One of the most enjoyable things about trying to do youth ministry through the medium of life skills and job training is how it mobilizes the gifts of others. It has also been thrilling to make loads of missional connections out in the community. A short time ago, both came together in a fascinating way.
About 3 months ago while I was hiring for my landscape crews for Motown Teen Lawn Care I ended up interviewing a 24 year old for the job. As it turned out, he had formerly attended a reform school for boys that my church has served at during the summers. I couldn't believe the coincidence.
He was so interested in the program that he ended up hiring on at our company. Given some aspects of his background he was intrigued by the idea of working with a company that supported a teen jobs program. In the course of our conversation he brought up the fact that he also works some hours at a small drone flying company and that his boss would be fascinated by what we are doing in our program. He felt that the two of us should meet.
And so a few weeks later I found myself sitting down to coffee with a Boeing employee who works for a drone manufacturing subsidiary. He has children in a local high school that need soft skills and that also need more STEM training. The school simply doesn't do much of that. We talked about about teenagers, drone applications, and this ministry I run. He is a self taught engineer who has said several times that he wishes as a teen that he could have understood that you could take playing around with electronics and turn it into a career. He would have found much more interest in school if he could have seen that picture. I have no idea whether this individual is a person of faith and in the context of the conversation it really didn't matter. We both cared about teens and our community. Essentially companies like his are looking to create training programs that can establish some kind of industry standard in drone training for thousands of potential applications.
What got me really excited was that I knew I had two hardware engineers at my church that would love this kind of project. Both of them had a good amount of experience working with students, but hadn't done so in a while. Within a couple of weeks I sat down with them and we began to talk about what a drone piloting/discipleship/job skills/mentoring initiative might look like. It was amazing.
As of this past week we have cemented that we will be recruiting 4 students from our program to do a test initiative on piloting drones. They will engage with our mentors, in all of our life skills trainings, and in a class to get FAA certified through the passing of their Part 107 test. It's amazing because I think the two engineers from my church are more excited about this than I am! They are excited to get to use their gifts on a really cool project for the Glory of God. They are excited to fly drones and play with nerd toys! In that way, the ministry is mobilizing gifts in my church that I never would have thought would have had a connection point to ministry. But, the ministry is also grabbing hold of the attention of local schools. I have a Career Technical lead in the public schools actively recruiting students for us. As a youth pastor, think about that for a second. This project helped me to link up with a local professional who I never would have met, somebody who is trying to do good work too. They love their community and technology and they weren't sure how to bring it all together. I am also excited about the proposition that this could help get more young women involved in STEM too! I think there is some justice in that which seems awesome.
It seems logical that this kind of work should be part of the role of the church. Shouldn't the church be a place that kind of translates skills, people, places, money, etc. into a kind of tapestry of Kingdom work in the community? I think so.