Seeing the Need

Brad M. Griffin | Jun 1, 2011

Last week I met with an old college friend who now works with a unique nonprofit here in Los Angeles called Taking the Reins.

Taking the Reins seeks to empower at-risk adolescent girls through learning horsemanship on an urban farm. They started by focusing on teaching horse care, stewardship, and riding. Character development and confidence-building grew alongside these skills. But over time these youth workers began to see other needs. The girls came for day-long sessions, and needed to pack a lunch. The staff began to notice that most of the girls were bringing junk food to eat. They knew about the gaps in understanding and practicing healthy eating these girls faced in their homes and neighborhoods.

So rather than just say, You should be eating healthier, they stepped in to begin addressing the need. Someone had the idea of planting a garden on the farm property and involving the girls in planting and tending the vegetables. Knowing that just raising and harvesting a vegetable still may not be enough, they took the additional step of teaching food preparation, completing the circle from garden to table. This food cultivation and preparation process is now part of the way Taking the Reins holistically empowers girls.

I love a lot of things about this story. But what stands out the most is how these folks saw a need and actually let their idea of ministry change in order to meet that need. They were willing to adapt their program and approach to fill a real gap.

What needs are you noticing around youin your ministry or in your neighborhood? Are any of them more pressing than the needs you already address? Are any of those needs something your ministry could adapt in order to meet? What would need to change for that to happen?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.


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