i, epigram
write wide, write deep

a blog of one's own

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

The Youth Pastor Thing: Why I do what I do.

This weekend, someone came up to me and asked me about how I felt about the low attendance number of our teen service during this transition time. We ended up talking a lot about my philosophy of ministry and why I'm doing what I'm doing. What does success look like for me? Let's be honest, of course the numbers thing bugs me, like an opened safety pin that stabs you in one place for a long time. Go back to that question: what does success look like for this youth pastor?

I'd like to take you back with me to last week. Exactly 7 days ago, I woke up in a strange bed in a different country. I didn't have to maneuver through car free day to get to church. I was on vacation on an island in the Aegean. By that point, I have taken about 600 or so photos: of food, ruins, selfies, and attempts to do artsy photography angles. That day, I received one photo that made my entire travel album pale in comparison. At the end of my trip, I had acquired 1,000 photos, but if someone would ask me which one is my favorite, I won't hesitate. Hands down, this photo wins. 

Allow me to express my heart in the form of a photo and a letter. 


Dear teens, 

I received this photo from one of the Kids Church teachers, and upon receiving it, I was a puddle of tears. I tear up every time I see it. I always think about what kind of impact I'd make, what kind of ministry I communicate, what kind of legacy l leave behind. When I think about it, it's never the programs, and it's not the numbers (even though I have to admit that numbers and I have a love-hate relationship). 

You are what my ministry is all about. Giving you the opportunity and the encouragement to love God and others. You matter to me because you matter to God.

You have a lot of things going on: school, social life, hobbies, families, future plans. Often, it's easy (and even understandable) to say you're too busy. Teenage years are some of the most tumultuous years. It's like a battlefield! (Believe it or not, I used to be a teen.)

I see you. Even when life is difficult, you choose to love others. You choose to serve. You choose to follow God's call. You lead worship. You serve at Kids Church. You organize prayer stations. You encourage fellow teens. You practice for hours. You listen to your friends panic on the phone. You pray for your friends. You record announcement videos. You build wells for communities. You pray for your city. You choose to forgive.  

I am honored to be your pastor.  And I love all of you. If anyone asks me how I measure success, I'd show them this photo. It's more than the numbers. It's more than the action. It's who you are and the God you serve. This is what 1 Timothy 4 is all about.

Love hard. Love God. Love others. Live your life for others, live your life pointing others to Christ. 

Always praying for you,

Pastor T.