One of my goals for 2011 is to run 2 half marathons. I have ran a few half marathons and even completed a full marathon a few years ago and am hoping get back into running. I’m in the midst of training for my first race and have been following a strict running program building up the endurance to run those 13.1 miles come April 2nd.
Often times our ministry can be like training for a marathon. Planning for a program, fundraiser, or retreat doesn’t happen in one day. It takes weeks or even months. And like a running program, we must plan and prepare accordingly. The ELCA Church holds a National Youth Gathering every 3 years for high school youth. The next Gathering will be held July 18-22, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is a remarkable event, which draws over 35,000 young people from all across the United States and many countries around the world to one city for a weekend of worship, motivational speakers and service projects in the local community. Attending the National Youth Gathering as a high school youth was a large part of my faith formation and a high light of my summers. It blew me away to see so many other Lutheran youth gathered together, singing, praying, and worshiping together.
July 2012 seems like a far ways off but I encourage your congregations to start thinking about the Gathering. It’s never too early to start planning and fundraising. Our Metro NY Synod will be helping congregations in planning and preparation for the Gathering and the ELCA will also have great resources available for congregations.
If you feel that your ministry is like running a marathon I pray that you find strength and hope in these words from Hebrews. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2).