The West Virginia Conference values young people, and our fair-share-giving supports churches and youth leaders in various ways. In the fall of 2022, we launched a Youth Cohort in collaboration with Reboot Youth Ministry, a grant-funded program from Perkins School of Theology.
The Reboot program helps churches assess and evaluate youth ministry programming, recognizing that youth ministry IS congregational ministry. The Reboot process invites churches to create a team of folks who walk through questions and assessments with the congregation. This process allows the church to learn from young people how to connect with students to help them grow as resilient disciples of Jesus Christ.
Perkins School of Theology also includes the Perkins School of Youth Ministry. Reboot churches receive free admission into this week-long program of workshops and learning opportunities. David Westfall, Youth and Young Adults Minister at Forrest Burdette UMC, attended this program in January and, in the article below, shares his experience.
The conference will have another Reboot Youth Cohort launching this fall. For more information about the Reboot Youth Ministry program, visit https://rebootyouthministry.com/. For more information about the next Reboot Youth Cohort, contact Shea James, Director of Young Disciples and Outdoor Ministries, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In early January, I (David Westfall) was able to travel to Dallas, TX thanks to generous support of the West Virginia Conference and Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church. While in Dallas, I attended the Perkins School of Youth Ministry (PSYM) and the Reboot Ideation Lab on the beautiful campus of Southern Methodist University. PSYM was a week-long student ministry conference where student ministry workers took courses on the foundations of youth ministry and attended special-topic workshops. The Reboot Ideation Lab was part of the Reboot Youth Ministry project–a project several WV churches joined as the inaugural Reboot WV Cohort. Between attending PSYM and representing the WV Cohort at the Reboot Ideation Lab, I networked with student ministry workers from across the country, I attended worship services, and I learned so many new strategies to enhance ministry with students in West Virginia.
Although I find it difficult to narrow all that I learned into a brief article, I want to focus on one fundraising strategy I found to be particularly inspiring: Project 16.10.
In almost any church ministry, money becomes necessary. Whether it is to host events, order resources, or provide food, fundraising money is essential to making that happen. However, fundraising can be difficult and frustrating. Oftentimes, fundraisers involve their own planning, logistics, and expenditures. At PSYM, I attended a workshop in which the presenter shared a unique strategy for fundraising.
Her team had a dream that youth ministry would be free to all students who walked into the church. When she said free, she meant it. Not only would the weekly programming be free for the students to attend, but all trips and extra events would be as well. When she calculated how much it costs per student to attend every single event offered, she found it was nearly $1,000 per student per year. Rather than a typical fundraising event, she determined if a set number of donors agreed to pay a set price each month, then it would cover all the costs of her program. She called this idea Project 16.10 because their church address was 1610 Something Street. This meant that every donor agreed to pay $16.10 a month for a year, which came out to $193.20 per year.
At her church, most people spent more than that on other fundraisers throughout the year. Not only was this program wildly successful for her ministry, but it resulted in an increase in event participation. Her students felt empowered to invite their friends to programs and trips since they were free. The parents were saving nearly $800/year. Donors were happy to receive thank you cards from students after each trip. Every stakeholder involved was winning.
One of the best parts about this program was the youth continued their typical fundraisers. Instead of the youth profiting from them, the youth picked other ministries in the church to give the proceeds. This engaged the youth in serving their own church community in a way that wasn’t happening before.
Project 16.10 can be easily adapted to individual churches and ministries. It inspired me to consider what it would look like for Forrest Burdette to offer entirely free youth programming. If this has inspired you in a similar way, follow these steps to make it happen:
- Calculate the total cost of your ministry program for the average number of participants (add a few participants to your average to factor in extras).
- Trips + Special Events = $15,000 (calculated for 20 students)
- Divide that number by 12.
- 15,000/12 = 1,250 → Represents cost per month
- Divide that number the number of donors you think you can get to donate per month.
- If you can confidently get 100 donors, then → 1,250/100 = 12.50 → Represents what you charge donors monthly.
- Run a campaign asking for 100 donors to pay $12.50/month in order to offer free programming for your ministry. Extra points if you find a price that matches your address or a Bible verse that is the theme of your ministry.
If you have any questions or would like to talk more about my experiences at PSYM and the Reboot Ideation Lab, please feel free to email me.
Minister of Youth and Young Adult
Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church