Minister Lydia Davis, Ministry Teams Leader at Barnes United Methodist Church, was praying and asking God what community need He wanted her to tend to next. She wrote on her white board, “Youth Financial Literacy.”
Shortly thereafter, Jason Fishburn, Member Experience Officer, came through the door with Tina McAninch, Executive Director of Metro Ministries. They were there to film a “Change for Good” commercial for Annual Conference. As Min. Lydia heard him talking about Christian Family Credit Union, she saw her white board in the background. “We need to talk,” she said to him.
While Barnes United Methodist Church had a ministry providing food to those in need for years, Min. Lydia felt something in her spirit that something was missing, and God put it on her heart to do more. After an invitation to a missional food pantry training, a lightbulb went on in her mind. People were being fed, but they needed spiritual feeding, too. Min. Lydia prayed and heard Jesus’s words to His disciples from Matthew 14:16, “You feed them.”
The You Feed Them Missional Food Pantry was launched in March 2017. In their mission to serve spiritual food alongside physical food, they have seen 454 salvations since they began, 28 during 2021. In strategic alliance with other church partners and donors, they have been able to provide necessities like food and clothing, in addition to community resources like school supplies and education.
Min. Lydia says, “As a Missional Food Pantry, we serve physical and spiritual food while building relationships in hopes of addressing other social insecurities with a long-term goal of shortening food pantry lines and the need for other social economic programs.”
After putting their heads together, a new partnership between Christian Family Credit Union and the You Feed Them Missional Food Pantry was born: Youth Financial Literacy. First held on September 11, 2021, Jason led the workshop providing financial education. The kids decorated “Save, Spend, and Share” boxes for their homes and the ministry provided an initial deposit of $30.00 to start a savings account for each child.
Jason shared with each family that providing money for chores—at whatever denomination— would reinforce good money habits. Out of these initial educational events will come “Bank at Barnes” days where children will have the opportunity to make deposits, while Min. Lydia, the Missional Food Pantry care team, and Jason offer continued relational and resource support.
The response to the Youth Financial Literacy program has been energizing. One family decided to make “Save, Spend, and Share” a family game. One young child drew pictures to represent his financial goals. He plans to save money for his future, spend some on a Play Station 4 and some with the homeless. Another mother spoke of how encouraged she was to teach her kids how to work for their financial goals.
When asked about what they might say to other churches thinking about doing a missional food pantry and/or youth financial literacy programs, both Min. Lydia and Jason responded with enthusiasm. “Do it!” says Jason, “And call on us… Min. Lydia and I would be delighted to walk alongside any congregation that would like to start a program, not only the youth financial literacy, but also the missional food pantry, too.”
Min. Lydia added, “It’s a much–needed area to be the hands and feet of Christ. We’re serving, we’re putting coats on backs, shoes on feet, food in a stomach. But how can we shorten that line long term? It all starts with first of all being in tune with the Holy Spirit. I lean on what God has called me to do, then I see God opening doors and bringing the connections into place. That’s when you know you’re doing and listening to what God has called you to do.”
Is your church interested in exploring a missional food pantry or youth financial literacy program? Reach out to Minister Lydia Davis at email@example.com and Jason Fishburn at jason@ChristianFamilyCU.com
This story reflects the INUMC’s Children Matter Most initiative to care for children and their families in their flourishing. You can learn more about Children Matter Most and find resources here.