My youth minster Michael is da bomb.
You see, my youth group has been through some stuff. When I was in junior high, our first youth pastor moved to serve in a different capacity in the church, as pastor of equipping ministries. (He is so good at it, it's crazy. He's walking, breathing, diet Coke drinking proof of how God intends us to use our gifts, it blows my mind.) When he changed ministries, we got another youth pastor, a young dude with plenty of cred. But, people are fallen, we make mistakes. That youth pastor resigned after a year, and while it was a painful process for the entire church, I think it was a good thing. But it left the youth group feeling considerably jaded. And because his resignation was effective immediately, we were without a youth pastor. We were led by the youth leader team for about a year while the church looked for a replacement. And then Michael came.
And of course we were skeptical. Yeah, everyone really liked him, but he was from Texas. Compared to Rhode Island, that's like a foreign country. The cost of living is insane in Rhode Island, and he has a wife and two kids. Youth ministry doesn't pay well! He had left a really great youth ministry in Florida because of a painful church split. Rhode Island is a generally unhappy place to live, I'm not gonna lie, who wants to leave sunny Florida to come here? We couldn't be sure it was going to work - we were a tough case, we had burnt the youth leaders out, could this guy really make a difference? Would he stick it out? (That's what I personally was afraid of, that he would leave.) And this is where we go, "Oh, durrr, God is amazing."
I feel like I almost can't really articulate how God's been working through Michael in our youth ministry, because the transition was so subtle. It's only when you zoom out and compare the cohesive Ignite with the disjoined youth group of three years ago that the difference is stark. Before, we didn't talk to each other in youth group. Now we're all friends. Before we hated going to youth group. Now you can't keep us away. We're too big for the youth room. Before, our youth room was ugly, despite best efforts to tidy and beautify the place. Now we have black ceilings and a stage. Before we were "youth group." Now we are "Ignite." (I don't really care for the name, or the accompanying logo, but we have a name. Talk about nationalism.) Before church was a Sunday thing. Now church is a life thing. We have been socially and spiritually renewed. We own the youth ministry, not just the youth leaders. We are the body. And that's how it's supposed to be. Now we are a group, we have unity, we have collective passions, and my friends, it's a wonderful wonderful thing.
God used Michael to do all of this. He brought solid, Bible based curriculum. He brought organization and structure. He brought encouragement and a kick in the butt. He nurtured community and passion. And the highest praise I can give to Michael and the God who makes Michael who he is . . . what Michael says, Michael lives, by the grace of God. He is a man of patience, humility, and a love for Scripture. Youth ministry is so hard. I think Michael's job is one of the hardest ever. But he's survived us, and I know it's only because he loves God. And that is a powerful witness. My youth group and I have been so blessed because of Michael, he is da bomb. So many people prayed for so long that God would do a work in our youth ministry . . . and He did. I have to praise Him for that.
Also, I must note, the Ignite playlist is funky fresh. NewWorldSun and Family Force 5 dance parties after Real Life pwn. Jus sayin'.