Thursday, January 28, 2010


I am a student minister. Sure I work at Bagby Elevator as a Parts Monkey. This is not the official title. It's something like Purchasing Agent. I like to think of myself as Assistant Purchasing Manager but it is more like Assistant to the Purchasing Manager. It is a great place to work. At least once a day there is a discussion about God and church and Jesus. This is cool. But the title I take most pride in is Student Minister.

More specifically Student Minister @ Westwood Baptist Church in Forestdale, AL. I have been on the job for three years now. This position is far different from the last time at SonRise Church in Woodstock, AL. Woodstock was a rural area and the students under my care there were rural. I would go mud riding in of the students Bronco. This was fun. They were rural kids with rural concerns. Most went to the same school and I was in a position at that time to be involved in the schools. This was an amazing time in my life.

The students at Westwood are scattered throughout 3 different high schools, 2 Christian schools and one large public one. They are divided by economics, interests, sexuality, church kids and kids that haven't really been involved in church. I sometimes feel the challenge is too much for me.

This past weekend we did a Winter Retreat @ Camp Worldsong in Cook Springs. Schedule wise it was typical me. As in not much of a schedule. We had worship and speaking. For me the success of this retreat hinged on Story Time which was after the sessions and the free time throughout. I am a fan of free time. Free time is where students grow closer or further apart. Story Time was about telling your story as it related to God. On Saturday night Story Time was magical. Many shared their stories while all of the students tried to encourage each other by telling what impact they had.

Student ministry is magical. It has all the ups and downs of pastoring minus all the masks adults tend to wear in church. There is a lot less pretense with a lot of drama added in. At this retreat I watched these students bond in ways that are near impossible for adults. We have built strong sturdy walls around our hearts that are supposed to keep them safe. In truth the only things these walls do is suffocate the magic. When all of the students were gathered in the main room watching "UP" I leaned over to Kara and asked her to look at the students on the other side of the room. "They're beautiful aren't they?"

And I meant it. They were oblivious of the fact that this time of their lives is marching on to its end methodically. They don't know that this can't last forever. I try to open my eyes to the beauty around all of these students. It makes me sad because I know I didn't appreciate those friends I had when I was a teenager. To loosely quote Stephen King from "The Body", "I have never had friends like I had when I was (a teenager). Jesus, does anyone?"

This retreat recharged some batteries I didn't realize were in danger of dying. But God moved unexpectedly Saturday night. Surprisingly even. I can only hope those people in that room can fan the small fire. I can only pray that I am up to the task of keeping that fire going without burning out.

But more importantly (for me at least) I really loved what I was doing. I loved what I was witnessing. Are we about to experience the next Great Awakening? Maybe. But probably not. I just know a flame ignited in my soul I was afraid was gong to die out.

They were beautiful.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I really do like those students better than my own kids! Maybe I shouldn't say that, but there is something that I love about being a part of a youth's life and helping them find where their path meets with God's. When a lightbulb comes on and you can tell that they will take that God-knowledge with them forever. That's what I'm talkin' about!

Chris Barnette said...

Good stuff dude! We are very blessed at Westwood to have you leading our youth...

Jamie said...

I'm a bit behind on reading blogs I like. Yes, that includes yours. This was great! However, I am kinda fond of my friends now, moreso than high school. They were good, but not for the long haul.