I’m a pastor’s kid. Do you know what that means? I’ve grown up seeing the other side of pastoral ministry. I’ve got the inside scoop. I’ve grown up seeing what a pastor is like when they leave church, what they’re like when they take off the proverbial robe and stoll after church on Sunday. I’ve grown up hearing what they say about the frustrations and pain and annoyances that are a daily reality for any pastor. You know what the really crazy thing is? God called me to be a pastor too. To follow in Daddy’s footsteps, as it were. When I felt that call, it was like God saying “I hope you’ve been listening to your Dad, because that’s what you’ll be doing!”
So that’s the start of how I ended up in pastoral ministry. There’s this long story of how God called me, but we’ll save that for another time. I am a Licensed Local Pastor in the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, serving my very first appointment as the pastor of Alger First United Methodist Church (The Church That Cares). I am also 22 years old and a senior Music major at Ohio Northern University. I could say a bunch of stuff about how hard my life is, finishing up my undergraduate degree and stepping into pastoral ministry at the same time. But honestly? It’s really not that bad. Sure it’s busy and difficult sometimes. But really, it’s not that bad. Why? Because I have been blessed through being a part of what we United Methodists call “The Connection,” and especially one part of The Connection in West Ohio-The Refresh Network.
Refresh is a growing network of young United Methodist clergy and their families designed to support, connect, and resource one another. We realize that there are no real soloists in ministry, but that ministry should be like a symphony, each person contributing the proverbial music of their own ministry to the glorious sound created by us all. Yeah, sometimes we’re out of tune, sometimes we hit the wrong notes, but we’re making music and it is beautiful. And we realize that some of the people in the UMC who need the most support, connections, and resources are young clergy and their families. So what do we do? We come together in this network we call Refresh.
I need this network. Because have been so many times already that I look at all of the things I have to do to pastor my church and shepherd my flock and I realize that I don’t know how to do any of it. I know that there are many things that I have to learn. And it is such a great encouragement to know that I’m not alone in this; there are people who are within the same age range as I am who have struggled or are struggling with the same things I am. Developing a network that joins together all of our efforts to connect with each other, learn from each other, and grow with each other just makes all of that more possible. As our denomination ages along with all of the other mainline denominations, it is good to be part of a network of young clergy who are working to bridge that age gap. The mere fact that this network exists says to the world “The church is not dead. We are alive, and God has more in store for us than we could possibly imagine.”
The same could be said of the larger “Connection” of which I am a part. In an increasingly individualistic culture, the United Methodist connection says “We cannot do life alone. We cannot minister to this world alone. We cannot fight against the spiritual and temporal forces of evil alone. We need each other.” Despite whatever differences we have, despite what end of the theological spectrum we fall on, despite how strongly we disagree with each other, we are One Church and we are connected.