I began in 1996 as a wide-eyed 19 year old trying to figure out if youth ministry was something I wanted to do or go into preaching. I had never had a youth minister and wasn't sure what a youth minister did day to day. Anyhow I arrived at Southwest Central Church of Christ in Houston, TX. Joe Becker was the youth minister and had invited me the previous September to join him in his work there during the summer of '96. By December I had agreed and I started there rather nervously on May 19, 1996. By the end of the summer I was hooked and had my answer. I would enter into the youth and family ministry program at Abilene Christian University.
That summer internship ended and I couldn't get to ACU quick enough only so I could finish my degree and begin my career in ministry. Once I landed at ACU I knew I wanted to do youth ministry at a local church. Highland Church of Christ was open to help and I worked with David Lang. At first I volunteered, then I was paid minimum wage for only 5 hours a week, then I went to 20 hours a week during the school year. I worked with the middle school group at that time.
When the summer of '97 came, I went back to Southwest Central Church of Christ and did another summer internship. It was different than the first and yet I learned so much about myself and ministry.
That fall I returned to Highland as the year-round intern again. It was a great year, but before I could ask for the summer internship a friend of mine had beat me to the punch. My loss his gain, but God had another ministry for me to see that summer
In the summer of '98 I went to Waco, TX to the Robinson Church of Christ. I spent the summer there learning new things and building relationships with students, working with Rob Fortson.
Again I returned to Highland Church of Christ and immediately asked for summer and my year-round internship. So in the fall of '98 I worked with Highland through December '99. I wanted to stay at Highland as a second youth minister alongside David Lang and David wanted that too. The money just wasn't there.
I found a full-time youth ministry job at Clear Lake Church of Christ in Houston, TX. I started there January 2, 2000. All of my full-time positions have been so fulfilling. The church at Clear Lake was extremely patient with a new minister who thought he knew it all. They cared for me and watched me go from single to married and from green to seasoned. 18 months into my job there and Highland called and wanted me to enter into their search process for a new youth minister. Although that was my dream, I chose to not enter into the process, simply because I had only been at Clear Lake for 18 months and that wouldn't be fair to the church and its youth and families. It was difficult, thinking that I had let my one chance of my dream pass me by. However, years later in the spring of 2005 Highland called again. This time I entered the process and was hired. While at Clear Lake I felt a call to preach, but was unsure about that calling and decided to lay out my fleece before God by starting my Mdiv. I knew that if I could finish this 84 hour masters degree and still want to preach that it is what I was meant to do.
I started full-time ministry work at Highland Church of Christ on January 1, 2006. I entered into a hard time for the group who were mourning the loss of one of their students and the year anniversary of his death. The students, families, and other youth minister, Sarah Campbell, were great partners in ministry. If I thought I knew it all in 2000 at Clear Lake, I really thought I knew it all in 2006 after 6 years of full-time experience. Six months into the job I had the realization that I had more questions than answers and that is exactly what kept it interesting. By 2007 I knew that I wouldn't do youth ministry at any other church. This would be where I would either retire or move from there to another type of ministry. I was still working on my Masters of Divinity Degree and after 3 years at Highland, like every minister on staff, I received a 4 week sabbatical. During that sabbatical I felt an even greater push to preach and knew that my time in youth ministry was coming to an end. That was 2009 and in May 2010 I completed my Mdiv and graduated from ACU. I continued to pursue youth and family ministry at Highland and in the fall of 2011 I received a call from a church in Arkansas.
I'm not going to Arkansas. I'm a Texas boy. My wife is a Texas girl. My 3 year old twins were Texas boys. In January 2012 I accepted the Senior Minister position at University Church of Christ in Conway, AR. I started April 1, 2012 and have been here over four years. Being a senior minister is extremely different from being a youth minister. I'm still learning the job. I love it! I love leading, pastoral care, teaching, and preaching. It is a fulfilling work. I now have 3 children (we added a daughter in 2013). My daughter is the only true Arkansan in the family. And yes, she calls the hogs! Conway is home.
So today, May 19, 2016 marks 20 years in year-round ministry (17 years full-time). Some of that has been paid positions. Some has been part-time and full-time. I was called to minister to churches. I don't know it all and never have. But I know that God is love and He loves his church! I love the church too! Maybe I'll retire around 69 and be able to say that I have done year-round ministry for 50 years.
But even if today were my last day, this one thing I know...it is WORTH IT!!!!