Most days of the week, I am not a Youth Pastor. Some days I am a receptionist and a community welfare worker. Other days I am a designer and a serial coffee drinker but by career or even personal definition, I am not a Youth Pastor (also who am I kidding, I am a serial coffee drinker everyday).
Yet more and more, the youth ministry that I serve is capturing my heart. Two years ago, our youth pastors moved on and showed us all what following God meant and that sometimes it means breaking your heart in the pursuit of His. And then there were five. Five amazing youth leaders and two Corps Officers (senior pastors) who kept the ball rolling. It was different–our kids noticed and were missing what once was immensely, but God was faithful and twenty twelve was a year of laughter and events and us working out what in the world running a youth group looked like.
And then there were two. Two tired and grieving youth leaders (and those same two amazing Corps Officers) who were left standing. Life had moved others on, as life tends to do, and we were faced with the task of deciding what twenty-thirteen would be. Our capacity was so small in comparison to years gone by, but on we kept. Events were monthly, we linked in with another amazing youth ministry (of whom I am so grateful for. There are no words big enough to say thank you to them. They kept us going, supported myself and my best friend/dynamic youth leader partner in life and ministry and gave our kids everything we could not. I think for the first time they (our youth) realised they were apart of something so much bigger than themselves and the felt like the belonged, both in their local ministry and the wider Salvation Army family), and we simply did what we could. And if I was honest, I look back on twenty thirteen and my heart breaks for my youth ministry and the teenagers it serves, who didn’t get all they deserved. They deserved discipleship, and to be challenged and loved and supported and to have life done with them weekly and while we did the best we could, I will always be sad of the things we had to let go because while it was healthy and completely understandable, it also came at a price.
And soon there will be three (and again, shout out to those amazing CO’s). While twenty thirteen was a wilderness year, twenty fourteen already feels like a year of of new beginnings. I pray that faithfully and expectantly, and I know that if we give God the best of what we have He will show up and do the rest. And I am so excited. We don’t know what it is going to look like but soon planning will begin and we will start again. God is a God who makes a way, who does new things, who is forever faithful and who always champions that the best is yet to come. An amazing leader I know recently told us a story of her family and one quote she said will stick with me forever: “you can come here…and we will love you”. At the end of the day, for me, that’s what it is all about. If we get that, everything will fall into place. The weekly events, the bible studies, the discipleship, the ministry–it all comes down to love.
I am not a Youth Pastor, by career or personal definition. I don’t have any qualifications and most days the road ahead looks like a mountain that we only sort of know how to climb. But climb it we will. We have goals, dreams and prayers for this youth ministry that are so big I know we cannot do it alone. There are goals that are two, three, five, ten years long and while I may not be around to see them unfold, I am so humbled that for such a time as this God wants to use me to be apart of this thing called youth ministry. And may the best always be yet to come.