July 29, 2012
A friend of mine loves to fish and go boating, and he had a nice garage built for his boat. It wasn’t just a shed – it was a garage with a nice concrete floor, finished walls, and a brick exterior. I imagine it was quite expensive to build. When it was completed, he was excited to back his boat into his new garage. I’m not sure how it happened, but a mistake was made on the garage. When my friend pushed the button on his garage door opener, the door came down and he discovered the boat was a few inches too long for the garage – after all the expense of building this nice garage, the garage was too small for the boat! What a shock to find out it didn’t fit!
Kids don’t fit into our adult world. We expect them to, but they don’t. Perhaps it is time that we try and enter their world, which is a very different world than the one we knew as kids.
A lot has changed since I was a kid. When I was the age of the kids who came to our Vacation Bible School, I never worried about walking through our neighborhood at any hour of the day or night. Now, we are afraid to let our children out of our sight. When I was a kid, I knew that getting an education would lead to economic and career opportunity. Now, young people graduate from college with a mountain of debt and little or no job prospects. When I was a kid, the economy was growing and appeared to be limitless. Now, kids are growing up in economic uncertainty unparalleled in our day, and they are inheriting what may be an insurmountable national debt. Kids face an uncertain environmental future, and some of our most trusted institutions have failed them in tragic ways.
Most people think of Shelby County as being fairly prosperous, and we are one of the more prosperous of the 120 Kentucky counties. It may surprise you, then, to know that from 2006 to 2010 just under 20% of Shelby County residents lived in poverty. Operation Care, one of the community ministries here in Shelbyville, last year serve 10,000 people who walked through their doors. That’s not a total number for assistance – that is 10,000 unique visits. One person, working in one of our area ministries, told me recently that probably 25% of Shelby County residents are at risk economically. Those are disturbing numbers.
I don’t share the statistics to overwhelm you with statistics, or to discourage you, but to remind us all that kids are growing up in a very different world. Of the approximately 44,000 residents of Shelby Country, 32% are age 18 or younger. That means a lot of our fellow residents are growing up in a completely different world from the one we knew as kids.
I am only speaking for a few minutes this morning, because of the Vacation Bible School program, so I want to leave you with one primary thought. You may remember that earlier this year, in my sermon series on belief and unbelief, that I spoke of the group identified as spiritual but not religious. That is certainly the right of anyone who wants to be defined in such a way, but the failure of that view is that it doesn’t always connect to something, and we live in a day and age where we need to connect to something, we need to be working together to make a difference, especially in the lives of kids. People can make a difference individually, but we can do so much more together. I believe that churches are uniquely equipped to help kids because of the resources entrusted to us. We have the volunteers, the spaces, and the calling to reach into the lives of kids and to minister to them in the name of God.
It is a different world for kids. We are called to enter into their world, to reach out to them with the love of Christ, and to change their world.