When the youth group at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Princeton, Minn., lost its funding a few years ago, youth pastor Jason Ruis found the challenge to be a blessing in disguise. Rather than focus on costly events, Ruis realized that “God and his Word transform teenagers, not our games and entertainment of them.”
Ruis and his ministry team began seeking an affordable way to do missions trips. Their collaboration led to the formation of “Do Something.”
Do Something’s first event, taking place in the church’s own community, was kept to a very minimal cost. Like most service projects, teens spent their days serving local needs and nights studying the Bible and sleeping in Bethel Church.
Two years later, the ministry team expanded their vision: one year they would serve in Princeton and the next they would serve outside of their state.
This past summer, the “elsewhere” year, Bethel’s youth group partnered with World Renew to serve in Musselshell, Mont., where severe fire damage and massive flash flooding had ravaged lives and land. The team cleaned up debris, repaired buildings, and deepened connections.
Senior youth member Mitchell D.H. said that the trip “really opened my eyes [to] who God is and how mysteriously he works through us. Not to mention the great conversations and a lot of tears, both happy and sad.”
While in Montana, Ruis kept the congregation connected via daily updates on the Ignite Blog.
Do Something is financed by annual fundraisers like the “Wild game feed” that incorporates a free-will offering and a silent auction funded largely by local businesses and volunteers.
Bethel’s ministry team continues to keep costs minimal by personally planning the mission trips and writing their own curriculum.
Every six weeks, the youth group hosts a service night where they assist local organizations such as the food pantry and the Christmas giving project.
“We really feel the need to challenge our youth not only to serve, but to really know God. . . . That was the fruit of our lost budget,” Ruis said.
About the Author
Jessica Oosterhouse is the Banner’s regional news correspondent for classes Lake Superior, Minnkota, and Wisconsin.