I attended the same church my whole life.
Not that I’m complaining, this church was incredible. The people are so caring and close, it really felt like one big family. It was a great environment to grow up in, and I’ve made many life-long friendships there.
When I graduated high school and prepared to move to Atlanta for college, one of my biggest worries was about finding a church that I would connect well with. It was really hard for me to imagine going anywhere else other than my home church where I had spent years with the people there. I just couldn’t really wrap my head around the idea of a new church community, but I knew that it was important for my continued spiritual growth.
So I searched around for new churches, visited a few, and eventually settled on a one with a very similar feel to my home church. And I liked it… for a while at least. There wasn’t really a group there for college students, and the people were great, I just wasn’t making any connections.
I stuck with this church for my entire first semester of school. One day, one of my friends that I grew up with in my home church invited me to her church, North Metro, that she had been going to a little further outside Atlanta. I hadn’t seen her in a while and I was all for visiting someplace else, so I jumped at the chance. The next week, I met up with her and we attended a service at her church.
I was awestruck through the entire morning! The worship was incredible, basically a live concert, and the pastor was amazing. I felt like I was on a retreat. I knew immediately that this was the church for me and I started attending regularly. North Metro had a college group that I also started going to which had that same retreat feel, and I absolutely loved it! After a semester of attending the college group, I finally got my work schedule changed so that I could get plugged into a college small group. I found the most incredible group of guys that I have ever met, and quickly formed very deep and very special friendships with them.
That semester that I joined my small group, God began to change me and mold me into who I am today. It felt like God had me exactly where he wanted and pulled out a (long) checklist of things that needed to change in me, and one by one, he went down the list. There were sins I didn’t want to deal with, bad habits I needed to break, good habits I needed to form, and truths that I desperately needed to hear.
During that semester, whatever item on the checklist God was working on with me, there was always a sermon, or a small group session, or a song on the radio, that spoke directly into what I was struggling with. That semester, I believe that I went through more spiritual growth than I had my entire life. Not to say that is was all wonderful, it was hard, and it hurt. It actually reminds me a lot of a skit done by a pair of guys that I first saw perform at a high school retreat one year. It’s a great visualization of the process of God changing us. You can find the video here.
God is nowhere near done changing me and making me more like him, but near the end of that semester, I knew that God was preparing me for something, I just didn’t know what yet. I kept hearing sermons and reading bible passages about leadership, loving others, serving in the church, and things along that line. I began praying about it asking God to show me what he wanted me to do with all of this and the answer really surprised me. I felt a very strong calling to youth ministry.
Now, if you had told me a year ago that today I would be heavily invested in a group of high schoolers, I would have laughed and wondered where you got such a crazy idea. I never saw myself getting involved in youth ministry, but now I can’t really imagine doing anything else. It’s funny how God’s plan is always better than what we have in mind.