I like to tell people that I'm not afraid of change. In fact, I have 3 Toonies, 8 quarters, and two dimes in my pocket and it doesn't even bother me. In all seriousness though change can be a scary thing, especially when it involves a huge chunk of your life. However when change happens in the context of a loving and supportive family the fear melts away very quickly, and in my case it has been replaced with excitement for the future.
NKMB became my church home the very first day I visited. A handshake at the door and an immediate introduction to others my age who intentionally took me in to their inner circle of friends meant that NKMB became not only my church, but my family in Christ. It was a family who graciously allowed me to grow into a worship leader over many years while forgiving my faults along the way (including that false assumption when I was young that every song and hymn needed to be done with three power chords and full distortion). It was a family who through individuals and as a church whole provided me a solid financial platform as a support raising urban missionary more so than many in my organization who had grown up in church and had all the lifelong connections I did not have. It was a family who, at what I realize was just the right time, called me into pastoral ministry and who had discipled me along the way to that point so that the transition was about as smooth as one can really experience.
As a pastoral team, a family in itself in many ways, I am so thankful for the way we have supported each other in ministry and for the strong friendships we have. With that support and friendship has come the ability to work together and share each others burdens in ministry. I don't take for granted the fact that this is not always the case in church work and I am thankful everyday for it. In sharing our lives with each other has also come a hugely important thing: the trust to speak into each others lives and the trust that we are working together for a common goal and never in competition. For the last few months this trust and care has led our team to discuss how we can all grow in serving our church family with excellence, and it has allowed us to dream of how we can each grow personally in our mission and leadership.
Relating to youth has been something God has graciously gifted in since I was 16 years old and first started volunteering my time at a drop in centre visited by mainly at risk young people. In my 14 years with Camp Cedarwood I had the privilege to not only learn and grow in my position as a mentor, but to watch others raise up and eventually do my job better than I ever did. I actually consider that an ultimate success of leadership - work yourself out of a job. When I made the decision to leave vocational youth work behind in my call to serve as pastor of worship and small groups, I feel blessed that I was still able to keep some sense of involvement with the youth, mostly related to worship (mentoring youth night worship team, leading worship for elementary students monthly, etc), but I actually thought that my time as an official youth person was over. It wasn't a desire for that to be the case, but I was at peace with the fact that it was where God had taken me. Then... well then came the call to consider moving back into youth ministry. Besides logistics that had to be worked out I felt an incredible peace from the very beginning about the concept, and these last few weeks of the transition being official have brought me much joy along with the craziness of a new schedule and new expectations. While continuing to shepherd the worship ministry at NKMB, I am now as well the Pastor of Junior High ministries. Making music and mentoring young people - the two things that bring me the greatest joy.... how awesome is that?
There is much for me to learn once again and much for me to remember as well, but my philosophy of ministry remains simple. Love. Love the students, love the leaders, love the church, and above all love God. I'm sure not perfect at it and I certainly pray that God will enable me to grow in love and in ability, but I'm sure excited for adventure that lies ahead.