and consistent relationship with the investment.
All of this investment talk has to do with the future of the Church of Jesus Christ, and here I speak of our young people and those we hope to see take on ministry and missions in the future. Churches need to think about the future, take action to bring about the future they want, and not simply hope for it. We are taught to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers into his harvest, and so we hope somehow He will do that. Yet, the answers to our prayers often lies in our youth groups, our college students, and our seminary students. Too often we leave it to them, their parents, and maybe the schools they attend to do the investing.
When I said this had to do with money I mean we must spend money in the equipping of people for ministry. We must spend money in giving young people spiritual direction and challenge for ministerial vocation. We must spend money for spiritual and ministry experience for their lives.
What money has your church invested in individuals that hint at having the giftedness to preach, teach, lead, cross cultures, show mercy, and serve in ministry? Does your church have any funds set aside for this purpose? Do you scholarship individuals who have offered themselves in service to Christ, who are witnessing and sharing Jesus, who have a hunger for God?
What money has your church spent on ministry internships, on sending people to short term missions, on hiring a college student or seminarian for the summer, for a year, for a couple of years so that they could be mentored and grown into effective service? Who is doing the looking for such individuals in your congregation? Is it the Pastor, the Elders, the Missions Committee, the Youth Director, and if they should see someone with such potential how do they go about getting the money to give some wings to make that young person fly?
If your pastors and elders are too busy to mentor young people into ministry one questions if they actually know what their job is supposed to be, or that they know how to do it. The challenge here is not to be perfect at this task, but to be about this task. Not every leader is great at mentoring or discipling, but better leaders know how to find someone to do what they personally are not good at, and deploy them for the task.
How many sermons have you heard from your pulpit where the members of the congregation are challenged to think about whether or not they have been called to ministerial vocation? We are not advocating a superior godliness for such as opposed to every other honorable vocation, but we are advocating common sense. If we don't challenge young people to seek the possibility of God's call for ministry is it any surprise to us that we don't have enough laborers for the harvest? Maybe your church just waits for a visiting missionary to do that.
Most pastors that I know would love to have as part of their legacy a significant number of folks that they had led to Christ, or came to Jesus through their preaching. They would also love to be able to say how many have come out of their congregation and gone on to various kinds of ministry. This result is a glory to God, it is the fruit of the Gospel.
We are not speaking here of just another job, but a passion, a call, a hunger to win the lost. If you see such a young person in your church find someway to invest all you can in them to unleash that great potential for the expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ. Yes, we are speaking about money here, but also prayer, guidance, encouragement, opening doors, and love.
Some folks are good in managing their own investments. Others trust money managers and use "mutual funds." Whether you invest in individuals as a congregation or you help the denomination through its agencies do it, just do it! Prayerfully, with faith, with expectation.