Today marks one month. One month since beginning the new call to serve students at Hickory Church. I wanted to take a few minutes and share some thoughts about our call and our time here at the church.
First, I thank God for His faithfulness. We left youth ministry in 2012 to become part of church plant in Western, PA. The four years that followed were four years of lessons, ego breaking, and faith. I grew to love the people and the church we were called to serve, however, by the end of the third year, we sensed a stirring. God used that time to draw me closer to him, and break me in areas that He knew I needed to be broken. From that came a deeper love for God and stronger desire to serve Him. But the call would change.
God had reawakened my passion for student ministry. And while I loved the church, I knew it was better for them and for me, that I leave and seek where God was leading. In His perfect timing, that new call was here at Hickory Church.
As I sit here, at the one month mark, I can't help but think about how quickly we have found a home here. It's been a crazy month. I jumped in on September 1st, just as everything was starting up; youth group, Sunday school, regular worship times, and with one of the biggest ministries the church sponsors only days away. Some have described it as a fire hose to the face, but I would say, it was God's blessing made real.
My heart is, and has always been for students. It's why I have spent my adult life pursuing the work of student ministry! While the first week was one that came with a flood of information and names and faces, it was week two that I knew I was where I was meant to be.
Week 2 was the week I stepped into the position of director and led the first two sessions of youth group, first on Tuesday with the High School students then on Wednesday with the Jr. High students. By Wednesday night, God clearly confirmed His call. I was back, doing what I was created to do, and I was loving every minute of it!
It might sound a little hokey, but I truly believe that wired into our DNA is a calling unique to the way God has created us. And for those who tap into that wiring, out flows a surge of delight and joy that few experiences could ever reproduce. That Wednesday night, I felt the surge!
The weeks that have followed have been busy and fast paced. I continued to meet new people and learned about the church. Then I saw one of the coolest outreach ministries I have ever seen. And as I sit here at my desk this morning, with the office quiet because it's so stinken' early and no one else is here, I marvel at the goodness of God.
The people of Hickory have been nothing but gracious, loving, and welcoming. During my first week, a sweet couple came to my office just to lay hands on me and pray for me as I begin my ministry! Who does that? The people of God, that's who! Never, have I ever experienced that before. It was a moment that I will never forget.
Over and over we heard how people were praying for us, long before we were ever hired.
Time and time again, we were asked how others could help and come along side of us.
The joy and the love was overwhelming.
They say that there is a honeymoon period when you're the new guy. It's that time where you can do no wrong because you're "learning the ropes." An extra amount of grace is shown as you get your feet on the ground. But is that really true? Is there a honeymoon period? Perhaps. But I am hoping for something more.
You see, while I believe it's wired into our DNA, a calling that is uniquely ours, I also believe that wired into the DNA of the church is call of it's own. I think we see that call in Acts 2, verse 42 through 47, and again in Act 4, verse 32 through 35. To be completely devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ. To worship God the Father passionately. To remember Christ's sacrifice for His people through the breaking of bread. To do life with other believers. To be of one heart and one mind. To have everything in common. To give freely and generously to those in need. And to love one another unconditionally. In these two portions of scripture we see the very things that the church is called to do. And I believe that THAT is what I am seeing here among the people of Hickory Church.
As I think about my new ministry here at Hickory, I am reminded of two things. First, this is God's church, His people, assembled in this place to do the work He has called them to do for this season in HIStory. My job is not to fix or change or to modify in any way. Instead, I am to love and serve faithfully, watching for where God is at work, then joining Him and others in those moments.
Second, I don't have to be the hero. I don't have to be someone aside from who I am. The church has a hero, it's the Lord, Jesus Christ. He's the one who bore the sin and shame of His people and saved us from the muck and the mire of our failings. I simply need to be me. And I can be me, because God has already equipped me for the work that He has called me to. So the pressure is off. No need to live for the honeymoon period. No need to stress about whether or not I will succeed of fail. All of that has already been written by the Author and Creator of Life.
One month complete. Tomorrow, October 1, 2015 begins month two. What will I do differently? Nothing, except to continue to be me, to chase after the God who loves me, and live in the knowledge of His amazing grace that has freed me.
God is good all the time. And all the time, God is good!
One week ago I started my new call as youth director. I moved my books into my office. I unpacked. I rearranged the furnisher. I met a ton of people. I also participated in 3 youth events; Tuesday night Sr. High, Wednesday night Jr. High, and a Friday night 5th Quarter for both Jr. and Sr. High following Friday's first home football game.
But I loved every minute of it!
It was a totally crazy week of new faces, new procedures, new leadership, and new experiences. We went from 0 to 160 in the matter of a couple of hours. And while I might have been given some grace had I opt'd out of one or two of the activities, I don't think I would have wanted it any other way. It really was an amazing week.
Let me take a minute to bring you up to speed.
If you haven't been following the blog or my social media; on Saturday, August 29th, I accepted the position of youth director at a church located here in Western PA. The church is a Presbyterian Church (EPC) that sits about 30 to 40 minutes southwest of Pittsburgh, way out on what many would call the 'country'.
It's not a super mega church, and yet, it is doing great things in it's community and in serving others. There's a familiarity with this church. It's welcoming, loving, and ready to change the world. The congregation has been so kind and gracious, offering all sorts of help as we prepare to move into the community.
It wasn't an easy decision. It came with much prayer and conversation, but we believe it was the right decision for us and our family. And while it's always hard to leave one ministry for another, we truly believe this is where God is calling us.
It has been a whirlwind of a week, but God has been so faithful. We continue to see His hand in our decision to move back into student ministry. We have prayed that God would show Himself to our family, and He hasn't let us down.
This morning as I type this up, there is so much to do, both here at the office and at home. But as I look back to last week, I know God will pour out His blessings again this week.
There's so much more I want to write about and share. From why we are back in youth ministry to why we are here in this church, and what God has done specifically in the lives of our kids. But these topics we will share in the days to come.