I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed since you all took a chance on me, a part-time Baptist youth pastor from Pennsylvania. When I see the passion, creativity, and energy with which so many of you serve the Lord it regularly humbles me to be on staff and considered a leader among you.
Five years ago I was hired at ACC and thrown right into the mix, helping Jen Knowles execute Trunk-or-Treat/Harvest Party within my first week in town. I fondly remember driving back and forth 45 minutes from Girard, PA to Andover every day to setup my office, try to get to know the students in Andover, and praying for God to give me grace in a new church, school system, and state. If you’ll pardon the nostalgia, I’d like to share a few things that I have learned since I joined you five years ago.
1. Conventional wisdom doesn’t always work. The number of youth pastors who served before me could easily have been a “red flag” to my coming here. But I can honestly say that I love our church, have felt accepted since day one, and honestly look forward to coming to the office every single day.
2. God leads His church through its leaders. Youth pastors as a group tend to have an “Us vs. Them” mentality and can see other church leaders as opposing their work. Since I have been here, however, it has been enriching getting to serve with Bob and a team of elders that empowers the decisions I make and help me feel supported and helped, even when I (frankly) don’t know what to do.
3. The church is the people (d’uh). When I was interviewing here, I heard legends of people handing the youth pastor cash for events and asking to sponsor kids for camp and trips. Part of me thought, “Yeah…right.” But the generosity of adults of all ages and willingness to pitch in and help (read: Awana, VBS, etc.) has left me encouraged and proud not only of our kids, but our leaders and sponsors, too.
4. It is easier to serve where your family feels loved and supported. I don’t share this often, but I came from a pretty dysfunctional leadership system from my previous church. It left Melissa and I feeling skeptical of being leaders and wondered if we would always feel so lonely and isolated at the “top” of a church. Through meals delivered, texts sent, and hugs given, many of you have shown your support and allowing us to be a non-perfect family has enhanced our trust in the church and community.
Finally, I just want to say thank you to making these last five years a safe landing spot for us and enabled us to live out God’s precious calling on our lives. We love you.