My former pastor apologizes

Wow. The title should say enough, huh? Definitely wasn’t expecting this one.

The Story
Last night as I was on my way out the door, my cell phone rang. Didn’t recognize the number, but immediately recognized the voice to be that of the sr. pastor from my former youth ministry. I resigned from past position about two years ago for several reasons that are unnecessary to go into now. Regardless, I unfortunately haven’t talked with him much since then. Through word of mouth I heard that the church eventually disbanded and ceased to exist, which was disheartening to hear. Although I’ve been in touch with several students from that ministry and even his son from time to time, I really haven’t kept in touch with him at all.

So when I heard his voice I was pretty surprised and unsure how to react. As I drove to a friend’s house for dinner, we had a good time talking and catching up a little. He told me about his current part-time position at a new church and some of the expectations and pressures he was feeling from the sr. pastor there. As he vented some of his frustration he referred to a moment earlier that day and said, “So I sat there on the pew and started thinking, ‘Is this how Tim Schmoyer felt when he worked under me? Did I do this same thing to him?'”His conclusion was “yes,” that he found himself in a situation very similar to the one I was in at his church. So he felt compelled to contact me and apologize for it. Wow.

The Application
Working at that church was a huge learning experience that has shaped my philosophy of ministry in ways that are still probably unforeseen. One way I do know it has changed, though, is how I work with the volunteer youth leaders God has entrusted to me. Instead of plugging people into my vision and using them to fill my empty holes, I’ve found it works much better to hear their dream for ministry and equip them to pursue it. Instead of saying, “Mr. Adult Volunteer, I need you to teach Sunday School and lead a new small group on Wednesdays,” I now say, “Mr. Adult Volunteer, what is drawing you to youth ministry and what passion is God wanting you to pursue in this area?” Although Mr. Adult Volunteer may do great at teaching Sunday School and although he might make an exceptional small group leader, he will still thrive best when he is equipped and encouraged to pursue the dream God placed in his heart.

When we follow our passion, we somehow pursue it differently than something that’s just assigned to us to fill a “gap.” We end up pursuing it in such a way that’s contagious. Other people want to jump on board and rally behind us because it’s something they can see and feel in a very real way. Somehow it becomes more “tangible” than just an Sunday School teaching assignment.

I’ve decided to trust that God will supply the volunteers needed to run the youth ministry. I trust that the volunteers He brings each contribute a unique vision that they feel called to chase after and accomplish. It is my job to hear their dreams and help them make it a reality, as they do the same for me. As I see it now, that’s what a ministry team is all about.

Posted on November 5, 2005

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  • Weston Rains

    Want to begin with thanks for the comment and encouragement you left on my entry the other night. It is always uplifting to hear from someone who is in a similiar situation or has at least been through it. But to keep from getting off topic, we really don’t know what we are doing into we have walked in those people’s shoes or talked with someone who has. I guess we get caught up in all that’s going on and our own personal feelings and dreams to really dig into those who around us. I would appriceate the continue of your comments or any advice you may have through email or comments on my entries. Thanks Tim.


  • Lynn

    Your students are blessed to have you. Youth Ministry takes a special person and boy o boy are you one! Thanks for all you do!

    BTW, we will be in the Dallas area December 1-4th. let me know when we can catch up. We deff have to this time! :)

  • Tim

    Hey Weston! If you have questions or need a little direction with anything, lemme know. I’d be happy to help. :)

    Lynn, thanks for the compliment. You should already have my phone number, so just gimme a call when Decmeber draws closer.

  • Dad

    Dear Tim, That’s great! We never had a nominating committee here for that same reason. Henry Blackaby says to look for where God is already working and join Him! You’re looking for where God is working in their hearts and joining Him there. That can’t miss in the long run! Wish I had need of a youth pastor here – I’d hire you in a minute!
    Love, Dad

  • Tim

    Thanks Dad. Obviously this philosophy pertains to the general overall structure of the ministry, not to individual tasks or goals. There are still the biblical mandates to follow of evangelism, fellowship, worship, missions, and discipleship. These must be part of any ministry regardless of the team’s passion. Sometimes areas of ministry require assigned roles and responsibilities, such as a camp staff, but even then everyone is together because they share a love for camp. How that plays out, though, will be different for each person. Some will be in the kitchen, others in the cabins, and others lifeguarding by the lake.

    I’m not pretending that there aren’t times when responsibilities need to be fulfilled that no one is particularly excited about. I’m just talking about the general overall implementation of leadership in ministry.

  • Hey Tim –

    Thanks for the link to this. I can soooo relate to this. In fact (with your permission) may publish a little of this on my site (in regards to volunteer vision vs. our (leadership) vision?

    I have been part of a 3 ministries where I fel very hamstrung by a leader’s vision….and their wanting myself or others to facilitate it rather than discuss and understand our (the leaders) unique vision and ideas.

  • Tim

    Sure you can use it. There’s also a discussion of it here: That link isn’t showing up here because they didn’t send a trackback, but that’s okay — no big deal. If you could include the trackback when you post on your site, though, that would be cool. That way we can keep up with what your site visitors have to say on the issue, too.

  • Thanks Tim!

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