Transition is a part of life every human experiences. We transition through age, physically, geographically, mentally, etc. In ministry we experience transition. In my ministry of more than 25 years, I have transitioned from my first sermon, (which was way too long) to local youth volunteer, youth pastor, state youth director and to my current position, International Youth Director. Ephesians 2:10 reads; For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. I accept the fact that God, throughout my life, has prepared me for this work in which I am presently engaged. The “good works that I must walk in” are becoming clearer as I encounter leaders and young people from every culture and ethnicity.
Ephesians 2:10: “Which God Prepared Beforehand”
(Family Life/Ministry Transition)
My family is from the coastal city of Wilmington, North Carolina. From my earliest memories, I have always known my father and mother to serve God and be in ministry. I recall stories of their conversions during a great revival in Wilmington with the “Whirlwind Evangelist.” I remember attending only one church, the Church of God of Prophecy. At age six, I received Christ as my savior at the same church as my parents in a revival with the “World Challenge Singers!” When I was about eight years old, my father was sent to plant a church in Whiteville, North Carolina. A typical Saturday would be my father, mother, sister, and I went door to door sharing the Gospel of Jesus, selling Krispy Kreme donuts, and inviting souls to the new church plant. We, as a family, did this again in Winnabow, North Carolina. God was ingraining into my spiritual DNA a desire to see soul’s won to His kingdom and new venues of worship being planted (The donuts were not bad either!).
One day, out of the blue, my father proclaims to the family, “We are moving to Argentina! God wants us to go and share the Gospel and serve the people!” He began to study Spanish at the university and we began to sell everything we owned to make the transition. In the meantime, my father received a call from Europe asking us to plant a church in a small village in West Germany. We sold what we had, gave away life possessions, obtained visas, and arranged transportation for these “good works” that God was preparing us to do.
While in Germany, I was privileged to glimpse into what I call a “Book of Acts” church. Acts 2:47, “All the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” Acts 4: 32–35: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
The attendees of our church were always together. There was never lack among our membership. Souls were being saved almost daily as people shared Jesus with whoever would listen. True revival had come.
Our family made this kind of transition several more times eventually landing us in the beautiful Islands of Hawaii. Before moving to Hawaii, I personally surrendered to God’s invitation to be in ministry, when Overseer Larry Biggers appointed me to the leadership role of State and National Youth Director of Hawaii and Samoa.
Ephesians 2:10: “We Should Walk In Them”
While serving in Hawaii the opportunity to serve in missions (church planting) was offered to me. So, one day, out of the blue, I proclaimed to my parents, “I’m going to Tahiti, French Polynesia! God wants me to go and share the Gospel and serve the people!” I began to obtain visas, arrange transportation, and get my affairs in order; a familiar process. This time I prepared as an individual, not as a family. I was 22 years old. My overseer and I made the trip to French Polynesia; we secured a place to live, opened a bank account, and he departed. I was alone. In my lonesomeness, God was teaching me total dependence on his never forsaking presence. Deuteronomy 32:6: “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
My first year was spent learning the language, securing a job and sharing the Gospel with those I could! I was trying to learn two languages, French and Tahitian. During this time, God was transitioning me from single life to married life. He was preparing the heart of my wife, Sarah, to say “Yes” to what God had created us to be. We were created to love God (to be in relationship with Him) with all our hearts, and love our neighbor as ourselves (to bring others into relationship with our Creator) (Mark 12:30, 31).
Transitioning to Today
Sarah and I, along with our children, have made several more life transitions over time. Six years ago I accepted the position of Media Coordinator at the International Offices. This turned out to be one of the most difficult transitions I have ever experienced. I went from ministering to people while in a leadership role to just functioning as a service to people in leadership. In those six years, God was teaching and preparing me for this new journey we are now navigating.
God was teaching me that I was functioning as a service. He was teaching me any job was to be for His glory and to do His will. I was impatient. He was teaching me to wait. I blamed others and myself for the way I felt about my job. He was teaching me to love others and take responsibilities for my own choices. I looked at people and judged their attitudes. He taught me, everyone has a story.
Eight months ago I accepted the appointment as International Youth Director of the Church of God of Prophecy. I don’t know how long I will be serving in this role. Although, while I am here, I want to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to what is implemented in Youth Ministries during my tenure. Two things God is bringing into focus for my time as Youth Director. First, I am here to help build bridges (create a team).
Bridge One: Older Generation to the Younger Generation (Mentoring)
Half of the world’s population is under the age of 30 and 96 percent of millennials are part of a social network. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world today. Across the kingdom of God and the Church of God of Prophecy there is a gap that is ever widening between our aging congregations and the young harvest. This gap is not only increasing in size but also in mindset (how we do church).
The Church of God of Prophecy as a global body must encourage the young harvest to reach forward to the wisdom of the older generation. We must encourage an older generation to reach back and entrust God’s word to the young harvest “. . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever he has commanded. . .” (Matthew 28:20). Our present leadership must understand and engage the young harvest through:
- Mentoring: Youth want age! We must be willing and desire to mentor a younger generation.
- Entrusting God’s Word: The older generation must entrust the Word of God to a younger generation, and trust God; believing he is faithful to his Word.
