What are you currently doing for your career?
Since I graduated from RC, I have been employed at Woodside Bible Church in Troy, Michigan, as the student ministry pastor. There are a lot of different dynamics to my work in a given week as often times I am working on specific task-oriented projects. For example, we recently had an event for 400 middle school students so my ‘work’ involved constructing a 3,000 square foot pallet maze and handling other event coordination tasks, overseeing a high school student leadership meeting, planning our middle and high school Christmas events, meeting one-on-one with a church leader, connecting with other staff members about upcoming church-wide events, meeting with regional directors of our Young Life and Mission of Hope Haiti projects, counseling a student, overseeing weekly programming for both middle and high school students, leading an eighth-grade guys small group, baptizing a student, managing our social media accounts, and preparing for and preaching multiple messages.
How did RC’s youth and family ministry program help you achieve what you have become?
First, I’ll say that I would recommend the youth and family ministry program at RC for anyone who is thinking about going into student or family ministry. I was at a point in the fall of 2006 where I was uncertain of what I was going to do in my life. The closed doors and other clarification as to what God was calling me to do led me to Rochester College. Several courses and professors were instrumental to my development, including Dr. Keith Huey’s wisdom as my academic adviser, Dr. David Keller’s kindness and grace, Dr. Craig Bowman’s humility and faithfulness as he taught the Pentateuch with such passion in the midst of his chemotherapy, and Dave Blanchard’s honest, relational, discipleship-minded approach to teaching. One of the things I enjoyed most about my ministry and religion professors is they clearly taught and lived out the Gospel.
What advice would you give to students who are thinking about becoming youth and family ministry majors at RC?
I would encourage anyone who is thinking about going into student ministry to do a number of things. I would hope they would be spending time in prayer and the Bible as they seek God’s will for their life. As they do so, if they’ve felt called to ministry then I would encourage them to have a conversation with three to five trustworthy people who know them well. A pastor, whether it be a senior pastor or student ministry pastor, should be one of those people. The other people could be someone like a best friend, parent or small group leader—trusted people who will speak truth, especially hard truth, into your life. These conversations will help affirm your calling into ministry, as well as sharpen you for the journey ahead.
I would also recommend these students do at least a year-long internship with a local church. Doing this allows students to get a robust hands-on experience and understanding of what the daily rhythm of ministry looks like. It provides a far greater context and experience than a summer internship can.
Lastly, I’d advise students to not count the hours they are interning. Oftentimes ministry does not take place in eight-hour daily chunks, nor can you gain a full experience by showing up 10 hours a week. There will be weeks where 10-15 hours are more than enough and others where you’ll need to put in at least 30. Plan for those weeks by carving out time for rest and reprieve, so you can fully embrace the busy times and all God has in store for you during it.