A little over six and a half years ago my wife and I graduated from college in Fort Wayne, Indiana and began exploring career and ministry opportunities all over the country. One opportunity that was not on our radar was a middle school pastor position at a mega-church near Dayton, Ohio. But a guy by the name of Ken, who was the student ministry director at that mega-church at the time, reached out to me through a youth ministry database and asked if I'd be interested in the position. One thing led to another, and soon enough we were visiting Ginghamsburg Church for an interview. I was immediately overwhelmed. It was one of the biggest churches I'd ever seen. The Avenue (Ginghamsburg's youth ministry building) was definitely the biggest youth ministry space I'd ever seen. I felt out of place. Ginghamsburg Church seemed beyond me, above me, and out of my league.
I went through the interview process, not expecting much to come of it. A few days later I got a phone call. Ginghamsburg offered me the job. I was floored. I couldn't believe it. I got off the phone, talked it over briefly with my wife, and then we made the decision. I'd been praying that God would open this door, and he did. So we packed up all of our stuff and moved to Ohio to join the staff at Ginghamsburg.
Over the next two years, I served on staff as the middle school pastor. Those were two of the most awesome years of my life. For real, it was amazing. Don't get me wrong, it was difficult. Because working with middle school kids is messy. But it was awesome. I learned so much about ministry, about serving people, about leading people, and about building teams in those two years. I also grew to love working with middle school students. They are so weird, but so funny. I still believe that middle school ministry is arguably the most important ministry in the life of the church because this is the age that most people stop simply believing what their parents have always told them and start making their own decisions about their faith.
So I was two years in, loving my role as a middle school pastor when another opportunity came up that wasn't on my radar. Our student ministry director, Ken, and our high school pastor, Nick, were both transitioning into other roles at Ginghamsburg. The leadership team at Ginghamsburg decided to restructure those two roles into one role: student ministry director/high school pastor. My name was tossed in the hat as a potential candidate for the job. Once again it seemed beyond me, above me, and out of my league. But I decided to explore the possibility along with the leadership team. Again, I didn't expect anything to come of it, and again I was surprised. When I was offered the role I talked it over with my wife and made the decision to accept it.
Over the next several years I served as the student ministry director and high school pastor. And once again, it was a blast. I absolutely loved my experience in this big, challenging, and exciting role. Again, it was not easy. This is by far the most difficult position I've ever held. But it was so awesome. I had the opportunity to grow up with my students. I got to see kids go from awkward, smelly middle schoolers to mature, wise, and responsible adults. I had the privilege of being a part of so many milestones, both spiritual and personal, for hundreds of students and families over the years. It's truly been an incredible experience.
And that brings us to where we are now. If you are just now hearing about all of this, let me catch you up to speed. Several months ago I felt a call on my life to step out of my role at Ginghamsburg and plant a new church. I'll be blogging more about this new church plant in the future, but I want to keep this post focused on my time at Ginghamsburg. Let me tell you, leaving Ginghamsburg is the hardest thing I've ever done. But I knew that God was calling me and my family to this next step, and I wanted to be faithful to his call.
Ginghamsburg, you have taught me so much. You've given me so much. You've been such a blessing to me and my family. It hasn't always been easy, but it has been a true joy to be a part of what God is doing in this amazing church. So I want to finish this post with some thank you's.
To all of the leaders who have served with me over the years, thank you. You all are the heartbeat of the student ministry. I would have accomplished nothing without you. You have been so good to me, to my family, and to the students and their families. You are smarter than me, you know more than me, yet you have been gracious enough to trust me and follow my lead. Your commitment and faithfulness to the students is astounding. My prayer for you is that you would know the eternal impact you are making and that you would keep up the good work!
To the students I've had the honor of serving, thank you. You have been such a blessing to me. You have taught more than I could have ever taught you. My life and my family's lives will be forever impacted by each one of you. You've proven to me that anyone can change the world, can make a difference, and can share the love and truth of Jesus in a way that changes lives, no matter how young you are. My prayer for you is that you would pursue Jesus with everything you have!
To all of the parents that I've had the privilege of partnering with over the years, thank you. Thank you for trusting me with your students. Thank you for partnering with me to help them grow in their faith. Thank you for supporting me and the student ministry in so many countless ways. I have always said that the students at Ginghamsburg aren't like most kids, even church kids. They are incredible. They are inspiring. They are deeply committed followers of Jesus. And that is because of you. As the parent, you are the primary spiritual leader in their life. So thank you for raising some unbelievable young men and women of God. My prayer for you is that you would continue to see the fruit of your labor!
To the staff and leadership team at Ginghamsburg, thank you. It has been such a gift to serve with each of you over the last six and half years. I am so grateful that I was able to be a small part of the huge story God is telling through Ginghamsburg Church. You have taught me so much, and you will always have a special place in my life. My prayer for you is that you would continue to follow Jesus and change the world!
To the student ministry staff team, past and present, you get a special shout out. For real, thank you. You all are the bomb. It's been such a blast to serve with you. Thanks for putting up with me. I love you all a ton. My prayer for you is that you would have an even greater impact on the lives of students in the future than we've had in the past! Also, I pray that some of you would be able to win a ping pong game now that I'm gone.
Finally, to the church at Ginghamsburg, thank you. Thanks for taking a risk on a young guy like me who felt like you were out my league. Thanks for showing me that God can use anyone who is willing to make a difference in his kingdom. You have changed my life. You have shown me what a church can be and what a church can do when you take the good news of Jesus seriously. I love you all. My prayer for you is also that your future would be brighter than your past, that you would have an even greater impact on the world in the years to come than you've had to this point.
That's all I've got for now. Thank you Ginghamsburg Church. I love you all.