5 years and counting…

I think five years of anything in particular can prompt a bit of a reflection. June 1st of 2006, I was officially hired by Moundford Free Methodist Church in Decatur, IL. Sarah and I had spent over a year in Decatur, waiting on God, believing He had called us here. Not only to be near family, but to be deeply involved in a ministry that held family in high regard.

Spending some time in prayer this morning, the picture above seemed to capture exactly what I wanted to convey. I feel as if the sun has only begun to rise on what God has for us here. It’s hard to express just how thankful I am for where we are, and the ministry we’re enabled to live out. The relationships we’ve built, and continue to build on.

Family has definitely been a focus of our life and ministry ever since coming to Moundford. After all, for most of our tenure so far, we’ve added a child every year or so to our own. We began here with no kids, and now our home contains so much cuteness that we should probably charge admission. It’s a tremendous blessing to have a church that acknowledges the sacrifices of having a youth pastor at my stage in life. They could have a younger, “pre-child”-stage youth pastor with unlimited time and resources to give. They could have an older, “grown-child” stage youth pastor, who can pack up the kids or leave them at home and knows how to navigate parenting with professional life. Instead they’ve been enduring a youth pastor who is still learning how to balance a hugely demanding family role with a job that he never clocks out of.

I like to believe my family is a HUGE part of my life as a minister. It seems my church family agrees. We continue to experience God’s “Yes!” to this path of raising a family and ministering among the people of the greater Decatur area.

There’s another side to this coin. I’m almost 30, and there’s that overly-quoted statistic about the short tenures of most youth pastors. Any youth pastor with a balding spot gets asked, “so when do you think you’ll become a senior pastor?” My response, this morning at least, would be something like:

I get to preach often. Sometimes to the whole congregation. I get to lead worship on occasion. I get to teach/discuss/study scripture. I get to visit people in the hospital, and pray with people in their homes. I carry a burden for our church’s needs in a way that drives me to prayer as one of their pastors. I also have a special love for the youth, and this stage of life that is so ridiculously fluid and foundational. I get to focus much of my energy/efforts towards calling these young adults and their families to the revelation/transformation of Jesus Christ and His Spirit. I get to help feed the hungry. I get to minister in a city that is marginalized, and actively working to reach out to the marginalized…in a congregation that is increasingly globally-burdened and active. I am in the midst of God freeing captives, bringing redemption, and giving New Life. And that’s an abbreviated list.

I think this is a pretty good place to be. And we have only begun…

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