(It’s Guest Post Friday! Today’s guest post is by Ethan Bryan. This is not a traditional guest post, but I really loved how Ethan explained the new adventure he’s on. And there are a lot of folks who read this blog who work at churches and might understand exactly what Ethan is talking about.)
What if your dream of youth ministry changes?
I Quitter-ed. Well, kind of.
My wife and I were married for 14 months before we were evicted from our apartment (not our fault), which launched us from Missouri to Texas to start my seminary education. Three years and one newborn daughter later, we returned to Missouri, to Kansas City—home of BBQ, the Royals, and the church where I was the newly hired Minister of Youth and Worship Arts. I was deeply influenced by Tony Campolo during my seminary years and planned on staying in Kansas City and at my church for life.
I grew into a proficient worship leader, learning on the job how to lead a band at a young church growing into contemporary worship expressions. I started writing songs, and a couple of them connected deeply with our worshiping body. I also worked with a great group of very bright and passionate teens, who asked really hard questions and pushed me to keep on learning, struggling, and exploring what it meant to follow Jesus and find friends in our community. Honestly, I thought it was my dream job.
During the first six years, the church struggled financially. My wife and I still felt strongly about the amazing work the church was doing in the community, and they started a non-profit to help provide food and clothing to friends in need in our city.
When the youth ministry budget officially hit zero, I started writing my own youth curriculum and absolutely loved it. I wrote material for retreats and youth camps, for Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. I started writing on a blog to share stories of life and faith. Then I was told my priority was not to be writing. (Cue the internal tension.)
With my wife’s support, I Quitter-ed my position as worship leader, while staying employed as youth minister. The day after I resigned, I accepted a position as a freelance/contract curriculum writer for a national publishing house. Soon, I was asked to write multiple curriculums simultaneously, which kept me studying and typing and tightly managing my time. A friend suggested I read Quitter . The book was two years too late, and I loved it.
It turns out, the reality was a combination of Quitter and Steven Pressfield, and I’m still in the middle of it. Two months ago, I resigned as youth minister and moved to a new city. This time, with two daughters. I now write youth curriculum, magazine articles, and speak at youth retreats and camps. I play concerts at churches and small coffee shops. And within the month, I’ll be promoting my first book (www.runhomebook.com).
Quitter has been on my nightstand for the last two months. I still pick it up regularly as a guide and refresher. Quitter-ing has not been easy, and I’m constantly answering the “What if’s…?” But I’m living into the me God whispered into being and watching dreams become tangible realities.
A couple of days ago, some friends were at my house playing with my daughters. I was headed out the door to write for the afternoon when I heard one of the neighbors ask, “Where’s your dad going?”
My youngest daughter replied, “Oh, he’s just a writer. He writes stories and books and songs.”
I couldn’t help smiling.