In 2008, the youth group at Central Presbyterian Church in LaFayette, Ind. was very excited to enter the ymiLIVE Video Challenge to give its interpretation of Micah 6:8, the theme of that year’s 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Their video was chosen as one of the three finalists in the Video Challenge. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation established an endowment fund for the benefit of Central’s youth ministries, which they named the Micah 6:8 Fund.
But the story only begins here.
The next challenge was to determine the best way to spend the distribution from the Micah 6:8 Fund. Wes Tillett, director of family and youth ministries at Central Church, led the group through a decision-making process on how the money would be used. The group agreed the purpose of the Fund was to "do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God," as reflected in Micah 6:8.
The Rev. Tom Taylor, president and CEO of the foundation stated, "The process used by the group to determine how the money would be spent was pure genius." Initially, the group brainstormed various ideas on how to spend the money and these were listed on a chalkboard.
At this point, Tillett said, "We narrowed the list down to the things we really thought lived up to Micah 6:8’s ‘justice, mercy, humbly walk with God' ideals. So we had to throw out the ‘velcro wall for the youth room,' the 'party and concert,' the 'shark tank' and other things that seemed to be primarily self-focused and short-lived. Once we had a final list, I told the youth to take a week and pray about how they wanted the Micah 6:8 Fund income used."
The next week, Tillett gave each youth an equal amount of Monopoly $10 bills and told them to go into a designated room, one-by-one, and decide independently how they wanted to allocate the money. He had placed seven different envelopes in the room, each labeled for a different cause from the final list created the previous week.
"After everyone had made their decisions, we simply opened up the envelopes, counted up the Monopoly money, and designated the gifts as all of us had decided," said Tillett.
The list included the local "Presbyterian Build" for Habitat for Humanity, Family Promise — a local effort to help homeless families, scholarships for Montreat Youth Conferences and an Appalachia Mission Trip, purchase of a goat for a family through Heifer International, a year-long child sponsorship through World Vision, refurbishing of the church’s Youth Room, and a clay Easter medallion project of Central Church.
"I was pleased with how the youth and leaders brainstormed ideas and designated the funds," Tillett said. "Obviously, we were not perfectly selfless about how we spent the funds, but we hope our investment in our youth room and youth scholarships reaps long-term, gospel-oriented benefits. And, of course, we sincerely hope our gifts to others were genuine blessings to those who received them."
Foundation officials praised the youth group for living out stewardship principles through their decisions on allocating the use of the endowment fund distributions. "Their discernment was a collective effort that involved considering the perspectives of others as well as needs within the community. What a wonderful experience for the next generation to fully appreciate the responsibilities of and satisfaction in giving," they said.
"My hope is that the Micah 6:8 Fund will help our youth learn the joy of giving," Tillett explained. "I want to help them to see money as a tool to be used for God’s purposes, rather than simply a means of acquisition and consumption."
The second biennial ymiLIVE Video Challenge is going on right now. Youth groups are invited to submit a 2-4 minute video interpreting the theme of this year’s 219th General Assembly: "Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). Videos will be accepted until June 1. Preliminary online voting occurs through June 7, with the top ten vote-getters submitted to the Assembly's Young Adult Advisory Delegates for the final vote. Winners will be announced during the Assembly, July 3-10 in Minneapolis. For more information, visit the ymiLIVE Web site.