If you had asked me two or three years ago if I ever thought I'd be on staff in a church, I'd have probably laughed at you. Back then, there's a good chance I'd have laughed if you just asked if I thought I'd be attending a church regularly. Because back then, I was the guy that wrote this... Feel free to click back and read the post if you want.
But if you'd rather not, it's a post I wrote after making a very conscious decision not to attend church on Easter of 2011. Let's just say I wrote that when I was in a very bad place, spiritually. I'd had plenty of negative experiences and had lost a great deal of faith in the people that make up the church. My grandmother was very disheartened after reading that and later told me how much she worried about me.
Fast forward two years later. That's last year if you can't find your calendar. I found myself longing for the kind of fellowship I enjoyed as a kid and as a student. Sure, while I was at Bluefield, I really didn't have a church home. But I had Christian friends who challenged and encouraged me. I had a campus minister who provided discipleship. These were things that I turned my back on for several years in my adult life. These were things that I deeply missed, even though I didn't know it yet.
Early in 2013, I found Northstar Church in Blacksburg. I wasn't sure what to expect when I walked through the doors of the school where the congregation met. I had few expectations, really. I knew not to get my hopes up. Experience taught me that raised hopes only led to disappointment. I needed to go into this church visit with the knowledge that this church, like any other, was made up of people. People will let you down. But God won't. Beyond anything that I could look for in a church body, I wanted to be where God could use me.
Northstar turned out to be the place I needed and I really believe God directed me there that first Sunday. Thinking about the way this has worked out, as I write these words, is actually causing me to tear up. I'm not sure if I'm getting emotional because of the years I wasted feeling bitter about the church, or if the joy of rediscovering God's path is overwhelming. Maybe a little of both.
Anyway (he says, blinking away the tears), I got involved. I made a conscious effort to get involved as quickly as I could. I didn't want to just be one of those guys that shows up on Sunday morning and forgets that church even exists the rest of the week. I wanted to join a small group. I wanted to serve in the church in whatever ways I was able. I wanted to put myself out there and join a community that would challenge me to grow in my walk with Christ. I wanted all that before I began attending Northstar.
Then I got to Northstar and discovered that their slogan was "Don't go to church. Be the church." If that wasn't exactly what I was looking for, I don't know what is. It's as if God placed that desire to serve in my heart and then led me to a place where I would be pushed into roles of service.
I started out by helping with set up and tear down. As a church that meets in a school, a fair amount of work goes into getting things ready on Sunday mornings. Another fair amount of work goes into making sure the school looks exactly the way we found it by the time the service is over. I also got involved in Jumpstart, a part of Northstar's children's ministry that focuses on elementary aged kids on Sunday mornings. I can honestly say that teaching the kids on those Sundays has been the most fun I've ever had in any area of ministry.
Last month, I noticed the children's ministry assistant position was being advertised on the church website. I didn't know if it would be a good fit for me or not. Despite knowing just how much I loved being involved with Jupstart, I wasn't sure if I would be the right person for a staff position where I would be even more involved with children's ministry as a whole. So I prayed.
I asked God for direction. At the same time, I reached out to the Charlatan, who has been working full time in children's ministry for years. He told me to go for it. He said it would change my life. I still wasn't sure. But every time I thought about the possibility of being in that position, I felt excited. So I went for it.
I interviewed. I was hired. And today I attended my first staff meeting. I cannot express how awesome it is to be involved in ministry like this after so long. I probably shouldn't be amazed, but I can't help it. It amazes me that God can take someone with a heart as hard as mine had become and break it, mend it, and reshape it. Ugh... it's happening again. I might need to go cry for a while.