youth worker, youth ministry, picture

The Big Picture

By Dan Colwin July 15, 2010

Dan here again. My wife Clare and I met while volunteering in a local youth group almost three years ago. Even though my schedule had me away a lot, we still loved going to youth group events, working in small groups and mentoring students. About a year into volunteering, we started attending a different church in the area, mainly because we were looking for something a little smaller in size, but we still continued to volunteer in the original youth group with the youth pastor’s blessing. Everything was going pretty well. Clare and I got engaged and starting planning our future, we were getting more and more connected with people in our new church, and we were still consistent in the old youth group. But about six months into us being gone, the senior pastor of the first church asked us to step down from volunteering because we were no longer attending the church. He told the youth pastor he was implementing a new rule for the whole church, stating that if you didn’t attend the church, you couldn’t volunteer in any ministries. At the time, we were pretty hurt. We had been consistent and passionate about the youth group, but because we weren’t in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings we couldn’t give our time to this church? It was hard for us for a little while. Hard to keep our emotions in check and hard to not totally blame the senior pastor for what we saw as “small mindedness.” But I still respected the senior pastor a ton and I tried not to let my emotions get in the way. We had built a good relationship and I wanted to honor his leadership.  I even wrote the senior pastor a note of encouragement saying there was no ill will between us,that  I respected his leadership and would follow his direction for the church. I even put a gift card in there for him to take his wife out for dinner (senior pastors get way too many bad notes). I knew I couldn’t see the big picture at the time, but I was trying and I didn’t want my “small mindedness” to ruin a relationship.

Yeah, I didn’t see the whole story at first, but it’s coming to me more and more. You see, I didn’t have all the information in front of me, nor was I looking through the eyes of the senior pastor. He wanted fully committed staff who were integral parts of the entire congregation. It wasn’t just about us not attending Sunday morning; it was the fact that we were not fully committed to the entire church body. Sure we loved the youth group, but he wanted us to grow our love for all members of the church, adults included. It took me a while to see this and I’m still learning and now I respect his decision to let us go. I’m glad I didn’t jump the gun right away and say some things to the senior pastor that could have ruined our relationship. We still talk from time to time and he’s helped me with several writing projects. He and his wife even gave Clare and I our “family” Bible for our wedding.

We can’t always see the big picture when we’re in the middle of a situation, even if we’re trying really hard to see it. James tells us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Such wise counsel, especially when you can’t see the big picture. But if you follow this counsel and trust God will reveal the big picture to you, you’ll eventually come to see with clarity, and you’ll be pretty glad you didn’t fly off the handle.

It all worked out anyway. Tonight is my first night attending a youth group function at our new church. I’m super pumped. Game night here we come!

About the Author

Dan Colwin

Dan Colwin is director of trips at LeaderTreks. He and his wife, Clare, live in West Chicago with their sons, Everett and Oliver, and little puggle, Roxy. They love their church family at Life Church in Wheaton, where they volunteer together in the youth group. He enjoys spending time outdoors, taking walks, having fires, reading, building Legos, working in the garden, and…  Read More