Christian Living

5 Ways Your Church can be Good News to Unemployed Young Adults

A Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Wednesday said 745,000 more job seekers between 16 and 24 years old were unemployed from April to July. That compares with an increase of 571,000 among the same age group last summer.

In July, the share of young people who were employed was 48.8%, marking a record low for the second straight year. July is traditionally the peak month for summertime employment. Another Summer Chill for Youth Employment- USAToday, August 24th 2011

Photo by London Permaculture via Flickr (Creative Commons)

If I do the math correctly this means 51.2% of Americans between the ages of 16-24 don’t have a job. Half of people 16-24, when they are physically strongest and most able to work… can’t find a job.

You can’t care about the youth of America and not wonder what you can do. You individually. You as a leader in the church. And you as an advocate for the young adults in your community. You can do something. You have to do something.

We live in a post-Christian society. Young adults have heard of the church. They likely know who Jesus is. But, in many cases, they won’t have anything to do with Jesus or the church because both seem irrelevant. In short, before they are willing to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ they need to know that the Gospel really is good news for them. If you can help them find employment– that’s good news.

Here’s 5 ways you can be Good News to unemployed youth in your community

  1. Start a childcare fund for single parents in your church struggling financially. One of the biggest challenges a single parent faces is consistent and affordable childcare. (Affordable doesn’t mean free.) If you set up a fund to employ 3-4 people through your church to either watch children in their homes or to set-up a 10 small daycare facility in your church, you’d be surprised how easy funding could come together. This would help single parents and it would help the young adults you’d hire to run the program. (There’s Federal/State grant money available for this kind of thing as well. Ask a librarian for help.)
  2. Sponsor a local grant for small businesses in your community to offset the cost of hiring part-time help between the ages of 16-24. One of the best motivators you could offer to small business owners in your community is a grant to offset some of the costs of employing a person. Work with your local Chamber of Commerce to help get the word out, pitch the concept to business people in your church, and ask your congregation to rally behind the fund. Keep it simple. If a small business hires a qualifying young adult, you verify that they worked 500 hours, you award the employer $2,000.
  3. Host job readiness seminars in your church. While the unemployment rate is shocking, equally shocking is the amount of young adults who are unemployable. Partner with Junior Achievement, the Chamber, and other like-minded local community organizations to put together a series of helpful seminars for job readiness. Teach the basics like, interview skills, resume` building, work expectations, etc. (Again, there’s grant money out there for this kind of thing.)
  4. Hire someone in your home. We’ve just completed our second summer of having a regular, summer babysitter. Last summer we hired someone full-time who also lived in our home. We found that was a bit too much for us, so this summer we “shared” a full-time babysitter with another family in our church. No, we couldn’t afford it. But this sacrifice was worth it– and helped us out a ton. Maybe you don’t need childcare? Hire someone to do yard work or complete the projects around the house you’ve wanted to do but can’t find the time.
  5. Start a job pool. A church is a great connecting point. If you acted as a connecting point between people looking for work and people who need work done, you could help a lot of people. More than simply having a job board… Set-up a simple screening process, set work expectations like timeliness and appearance, and coordinated both supervision and payment between people in the community who need work done and young adults looking to do work. If that’s too much work for your staff to handle ask a business person in the congregation or members of the local Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a 10 hour per week position from May – September to coordinate.
Will you commit to helping find employment for people ages 16-24 in the next 12 months? 

Fixing College Football

Mark Cuban is admirable for trying to fix college football.

Let’s start with this: It’s broken.

2010 is case in point. In mid-January Oregon will play Auburn in a game labeled “the BCS championship game.” But, if TCU wins the Rose Bowl they deserve to be co-national champions, too. We’ll simply never know who is the best team in the college football in 2010.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. It’s happened a lot in college football. And it’s always the big money conferences shutting out the Little Sisters of the Poor. (As Ohio State president & chairman of the board of the foot-in-mouth council calls them.)

It’s about the money

We all know it. No one believes that it is about the athletes academic calendar… as the NCAA so stupidly claims. They certainly allow a playoff in every other sport, regardless of academic issues.

It’s about TV rights, protecting lesser bowls, visitor bureau’s, guaranteed payouts, conference affiliations, and a whole litany of people who are getting paid on the side.

It’s not about championships

We will never know who the football national champion is until we have a playoff. Why? We are leaving it up to computers and polls and fluke plays to determine who the champion is. Are Auburn and Oregon the best teams right now? Ask Ohio State, Michigan State, and Stanford that question.

Imagine just putting Duke vs. Kansas every year in the finals and calling that a basketball championship? What makes March Madness so fun for the whole country is that we take the best teams and let them decide who the champion is by playing the game.

The solution– Keep all of the bowls; have a 16 team playoff

First, shorten the regular season to 10 games. Then have a conference championship game determine who gets the automatic bid. Allow 5 at-large bids, top 11 conferences get an automatic bid.

That would be: ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big 10, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 10, SEC, Sun Belt, and WAC.

Second, identify the top 8 bowls the week of Christmas. Play in a 2 day rotation of 4 games each day.

That would be: Independence Bowl, Little Caesar Bowl, (formerly Motor City Bowl) Las Vegas Bowl, Gator Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, New Orleans Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, and Holiday Bowl.

Third, the round of 8 would be played on January 1st. The Final 4 would be played the second Saturday of January. These would be the six big games we all love. They’d be competitive and they would mean something. This would make January 1st an incredible day of college football. A rotation of the top 6 bowls would cover these.

That would be: Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Rose Bowl, and Gator Bowl.

Fourth, the championship game would be played the 3rd Saturday of January. (Or, maybe more ideally, the Saturday between the AFC/NFC Championship & Super Bowl game.) I would argue that the game should be played annually in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl. Let’s face it, the Rose Bowl is the most amazing place in college football to play a big game. It’s perfect in every way.

Two ideas for fixing the money problem

  1. Each participating school would earn an equal share of tickets, television, and all other monies paid to the NCAA for the coverage of this, just like in basketball.
  2. The rest of the remaining teams & bowls would be invited to play in the exact same system we already have. That’s 20 bowls left untouched! A 16 team playoff only effects and enhances 15 bowl games. We all know everyone would make more money.

This shows this isn’t just about money. It’s about pride. The SEC, Big 10, Pac 10, Big East, and Big 12 are just plain scared to play teams from other conferences. I don’t know how fans of those conferences can be proud of teams who are afraid to play anyone on any day.