A little over a year ago I attended the first Open Seattle event put on by The Youth Cartel, and listened as a panel held an open (hehe) discussion about ministering to LGBT youth. At one point during the discussion a question was asked from the audience about whether or not we should have LGBT adults on our leadership team. One of the panelists answered in the affirmative, and her answer really stuck with me. Not so much because I’ve had to wrestle with the idea of having a gay leader, but because I found a ton of wisdom in her answer that extended far beyond sexuality. She answered,
“I would have a gay leader on my team. Simply because I believe we all need volunteers who have been where we haven’t.”
I need leaders who have been where I haven’t, who can relate to kids that I cannot & who are nothing like me- the professional youth pastor guy. If I’m honest, I have a hard time connecting with the girls who love One Direction and the Divergent series. I have a hard time empathizing with students who overcommit themselves and their time to sports. I also have difficulty knowing how to support certain family struggles, personal dramas and any number of other situations that may arise with high school students.
I need a team around me that has been where I haven’t and I try to keep that in mind at all times. So, who are my leaders? I’d be delighted to introduce them to you:
- Addie. Mid-20’s, married. Addie is currently on staff with me after a insane amount of God stuff happening to get to this point. She was a pinch-hit leader a couple summers ago during our student leader mission trip and did an outstanding job. She then resisted being a leader until her “dream d-group” found themselves without a leader. A few months later she was applying to be on staff.
- Allison. Mid-20’s, single, a neonatal nurse (who actually got to care for us after our daughter was born this fall- so cool!), and a former student in our ministry.
- Autumn. Early 30’s, married with kids & a high school math teacher with an extensive background in Young Life ministry. Her husband is also the Middle School director here at FPC.
- Bekah. Early 20’s and a student at Whitworth University. Bekah joined us this year after Addie sought her out. Bekah had been one of Addie’s students up at Whitworth and they’d formed a great relationship which lead her to our team as well.
- Brian. Early 50’s, married, a parent of 3 former students in our ministry and is also on staff here at FPC. In fact, he’s totally my boss! Brian joined us on our student leadership mission trip this past summer and got hooked.
- Dan. Early 50’s, single and a lawyer. He’s in his 3rd decade of ministry with us and has given his life to these students over the years. His first exposure to the ministry was reading student’s mission trip applications and being blown away by their desire to matter to this world.
- Ella. Late 20’s, single and currently on staff at Whitworth University. She joined us about a year ago hours before our small groups were set to kick off after much prayer and an active recruitment by Addie.
- Eric. Mid 20’s, single and a middle school teacher. I knew of Eric from his years of work at a local summer camp and we finally connected to dream about ministry together about a year ago.
- Jen. Early 50’s, married, teaches pre-school and is a mother of 2 daughters, one of which was a part of our ministry. She also has a ton of Young Life experience and such a tender heart for high school students. She’s on her 2nd year with our team and also happens to be married to our church’s senior pastor!
- Kelsey. Late 20’s, single and also on staff at Whitworth University. Kelsey has been with us for an entire week! She was also the result of active recruitment by Addie and will bring an awesome spirit and a whole lot of small town Montana to our team.
- Mark. Late 20’s, single and works as a physical therapist. He jumped on this year after hearing about our need for more adult leaders- especially men. He’s been a friend and a part of our evening worshipping community here at FPC for a couple years.
- Michael. Early 20’s and a student up at Whitworth. I knew Michael when he was a high school student in Clarkston, WA from summer camp and recruited him hard after I heard he was coming to school here in Spokane.
- Nigel. Late 20’s, teaches elementary school and was a former student in our ministry. Around 4 years ago we needed another guy leader for our Mexico trip and he’s been with us ever since.
- Teagan. Mid-20’s and is currently preparing for grad school. She was a former student in our ministry as well and recently graduated from Whitworth. She formerly led girls in our Middle School ministry and has been a huge influence on countless girls over the years.
That’s our team as it currently sits, from sophomores in college to parents of sophomores in college. We all have different gifts, passions and purposes in our ministry and they’ve all been where I haven’t. And I couldn’t do it any other way.
What does your team look like?