My Youth Pastor 20 Years After High School

“I’ll never forget when he took me to lunch.”

“I remember looking in the bleachers and seeing him there at my basketball game.”

“His wife Sherrie had us all over for a slumber party.”

Funny… no one remembered any of his sermons or talks, but we all remembered how he loved us, made us feel accepted, and how much he invested in our lives relationally.

I’m talking about my youth pastor from 20 years ago. You see… this past weekend I had a 20 year high school reunion, but not with my school… with my church youth group.

Imagine that. Do you ever wonder what the kids in your church’s current youth group will look like in 20 years? What will they have to say about their youth pastor?

The whole idea of a “youth group reunion” began last fall when some of my old high school church friends started Facebooking each other, “Wouldn’t it be fun to get everyone together again, “etc. After 4 or 5 of us kept saying it, we decided to make it happen. We emailed as many people as we still knew and came up with a date. Then we started spreading the word.

Last Friday and Saturday night we got all of us together. Friday night was “family night” (we had infants, toddlers, tweens and teens) and Saturday night was just couples and individuals. What a great time!

Our youth pastor from back then, Paul, is now one of our church’s associate pastor. He and his wife Sherrie came to the party along with my dad and mom (my dad was the senior pastor when I was in high school). Among the “youth group kids- all grown up” were a doctor, a few state workers, a professor at Eastern College in PA, a nurse, a couple youth ministers, an associate pastor, a missionary in China, a manager of Toys R S, a hotel manager, a few stay-at-home moms and a handful of people in business for themselves. Almost every single one of them is plugged into a church right now, many of them involved in ministry.

On Saturday night we had an “open mike” asking people to share their favorite “Paul” story. We shared stories of him hanging out with us on backback trips, snow trips, his visits to our campus and sports events… amazing what people remembered. We spend over 30 minutes just lifting him up and thanking him for his investment in our lives.

It was amazing how after 20 years, the quality people remembered the most was Paul’s relational investment in our lives.

Hmmmmmm.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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