In North Texas we live without getting to experience four separate, clearly defined seasons every year, or most any year for that matter. Being born and raised here, I’ve spent most of my life wishing I could experience at least a taste of a real winter. I’m told I would get my fair share of shoveling snow then be on the next plane for the south again. Maybe so, but I’ve always wanted to try it for a couple of months.
After 24 years in church ministry, I have had the privilege of experiencing some other types of seasons. There have been very distinct seasons of ministry. Regardless of the denomination, I suspect it’s a similar occurrence. Many ministers begin by helping out somewhere in the church as a volunteer. It could be as a door greeter, running sound & lights, preparing meals, or helping in a class for young children. A good church will have plenty of options for getting people involved in serving.
When a person makes the move to full-time church ministry, the start often comes in the area of Children’s Ministry. Next is sometimes a move to Teen Ministry, then adult ministries and finally a position serving as the lead pastor for a church. My story follows that timeline exactly. I volunteered in my local church as a young person, then attended bible college after high school. My full-time ministry jobs were Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, Adult Ministries, and I’ve been serving as a Lead Pastor for the last several years.
Each season of ministry has had its own level of satisfaction, joy, and fulfillment. Little children, teenagers, and adults all express their faith and their love for church leaders in very distinct ways. Just the other day, someone took me out for lunch. As a lead pastor, ministering to the church as a whole, those things happen from time to time as a member wants to show some appreciation. As expected, when I served as the Children’s Ministry Pastor, expressions of love were much different. There were tons of homemade cards and lots of hugs with sweet little “I love you’s” from precious children. If you’ve worked with teenagers, you know it’s a totally different story. Somehow they’ve heard it’s uncool to let people know that you care about them. You know, the teenage years are just different all the way around.
To be clear, serving God in local church ministry and pastoring is not about how much love you get from those you lead. Not at all! I share those stories simply to note the different stages of church ministry. There are many other distinctions I could mention. With children you might have to wipe some snotty noses. Teenagers might need a ride to or from football or volleyball practice, which would almost always require a stop by Sonic. Adults often need someone to talk to, help with their children, and more formal counseling from time to time.
Today, as a lead pastor in the church, I have seen a new area of ministry that has developed very naturally and organically. As our own kids have grown into adults, Kym & I have seen an influx of young adults at our house and subsequently at our church services. It really has kinda come out of left field. With our own kids grown and not being around as much, we were having to adjust to the house being more empty. If you’ve been there before, you know it can be a real transition when you aren’t necessarily needed the same as you were as parents. It has been a Godsend, and we are very thankful for these men and women.
In a world full of people who often look down on young people and give each generation a new title to define them, it’s a true joy to be able to speak truth and encouragement into their lives. The Bible says,
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
Kym and I work daily alongside these young adults to help them see that verse through in their lives. There are very real ups and downs, but the ride is a breath of fresh air.
In the midst of us trying to lead them, they joined our own kids and combined their efforts to send us on a trip. Kym & I are celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary this year, and we were given a surprise trip this Christmas. It was such a nice blessing, and we were both blown away!
I wanted to include a heartfelt THANK YOU to all those who had a part! We love you all, and are looking forward to what God has in store for us in the future.