A Chronicle of Youth Ministry – by Drew Pappas

A Deep Breath.

I am finally sitting at my desk, and I can breathe.
It’s not the first time I’ve done this this week, but if feels like it. I just finished boxing and moving all the lost & found stuff from camp, getting my desk organized and clean again, and generally checking things off my list. I’m a little tired, but that is the norm these days, as there is a new occupant in my house: my 3 week old son, Wesley. I’ve learned a few very valuable things that I think everyone can take from my experience, and I’ve decided to write them all down for you here, in no particular order.
  1. Do not have a baby that could be born any minute while you are directing a summer camp. It’s just not a good idea. And don’t cut it close either. When deciding, “When should we have our baby?” just steer clear of camp altogether. And don’t try to do the math 9 months (or is it 8? 10?) earlier. Just don’t. Make it like three or four months away. Like March. Or September maybe. But nowhere in the middle. See, planning and running a summer camp, and preparing for the un-scheduleable arrival of an infant, bring in two distinct types of stress into your life. There’s camp stress, which isn’t really too bad. Not if you do your job the right way. But it is a lot. It occupies the mind and keeps you in a constant state of mild tension. But there’s really not much to worry about. Just get your stuff done and delegate. Plan it right, and the execution will be easy. Plan with flexibility and allow for a margin of error where there may be. Prepare for unplanned variables. And then there’s baby stress. That’s a little different. You can plan this one all you want, but you can’t know exactly WHEN it will happen. You just wait. And then HOW it will happen… well you can have an idea, and a preference… but nature might have a different plan. And there’s dozens of things that can go wrong during labor, and any husband worth his salt will admit to a certain level of stress regarding the process. Now mix the two things together. A normal human mind (inparticular a MALE mind) is not designed to handle this level of overall stress. You take the high-volume and responsibility of camp stress, and then throw in a ton of uncertainty and phone-watching, and you get a headache. And I did. Frequently. So, when you find yourself 9 months before the summer camp that you are responsible for running and directing, and your wife says “Maybe we should have a baby!” just wait. Ok? Just wait. 2 months. Minimum.
  2. Do not ever use “God will take care of it” as an excuse for bad planning. When the guy who buried his money and didn’t invest it got confronted, he didn’t say “well I’ll just play it by ear”. No. He realized he did not do the work that he should have. Don’t get me wrong, a good ability to improvise and make something out of nothing is a HUGE power to have, and one that I use FREQUENTLY. But God just as much gives us a mind to plan, strategize, and execute as he does to think on the fly. I’ve been in a lot of situations out of necessity where I was left with no choice but to let go of the things I could not control. For example, planning and running a camp whilst working a full time at the Shipyard. I simply did not have the time or energy to cover everything, so leaving it up to faith was the natural choice. That’s not to say that I ever would NOT leave it up to faith… to the contrary, I leave it up to faith that God will give me the tools I need to plan what I need to plan.I think about that joke with the guy who’s in the middle of a flood, standing on a rooftop as the waters rise, telling all that God is going to rescue him. He refuses the offers of a boat and helicopter to carry him to safety, saying “I am praying to God to save me, and I have faith that he will!” He ends up drowning, and upon his arrival at the Pearly Gates, he questions the Almighty for not saving him. God just shakes his head at the man and replies, “I sent you a boat AND a helicopter. What else did you want me to do?”

    See, faith means trusting God in ALL things. Fastening a seatbelt or taking an ibuprofen does NOT mean you are taking power away from God. Another example I often see is in the context of playing on a worship team. You’ll sometimes here “We’re gonna just leave some room for the Spirit to move at the end of this song here,” as if we ever were NOT going to let the Spirit move. It’s basically saying “I’ll do SOME planning and practicing, and the rest is up to God.” This is WRONG. It’s ALL up to God! There’s no part of it that isn’t! Saying you want to leave room for God implies, perhaps accurately, that the other parts are just you, and God isn’t even involved. That’s the true crime. God gives us time and resources to accomplish our calling. If we fail at this stage, it is indeed our own fault. But often, God bails us out anyway, because His plan ALWAYS WORKS. We can’t mess it up. We have assured victory in Christ.

    “Should we then go on sinning so that grace may abound? NO!” I apply that here as well. I know that God has all things in the palm of His hand, and that my own spiritual well-being is directly related to my ability to TRUST FULLY in Him, but that does not mean I should do a bad job at the things He has given me. The miracle here is that He has made me a PART of his work. I have a responsibility to see it done.

