Pastor Alvin and his family: “I want to be a faithful follower of Jesus, a fantastic husband and father, and a great pastor—in that order.”
From Youth Pastor to Senior Pastor
Our congregational business meeting was intense as the church discussed its need for a new lead pastor. Rumors had been afloat that I might fill that role, but as far as I was concerned, there was no way. I loved being a Youth Pastor and had no interest in working with adults. My saving grace was that our voting membership was an older group who would certainly want mature, more experienced leadership.
As the meeting ended, an elderly lady asked to speak with me. I was sure she would confirm my thinking and all of this would just go away, but she graciously proceeded to pop my balloon.
“Alvin,” she said, “you fit every one of the gifts and character traits that we want in our next lead pastor.” God, I thought, don’t do this. You are shooting down all of my excuses! I was surely the least-qualified of any candidate and it didn’t make sense. But then, the rest of my journey over the last few years hadn’t made much sense either.
My pastor father taught me that the ministry was both important and hard work. He and my mom modeled an authentic relationship with Jesus that had a huge impact on me, but I never once considered a career in the pastorate. I did have a deep desire to see my teenage peers follow Jesus, though, and Mom often told me that I would make a great youth pastor. She was mistaken, of course, so I enrolled in the Fine Arts program at Prairie College, choosing music and recording as my focus.
In my sophomore year I met a bubbly young freshman whose smile rocked my world and I knew I had found “the one.” The future seemed pretty straight-forward, but as graduation came and went, I couldn’t shake the thought that maybe Mom was right after all. About a week before the wedding, our pastor came to me and asked about my future plans. By now I was considering a second degree in ministry and thought I could help out at the church first to see if working
with teens was really my calling. Unfortunately, the youth pastor had recently resigned and there wasn’t even a program running.
“Why don’t you work here?” the pastor asked.
That took me by surprise. Mandy and I had agreed that we would wait a year before taking on anything too significant. We had no sooner returned from our honeymoon, however, when the church offered to hire me half-time for six months while they searched for a “real” youth pastor. It would provide me with an internship and allow me to attend school part-time. The offer was tempting, so because it was temporary, Mandy and I agreed.
The contract was nearly up by the time I realized that no plans appeared to be underway to replace me. When I mentioned this, the church board asked if I would come on full-time as the new youth pastor and suddenly I was in ministry before I had even begun my training. The next seven years were an amazing time of growth and I wanted to do this forever!
Then God began to ruffle the waters. The church needed a new pastor and eyes kept turning my way. I wanted to be defined by faith and not fear, but could God really be asking me to do this? I felt a lot like Moses, wanting the Lord to choose someone else, someone more qualified. But he kept putting the idea before me, sending encouragement from people of all ages. My heart began to change and when I decided to listen and seek his will, I realized I could either accept God’s plan or let fear hold me back. Finally I said yes to the call and in June of 2015, I became the lead pastor of Mt. Olive Evangelical Free Church in Three Hills, AB.
Our people have been patient and gracious as God continues to stretch me in my ministry role. Along with the pressures of leadership, it’s tough to walk with people suffering pain that doesn’t go away. You wish you could do more to solve problems or bring healing to relationships. On the other hand, there is no joy like seeing people come to Christ or return to him, and to see believers take new steps of obedience to God.
One area that has always caused me great anxiety is preaching. I didn’t see how I would find enough material for even a month’s worth of messages. The well should have run dry by now, but week after week, God comes through. Sometimes I still get cold feet and am tempted to run, but he gives the strength to remain. And often those days are the ones when God uses his Word in powerful ways, showing me it’s all about him and not me.
My desire is to be a faithful, passionate follower of Jesus, a fantastic husband and father, and a great pastor—in that order. Thankfully, my church accepts and understands that goal. I have felt so unprepared for each step along this journey, but maybe this has been God’s way of showing me how adequate he is and that when he calls, he will provide. I think Moses would agree!