As a Youth Pastor I had the privilege of working with some fantastic volunteer leaders. The “staff,” as I called them, often felt more like our small group and/or family. In addition to these great folk, after several years of being a YP, I took on the role of “boss” to paid employees as well. I can only laugh now as I think of how pitiful I must have been in my first few years of leading those whom I was supposed to be grooming as these folk served as “interns.” However, through the years (and many mistakes) I think I learned something about serving with interns (and eventually Apprentices, laughter has turned so joyous smiles.
As my Three-For-Thursday today, I’d like to highlight three (actually 4) of my former employees in the Youth Ministry Church-world.
Nathan Schlaud: Nathan served as my second “Apprentice” at Boulevard Park Church. He moved across the country from Michigan to take this one-year risk of being an Apprentice. It really was a perfect storm, we were working out the kinks of the now second-year Apprenticeship program we had developed (think: “Student Teacher” but for Youth Pastors-to-be) and Nathan had just recently graduated from College with a Youth Min degree but most of the churches he was interviewing with were not giving him the time-of-day because all other candidates were married, more experienced or older. Our church and his personal circumstance, made for a great year. Nathan was a fantastic Apprentice, has become a very good friend and has grown tremendously. He and his wife Megan are doing a great job at Grace Church leading the Jr. High through college-age students as well as handling many “associate” duties at his church. Hard to believe he is now a “seasoned veteran” (28) in Youth Ministry and is really becoming a mentor to younger Youth Pastors now! Proud of you brother!
Brad Hostak: Brad was my first intern at Boulevard Park. Immediately when I arrived (in April) I was told that we would have an intern for the summer. I was then told I would get to choose between two different college-age students who had applied. It just so happened these two were good friends as well. Thanks a lot church! Make me choose between friends!?! I did the smart thing–I made a committee decide instead! Anyway, they chose Brad; honestly, the most “raw” Youth Intern I had worked with yet. Brad loved (still does) people! This foundation, love for God and others, proved to be a wonderful thing to build upon. I don’t say this as a slam at all, but I honestly just didn’t think Brad had what it took to be a Youth Pastor; he was semi-shy, stuttered when speaking in front of groups, was extremely nervous up in front of groups, etc. etc. But, one could never deny is his passion for Christ and students. God did and is doing AMAZING things in Brad’s life. He has shaped him into a great Youth Pastor. Shyness, stuttering and nervousness all gone (okay, maybe some nerves with big crowds still?). He and Sarah serve the Lord and the students so well at River Ridge! I’m honored to have had Brad as an intern!
Wescott and Heather Robinson: Wes was a former student, turned college-age leader, turned intern, turned second year intern. After we had hired him as a second-year intern at First EPC, I asked him if he’d have any issues with us hiring a female intern to work alongside him for the summer. He was semi-hesitant and semi-excited. When asked “how would you handle it if you felt any attraction toward said female intern?” His immediate (emphatic) response: “I’d do nothing about it, I’m here for the students.” Well, he and Heather are now married and have two children. Just so you know, his response “do nothing” was followed by me saying “why not? If you had feelings, I would just want to know about so we could handle the situation appropriately.” It was a great summer with Wescott and Heather; they served so well together (and still do). Wes and Heather are very good friends to the Aabys, we love them and their two daughters a ton! I love seeing Wes grow as a man-of-God, a Pastor and as a Daddy. His passion for the Word is so evident and he loves seeing students (and leaders) transformed by the Spirit! Westwood is blessed to have Wes and Heather!
These four people are just a sampling of those that God has blessed me with as partners in ministry. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to play a small role in their lives as they developed as great leaders of Youth (as well as great leaders to staff, parents and others in their sphere of influence). I am thankful for all the interns and apprentices and the influence they have had on our lives!