This last weekend was my 10 year anniversary of being the Kingman Christian Church youth and associate pastor. I'm the type of person who usually just takes things as they come. I don't do a lot of reflection about the past looking more at the present, but I decided to do a little reflecting on the 10 years I have been at this church.
I have learned a lot in these past 10 years. I began this job at the age of 26, which seems kind of weird now. I was a little over a year out of Bible college. I had two part time and an 11 month full time youth positions up to this point; a total of 5 years of youth work experience under my built before I came to KCC. Yet, coming to KCC was like a whole new experience.
Except for our year in Idaho, my wife had never lived outside of the Seattle area. It was a huge step for her to move down here to Arizona. I, on the other hand, had lived in 6 states (Washington, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Kansas and Oregon). Moving wasn't a stranger. Even so, starting a new job that wasn't close to family was still a little unnerving. My perception, which I don't believe is too far from the truth, was that pastors, particularly youth pastors, didn't last long at a church. You can imagine my surprise at ever thinking I would last 10 years at one church.
The first time I was made aware of Kingman Christian Church was when Walt contacted me while we were in Idaho. I actually turned him down because at that point in time Tami and I were looking for a church in the Northwest. I sent out several (I estimate 30, but I am not sure) resumes and after hearing nothing back from any of the churches we decided to contact Walt again all the while thinking it was probably too late. To my surprise Walt told me that they were just about to make a decision but he still wanted to talk to me. He ended his email with "By the way, just a friendly discussion, how old do you think the earth is?" For those of you who know Walt you know what kind of a question this was.
Walt asked us if we could come and visit the church and so we left our kids with Grandma and headed to Arizona. We arrived on a Saturday night and stayed with Bud and Dixie Lemelin. Walt and Kim came over that evening and introduced themselves to us. The next day we attended church. I will never forget driving up to KCC and thinking to myself "What the heck is this?!" The church resembled (and still does) a warehouse. Just a funny little memory. When we got inside it was obvious we were at a church.
That afternoon Walt had arranged a lunch at a small restaurant (it is now a Mexican restaurant called Oyster's) where he had invited various people from the church. What I didn't know until we were on our way was that this lunch was a sort of interview. I don't remember much of what took place, but on particular thing stands out. Tony Hoover asked me a question that I was not prepared to answer. He asked "What if a teen comes to you and confesses that they are homosexual?" I never forgot who Tony Hoover was!! His question got me up on my toes. My answer, "I have no personal experience with this but there are plenty of ministries that do. I would find myself looking to those ministries for answers and possibly connecting the teen themselves to one of those ministries." Thank you Tony for keeping me on my toes (something he hasn't quit doing to this day).
My first lesson learned at KCC was ministry keeps people on their toes. You have to be ready for just about anything. These last 10 years have been filled with some pretty interesting things that have kept me on my toes. Just to name a few:
We had a man come to our church who began to work with the youth. I later discovered that he was questionable with allegations against him that he was a possible pedophile! (Everyone is checked out now).
I've had leaders date teens in the youth group!! (There is a whole story behind this but needless to say...That doesn't happen anymore!).
I've had a woman come to me who claimed she was a converted high priestess of a satanic group.
I've had a man condemn me of being a follower of Paul instead of Jesus.
I've had a man come and claim he was a prophet.
Just to name a few. I have definitely been kept on my toes!