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Chris Fane's Student Ministry News

A youth ministry blog consisting of a collection of articles and notes related to
student / youth ministry. Gathered by Chris Fane of egadideas.com



One of "Them" Now

FROM: YOUTH MINISTRY EXCHANGE / BY: CHARLIE ELDRED

Back in a former life, really just a few months ago, I was a pastor primarily to young people, there was a phrase that many in my professional circles liked to use: The Jones Memorial Carpet. This term was coined, I believe, by the late Mike Yaconelli; it represented the "sacred cows" and limits placed on youth ministry. Many youth workers could and can regale you tales from their ministry where something wonderful happened; only to meet with the ire of the church family because, in the process, The Jones Memorial Carpet was soiled. [Discuss this in the forums]

I often laughed at the concept of the JMC, largely because I was blessed to be involved in churches where ministry took precedence over the condition of the room or the resulting aftermath. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't leading marauding bands wielding grape juice-filled Super Soakers through the sanctuary. I was, however, allowed the opportunities to make messes and repair the aftermath without incurring the wrath of "the Jones family" who had donated whatever it was that got used in a less-than-what-they-had-intended fashion.

All that changed two months ago.

Now I'm "one of the Joneses."

When a family member passed away recently, much was made by members of their immediate family about how the estate would or should be divided. During the course of the last few weeks these same members are discovering just how generous Loved One was to their church. This person was very giving of their finances and time to the cause of Christ's church - too much so, if you ask certain people. After finding out that a substantial portion of the estate would be given to the church, there was much grumbling about how the church should have to earn it, show appreciation for it, erect something to honor the gift, etc. Interestingly enough, the last project this family member contributed towards was, you guessed it, new carpeting for the main auditorium. There were family members who attended the memorial service for Loved One "just to see what kind of carpet [donation amount] gets you these days."

I am trying hard to maintain a sense of balance with family on the one hand, and knowing what I know about ministry on the other. A large part of me wants to say "But look at what can be done in this room, now that it is carpeted! Look at how effective ministry can be - and [the dearly departed] made that happen!" But it would be pointless, because that carpet - in their eyes - has dollar signs for its pattern. They don't understand the reasons their loved one gave; they know the One their loved one was demonstrating love towards; they just see a carpet as a "lasting" tribute, and they know that it will be a fleeting memorial at best.

Where am I going with all this? I think the response I should have had back in my youth ministry days was one of thankfulness to the Jones family for letting me in the room with their "carpet" (even though it may not have been actual carpet - you know what I mean, right?). Maybe I should have written them a note, explaining to them how glad we were to not only enjoy the carpet, but explain that the wear and tear - and even stains - were also a tribute to their loved one who donated it.

Now that I'm "one of the Joneses" through no fault of my own; that's how I want to proceed in the future.

>>ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE.
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