The “WHY” Behind Elevate Youth


Did you see this video at the Mission to Worship event?

After I was interviewed for this video, I realized I left something out. I explained what we would be doing (working with youth), but I didn’t fully communicate why I thought this was important.

So, why do we (my wife and I, and many others) feel passionate about working with disadvantaged youth? Because many children are handicapped by inequality and/or inequity.

Yes, It IS About Money

Inequality is the idea that resources are not evenly distributed. Our education system (at least in South Carolina) is set up this way, where  schools are heavily supported by the local tax base. Therefore, poorer counties (like in Allendale, median income = $25,966) bring in less money through taxes than richer areas (like Greenville, $48,438, or Beaufort, $56,581), which leads to vast differences in educational resources, such as school facilities.

Inequity comes about when everyone gets equal resources (maybe), despite their being an unequal need. Conversely, equity is the idea that the greatest need should get the greatest amount of resources.

“We know we have kids that can succeed,” she said. “They are no different than anyone else. We want to level the playing field. That goes back to money.” Kyle Exline, a teacher in a rural school district   

Of course, more money won’t solve every issue, but some amount of money is needed, and more is needed in certain situations compared to others.

Note: A recent SC Supreme Court decision acknowledges this discrepancy and inequity, after 20-years of litigation.

How We Fit In . . .

elev_fb_1We are not trying to be policy changers. My main goal is not to be like a Reformer or Progressive in the early 1900’s. (But can you tell what I’ve been teaching at Lead Academy?) We just want to help children achieve success in life.

We cannot completely change or overcome the amount of inequality and inequity that is built into our culture. But we can do a lot to help children.

Life change happens best in the context of authentic relationships, whether with children, teens, or adults. Therefore, everything we do at Elevate Youth will be centered on loving relationships, and grounded in the truth of the Gospel.

Specifically, quality mentoring (or discipleship) relationships involves three aspects:

  1. Love and support:  understanding the gifts and struggles of each person, and meeting them there
  2. High expectations:  not letting that individual rest in where they are, but encouraging them to greater things
  3. Rewarding opportunities:  a child (or any disciple) must have the chance to work towards and earn tangible goals

In our experience, most programs for children and youth (including many schools) do not offer all three of these aspects.

Not only are we centered on loving relationships, we also view children through the lens of scripture, namely that . . .

  1. Each person is created unique in the image of God, with infinite value.
  2. Our innate sinful natures bring harm to ourselves and others, and separate us from God.
  3. Salvation from sin is only through faith in Jesus Christ, offered as the free gift of God through His grace.

Not a Why, But Who

Now, let’s go back to the original thought, Why did we join Mill Community Ministries, and why did we start Elevate Youth?

We are working because we see a generation of children that (for whatever reason) do not have equal and equitable access to resources.

We are serving because we see a generation of children whom God specially made for a purpose.

We are striving because we see a generation of children affected by brokenness and sin.

We are laboring because we see a generation of children that need a hope that surpasses money or education or sports or any other idol. They need an eternal hope that can only be found in our Lord and Savior.

We are grateful to have the opportunity to lead, not for the answer to a why question, but the answer to the Who question — Jesus Christ.

Do you want to join us in this mission? Here are 2 things you can do:

  1. Contact us at Mill Community Ministries to learn how you can get involved (or contact me directly, and I can help you out).
  2. Partner with us through Financial Support — especially to be a monthly supporter.

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