2 Years In One Community

It's easy to get caught up wondering if you are making any impact in youth ministry. It's even easier when you bounce from church to church. I have now been at my current congregation for 2 years. When I first started in ministry, I would never have imagined myself where I am currently-- Fresno California, 30 students, a traditional ministry setting, focusing on "Christian" families, etc. I imagined myself having a youth ministry of 300 at a contemporary mega-church putting on youth ministry programs that were cutting-edge and had a "wow" factor. Over the years my ideas of youth ministry and church changed. I love my 30 students. I love my traditional ministry setting. I love my "Christian" students. I love my role as a spiritual director in their lives-- forming, shaping, framing, languaging them into being-- converting them into true disciples while they convert me as well. This was highlighted for me over the past few weeks as my high school seniors graduate-- hearing the voices of parents who are deeply appreciative of the time I have invested in their kids, seeing students on the cusp of adulthood beaming with delight as I walk into their backyards for their graduation celebrations.
Somewhere, sometime, ministry became ministry for me instead of programming. I am not sure exactly when it happened. I have always had an angst about me regarding consumer church culture. I was even aware of the slow shift in my life. But as I am typing here, I am deeply aware that at some point I became a pastor to my students and families-- not always great, but always there.
My goal is to be a professor. However, I have less anxiety about getting there as quickly as possible the longer I am in this community of Christ followers. I am enjoying my time among these people. Enjoying even though I am not always sure what I am doing. Enjoying even when I have no idea how to form students. Enjoying even when my students stare back at me with a hazy look. I have been called to be a steward, a guide, a pastor. I think it is this enjoying that has helped me to actually pastor rather than perform. 2 years in one community and many more to come.


  1. Almighty and eternal God, so draw Justin's heart to You, so guide his mind, so fill his imagination, so control his will, that he may be wholly Yours, utterly dedicated unto You; and then use him, we pray You, as You will, and always to Your glory and the welfare of Your youth; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  2. Justin! I love this... you are being used. It has blessed me to know that the Lord brought someone to this ministry at UPC... so much growth has happened and it encourages me so much!

  3. Hey,
    I really enjoy your blog! Thanks for your honest heart and truthfulness, it is refreshing to hear someone be real. Its cool to read about real people who serve Jesus.

    I am a musician, and I would be honored if you would check out my music. All music on my site is free for download. Anyway, don't want to be a pest, I just thought that I'd share.

    "All my music is free."