When I was preparing to graduate from Brite Divinity School during the Summer of 2009 I found myself sensing a nudging to explore other areas of congregational ministry outside of the field of Youth Ministry. This was a scary proposition as I was, at the time, serving an amazing congregation with an even-more-amazing youth group. But as my time at Brite was coming to a close, I began to sense that it was time to “spread my wings” and go on to other “bigger” things.
Five years later, after two stints as a senior pastor, I made the decision to return to my “roots” and re-engage the crazy, holy madness that is Youth Ministry. For myself, for my spirit, for my ministry, and for God’s Kingdom, this was the best decision I have ever made. Youth Ministry is what I am called to do, and for me there is no more sacred work than to journey alongside teenagers during those crazy, unpredictable, beautiful years of middle school and high school.
This is where I belong. And the truth is, of course, that I have always known this to be true.
My initial call to ministry came while on a mission trip during my junior year of high school. It was a call that was reaffirmed while serving as a counselor during a week of church camp.
The most holy communion experience I have ever participated in occurred on the floor at 7:00am with elements of orange juice and glazed donuts.
The most in depth theological discussions I have ever witnessed have sprung out of seemingly innocuous comments uttered during youth group gatherings.
I believe in Youth Ministry. I believe in late nights and early mornings. I believe in silliness and play. I believe in laughter and spontaneity. I believe in that a trip to the coffee shop can yield the same holiness as a trip to the monastery. I believe in messy rooms. I believe in intentional prayer. I believe in the sacred art of holy listening. I believe in silence. I believe in creating. I believe in teaching and in learning. I believe in sacred community. I believe in relationships.
When I say I believe in Youth Ministry what I am saying is that I believe in the youth of our churches and our communities. I believe that our youth are not only capable of leading the Church, but they are capable to transforming the world (and are, in fact, already doing both these things). However, our young people will only live into the fullness of who they were created to be if they are made a priority by the Church and it’s leadership. The boundless potential that abides within the souls of the youth whom I am blessed to serve is what helps to stir my spirit and what drives me forward in ministry.
My Youth inspire me to be a better pastor, Christian, and human being and for the gift of being permitted to journey alongside them I will be forever grateful.
Rev. Aaron Todd serves as the Minister for Education at First Christian Church-Midwest City, OK . He is married to Debra, who is also a Disciples pastor, and together they have a 3 year old son named Zach and a precious baby boy named Josh. In addition to their human children, they have a 5 year old dog named Amos (named after the prophet).