First Third Conversations

Enabling Poor Stewardship for CYF Bodies

A blog post by Kinna Nordstrom

Image Credit: Fruit Salad by lisaclarke on Flickr

Hello, my name is Kinna and I am a food addict. I am a compulsive overeater who stuffs her feelings. And you know the best place for me to get my fix? Church!

I love being a youth minister, but now that I don’t eat pizza, sugar, or drink soda, I am finding that I loathe going to events with the youth that include food. For example --I am dreading our lock-in on Friday. There’s going to be pizza, candy, soda (pop), energy drinks; you know,  all the unhealthy food that youth eat and drink at sleep overs.

*Disclaimer -- I am not providing any of this, except the pizza because I promised them we could …

My youth know that I am a food addict -- it’s public knowledge. They are still baffled that I never eat desserts. I am SO thankful that girl-scout cookie season is finally over! I was about to run kicking and screaming if I had one more sweet girl scout at the church ask me if I wanted to buy cookies …

You see, for a food addict, having these foods around is like being surrounded by booze for someone who suffers from alcoholism. Sugar is incredibly addictive to people (not just addicts), and yet we serve it on a silver platter at every potluck, every Sunday morning coffee hour, every youth event, etc.

I’m going to be as bold as to say that the church (youth ministers included, myself included) are enablers of poor stewardship of bodies. We are also enablers for food addicts, essentially saying, here is your “drug,” and better yet, here it is for FREE!

Now I’m not saying get rid of sugary delights and pizza entirely, nor am I asking you to think about this just because of addicts like me. But we ought to think about making different choices for the benefit of the whole community, just like we do for people with peanut allergies and gluten intolerance!

How can we model good stewardship of our bodies by the foods we provide at church?

At our congregation, we’ve made some improvements (baby steps) over the past year. We’ve gotten rid of the lemonade that is essentially high fructose corn syrup and water. We also don’t open the pop machine for them anymore (yes we have a pop machine … ). If they want soda, they have to pay for it. My next desire is to cut the purchase of donuts Sunday morning in half and include fruits and whole grains as an alternate. On Wednesday nights for Confirmation, we offer salads and fruit along with the main dish which changes week to week.

But I’m just the youth director; I don’t have a say?

I’m a part-time youth director intern, so I get it. But I know I have a voice, and change starts somewhere right? We’re even at a point now of dreaming about a food committee since we do so many things around food!

All I’m suggesting is that we take a look at the foods we are offering, and think seriously about the activities we do and the foods we serve. So, where can you make a few cuts in your congregation? Are you able to plan ahead a bit more to offer something other than pizza? Can you lower the amount of unhealthy foods purchased, and increase the amount of healthy food? Are you at a place where all you offer is water to drink?

Author Bio:
Kinna Nordstrom is a senior at Luther Seminary graduating in May with her Masters in CYF Ministry. She has a big heart for youth and young adults, social justice, and continuously pushing the envelope for the sake of the community. She currently serves as a part time youth director intern at Holy Nativity Lutheran Church in New Hope, MN, and hopes to move to Denver, CO after graduation to escape the tundra!

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