Where It All Started
Wow, what a ride the past couple years have been! After 12 years of vocational youth ministry, an unfortunate church situation brought that to a screeching halt. With no job, I quickly turned to Life In Student Ministry into a full-time income for my family while my wife and I served as volunteer youth leaders at a different church in town. Over the next two years, there were plenty of interviews to do for other youth ministry positions around the country and I even had a couple offers, but none that my wife and I ultimately accepted. So I kept searching.
During that time I started to dive into something that had been a hobby of mine for a while: the YouTube community. And before long, YouTube and online video in general became a significant chunk of my income. I began training online video marketers and creators through the videos I created for ReelSEO.com, doing YouTube audits for national TV networks, and cranking out 6 or 7 personal videos every week.
Moving to Cincinnati
One opportunity led to another until almost a year ago one of the owners of Epipheo, a storytelling company that often shares those stories through online animated videos, emailed me and said, “Hey, I ran into a couple times on the Internet today, both for your youth ministry stuff and your online video stuff. I don’t know if you’re looking for a job or not, but if you are, I’d love to talk.” I wasn’t really looking for a job that wasn’t related to youth ministry, but since being self-employed relies heavily on networking, I gave him a call. We ended up talking for two and a half hours, not about online video, but about youth and family ministry.
To make a long story short, I took a full-time job at Epipheo helping them develop an on-going YouTube strategy. In return, they gave me both tremendous flexibility to continue to make my family my primary ministry as well as the opportunity to learn from them what home ministry even looks like.
Introduced to Red Door Church
After relocating to Cincinnati to be closer to Epipheo, Dana and I made it a high priority to quickly settle in a local church community. Thankfully the Lord enabled that to happen through an article my mom read in a magazine called, On Mission. She ripped the article out, mailed it to us, and introduced us to a 2 year old church plant in Cincinnati called, Red Door Church. We loved the stories of how they were integrating family and ministry together. We also thought it was interesting how closely their founding pastor’s story resembled ours: a fired youth pastor with a strong vision for family ministry. So, we decided to check it out.
To shorten the story even further, a couple weeks ago Dana and I agreed to take a more formalized role at Red Door Church to help them develop a ministry strategy for birth through college with a focus on youth ministry. It will be a new and unique challenge for us because this strategy does not have a typical starting point.
Red Door’s Approach to Family Ministry
Red Door’s focus on family ministry means that they don’t really have stage-of-life ministries established. On Sunday mornings there is intentionally no specific programming for ages 4 years old an up. Everyone sits with each other at circle tables where parents are given a bag of resources to teach their kids during the service. The resources go along with the pastor’s message, so as my wife and I listen to his teaching we turn to our children and teach it to them. It’s the only church service I’ve been to where it’s appropriate to talk with your family while the pastor teaches. The learning experience becomes especially fun when there happens to be teenagers, grandparents, or another family sitting at our table and we all teach and learn together.
As Dana and I start to develop an overarching family ministry strategy at Red Door Church, the question our pastor posed to us is this:
“How do we do youth ministry in a way that brings teens and their families together, not separates them?”
He’s not saying that teens can’t have their own time and place, but that the youth ministry overall should facilitate spiritual leadership from the parents, not assume or take that role from them.
While I love using that as our starting place, I’ve never built a youth ministry on that foundation before. Every youth ministry I’ve been a part of separates the teens from the parents and puts discipleship in the lap of a paid youth pastor or volunteer.
It will be a fun journey to explore! I’m thankful to be able to pursue some of these questions at a place like Red Door Church and that I have a job at a place like Epipheo that provides the opportunity for me to do so.
Looking back on the past few years, it seems like God moved me out of one ministry to give me the time to develop the skills I’d need to support my family so we can serve in a new church plant in Cincinnati for free. I had no idea that’s what God was doing at the time, but it makes sense now. And I’m glad He did it.
A few years ago when I started working for myself, I told Dana, “I’d love to be able to support us with my own income and move to a church with a limited budget where I could serve for free.” It looks like God had that in mind for us, too. If I were to craft exactly the church and the ministry position I’d like to fill, what we’re doing at Red Door Church is pretty much it exactly.
Help Us Get Started
I’ll do my best to bring you all along on this journey, probably mostly via video posts since that’s a lot quicker and easier for me than writing a blog post. Hope that’s okay.
In the meantime, I’d love for you guys to help my wife and I get started on the right track: What does a youth ministry look like that’s built on bringing teens and parents together spiritually? Comments below are greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Posted on January 3, 2013