I’m a LOT Older Today: 6 Years at Agincourt, man!

Feb 14th, 2005 was my first day at work at Agincourt.

It was such a nerve-wracking day. The youth pastor before me had just left the night before and that was still in the air…I was nervous and said sorry anytime I had to ask for anything (this is something my friend Maria reminds me of to this day). I met a whole bunch of new people with names like Carmel, Sandi, Keith and Sharon, Terry, Tony, Jan (who had longer hair in person than the staff website promoted…) along with names I already knew like Kathy, Andrew and Laura. At the time I was engaged to be married that September, was about to graduate from Bible college in April and was looking for my own place. I had big shoes to fill as the guy before me was here for 9 years, with many missions trips, successes and stories…all of which I heard of…all the time (nothing like being put up against the wall all the time). And that played on my mind all the time.

I remember my first youth night. Some kids were excited that I was there. Other kids were upset that THEIR youth pastor was gone…same with some of the leaders. I remember thinking, ‘I won’t last a month!’ One kid even told me, “I’m not coming anymore!” Still, kids like Tim, Jenna, Niels, Steffan, Rebecca and more stuck in with me and my then fiancée Rebecca Brown. I made a lot of rookie mistakes that aren’t covered in ‘Intro to Youth Ministry’ class. I fell down, lost leaders but gained new ones…many of which I have great relationships now. Some kids left but many came in through the doors and stuck it out with us, now doing great things for the kingdom. We shared great stories, trips, laughs, tears, corrections, apolgies…we became family (we still call them our kidlets at home, even though they be grown…)

I remember my first time speaking at APC on Good Friday 2005. People met me for the first time that day. I was so scared but felt so loved.

I remember first meeting my boss in November 2004. Cool guy but I didn’t think I’d really get to know him (staff is big, I’m small…). 6 years later, I couldn’t find a better mentor, teacher and supporter than Keith Smith. Other than my family and closest of friends, no one has believed in me more. I remember after leading worship for the first time and it not going well (LONG STORY). I stood beside him and thought he’d disown me and banish me from worship leading at APC. Instead he put his arm around my shoulder and said Good Job. That support is still there after every presentation, worship time…it’s good to know you’re believed in.

I remember in 2006 meeting my then team leader, Jeff Hackett thinking “We’re too similar…we won’t get along.” 6 years later, we bicker like two old friends who go back YEARS! I honestly love the guy.

Today is Feb 14th, 2011.

Today, by Agincourt years, i am 6 years old. Those names I mentioned before as people I met on my first day are now family to me (Keith and Sharon Preston not only dedicated Becca as a baby, they stood with us as we dedicated our OWN daughter, for example). The kids I started with at The Surge/Elevation are now in university doing awesome, many of them a part of the post-high group we have here that I oversee. I am no longer worried about filling another man’s shoes. I wear my own. 10 and a halves, yo! I get to be me at a great church and serve great people. I still make rookie mistakes from time to time but it’s a reminder that I still have lots to learn (humility is a process). I don’t worry about getting known but rather making Him known to everyone I come in contact with. So behind the scenes stuff is just as fun. I get to believe in others like how I was believed in.

Wow…thank you Father for crossing my paths with 2885 Kennedy Road. Thanks Becca for saying yes to moving to Toronto even though you hated the idea of big city and big church (and doing youth…lol…you KNOW you love the kidlets now! I actually remember the moment when kids made their home in your heart.). Thanks Pastor Keith for FOUR exploratory meetings, the opportunity and the willingness to take a chance on an unknown. Thanks Maria for not getting annoyed at the ‘sorrys’ and this staff for putting up with all that is Chase. Thanks to the leaders, students  and families who believed in us so much they gave up countless Fridays to be with us.

Looking back on it all, I can’t believe it’s gone by so fast. And that I still have all my hair (with a few greys in the beard now). I can’t wait to turn 7.

Then I’ll be a big kid!

PS – Hey young soon-to-be youth pastor friends: These types of stories only come when you stick it out…

You Just Never Know…

You can never predict how your life will turn out.

At 18 years old, I was in my second year of CEGEP at John Abbott College (That’s college for you Ontario and American readers, not university. That comes after…) studying Liberal Arts. I was in a singing group (our name was C.R.I.M.E. Seriously…), working on my rap game, wearing imitation Timbs and a giant orange bubble jacket. Yes, orange…bright orange. I worked at The Gap, made money, was loud ALL the time and was very obnoxious. I kinda knew what I wanted to do but didn’t know how to get there.

I remember being in classes thinking ‘This is NOT what I want to do.I don’t wanna be here. I don’t care about  modern philosophy or 18th Century art or Problems of Math and Logic.  I don’t care…”. I don’t wanna be like these nerds in class, reading all the time. So I had fun…stayed involved in church for Godly and attention reason, forgot about school and simply just DID, if that makes any sense.

…I turn 30 in less than a month. I’m a husband, father, good son (who really should call home more often), brother, friend. I’m all those things because of who Jesus is to me and what he’s done for me. I work with the greatest people on earth at 2885 Kennedy Road, both staff and volunteers (the church should always work together, not work for people…at least I think so…). I’m not as loud as I was (at least in the eye of the writer I’m not). I read constantly (I’m the nerd I hated on…). I’m not a rapper (though my freestyle skills still be nice/like a glass of coca-cola chilled down with ice…bow!) nor a singer but that’s okay!

Why the nostalgia? Well, today, a friend of mine opened up his own cafe in my town of Ajax (Cafe Moka…check it out yo!) and asked me as a pastor and friend to pray a blessing over it (He loving calls me Reverend…he’s only person I’ll let do that too. It just sounds weird. He also calls me his priest. That I hate…lol!). I was honored to do so. I thought that while people mingled in the front, we’d go to his back office and pray. Nope. Instead he shut the music down and asked me to pray in front of a bunch of people i didn’t know (and in my head I was like “did I cut anyone off on the way in? Did I smile at everyone as I walked in? Was I on Twitter the entire time?”. So after saying some choice words, we prayed, laughed and celebrated his new business. When I sat down, someone who was in class with me at 17-18 and saw me in the bubble goose, trying to sing and rap, loud as can be said something really cool. They simple smiled and said “I’m not surprised to see you doing this…I could see it then…”

I thought that was cool because I never did. Honestly.

Then I ate a sandwich. Best one I ever had in my life.

‘This is your life/are you who you wanna be…'” – Switchfoot. Well? Are you?