A few weeks ago I accepted a new position. I am not leaving youth ministry. I am not leaving Cloverdale Church of God. I am officially venturing into the world of national level youth ministry (I’m not sure if that is actually a real thing…oh well).
Church of God has a few different teams of youth workers that work with all of the churches in our movement that have youth ministries. The youth ministry team (YMT) and the youth network team (YNT). I am now a member of the YNT.
I was offered a position on this team about three years ago and I didn’t take it. As I sought God about the opportunity and talked with those closest to me, I felt it was not something I needed to do, so I said no.
As I did exactly the same thing this time around I felt a different answer from God. And I had to answer this question from three different people, three people that know me REALLY well. They all asked me “what changed?”
Before I said yes I had to really think about this simple two word question, a lot. The answer is not nearly as simple as the question.
My circumstances have changed
My family life looks a lot different now. My wife is at a school a lot closer to our house and our boys are far more independent so it is easier when I travel. My church looks a lot different now. The past three years we have gone through a lot of change and transition; staffing, vision changes, and much more. Now the dust has settled a bit and we are moving forward again. Still a lot of work and effort left with both of these areas of my life, but very different than it was then.
My perspective has changed
After writing my book, working on more books, writing on this blog and other sites, and lots of conversations with several amazing youth workers my perspective of youth ministry and church ministry is different now than it was then. I feel like I have a lot more to contribute and offer now than I did then.
My heart has changed
God has done a lot of shaping and molding on me in the past three years. Being humbled is never fun, and no matter how I finish this sentence it will prove that He is not done. I know God is not done molding and changing my heart, but I am glad to be a few years further down this journey before doing this. My motivation for wanting to say yes is completely different this time.
I am thankful for all of these changes. But most of all I keep going back to how thankful I am for people in my life that will actually ask me questions like “what changed?” I truly am a very very blessed man.
Do you have people in your life that will ask you hard questions, and expect truthful answers? If you don’t you need them.
I am sitting in the airport waiting for my plane back to Boise, and it’s raining. I just spent three days in Portland, OR listening to a few great speakers (Michael Frost and Doug Fields), hanging with some great people, and walking through lots of rain. I definitely have a lot to think about and unpack and process from these three packed days away. I plan to write about a lot of this as I process it all, but until then here are a few quick things I am taking home with me from this trip. Yes it rained most of the time, but my time here has been very WARM!
1. Relationships are HUGE
This conference is a gathering of pastors from the western states of the Church of God. Over the years of attending this conference and being on the planning side of it the past few years I have gotten to know many of these people. It is fun to hang out with like-minded friends. Our ministry and personal paths cross from time to time, but our friendships and connections go much deeper than that. I have not talked face to face with Doug for many years. Others I have seen recently but no matter how long it has been it is always great to catch up and share stories.
2. Successful ministry doesn’t have to be complicated and busy
As I reflect on the teachings of both Doug Fields and Michael Frost I see this common theme through both of their messages. These two men had very different styles and approaches, but they both communicated a similar message to me; slow down and keep it simple and effective. More on this to come…
3. Keep pressing forward
Once again, like God did a month ago on my trip to SYMC, I am encouraged to keep doing what I am doing. I see God answering some long time questions of mine, opening some doors, closing others, and confirming to me I am headed in the right direction. With my church, my writing, my friendships, and every other area of my life. There is nothing like being right in the middle of God’s will, and that is exactly where I feel I am right now.
I have no idea where you are at in your life or in your ministry, but if it is “raining” I encourage you to seek God and find out what is missing. Is it relationships? Are you making things more complicated than they need to be? Are you just too busy? Perhaps you just need confirmation you are heading in the right direction. Whatever it might be, seek God and ask if you don’t know, because I know 100% that He does know and I believe he will tell you if you ask. Just because it might be raining, don’t let it ruin anything.