For the last 22 years of my life, I’ve had the title “Full Time Youth Pastor” somewhere in my description of my story. Even before God officially gave me the tile “husband”, I was invited into the role of “Youth Pastor”. It was Easter of 1994 when I first stepped in to the ring and began pouring my life and leadership into teens in the hopes that they would find and follow Jesus for a lifetime. The seeds of that calling started in my own years as a freshman in high school and eventually found it’s way into a youth ministry calling at a summer camp where I was interning as a college student. Then, a summer water ski trip speaking engagement for a youth ministry on Bullard’s Bar Reservoir eventually turned into a job offer that lead me to start at 22 years old what became a life-long love of teens and the ride of a lifetime.
Seriously, it’s BEEN A RIDE. I’ve got a heart and hard-drive filled to overflowing with memories and countless stories! Wonderful, crazy, hard, horrible, life-changing, gut wrenching, over-the-top Awesome, laugh till I cried, you won’t believe what just happened, and Jesus only kinda life change moments. I will NEVER forget God’s gracious gift of a calling as youth pastor. Thank you Jesus! What a blessing beyond words this season of my story has been.
To that end, Powerhouse and Encounter both each shared 11 years of my story and will forever be branded on my soul as a couple of the greatest risks and faith steps I’ve ever taken. To those of you who have blessed me by attending youth group, diving into small groups, going on retreats, traveling the world, serving along side me as leaders, pouring your heart and soul and time and money and blood and sweat into this thing we call youth ministry… I’m forever indebted to you. I count so many of you dear friends. Seriously. Indebted.
I’m also keenly aware that while my official role as “youth pastor” has come to an end it seems, my role as pastor to teens is far from over. My two youngest kids turn 13 on Friday, meaning we will now have 5 teenagers in our home this year! In addition, I still have 2017/18 school year ahead of us where we’ll have a senior, a sophomore, and 2 freshman in our home. So in a lot of ways, my youth ministry dad days are truly alive and well.
But that said, through a lot of prayer, counsel, and leading of the Holy Spirit, it’s become clear that God has called me to influence teens from a new vantage point in a church plant/merger of sorts at a church in La Jolla, called Torrey Pines Church. As the Executive/Teaching pastor, I’ll be joining a team and teaching in our services, investing in our staff (including the youth and kids), leading in change, and helping to create a vibrant and healthy faith community.
I first became aware of the needs of this faith community back in November of 2015 when a dying church in La Jolla approached several larger churches in San Diego to see if they would be interested in “merging” with them to bring health, vision, and vitality back to their campus. As I began to meet with their team and listened to their story, I felt my heart expand and wanted from day 1 to see if I could be of some help to them. As a result, I threw my name into a “pastor search” hat where it’s been sitting in some capacity for the last 6 months. Along the way, that dying church eventually decided to merge with another campus of a church called East Lake and became what is now “Torrey Pines Church”. The more I learned about this new church, the more it became clear that East Lake- and now Torrey Pines Church- shared a similar mission, vision, and even some DNA to Journey where I had been serving for over a decade at the time.
So one conversation led to another to another to another and I found myself following Jesus as he led me right out of my comfort zone yet again. He did it when he called me to youth ministry. He did it in marriage. He did it in parenting and adoption. He did it when I moved my family to San Diego and he has again called me out into deeper water of unknown ministry territory where I’m forced to rely on God more than anyone and anything else.
FOLLOWING JESUS FOR REALS:
One of the first verses I memorized as a follower of Jesus was Mark 8:34. Jesus told his band of disciples that, “If anyone wants to come after me, he must take up his cross, deny himself, and follow me.” When we decide to take Jesus up on living a story like that, my experience says we’re signing up for the ride of a lifetime. A ride filled with great joy, sadness, zeal, energy, potential, and fear all rolled up in this thing called “Following Jesus”. But my experience also says, it’ll be the best decision I’ve ever made.
So I’ve pushed all my poker chips in to the center of the table and I’m banking on Jesus again. As I step into a new role with new people, new problems, tons of new potential, and about a billion unknowns, I’m trying to remind myself and the teens I’ve done life with for decades, that I’m still in this… I’m choosing to fully follow Jesus as best I can. For reals.
Let’s do this!
So if you’re still reading.. here’s some details you might be wondering:
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
MOVING? yes and no. Moving churches and jobs but not our home. I mean really, do you know the price of homes in La Jolla? Ha ha. Anyway, we’ll be commuting the 1/2 hour or so there and our kids will stay where they are in school, on the same soccer teams, and even maintain many of their current friendships while we all leap into new ones together as well.
WHEN DO I START? I start doing a baton pass of sorts on June 1 at JCC. I have a final weekend on Sunday, June 5 and then I move over to Torrey Pines on Sunday, June 12. At Journey, I’m still helping run high school summer camp, a kids camp called “Summer Fun Camp”, and a Haiti Missions trip as a youth pastor for Journey where my two high school sons will be joining me too. So I guess technically, I’m still doing this thing in some capacity until August 9, and then my role changes officially to 100% Torrey Pines focus.
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT ENCOUNTER? It will continue to be awesome. There are great students, great leaders, and great changes ahead. Most of those changes come at the same time that I’m transitioning by coincidence really- cuz we’ve been praying and planning all school year to do this stuff and most of my job change has only become reality in the last 2 weeks. Anyway… I truly believe the best days are ahead for Encounter.
- We have a wonderful summer planned including summer camp which you should totally go to if you’re in high school.
- On Sundays, we’re moving to an 11am only service starting Sunday July 3, 2016. This change will allow us to build community in one service, consolidate our efforts, create momentum, and increase our opportunity to connect with God and one another in a single service instead of being split into two smaller settings.
- We’ll also be starting a few new initiatives on Wed night as well in the fall, beginning Wednesday, August 31st. We’ll still have dinner and some space to hang out from 6:30 to 6:55Pm. But then starting at 6:55pm we’ll be gathering as a large group in Encounter for some fun, some worship, and a teaching. Then we’ll have life groups all over campus that will be a chance to talk through and apply the teaching with some peers and mentors. We’ll be done at 8:35pm. Seriously… what a GREAT season of ministry lies ahead for Encounter.
Ok.. I think that’s all for now. Serving Jesus and His Kingdom as best I know how,