Beloved First Church Families,
Five years ago, when I wrote a letter to youth families letting them know I was taking over as Director of Youth Ministries, I explained that I had always believed that being a youth pastor must be the best job in the whole world.
These last years with this community have proven that to be pretty undeniably true. I have served here on the Youth Ministries staff since July 2016, and as the Director of Youth Ministries since November 2017. In these intervening six years I have had more fun, built more relationships, and been more awed by the work of the Holy Spirit than any single job seems like it should allow. Six years is a long time for any 20-something (ok, now 30-something) to hold the same job, and in youth ministry? It is a lifetime.
Fairly literally, actually – our class of 2022 entered our Youth Ministries program the same time I did, and I have been here for their entire youth ministries tenure.
So it seems only appropriate that I graduate with them as well.
It is with a bittersweetness that I welcome this youth ministry into its next phase of leadership. Matt Britt, our long-time Associate Director of Youth Ministries, my very dear friend, and closest partner in ministry will take over as Director of Youth Ministries starting August 8th, 2022, and I will be transitioning off of the staff. Matt has been an invaluable leader on our youth ministries team for years, and I am so looking forward to seeing him be able to unleash his full potential as a leader and shepherd this community into its next chapter.
There is grief in leaving a place that I have so dearly loved. Working at First Church Fort Worth was the first job I had that didn’t have the word “intern” in it. Yet, you all trusted me with your very hearts in the form of your favorite young people. I will always be grateful for the opportunities I was given to learn and grow alongside your teenagers. Over the years, families have been very kind to tell me the ways that I have impacted their teenagers’ lives. Well, allow me to take the chance to tell you how much your teenagers have impacted mine.
I have been transformed by the courage and compassion of young people and their families and drawn ever closer to God’s heart by their lives, witness, and growth. I have learned to be an enthusiastic champion for silliness, for failure, for trying again, for the awe-inspiring power of being yourself, for grace in every and all circumstances, without limit and measure. And I learned it from your teenagers.
In all my next chapters, I will carry them with me and will burst out laughing telling stories of spew and spontaneous rap battles and party boats and raw onions eaten like apples. The memory of the unbearable tenderness of a young person coming to sit with me late night on a mission trip, or across a table at a coffee shop, pouring out their hope and heartbreak, will always move me.
Youth ministries is the best work in the whole world. What else could be so special and ask you to give so fully of yourself to such amazing young people? What else could draw parents and teenagers and young adults together over dirt and sweat and the mercy of our God in a way that changes our lives forever?
So I consider this transition a bit of a graduation for me. Graduation from a program that I have loved deeply and am so grateful for, but from which it has come time to move on because it has so thoroughly equipped and changed me. Several years ago, alongside a team of incredible adults and teenagers, I started working as part of an innovation lab whose goal was to invite us into innovative, human-centered design thinking reflective of the needs of our community and the call God has placed on us.
The work expanded my imagination towards what the church could be in the future and put me in places, and around people, who were asking the same questions. Over the past year, I’ve taken larger and larger roles in places that are targeted at system-wide church innovation – not just how we inspire innovation in one church, but in the Church, and I now have the opportunity to do this work full time. This is work that I feel called towards, and its work I could have never even discovered, nonetheless practiced and learned, without the space, care, and love granted to me in the fertile soil of this Youth Ministry.
It is among the many reasons I am so grateful for this place, that it gave me the roots and soil I needed to grow into new spaces. There is so much I feel called towards in the larger ministry world, and knowing that this place is well-cared for, by our volunteers, our families, our young people, and our team allows me to pursue those passions in good conscience.
To our teenagers:
You are wonderful. You are so worthy of love exactly where you are. When things feel scary and hard, remember that God’s love for you is an absolute anchor and there’s nothing you could do or not do that would change that. Your family loves you. You are good enough, even when you lose. Everything you’re doing is right. Please still text me your memes I don’t get and the weird bible tiktoks on your feed.
I am looking forward to having this season of senior events and this summer with this youth ministry as I help it (and Matt) prepare for the next chapter, and I am confident with this ministry, as in all things, the best is yet to come.
Thank you for the chance to be part of your lives,
Director of Youth Ministries