If the only person you’re developing spiritually and in leadership is yourself, you’re not doing anyone any favors. You have to understand that you can and will eventually be replaced, and when you grasp that idea, developing someone who can do that just makes sense. It’s a scary idea to me, because I have trained people before in ministry, as God has directed me, and then God moved me along shortly after. So when God put it on my heart to start developing someone again, I laughed. I actually laughed out loud as I was praying and listening to God, because I thought, “Here we go again.” But I don’t think I’m going anywhere for a long time, especially since God gave me a unique, young guy who doesn’t want my specific job anymore than I want to give my job up.
This is Chris Johnson. Yes, he is related to my boss, but no, that’s not how he got this. How did Chris come to be the Student Ministry Intern? Well, he has been serving as a youth leader since my second Sunday in charge. On my first Sunday, I sat next to him on a hayride and asked what grade he was in. He gets this a lot, and from I can tell, it’s not his favorite question to answer. He informed me that he had graduated over a year ago, so I asked why he and his friend Brandon were there. “We’re just hanging out.” I let them both know that they would not be, as high school graduates, coming to YG to hang out. As adults, they could come and be involved, or they could stay home. Either way was fine. They both chose to be involved.
Chris has been serving as a middle school small group leader ever since that time. I can probably count the number of times he has missed youth group since then on one hand, and he’s never just no-showed. He comes early, talks to the middle school students, gets involved in everything. He’s just excited about youth ministry. Two years ago, he taught one time. He was nervous and a little shaky, but he wanted to teach, and I let him. He didn’t ask again, though. Earlier this year, I had been praying about who I could get to teach, and I talked to him. I asked him if he was willing to start teaching more, and he was. That’s also when he told me that he was actually praying about going into youth ministry. He hadn’t decided yet, but now he has, and he’ll be attending Grace Bible College this fall to pursue that. I’m so pumped for him.
So as he has been faithful in youth ministry for two and half years, and he is going into youth ministry, I asked if he wanted to meet regularly to discuss ministry. He could ask whatever he wanted, and I would also share lessons with him that I have learned along the way. He jumped at the idea. Then I went and talked to his dad – my boss – about taking him on as an unpaid intern (unpaid because we cannot afford to pay him, not because he isn’t great). It had to go to the elder board, which should help to eliminate any accusations of nepotism. They agreed to the idea of training a young leader who is pursuing ministry, and we took him on. The goal is that he will be the Student Ministry Intern for one year and transition into a new role. After one year, I would mostly let go of the reins and have him run the middle school for me. Why? Because the real goal is that when he gets done here, he would be able to take a youth ministry job at any church and be fully prepared to lead.
So what exactly will he be doing? Well, this post is long enough. You can ask him, or you can wait till the next post.