I am part of the leadership of the National Network of Youth Ministries and serve as the District Coordinator for Texas and New Mexico. This ministry includes pastoring youth pastors and youth workers, helping build healthy local youth ministry networks, providing youth ministry training and walking alongside churches with a process so they can discern and discover what a healthy youth ministry means in their context. That is the WHAT.
Here is the WHO and my heart. First and foremost, I am an “evangelical mutt.”
Before I share what that means, let me tell you about some youth leaders in my life: Bob and Louise were a very special set of youth workers who taught our Sunday school class of 40-50. I was a good friend of their daughter, Lisa, so I would drop by their house to see her and them. Somewhere during that year they went from being my Sunday school teachers to being spiritual parents. They lived out the lessons they talked about and they cared for and invested in my spiritual life..
I have a passion for helping youth leaders. Leaders like Bob and Louise who helped me. I am sure you have youth leaders who shaped you in your teen years, too.
I consider myself an evangelical mutt because of my mixed spiritual heritage. I became a believer in a very special United Methodist Church when I was 12. At the end of my sophomore year, I thought God was calling me into youth ministry. While in college, I started serving in our youth ministry, first as a small group leader and then as a teacher to 40-50 in the 8am Sunday School class.
While in college my calling into youth ministry grew stronger. Upon graduation, I attended Dallas Theological Seminary because I was so impressed with the bible teachers, they produced. (read more) So, here I am, raised in a mainline church that was laser focused about people needing Jesus for salvation and significance and a graduate of a premier evangelical seminary.
The mutt pedigree continued with serving in non-denominational churches, a United Methodist Church, a Baptist General Convention Church (John Pipers denomination), and I even being ordained in a Southern Baptist Church. I am an evangelical mutt who is able to appreciate the various sides of theology held by the people I meet, no matter where they are in their lives or their walk with God. I have that doggie hearing, sometimes hearing a far-away message for others – and then leading then leading them on to a place where they can hear the message more fully.
I now say that youth ministry is my passion but I would say my calling is helping people understand Gods agenda for their lives. I want to help people know the voice and plans of God in their lives- just as I have discovered mine through the powerful ministry of people like Bob and Louise.
I’m a mutt and I know that I cannot approach people by growling the “right” information. I have to take the route of Jesus in Matthew 11: Come to me all who are weary…and I will give you rest.
There is a time for bark and bite and there is a time to sit and be a warm presence.
I translate theological truth into words that help people grasp what wasn’t clear before. A dad called me once and shared that his son had just about quoted the Apostles Creed and explained each section of it. That made me smile because I knew most of the adults in our church would not be able to do that even if they were offered $1,000.
Now, I have come to learn that my work is in supporting those who work directly with young people. I love training other people. I love to help them know how to speak the truth to young people. Proverbs says “It isn’t good to have zeal without knowledge.” The majority of youth workers I know have tons of zeal, but they need more encouragement and skills to better minister to students and that is where God has me step in and serve them.