What’s in the box?

“Because of ShoeBox, I have students who come up to me and say,
"I want to teach, lead, be involved, like the students who led ShoeBox."
James H. / Youth Pastor

Back when “going live” on social media was still kind of a newer thing I got totally immersed in one of my youth pastor friend’s updates. It was around Christmas time and he was unwrapping a mystery package that had been delivered to his house. It was a BIG box. He wasn’t exactly sure who it was from but he had a sneaking suspicion a student in the youth group was the culprit. To open or not to open? That is the question! Oh. He opened!

His live video was one of those where you are waiting for the reveal and it takes a while (as he is unwrapping and unwrapping and the packages are getting smaller and smaller) and you get so far in that you think about bailing but you are so invested in the outcome that now you feel like it’s worth it to stick it out and see what’s actually... in the box.

Before I tell you what was in that box I’d like to share with you about ShoeBox: a youth ministry series about practical compassion. Through ShoeBox youth leaders will be leading their groups from behind the scenes as they are investing in their student leaders, practicing practical compassion locally, and fighting poverty globally!

How many times have you reviewed a curriculum and thought: “Almost. With a little tweaking this would be a great fit for our group”? Aren’t pastors, leaders, staff, and especially children and youth workers always looking for a good series or curriculum? Something that is creative, accessible, and challenging? Has there ever really been a study or series that was perfect for us right out of the box (or download folder)?

Nope. We have to contextualize. We as leaders do the hard work of exegeting (unwrapping) our culture and community. Then we mix and match the resources to fit our circumstances and equip those we journey with in discipleship. That’s how we do. We are good at it.

ShoeBox is a youth ministry series of four lessons with three goals: Student Leadership, Practical Compassion, and Combating Poverty.

Because International partnered with veteran youth workers to create ShoeBox and we have been beta-testing it in the field through a variety of youth leaders in various places and postures of ministry. The student leaders involved have been in middle school and high school depending on the group.

Beta-testing is almost done and Shoebox will be launched in July 2019. As we are still tweaking and tightening the laces of ShoeBox, will you pray about signing-up for using ShoeBox with your group for this Fall?

Here are a few hopes and reflections from us and our beta-testers from what’s inside ShoeBox:

(And then... the reveal... with my friend’s “live” box unwrapping. Have you guessed what’s in it yet?)

Student Leadership

We hope that ShoeBox will help you develop student leaders for the first time or give you a creative equipping opportunity for your current student leaders. The only mandatory aspect of ShoeBox is that students lead. We know this is hard work. The relational reward is also much greater! It’s always easier to do it yourself. The invitation you’ll see in the Adult Leader and Student Guides that your role is to serve alongside your students as a Coach, Consultant, or Co-lead but not as a Controller. So if you have been waiting for the right opportunity to create a student leader team or give some specific students an opportunity to stretch their wings… Here. You. Go!

“Shoebox helped provide opportunities for our students to step into leadership roles,
take on responsibilities, and feel invested in a cause bigger than themselves.”
Ryan P. / Youth Pastor

Practical Compassion

We created ShoeBox to encourage local engagement with practical compassion. Our hope is that youth leaders, through investment in their student leaders, and listening to their groups will partner with a local organization’s cause. Many groups already volunteer. That’s great. ShoeBox challenges groups to initialize or formalize these kingdom connections and fundraise for their local compassion partnership. Through our online fundraising resources you and your group will be granted 50% of what you raise to bless your local cause. Some groups have gotten super creative in their fundraising methods simply working with items they are now seeing as resources they have in abundance (like a nerf gun dart tournament with a cover charge). The fundraising idea guide provided with ShoeBox will help get your unconventional ideas churning.

“We are fundraising for the refugee center with the whole church
and will continue to partner with this organization.”
Abbey / Student Leader

Fighting Poverty

We also crafted ShoeBox to offer a creative way to resource youth ministries in having a global impact from home through partnering with us here at Because International. Hundreds of thousands (250k) of The Shoe That Grows have been distributed worldwide which have enabled kids to have access to education that not having shoes had prevented. The other 50% of your fundraising efforts will go toward providing innovative products like The Shoe That grows to kids globally. Shoes also help avoid foot injury and aid in preventing disease. On top of that Because has helped create jobs in Ethiopia and Kenya through manufacturing in countries where short-term groups will be distributing the shoe. (That could be you too!) Through your intentional fundraising efforts locally you will be making a global dent in poverty by interfacing with the systems we have developed to offer innovative solutions. That’s the power of small things.

Now that you have peeked inside ShoeBox…

Are you ready for the BIG “live video” reveal? So what was inside my friend’s mega-wrapped mystery box he went “live” to share with the world? As we watched him unwrapping loads and loads and loads of wrapping paper, tape, and risky paper contusion danger? SPAM. Yep. Actual spam. In a can. A kid from his youth group “analog spammed” him. Ha. But you know what? There’s a heap of things you can do with spam. Working with what we have is one of the outcomes we hope will emerge from your ShoeBox journey.

If you are so curious you’d like to watch the actual video, here it is (with permission ;) )

And in a spirit of innovation (and running the risk that you might feel “spammed”) here’s a bunch of the things you can do with SPAM that just might stir a wild fundraising idea for you and your group to fight poverty in partnership with Because using the ShoeBox series: SPAM recipes

Kenny Wade
Church Suite Manager