It is kind of an interesting situation for me to think of as I sit here on this plane heading out east to visit a good friend. “Investing in the future” can sound almost like a cliche. It is a phrase that a financial planning company might paste on their portfolios claiming to be able to help you achieve the greatest return. Or it is a term that a University will place on their advertising billboards telling you that your education will be unmatched elsewhere. Or even further it could be used by a business of some kind trying to promote a job opportunity by promising that by working for this company you will gain skills to help you further down in your career.
I’ve always believed that investing is a wise thing to do. As I got older I become more interested in the concept and eventually began investing when I was in the army. At the time I was stationed at Camp Arifjan just south of Kuwait City and I had the financial liberty to try to learn how generic stock investing/trading happened. To be truthful I pretty much broke every single rule that was in the book and lost quite a bit of my own money. It was a learning experience more than anything else.
I certainly have come a long way with how I manage small investments, yet as I think about the entire topic of investing, I can’t help but think about the future of the church I attend.
Christianity and more specifically, The Missouri Synod, has been in a struggle. I am talking about the Church’s actual existence. This is one of those situations where you have to ask yourself, will the church be around much longer? Turn back the clock 30 years and compare those church goers then with church goers of today. The people who once filled the pews on any given Sunday morning are aging, many are dying off and the scary reality is…..there are not many younger people replacing them.
I am 26 years old. They say that because of my age I belong to the millennial generation. When I look at the millennial generation, the majority of them just don’t take religion seriously anymore. The numbers who are faithfully going to church are dwindling. This is not something that I really like seeing, but unfortunately this is the harsh reality we are in.
Of all of the problems out there, I would say that this is the largest issue before us right now. I understand that it can be easy to ignore this, however ultimately we cannot ignore the future. As a church body we have to recognize the youth.
Investing in the future is much like planting a tree. An individual can plant a tree with excitement about it’s future, but knowing full well that he or she might not be around to see its full growth and maturity. This is also how it is with campus ministry. One invests in students knowing that the investment may not come into maturity for many years into the future. This is first and foremost the mission of the University Lutheran Chapel. From the beginning the University Lutheran Chapel has been such an investment. It has been an investment not just for the students who attend the University of Minnesota, but the neighboring universities in the area as well.
When the Chapel lost its building in the summer of 2012, she easily could have moved elsewhere. There were and still are many empty church buildings for sale that we could have purchased and moved into. We easily could have become a ‘normal’ church that was not focused on campus ministry. Normal church life would have resumed and continued….yet things would have been different. There would have been a something missing. The students that currently attend the University of Minnesota would not have had a place to worship. I’m sure some of them would have still made an effort, but others would have gotten caught up in the moment of being a student and in time would lose faith. . Their habits of attending church would become memories of something that they did when they were younger, growing up with their parents.
This is truly what the University Lutheran Chapel is designed for. We are dedicated to being a ministry for these students. We do not want their habits of attending church to become memories. We don’t want the future of the Missouri Synod to dwindle. We want to play a vital role in our synod’s future, and help our synod invest in that future. We are a beacon of light for students at the University of Minnesota.
However as many people know, our beacon is only half lit. We currently have a house that serves as a student center near the campus of the University, but we are missing a sanctuary. This has been the case for over three years now. However this will not be the case for much longer.
We have a goal of breaking ground for a new chapel building by next spring. This building will become our new sanctuary and will be positioned adjacent to our current student center. Our hope is to have this completed in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the 95 Thesis.
This goal is dependent on our ability to raise the remaining funds. This is where we need your help. I am asking you to help us invest in the future of our synod by donating to the University Lutheran Chapel. As a congregation we have made many sacrifices to see this plan come together, yet we cannot go entirely alone. Will you help us?
My very best to you.