- Impartation: Youth have zeal; they lack wisdom. The older generation must impart Godly wisdom into young lives.
- Real Life Example: Youth have passion but need someone to share real life experiences with them.
Bridge Two: Ministries within the Local Church
The Church of God of Prophecy must build bridges between the ministries of the body, namely Children’s Ministries to Youth Ministries. From Youth Ministries to College and Career Ministries. From College and Career Ministries to service in our local congregations.
These bridges (or transitions) must be built so that children, as they age out of children’s ministries, have a desire to engage in youth ministries. Our youth ministries, must prepare our young harvest to feel a level of comfort and security as they move from youth ministries to a more mature College and Career age form of teaching and from youth ministries into a more mature form of teaching and discipling. Our college and career age must transition from the ministry of the “pew” to ministering to those in the pews. They must take on the responsibility (leadership) of the ministry of the church.
Bridge Three: College and Career Demographic
The 18 to 34 age demographic are missing from our churches today. This is not exclusive to the Church of God of Prophecy. It is also a Kingdom issue. We must begin now to bring awareness to this dilemma and create solutions to secure the posterity of our local churches.
There are three areas of ministry this demographic includes. The college and university student, the young professional (those who have graduated from an institution of higher learning or transitioned immediately into a career path out of secondary school) and young married couples.
Goals for Ministry to College and University Students
Churches must keep connection with the student as he or she goes away to their school of choice. We must help connect the student to a healthy ministry where they are attending College/University, and continue a relationship with them so that when they return home there is still a sense of belonging.
Goals for ministry to young professionals (those who have graduated from an institution of higher learning or transitioned immediately into a career path out of secondary school). Churches must assist young professionals in maintaining a relational connection to the local body by helping with the maturation of faith. Churches should provide relevant, spiritual guidance and social activities for the broadening of the young professional’s spiritual and social life. The primary goal for this tier of ministry will be to move the young professional from the pew (as maturation occurs) into leadership and service roles throughout the local body.
Goals for Ministry to Young Married Couples
Our churches should assist young married couples in maintaining a relational connection to the local body by helping with the maturation of faith and the marriage relationship. Our churches should provide relevant, spiritual guidance and social activities for the broadening of the married couple’s spiritual and married lives. The primary goal for this tier of ministry will be to move the young married couple from the pew (as maturation occurs) into leadership and service roles throughout the local body, and to assist the couple in staying married for life.
Secondly, I am here to help plant seeds of evangelism in the Young Harvest soil and to help create faith fundamentals for young Christ followers.
Not all ministry is delivered from a pulpit. Our world is a pulpit! Our lives are a witness to the transforming power of the God’s love to mankind. With efforts within our organization to raise leaders, we must not forget to win followers to Jesus and then raise them to win and disciple others. Ministry is not about where we do it, but about always engaging in the sharing of our story (being born again) and listening to others so that we may lead them to a moment of choice for accepting Jesus as their Savior and Lord (a new creation).
We cannot allow our young harvest to become so event driven that there are no expectations, goals or responsibilities for their walk with Jesus. We must entrust responsibilities to young emerging leaders and the young harvest to begin to evangelize their communities. Our events, along with being times of fellowship and spiritual refreshing, must become more intentional of encouraging and teaching evangelism and service to communities in which young people live.
2 Corinthians 5:17–21 reads, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given US the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to US the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” Young people must evangelize their communities.
Jim Rohn, famous entrepreneur and philanthropist, wrote; “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”
Our relationship with our creator in the beginning was determined by consistent communication between the God and creation (mankind), and obedience to his commands. These fundamentals are still the genesis for a new and seasoned believer today. These fundamentals must be taught and lived out in our youth ministries:
- Prayer: Which is communication (relationship)
- Reading God’s Word: Which is communication (relationship)
- Listen to the Holy Spirit: Which is communication (relationship)
- Bringing others into relationship with the Creator: Evangelism (being responsible with your relationship)
Jesus said in Matthew 22, the two greatest commandments are: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” The young harvest today must be consumed by their love and relationship with God (love the Lord God with all your heart) and be passionate about bringing their community into a relationship with God (loving their neighbor as themselves). These are the most basic of fundamentals, but the most life changing and spiritual character building that a young person can experience. Wisdom says in Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”
My heart is to see Christian young people, who have applied the fundamentals of prayer, reading God’s word, who have an ear for the leading for the Holy Spirit, bring their world into a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.
As you are reading this article my prayer is, no matter what age you are, that we will all choose to reach forward or to reach back and share the love of God with a young and emerging generation of Jesus followers. As we continue to transition in this new leadership role God has given us, I want to be available and accessible to the Church of God of Prophecy around the world. I do not have all the answers to what it takes to be successful in Youth Ministry, but I am willing to walk with you as we passionately seek the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit for the future of our church body and International Youth Ministries.
We have future plans and goals we would like to see accomplished in Youth Ministries. We are developing helps and ways for young people to serve the Church of God of Prophecy on a global scale. We will be in communication with states and nations with possibilities for the young harvest to participate in. We are also developing Youth Pastor/Leader trainings with dates to be released at a future time. “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).