Seven years ago today Tiffany and I woke up with an excitement, nervousness, and anticipation that something was about to shift in our lives. We headed to the Atlanta airport around 6am to board a plane to Norfolk Va. I had an interview with a Glad Tidings Church to become the Student Pastor. We had no idea what we were about to get ourselves into.
It was an unusually beautiful day for February. The sun was shining. It was 65 degrees. Not a cloud in the sky. I quickly thought to myself… If this is winter in Virginia… I’ll take it. We were greeted at the airport by Pastor Troy Short, a super friendly guy, who drove us back to the church.
Upon first sight of the church I thought it looked nice. Sort of a weird shape… But nice. We went inside and met Pastor Qualls… The Lead Pastor. He was a little older than I expected but that wasn’t a bad thing. I had always worked with younger guys in the past.
The first impressions were good. But I was really wanting to dive into the story of this church. The journey it had been on. Why they were looking for their 4th youth pastor in 2 years. Every place has a history… And I wanted to know this one.
They took me down to the Oceanfront for lunch. I was almost sold just seeing the ocean. We ate fresh seafood and talked for hours. Again… It was unseasonably warm so we sat outside, smelling the salty ocean air, talking about all the hurt the teenagers had been through.
Youth Pastors coming and only staying 18 months has a tendency to destroy teenage trust. And that was the story of this church. Luckily a group of parents rallied around these students and held many pieces together until they found a new guy.
I showed back up at the church that night to speak to the teenagers. The room was a little tense. The teenagers faces were blank. The parents just wanted someone who would stick with their kids. And I understood every emotion in the room. The students had a right to be jaded. The parents had a right to be concerned. Yet even with all the emotions… The evening went very well.
That was the first day of a 5 day interview process. By far the longest process I’ve ever been through. I met with everyone from staff to parents to seniors in the church. I wanted to get a good feel for the place. And I’m sure they wanted the same.
We liked it here. A lot. We loved the ocean. We loved seeing all the Navy planes and ships and helicopters. We liked all the cities that were close to this area. But most important… We saw the need in front of us. These students just needed someone to love them and stick around.
Now as much as we liked it here… We had to to ask the question was this the place for us. Was this where we were supposed to be? The truth… We had 2 other places asking us to come as well. One in which was the largest church in America. What a fantastic opportunity. Who would turn that down?
Well as it turns out… Tiffany and I would. We sat and had tough conversations. But at the end of the day… We couldn’t get past those angry teenagers who had felt abandoned. They needed someone to come into their lives and be consistent. We couldn’t get past how great all the people in the church were. They made us feel so welcomed. We couldn’t get past the area. Who wouldn’t want to live by the beach.
On Feburary 14th 2009… Tiffany and I accepted the job at Glad Tidings Church in Norfolk Va. Seven years this coming Sunday.
And when we said yes… We had no idea where this adventure was going to take us. We had no idea this would be the town little Dylan would be born in. We had no idea this would be the same place 4 years later… To the date… I would become the Lead Pastor. It’s been a wild adventure… But I’m sure glad we said yes.
I love you Coastal Virginia Church! We have all changed and grown together. Thanks for loving my family. Thanks for extending grace while I grow. And I make the same promise to you that I did 7 years ago…
I promise I will be here for you. I promise I will love you. And as long as you love me and my family in return… We are not going anywhere.
Happy Anniversary Week! Here are just a few pictures of the memories we have had along the way.