  1. It’s a pleasant but awkward ride on the “NO” train. Choo-choo! But seriously. When I first prepared to accept my new job as a Youth Pastor, I was given many different perspectives on things to prepare for. So was Jessica. She had a very rational fear that as a Pastor’s Wife (Or a P-Dub, as I like to call them. Tina, Anna, you rock too) she’d be expected to meet a whole bunch of expectations and responsibilities for a job that frankly, she didn’t apply for. One thing that was a common warning was “Don’t be afraid to say NO!” This of course, in the context of being more or less on call 24/7, as a passionate member of a team of Shepherds tending a flock. But, as I told Jessica, this wasn’t a new thing. Even when we were volunteers over three years prior, we had always told our students that they could call any time, day or night, and we would be there. And we still are! And they have. And we love that we can have that role in people’s lives. But when it comes to time management, stress management, and family health, “no” is a powerful word. I was used to saying “yes” quite a lot. Any time someone made a need aware to me, I wanted to take care of it! I played on our worship team as often as I could. I organized work parties. I even got my leg hacked open by a chainsaw while volunteering with some clearing at the Red Barn. But that was a different era. When your wife has a “high risk” pregnancy and your 3 year-old is discovering his human nature, and on top of this you have a new job where you are carrying a dozen new, equally important responsibilities, you reevaluate how you commit yourself. But even if I were not in such a ‘high demand’ stage of life, I’d remain on this locomotive. On one hand, it’s to preserve my own strength and mental health. That’s important. I recognize that I am human and I come with risks. Yes, I trust God for my sustenance, and I’m willing and ready to be stretched in His service. But I also can look around and find dozens of cases where PASTORS (yes, those holy and able stalwarts of faith) fell. And that’s not an easy fall to come back from. On the other hand, it’s a simple quality over quantity scenario. I want to always, always put out a quality product, and never ever do something “just to get it done”. That goes against my M.O.


So I’m here now, back in the saddle, ready to wrangle some youth ministry shenanigans, help launch a church campus, and bring our media production capabilities to their maximum potential. Am I still a bit tired because uninterrupted sleep is once again a foreign concept to me? Yes. But is my mind clear and excited, ready for another year in ministry? You betcha. Also, I hope to update this blog more often. Peace.


Baseball and other things

I am a Mariners fan. 

A serious one. I have been a Mariners fan for as long as I can remember talking. In the early 90’s, names like Griffey, Martinez (both of them), Buhner, and Randy Johnson were household names. I could barely assemble sentences and I was swinging a bat at a tee, pretending I was one of those guys. Then ’95 happened. If you’re an M’s fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, I’ll help you:

Oh, and this:

Speaking of household names, Dave Niehaus is right up there. Many years followed of exciting Mariners baseball, coming to a climax in 2001 when they hit the world record for wins in a season. After that, things kinda digressed. The bandwagon got much, much lighter. Nevertheless, they’ve maintained a steady following, slowly picking up stragglers along the way, to where they are now. They hold the longest playoff drought of any team in the five major pro sports in the US. They recently acquired this prestigious honor, when the Buffalo Bills made it to the playoffs (?!?!) this past winter. 
And yet, year after year, I get giddy as baseball season approaches. I literally can’t wait. You see, I grew up in a baseball house. We ALL played baseball (or fastpitch, in the case of my sisters), both in Little League and in High School (Go Seahawks). Like my brother, I played shortstop most of the time, and I like to think I did pretty well, up until High School. But unlike all my siblings… it stopped. While my siblings all had acquired MVP honors by their sophomore years, I was done after my freshman year. I had fun playing, but to put it bluntly, I wasn’t very good. I did well at tryouts. Well enough to make the team. But my hand-eye coordination did not keep up with my fellow players, and I fell behind. Something new had come into my life: guitar. And more importantly, worship. I had found a new identity. As a socially awkward dorky teen, I had trouble fitting in here and there, and more or less followed where my friends went, which wasn’t always what I actually wanted to do. By mid sophomore year, I joined the chamber choir, and baseball became a thing of the past. I was playing guitar at youth group, and found closeness with the friends there, like I never had before. Jesus had taken over that spot, and I was along for the ride. 
But baseball certainly never actually left my life. It was always there, like a faithful friend. Occasionally I’d catch a Mariners game here and there. But I was growing. Learning. And oddly enough, missing it. About six years ago or so, I came back. I don’t know if the Mariners needed me, but they weren’t doing very well. Frankly, they haven’t done well much at all. They’ve shown promise here and there, but anyone who is a ‘bandwagon’ fan would be foolish to jump on that one. But I came back. Rick Rizz was still calling games on 710 AM, as if nothing had ever changed. The excitement was still there. I’d bought in wholesale, and let the Mariners toss my emotions too and fro. Yes, the season would always end with disappointment, but I have learned something valuable that I will take with me my entire life.
I decided early on that the highs were worth it. That every game represented potential. Even if the odds were bad. I began to see glimmers here and there that my pessimistic fellow Washingtonians did not see. Felix’s perfect game, Kyle Seager making legendary stops at 3rd base. I changed my expectations. Instead of holding on to a flimsy expectation that they go get a World Series trophy, finally, I just asked them for one thing: exciting baseball. And my oh my, have they delivered. It’s FUN. There is THRILL. 
Give every day a chance. 24 hours each. We all get it. It’s almost the only thing in life that is actually fair. How do you look at those hours? I’m not just talking about a simple pessimism vs optimism situation. I mean actually going for it. Life is a marathon, just like a baseball season. It’s long. But with each day, comes the potential for something amazing to happen. How would you know if you didn’t try? In baseball, no matter how bad the season is going, any game could give a no-hitter, or a hit for the cycle, or a grand slam. It’s a game of potential. Like life. We all want to see fruit in our lives. We want that amazing thing to happen, but we need that heavenly perspective. We need to look up expectantly, but not as if to be disappointed when it doesn’t happen the way we expect, but to see through HIS eyes. He has chosen us to be a part of His story. And you’ll only know what potential each day truly has, if you lace up your cleats, put on your glove, and get ready. It could happen today.
John 15:16
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
Entering this Mariners season, there is once again, promise, hope, and buzz. And expectations. There are new faces, like Dee Gordon, and old ones too… like Ichiro. I’ll go to, watch, or listen to every game that I can. And every time I hear that intro music before a game… I’ll be 7 years old again, watching Edgar step up to the plate…

