What I’ve learned

This Sunday will be a milestone for me. This Sunday I will have been on staff at Sewell Mill Baptist Church as Youth Pastor for 2 months. It seems like it was only yesterday that I sent an email to a great friend of mine asking if she could help me with making connections in youth ministry. It feels like I just had my first lunch with another local pastor about his youth ministry followed by lunch after church the following Sunday with my current pastor.

The interview process took weeks on paper. Those weeks seemed like just a few days. In that short amount of time, we got to know and got close to an amazing group of youth. It wasn’t the size that I had been used to at LMBC or PSBC. Those groups were much larger. This group is so much closer. In my years volunteering in youth ministry at LMBC, I wasn’t able to be as close to every kid in the youth group as I am now. In my time at PSBC, I couldn’t possibly have known the name of every youth. Here I not only know their name, but I have met and know each of their parents as well.

In these few weeks, the first 2 months of our youth ministry at SMBC, I have learned a few things. All of these are not new. Some of these I have been told some of these by mentors and other youth pastors. Some of these I have learned on my own in ministry. All are priceless to me in ministry here and where ever God has for us in the future.

In my first 2 months, I have learned….

  • The value of a close group. These youth grew up together. They are as close as family can be and still have different parents. They love and care for each other. The other youth leaders care for these kids like they were their own and these kids look up to them, respect and love them like they are also family.
  • The value of a praying church. SMBC is unlike any other church that I have ever been a part of. They believe in the power of prayer and they put it into action. They have prayed for and over us multiple times and so many people come up to us and tell us that they are praying for us all the time.
  • The definition of a legacy. We went to the AWANA awards program. Some of the leaders here have been there 8, 9, 10, years and more. Some of our youth grew up here and had some of the same leaders that are still in place today. These leaders have poured the better part of their lives into these kids. Some of these kids have gone on, while others are still there but these leaders have planted more seeds than they will ever know. These leaders are the true definition of a legacy.
  • The value of a mentor. I have had a mentor in youth ministry for many years. Shan has become more than a mentor to me. He is a Christian brother who prays for us, advises us, and resources us more than I could ever have imagined. He has become a close friend who I am planning on meeting at SYM in March. Now I have a pastor who is working with me to help me get the Thrive Youth off and running. We discuss plans, curriculum, events and just throw ideas around to see what it sounds like. He is pushing me out of my comfort zone and helping me grow into the youth pastor that God wants me to be.
  • The unmeasurable value of a supporting family. Memorial Day weekend 2012 I had the incredible opportunity to preach to the entire congregation, not just the youth, for the very first time in my life. As Pastor David introduced me, he asked that anyone who was part of my family to please stand up. I almost lost it as I saw 2 entire pews filled up with people there to support me, stand up. Mom and Dad had come over. Stephanie’s family was there. Sam was there. There are no words to describe what I felt in that moment.
  • The power of 3. Yes I said three. Stephanie and I are a team. We are a team in everything that we do. I am the one on staff. I am the one that will get a W-2 at the end of the year but she is in this with me 100%. She is as involved at SMBC as I am. God is the center of our marriage and the captain of our team. I wouldn’t be able to, nor would I want to do this without her or without it being God’s will for our lives.
  • I serve a great God who still answers prayers today. I am so unworthy of the answered prayers in my life. I have an amazing wife, a loving and supporting family, a good job, a great home, a great church family with a “Thriving” ¬†youth group. I am blessed more than I can mention in a simple blog post.

I can’t wait to see what God does from here….

Dear God,

Thank you for these past few months. There have been really high highs and a few really low moments too. You never left us in the valleys and you laughed and celebrated with us during the peaks. Thank you for the people that you have put in my path and help me to never take that for granted. Help me to be the husband, son, brother, youth leader and friend that you have called me to be.

Keith