This year’s theme is “The Story/The Stories.” Each week our blog will focus on a story from a youth minister. We hope these stories help inspire you in the great work you are doing, as well as let you know you aren’t alone in the crazy, sweet, often hard to fathom world of youth ministry. This week we are hearing……

The Story of taking 25 people to Target



Rev. Ben Brown is the Minister of Youth at First Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Va. Ben is a native of Virginia and has degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and BTSR. When not doing youth ministry, he loves hiking, running, playing the acoustic guitar, and eating Chick fil A. Ben is obsessed with VCU basketball and dreams of their return run to the Final Four.


Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.

                                                                                                            Matthew 25:34-36

It’s not strange task to go shopping the weekend following Thanksgiving, but the students in our ministry did this with a different purpose. A local missions group from our church, the Lucille Davis Circle picks a different organization to help or support each month. During the month of November, they selected our youth group at First Baptist.
We were thrilled to be the recipients of this donation, and I shared with our youth and parents that we had been gifted $200 for missions work. They didn’t seem thrilled.I looked at them, and I asked, “Come on, guys! This is great news…what’s going on?”  One of my youth raised her hand and said, “I think we can do more.”
We decided that we wanted to try and match this initial donation, but who did we want to help?
There were several different possibilities, but we decided that we wanted to partner with Child Life at UVA Health System to purchase gifts for an opportunity called “Christmas Treatings.” We thought about the patients at the hospital and their families, and we wanted to change their Christmas for the better.
It was amazing to hear our students as picked up items in the aisles of Target.

  • If I were sick, would I rather have a teddy bear or matchbox cars?
  • I loved playing with play dough when I was little, I bet someone else would like this too.
  • We should do this every year! There’s so much we can do to help.

These words are not complex, but they do echo the words from the Gaither tune, “I Then Shall Live.”

I then shall live as one who’s learned compassion.

I’ve been so loved, that I’ll risk loving too.

I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;

I’ll dare to see another’s point of view.

And when relationships demand commitment,

Then I’ll be there to care and follow through.

Students have their moments of being self-seeking and narcissistic, but when encountering God’s great mission they can strive together to accomplish greater things than once expected for them.