My boyfriend and I were co-youth pastor volunteers. I’m certain that I had no idea that I would make a life of youth ministry. I was just peeking around for places where someone would give me something to do. So, at the wise age of 18 I picked up on the observation that people who gave us significant things to do, made us feel valuable. We felt like we were truly a part of the church that everyone claimed we were a part of when we were given responsibility in it.
This is a guest post from my husband Coy, my 1997 boyfriend and co-youth pastor partner all of these years.
“The ministry is not reserved for pastoral staff. Everyone who serves the church and our world through the church is doing ministry. I hope you know the support you give to the mission of God in our world. It is through your passion to volunteer hours of your life to make a difference in the lives of others that makes the Church the most influential entity on earth”
Coy Lindsey (aside from being my husband) is the Saturday Night Campus Pastor at Highland Park Church. He preaches every Saturday at 6PM right here: Saturday Night Live Stream. He is also a self-taught chef, even though he would never use that word to describe himself. He is a champion for families, for churches, and for learning new things every day. His blog is awesome too. coylindsey.com
Volunteers Do Ministry
Interesting fact you may not know: Brooklyn and I did not attend a Christian university our freshman year.
We spent our freshman year in a Suburb of Chicago studying at a small liberal arts college. We were a far cry (8 hours) from the small towns in Ohio we once called home. Our lives were opened to a whole new world. We came face to face with new people, new foods, new accents (not country), new weather, and a new church.
How do you find a new church in a big city in 1997 if you’re Coy and Brooklyn? You look in the phone book for what seems familiar. It’s called the yellow pages. You flip to the letter “N” for Nazarene because it’s what you know. You map it out and you start with the closest one.
The nearest Nazarene Church was in the next town. It was a short-long drive. One of those busy city-street drives with a traffic light at the intersection of every block, which should only take 5 minutes. Not this commute, try a 15-20 minute trek.
Nobody else on campus was going to church on Sundays, let alone this obscure Nazarene one across city limits. It was just the two of us, Brooklyn and me. A rare breed of college students seeking to find our place in a church community. We felt like bigfoot walking through a sleeping forest of a campus on a lazy Sunday morning.
We made it to Lombard Church of the Nazarene. By the looks of surprise on the congregation’s faces, we felt as rare as a sighting of a sasquatch. They were not expecting to see two 18 year olds from the college down the street come walking through their doors. We stood out like a gray hair. They didn’t know whether to embrace us or find a way to help us blend in.
We weren’t sure what to do either. Our hope was to find a spiritual family away from home. Our first few steps into the building didn’t give us the feeling that we had discovered it. It was something else that hooked us.
I am not sure why. It might have been the pastor’s personal welcome. Maybe it was the sermon. I don’t think it was the music. Nah, definitely not the music. But, we returned the next Sunday and few thereafter. We were kind of laissez-faire about the whole thing, just waiting for some reason to call the church home.
Then it snagged us. They asked us to be their volunteer youth pastors. An easy answer, “Yes.” What 18 year doesn’t want their first opportunity to tell others what to do. We were in. Within a matter of weeks, we were the church’s official youth pastors. The youth group may have only been 5 kids, but still, we were their pastors.
Lombard Church of the Nazarene became our church home for two college semesters. Brooklyn and I completed our pre-marital counseling there. We made our first and some of our worst pastoral mistakes there. Most importantly, we learned the greatest reason for volunteering: the potential for God to use our lives to make a difference in someone else’s.
Our desire was to influence students with the same love that influenced us. Our hope was to offer teenagers a chance to see what God had already done for two barely older young adults. Our mission was to re-gift what God had gifted to us. It wasn’t about pay or title or recognition or advancement or networking or earning credentials. Our hearts were set on risking our time to open the eyes of students to see God’s vision for them.
That isn’t the only time Brooklyn and I have volunteered as Pastors. For most of our sixteen years of marriage, at least one of us has served as a volunteer in the church. We are at that place once again, with Brooklyn volunteering her time with our Saturday Night ministry. Never have we regretted a moment. Some of our deepest experiences of ministry have come in these times.
The ministry is not reserved for pastoral staff. Everyone who serves the church and our world through the church is doing ministry. I hope you know the support you give to the mission of God in our world. It is through your passion to volunteer hours of your life to make a difference in the lives of others that makes the Church the most influential entity on earth.
Thank you for volunteering to serve God through the Church. As pastors, we deeply value your commitment. We couldn’t do what we do without you. You give us encouragement to carry-on.