I’m the old youth pastor in town. That’s a fact I’ve come to face, and a role that I embrace. I’ve been a youth pastor since my college days at good ol’ Hill Street Baptist Church (Hello Toccoa, GA!) in 1988-89. I’ve been the youth pastor for most of my 17 years here at Calvary, and I’ve seen some really good youth pastor friends pack the moving van and head for other locales. I’ve also had the privilege of welcoming loads (seriously–they’d fill a small bus) of new and aspiring youth pastors to our fair town.
Today was a welcome mat day. The Assembly of God hired a young man not too long ago to be their youth pastor. David Culbertson and his wife have moved in and are getting settled. We grabbed a bite to eat today and swapped stories about our growing up, the ways that God has shaped our hearts, and what we are praying about as it relates to the teenagers in our town.
My motivation for trying to meet with all the youth workers in town is a bit bigger than my love for wings and welcoming newbies. I want to get all of us on the same page, at least as far as cooperation and partnering and unity goes. I believe that it’s vital that the Church (big C meaning more than just our little congregations) work together. God calls us to be unified, and promises to bless our unity.
There’s lots of division in the air these days. I want to remind us about the things we have in common, the CORE of our beliefs as followers of Jesus, and the centrality of our mission to share the good news–the HOPE of REDEMPTION–with the folks in our town.
This message has been at the heart of my pastor’s call to our town for the past 21 years, and it’ll be our priority until they drag us out of this town. From Psalm 133 to John 17 (esp vv 20-24), it’s clear to us that God blesses unity, and we want to be right smack in the middle of what God’s doing.
So the first Wednesday of every month I’ll be found wherever the youth groups are gathering for worship and prayer. As the old guy, I’ll likely be hanging out in the back, looking for the new youth pastors, watching to see who’s connecting, who needs a word of encouragement, and who’s emerging as a leader here among us. I love being the old guy in youth ministry!