What tomorrow holds…

Last week, sitting in the living room of my friends, Brian & Cathi, surrounded by a passel of middle school students sharing about their experiences serving Christ in Boston throughout a week-long urban-ministry plunge, I was struck by how much I love my job. Getting to walk alongside middle school students as their hearts are opened to the life that God is calling them to, watching compassion and love spring up in their lives in tangible ways, seeing their eyes light up as they connect thought, choice, and action…all of this and more is an immense privilege to be a part of. It’s these sorts of things that I want my life to be about: helping early adolescents own their faith and begin to live lives that reflect the hope of Christ to a broken and hurting world.

A couple of months ago, I announced (read it here) that I was moving on from my position at First Friends, but that I didn’t know what was next. Leading up to that decision and since has been a great time of growth, stretching, challenge, and encouragement as I’ve spent time with my Discernment Committee and many friends and family, praying and considering what God might be leading me toward.

And so it’s with much excitement that I get to share with you that my next step lies in doing many of the same things that I’ve been doing, in the Canton community that I deeply care about.  This fall I will be launching a new non-profit called TomTod that will act as an entrepreneurial incubator for middle school students centered on compassion and justice issues. Though new in form and formality, TomTod has been an idea in the back of my head for several years and is currently in its second trial run with students from Flipd.

I believe that middle school students possess a unique combination of imagination, intellectual capacity, energy and passion that allow them to dream and create in ways that those both younger and older than they struggle to. With this in mind, TomTod will be a place for middle school students to bring their dreams and ideas and be connected to a mentoring community that will help them refine and launch them from concept into reality. The whole process will operate as an educational gateway for students, helping them grow and learn while opening pathways for future opportunities along the way as they pursue their project.

TomTod won’t be launching just any idea that a student brings to the table, though. We’re particularly interested in how we can work together to affect areas where we find brokenness in the world around us, particularly among marginalized people. For example, projects we’ve worked with up to this point have been directed toward homelessness, Down Syndrome, and bullying. Middle school students have a singular insight into the world around them and an ability to see it through imaginative eyes. TomTod will work to connect that openness and excitement that these students possess with areas of great need in the world.

I know this description just begins to scratch the surface and probably raises a lot of questions. While I can’t hope to answer all of that in a simple blog post, I want to offer a few ways to connect to TomTod as we start to develop it and move forward.

Go here to sign up for future updates on TomTod. Don’t worry…I promise not to overwhelm your inbox with mundane emails.

Go here to become a fan of us on Facebook. Our Facebook page will be a central communication space and will keep you connected to our developing plans.

Follow us on Twitter (@tomtodideas)

Bookmark www.tomtod.org, which will be our web home in the future.

Read this PDF with some FAQ’s and additional thoughts.

In closing, I want to especially express my thankfulness for your presence in my life. There is much about launching something like this that makes me nervous, but knowing the incredible community that I have surrounding me gives me much confidence to walk forward in faith. I look forward to sharing the steps in the journey with you (don’t forget to sign up, fan, & follow!) and to experiencing together what God is about to unfold. Thanks for walking with me up to this point and beyond…I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds!

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2 Responses to What tomorrow holds…

  1. Emily Rose says:

    Joel, I have been thinking of you lately, especially about how well you use the internet for ministry. You should write a paper on that. I’m trying to convince my wee lil’ church here in Munich to have a FB page and update its (awful) website, but it’s a hopeless cause. People are remarkably resistant to anything new. But your way of integrating “new” media and ministry has been a model, and I have told people to check out what you’re doing. So, awesome.

    And I am SO HAPPY you are getting married!!! 🙂

  2. joeldaniel says:

    Emily!!
    So good to hear from you! Thanks for compliment as well 🙂 I’m definitely a work in progress on technology usage. I’m in the process of learning a lot with the launch of TomTod, too.

    I still have the quilt you made for me…it’s one of our favorites.

    If you ever are back in the Ohio area, let me know. I’ll do the same if I’m over in Europe 🙂

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