Nearly 10 years ago now, I started down this journey of “blogging.” When I started, I was no writer. Some might say I’m still no writer. At the time, though, I was a complete novice and my writing showed. I had no focus, no direction in what I wrote about. I would often adopt the “voice” of whoever I saw getting popular at the time rather than developing my own. It was an inauspicious start.
As time rolled on, I began to get this whole blogging thing. I slowly focused my writing into the niche that I knew – youth ministry. I developed a voice. I cultivated a small following. At one point I had several thousand hits a month. It actually led to some amazing opportunities. Some of my articles were shared on various sites online, including popular sites such as churchleaders.com, youthministry.com, youthministry360.com, and many more. This even led to other opportunities. I was published in Group Magazine, the leading magazine in the youth ministry world. I wrote curriculum for YouthMinistry360. I say all this not to brag, just to put the next few paragraphs into context.
Then life hit. One kid, two kids, three four five! Moving states and changing jobs. Piano lessons and preschool and soccer. Two jobs at times to make ends meet. Graduate school. Writing, which had turned into a passion of mine, soon became a struggle. Slowly I went from writing 3 or 4 times a week to 3 or 4 times a month or less. I would sometimes sit at my computer and stare at the screen, knowing I wanted to write something but the words would not flow.
Late last year, disaster (relatively speaking) struck. A small billing error – me forgetting to update an expired credit card – and a particularly busy time with the birth of our fifth child led to my hosting site deleting my website and all the many years of my writing. I had backed up some of writing, but not all. Much of it is now gone. For a long while, I was demoralized. I had to rebuild my sites (I have multiple ones) from scratch. I had to repopulate much of what I wrote. It was a daunting task.
As I began to rebuild, I felt a tug that I couldn’t ignore. I am no longer in the same place I was when I started blogging. I am not in full time ministry any longer. I am not a young man any more, but closing in on 40! I have a growing family with one in double digits – rapidly heading for her teens – and a new baby, with lots of other kids in between. I couldn’t see myself writing about the latest messy youth group game or planning the next great lock-in. In my loss, I felt a freedom to change course and write about what is on my heart.
For many years now, I’ve felt a dissonance in my life and ministry. As I briefly touched on, I left full time youth ministry several years back to work with a local foodbank. I am heavily involved in living out Matthew 25 and Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats. I still volunteer with youth ministry. I am also still invested in the youth ministry world as I help other youth workers in various ways. But I feel like youth ministry has lost its way. Too often, youth workers are so concerned with creating logos and planning lock-ins that they’re missing the brokenness of the young people right in front of them. In my life, I’ve seen this dissonance play out because I feel like I’ve lost my way at times too. 21 years ago this summer, I made a commitment to enter full time ministry. I think I am still being faithful to that calling, but its not turned out how I planned. Its been full of twists and turns and bumps and bruises and laughter and tears. I look at my life and wonder if I’ve lost my way a bit, or if I’ve been so caught up in having things my way that I’ve missed the adventure that God has placed me on.
My hope is that this blog will transition into a journey of faith and ministry. I am going to explore the wild trip that God has me on, and how that intersects with ministry – both for myself and for the world at large. I am not leaving youth ministry behind. On the contrary, it is in my DNA. Fellow youth workers are “my tribe.” I simply want to be a help to those in ministry who are searching for “more.” In my own hubris, I hope to be a voice in the wilderness calling for youth ministry to be the agent of change in the Church, to bring us back to the simple calling of the carpenter from Nazareth.
For my friends in ministry, I thank you for your continued investment in the kingdom. I know many of you personally, and know that you share the same the heart that I have. If anything, I hope that I can be an encouragement for you as you continue to fight for the young people entrusted to you. For those who have been my readers for any length of time, I thank you for putting up with me! I sincerely hope that I have said something that has helped you somewhere along the way. And for those who are just now discovering my blog, I make no promises but hope that you see something that challenges or excites you.
Lets see where this adventure leads.