Wednesday, February 25, 2015

8 Years Later

Eight years ago this week was the last time I was ever officially any one's Youth Pastor. It's so hard to believe it has been that long since life fell apart and my sin was exposed to the world. So much has changed in my life. But one thing has not. I still miss being a Youth Pastor.

Please don't misunderstand me. This is not a "poor, poor pitiful me" post. God continues to bless me with a ministry through this blog and through connections with "youth" (some now approaching and passing 40) who still consider me to be one of their pastors. I love those moments and cherish those relationships. But there is something about ministry to and with teenagers that cannot be replicated anyplace else. Youth ministry is a constant whir of sound, energy, movement and emotion. For those who are truly called to do it the outlets for creativity and service are limitless. And though I have not been a youth pastor in 8 years, my mind still operates in that realm. There are opportunities, people, situations and challenges that pop up in my life everyday that are still addressed with the mind of a youth pastor. The issue is this- there are no events to plan, no studies to teach, no trips to take and no ridiculously wild adventures on which to lead students. It all just stays in my head.

At the Oscars this past Sunday night there was a performance (see picture at top) of the song Everything is Awesome from The Lego Movie. It you saw it then you know it was a blur of color, dancing, lights, song and strangeness. It was great! One of my more conservative Twitter followers stated that he had never taken drugs but he was pretty sure that scene was what it would feel like if he did. It was almost hallucinogenic, and he hated it. But one of my youth ministry buddies tweeted that if you had just watched Everything is Awesome then you had seen what it is like inside the head of a youth pastor. Constant, but controllable, chaos! And I do miss turning all of that loose on students in the name of Jesus. You don't have to be wild, crazy and creative to be a youth pastor. But it does help, and God blessed some of us in special ways. Ministry among students requires great passion, and passion is most always messy. Your goal is to build relationships with teenagers and help build a Christian community out of parts that were never designed to work together. The challenges are many, but the rewards are both amazing and eternal. I can look back over the years I spent doing student ministry and see how much those ministries impacted lives in large part because we were willing to take risks and have faith in the truth that God created us all for something special. We believed that in Jesus EVERYONE is awesome, and that changed us all for the better. So of course I miss it. It was such a huge part of me. Even now it feels like I have the ability to see things through a different lens than most of the adults I know. And that is a blessing.

Even without the legacy of my sin, my days as as youth pastor would likely be done by now anyway. The demand for 55 year old, diabetic, 7-toed youth ministers is remarkably low. But that truth does nothing to help me miss it less. So if you are so inclined I would very much appreciate your prayers today, and as always I appreciate your love and support. This post should also comfort many of you, who have often thought to yourselves at a youth meeting, a Rec Around the Clock, on a beach trip, playing a silly game or on the streets of NYC, "Carl is just a little bit nuts." You are and have always been right. And God made me this way so I could spend 30 years in ministry with some incredibly special people. Much love, my friends!

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous2/25/2015

    All of life is change....All change brings new chaos....and where there is Chaos, Look for "Maxwell Smart" ! Missed it by that much...would you corner on lunacy, my friend. UBD

    1. Thanks UBD. Perhaps we shall meet again in the cone of silence! I appreciate you my friend.

    2. I saw it! You know I LOVE Legos, controlled chaos and crazy songs with words that don't fully matter. Everything IS awesome! God is awesome - His forgiveness is awesomer - keep your head up cause YOU are awesome Carl! As a friend of mine always says: "you are awesomeness infused with victory!" Love, awesome youth pastor (in his 25th legotastic year) Tim Vestal

    3. Thanks so much Tim- somehow I KNEW you would connect with the analogy! Still love following your AWESOME adventures at Poplar Ridge. Hope to see you somewhere along the road!


Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!