By Carl Stagner
The Apostle Paul said to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Tim 4:12 NIV). But sometimes, it happens. It happens to older saints, too. It happens to female ministers. Sadly, it still happens to those of a different skin color. As the Church of God seeks to lift up Jesus as our subject, our prayer is that differences will fade under the blinding glow of the Son. At Church of God Convention 2015 (June 22–25) in Oklahoma City, several young ministers will be featured, instead of ignored. Then on Tuesday, June 23, young lead pastors in the Church of God, between the ages of twenty and forty, will gather for a special luncheon to share common struggles, as well as common joys.
The first-ever Young Lead Pastors’ Luncheon was held last year at Church of God Convention, and received much acclaim for those who attended. No one should ever have to face a particular struggle alone, especially when so many in the movement can relate to, and encourage, each other. “For example, it may be establishing credibility and trust as a young pastor,” Steve Southards explains. Steve, lead pastor of Salem Church of God in Clayton, Ohio, is not only helping to coordinate the luncheon, but he will also speak during the Tuesday afternoon session of the convention. Steve has had his fair share of challenges commonly associated with young pastors, so he can relate. “It may also be managing time with a young family and ministry demands. We need to understand that ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. We have to be able to balance passion with wisdom. We need deep friendships with others in ministry, not to mention that typically, as young leaders, we are not as aware of our gifts, passions, weaknesses, and dysfunctions, as those who are more experienced in ministry.”
Matt Anderson agrees. As preaching associate at Crossings Church in Oklahoma City, and former lead pastor of McDowell Mountain Community Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, Matt knows the necessity of networking with those on similar ministry paths. He’s also helping to coordinate the luncheon. “We need to support, encourage, build up, affirm, challenge, and pray for one another,” he explains. “We need to share ideas and dreams, talk about best practices and the greatest challenges we face. We are a relational people, and this is an important part of being in a tribe like ours.”
Between seventy-five and one hundred young pastors attended the luncheon last year. Connections were established that would never had otherwise been formed. “I think this year can build on that, and perhaps reconnect some folks and be an environment for new connections,” Steve explains. “We are encouraging spouses to attend, as well.”
This year, the luncheon will be sponsored entirely by Servant Solutions. Thanks to our friends at this outstanding agency of the Church of God, the luncheon will take place at no cost to those who attend. “This is a great opportunity for us to connect, network, build relationships, and encourage one another,” Matt concludes. “We need each other. We weren’t intended to do ministry in isolation, but as a part of a greater picture, a tribe of like-minded and like-hearted brothers and sisters in ministry.”
Invitees will need to register for the Young Lead Pastors’ Luncheon by sending an e-mail to Carrie Armstrong at CArmstrong@chog.org by Monday, June 1. The event will take place on Tuesday, June 23, from 12:15 PM to 1:45 PM in Room 250 at Crossings Community Church Register for Church of God Convention 2015 at www.chogconvention.org.