It’s not like this was a hard decision. Somebody had to do it. Hah!
Youth ministry is the only thing I have ever felt “called” to do in my life… as if anybody can define how that works! I guess I would explain it this way: It’s the only thing I ever felt gifted or drawn to do with my life.
When I was a young man, these decisions and this journey had clarity and ease. It made sense. I connected with kids and I cared about them. I cared about their dreams and their dramas…their struggles and their playbooks. More than anything, I wanted them to know God, live with an awareness of his presence, and choose to boldly embrace his kingdom.
For years and years, I never wavered in that priority for my life. Even as a husband and a dad. As a pastor. As a teacher. As a counselor. As a friend. As a mentor. Doing youth ministry always made sense to me. It all connected.
But when we moved to Texas years ago to work with kids, I found myself (again) in a situation where I needed to do more than just youth ministry…and for nearly 15 years, I was the youth minister who also preached every Sunday. Man…those were some crazy years!
And something slowly happened.
I’m not necessarily proud of this, but in my nearly 40 years of youth ministry, I never really played very well with adults in the church, even as I slowly became one and ultimately got older than almost all of them. That mess of honesty is for another blog post, btw. I love kids. I love their openness and willingness to be taught and challenged, to take risks, and to follow the words and example of Jesus as if he really mattered.
But over the years here in Texas, two unexpected things happened.
First, I found the church family where I belonged. My closest friends have always known I was a square peg in a round hole. I’m now at home in a square church.
In my head, I suppose I understand why people have chosen to leave my church family over these years…
We’re not big enough, spiritual enough, focused enough, deep enough, conservative enough, relevant enough, friendly enough, visionary enough, missional enough, mature enough, organized enough, committed enough, political enough, serious enough, influential enough. There’s probably more.
For me? Call me Goldilocks… “ahhh, this porridge is just right.”
Second, once I figured out I just needed to treat adults like big kids, I found my sweet spot as senior minister. Look, there’s nobody in my church family who would ever mistakenly refer to me as dignified, but there are many who would call us “friends”. And that’s as it should be.
So the dilemma is born. I love my church family. I love the adults. I love the kids. It’s a great dilemma to have.
Go ahead. Hit the cray button.