One of the issues I have always had is wih being misunderstood, I am quite a thick set guy who loves rugby - but i also cry at soppy movies.... go figure.
when I first moved into ministry training the assumption was made that becuase it did not tuck my shirt in, had blood shot eyes permanantly, used to be a welder and i carried my books around in a beer add bag that i was an alcoholic ??? it was far from the truth - i don't even drink, and i had a small sone that I was upto on average twice a night.
Anyway here is a bit of an insight into me - please read it respectfully - it is actualy an excerpt from an email converstaion i have just had
by the way when people say i cannot spell - they are right in that assumption.....
-When I moved into youth ministry after graduating Carey it was not because I felt it was the only position I could get – I was willing to wait for the right call, I choose to go to xxxxxx to gain some more experience – which I did, but also because mission in a New Zealand context was at the forefront of what I considered to be important in my calling, at the time I could only see that being worked out among young people, to quote Tom Sine, “When you see a wave of God’s Spirit moving – Surf it…” That is what I saw happening with the changes in the cultural climate. It happens with young people but it filters down into mainstream society - as it appears to be happening now.
The work among young people I think is an excellent first base for wider church ministry.
I also have demonstrated the ability to grow a church, if you were to chat with XXXXXXX about the growth in the ministry at xxxxx and question him on this I think you would find that the majority of the growth over the last 7 years has come through the youth ministry, this is a ministry that continued to grow after me leaving – and I know there are not many senior pastors who could say that.
I think it happened because I was:
Firstly open to the work of the Spirit and to where He was moving – that for me is an essential factor in ministry – when I say I am a hand in the pocket charismatic it refers only to my approach to worship (singing), and not my work.
Secondly I was able to see the mission possibilities before us (the establishment of a uni student/young adult’s ministry was something that had not happened for a long time in the Church).
Thirdly I put time and energy into learning the skills necessary, setting the direction of the ministry, and bringing people on board with what God was doing – the wave of the Spirit was apparent – but you have to work at surfing you can’t just hop on a wave and expect to surf it.
Fourthly I developed a team of young people who were willing not only to serve but to be used by God also. In my mind the task of leadership is to lead in such away that you can develop others and allow them to lead. I think one of the goals of this approach is that it allows you to then move on and develop other areas- almost an apostolic function. While at xxxxx I knew I had done a good job of that and that the only way to subsequently allow the young people to develop was to step out of their way and begin building another aspect of the ministry. I did approach the eldership with a proposal that I gradually move my responsibility to include the 25 plus age group, while still overseeing the function of the youth ministry. They said no they did not feel it was the right move and that the youth ministry would suffer. But I might point out that it is exactly the shift that has occurred with there new appointments.
Fifthly I was able to bring a whole host of approaches to how I did ministry to develop a bunch of safe, middle class Christians into people who would take a risk for Jesus. I know that many of our larger churches want pastors who can do that – well if I can do it with ‘spoilt’ (not my words but the words that were used in my interview) teenagers I can do that with anyone.
I hope you can appreciate then that me leaving xxxxxx was not an easy move – I love the Church and the people there – and I hope to go back there some time, but the youth ministry had hit a point of growth where there were too many leaders, and I saw needs in the life of the Church that the eldership did not see at the time. I guess I saw the wave coming a little bit earlier than the eldership and xxxx, but I respect and honour them in the decision they made to wait. The art of surfing is about timing and maybe if I had moved across in my role at xxxxxxx it would have been a little too early. I do wish them well in their new appointment and am happy to see what is now happening, they are a great church with a great future.
There is often an assumption that youth pastors are guitar playing maniacs, with very poor theology. I certainly do not and never have fitted into that role, I am first and foremost a pastor with a heart for nurture and care of those that God presents before me, secondly I believe that the Gospel if it is to be proclaimed must cross cultural boundaries –without being lost or cheapened in the process, For me to work with young people was as much about cross cultural mission as pastoral ministry. The same can be said of how I would approach ministry to older people, single parent families, the average Kiwi, and the many immigrants that are part of NZ life, a pastoral heart is required but the tools of cross cultural communication are also needed.