A New Adventure Awaits

Just over a year ago, I started a journey that would change my life in more ways than I ever thought possible. In June of 2019, I was let go from my pastoral ministry job and left trying to figure out what would be next. I chased some church jobs and enjoyed a summer of chasing the Twins and having a bit of sabbath rest.

It was a fantastic summer in many ways, but time was running out, and I needed a job fast. That’s when God decided to do something unexpected. I had applied to Apple on a bit of a whim, not convinced that I would get an interview, let alone a job. Still, sure enough, on October 4th, 2019, I started a new role at Apple as a Technical Expert, and for the last year, I’ve been “repairing” relationships and devices at the Genius Bar.

A full year and a bit later, I find myself again about to start a new journey as the Village Kids Director at Village Church in Surrey, BC. I’m beyond excited for this role, and because today is Thanksgiving and I find myself reflecting on the year I have just had and how thankful I am for it.

Twelve months ago, I was not sure “thankfulness” was a word I would have used to describe my situation. I was optimistic and willing to trust how God was leading, but I was also frustrated by the situation. Apple turned out to be a fantastic adventure, but one I never thought I would have to go on. I always assumed I would just find a new church role and move on.

See, the funny thing about hindsight is that I can look back on the last year and laugh now a little. I can see God’s hand in all kinds of things. From something as simple as learning to take apart iPhones to the relationships and conversations had with team members and customers. I will never forget how many conversations I had explained that I used to be a Pastor and how I became a Technical Expert, and yes, I had no clue what I was doing, yet the lessons learned from the past year have changed me forever.

Apple has a credo, a guiding principle for all its Retail stores. It’s profound and full of powerful statements that we strived for every single day. One of the lines of the credo reads, “We find courage. To try and to fail, to learn and to grow, to figure out what’s next, to imagine the unimaginable, to do it all over again tomorrow.”

God used this year to show me the courage already inside of me to go beyond what I thought was possible. In doing so, I’ve come to realize that in Him, there are no limits, boundaries or obstacles that can stop me. The best part of it all is that He will do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

As I begin a new adventure with Village Church, I’m excited, nervous, and sometimes wonder if I’m ready. However, in those moments, I feel the Holy Spirit pull on my heart and saying, “Hey Jesse, don’t forget you have the courage. To try and to fail, to learn and to grow, to figure out what’s next, to imagine the unimaginable, to do it all over again tomorrow.”

Life is full of adventures, and I’m not 100% sure where this one will take me yet. But what I do know is that I’m thankful for this last year because, without it, I wouldn’t be ready for what comes next. I believe God’s timing is everything, so I can’t wait to see what He has planned.

Are You A Digital Citizen?

2020 has been a crazy year, and for many church and youth ministries, there was a monumental shift to online programming. You probably had a Facebook or Instagram account going for your students, and maybe you had participated in a Zoom meeting like once in your life. But now you were called to bring everything into the digital age.

When all this started last winter and early spring, people were hopeful that life would return to normal sooner than later. However, as time has moved on, the reality is, things are not going to be changing anytime soon. Ya, maybe you will meet in person with a limited capacity, but now that the lid has blown off of digital youth ministry, we will not be able to go backwards.

So this brings me back to my original question, what do you know about digital citizenship?

This post will not be a place where you will find all the answers; however, I want to take a moment and poke at the question with you. See, I’ve been thinking a lot about this question and the digital realities of ministry these days, and I see an opportunity.

Collectively the Church and Youth Ministry have an opportunity to educate students and families about what it means to be a good digital citizen and, in turn, love like Jesus in a digital space.

You don’t have to look further than most comment sections on any social edit site to realize that we say things to each other in digital spaces that we would NEVER say to someone’s face. We use the barrier of our screens as justification for all kinds of negative barriers, and the disconnect from the physical person lets us feel like “it’s not hurting anyone.”

The reality is that cyberbullying is on the rise; our world is more divided than ever before that rhetoric seems to have been turning up 1000%. Now is the time to teach our students what it means to be digital citizens, and you have the perfect platform to do it… because your ministry is online already.

My challenge for you is to consider teaching digital citizenship this fall or at least apply the principles to how your Small Groups and Ministry navigates the fall digital programs.

As I said, I’m not an expert in the field, but I can point you in the right direction. Use the following links as a place to start. The podcast is a great primer and Common Sense Education is a fantastic place to get more information and a ton of free resources. 

Resource List on Race

I decided to contact some of the people within my network and circles from around Canada and the US to find resources for Youth Ministries to talk about race and injustice. There was not a lot of option if I’m honest and I’ve got some ideas about that. But I did receive a few recommendations. I’m sure there are fantastic resources out there, and if you know if any, I would like to continue to update this list. Feel free to email me with the information. 

Tackling this conversation will be hard but we have an obligation to try.

  • Stuff You Can Use: Every year in Grow Curriculum, we create youth ministry teaching series specifically about injustice, suffering, and doubt. If you need help leading these kinds of conversations right now, these series are free. To get them go to bit.ly/agiftfromgrow or text DOJUSTICE to 555-888 if you want the link sent to you.
  • LeaderTreks: We live in unprecedented times. Our world is filled with voices trying to define who “belongs” and who has value. In the end, the answer to those questions is only found in Jesus, who tells us that as members of his body, we are incredibly important and valued, no matter what we look like or where we come from. DownloadBelonging to The Body 
  • Be The Bridge: There are a ton of recourse to check out and one of the most comprehensive places I’ve found so far. Check out the Be the Bridge Youth Kit or one of the many free options they have available. 
  • Anti-Racism Resource: There has been a list of resources circulating some of my circles. There are lots of amazing resources but make sure you read them before you share as some of these resources have mature content. Download Here

 

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If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.