I know that most youth leaders don’t want to be labeled as “great” because the majority are humble people who just want to make a difference. Twenty years ago I moved from a volunteer position in a little church in northern Oklahoma to being a full time youth pastor at Harmony Baptist Church in southeast Oklahoma. I still can’t believe they hired me. My college training was audio production. The only experience I had was running my own business, a multitude of different jobs, and a couple of years of teaching youth Sunday School and ministering to students.
It didn’t take me long to realize that I could not teach Sunday School, Discipleship training time, and our Wednesday night youth group. Thankfully there were some Sunday school teachers in place but I needed one more. So I went on the hunt. I didn’t know much back then and not many books had been written on the topic of building a team, in fact among a large portion of smaller Southern Baptist Churches the youth ministry philosophy was “hire a youth pastor and let him do all the work”.
My strategy was simple. Look for someone already connecting with students. I noticed a couple after church on Sunday mornings standing and talking in the isles with other people. Who were the other people? Middle and high school students. So I put my crosshairs on Greg and Kellie. Soon they were teaching the high school Sunday School. They also slid right into helping on Wednesday nights.
On the job training is where they (and I for that matter) honed their youth ministry skills. I don’t remember ever sitting in and listening to them teach Sunday school. I don’t remember any lessons they taught. I do remember them laughing with students, joking with students, talking with students and hanging out with students. They invested into a small group of teenagers. That is youth ministry!
I remember hanging out with Greg and Kellie, eating meals together both in our homes and out on the town. I remember even fishing and camping with them by the lake in the woods behind our home. (camp close so the ladies can drive up to the house for the facilities) I remember taking a road trip with them to the mountains of Arkansas, and I got us lost a little as we traveled back home. We had great times together as friends.
I love Greg and Kellie for a few reasons. They always were a support and encouragement to me as a youth pastor. They loved students and invested in their lives. They are great friends.
Greg and Kellie were great youth ministers because they were investors, they invested into the lives of students.
Yesterday my friend, Greg, went home to be with the Lord after a year long battle with cancer. Today I’m positive he is worshipping at the feet of Jesus Christ, no more pain, perfect. One day I will get to join him in that worship and we will look around and see the students that he and Kellie invested in worshipping along side of us.
Greg was a great youth minister.
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