A Thursday

A Thursday. An atypical one at that. But then again, how often do I get typical days anymore? I came to work later than usual today, by design. I’m working late tonight, so to preserve time at home with Jessica and Jack-Jack, I came in later. I ran three miles at the gym I just started going to, so that’s cool. The rest of the day will consist of three meetings with various folks, writing this blog, and preparing for the 30 Hour Famine in a month.
But as this is the first post in this blog, I’ll cover some basics. My name is Drew, and I like to party. At least, that’s the stigma. One of many stigmas. Many of which I willingly embrace. 
Last October, after nearly eight years of working at the Navy base in Bremerton as a Nuclear Marine Electrician, WayPoint Church hired me full time as their brand new Youth Pastor. It wasn’t really  a surprise, as we had been working up to this point for some time. For about three years prior I was working at WayPoint in a part-time capacity, just running the youth group on Monday nights. It was a good system, but after all that time, it began to take its toll. 
Since then, I’ve been learning all the time what it means to be in full-time ministry. I share an office with Mark Klingler, our Discipleship Pastor. This office wasn’t meant to be occupied by two people all the time… It was built for our Associate Pastor of years ago, and my personal mentor, Rory Adams. Where my desk now sits was his closet for storing games and other boxes of various things. 
So my first challenge when I set foot in my new office, was the challenge of space management. After months of modifying, planning, tweaking, and moving things, I think I’ve arrived at a happy place where I have successfully built an effective workspace in a closet.
Mark is weird and uses a standup desk, and my chair is very small, so we’ve preserved quite a bit of floor space for activities. We have a couch, where Mark sits when he’s sick of standing, which is often. Obviously. 
As you can see in the picture, when square footage is limited, it helps to start thinking vertically. So I put a large shelf on top for storing things like the MYSTERY BOX which you can see in this picture. Under that is a bookshelf. I have a rather large library of science fiction and other assorted books at home, but this is a start. I brought with some essentials, like Ender’s Game, the original Star Wars novel by George Lucas, and the Princess Bride, along with some other for Pastory books, and FIVE different submissions of the Bible. Below the bookshelf,  you see my wall-mounted monitor, connected to my Lenovo laptop, which goes into tablet configuration, for use with my wireless keyboard and mouse. The mouse is resting regally on a United Federation of Planets mousepad, because why not. 
Now that all that stuff is taken care of, my workspace will hopefully aid me in my journey here at WayPoint, where ministry is all about people. It’s all about Jesus, first and foremost. As his followers, our ministry is about people. My particular ministry is about young people. Adolescents. TEENS. And it’s a ton of fun. It’s also a challenge. Content delivery presents a unique struggle. But loving them? That I can do. So much sometimes, that it hurts. This is what drives me. 
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35.