New associate pastor shows youth group the real world
Like any youth pastor, the recently ordained and installed Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families wants his middle and senior high school students to get out of their comfort zones and learn about the wider world and how it intersects with their faith.
Jones, 27, has been involved with youth ministry in one form or another since he was in high school and has always wanted to be a part of children’s lives.
“I was the only boy who babysat in my neighborhood growing up,” he said. “I work well with kids. At some point I went to seminary and can preach and teach, but to me it’s always been about advocating for kids.”
He contemplated being an inner–city pastor, but he decided he could make just as much of an impact on middle–class youth by showing them how others struggle.
“They need to see that others in the world are not always as blessed as they are,” Jones said.
If these children stick to their Xbox 360, bicycle and Game Boy, they’ll never care about people less fortunate, he said.
Jones wants the youth to serve in an area soup kitchen, a homeless shelter and at St. Lawrence Place, which provides transitional housing and programs for homeless families with children.
Yet, Jones acknowledges that the teenage years for his youth will be some of the hardest years of their lives.
“They’re just beginning, and we need to equip them to succeed with their faith as a major component,” he said. “It’s not easy to harmonize our faith with our culture and live within both.”
Jones has made quite an impact on all of Shandon Presbyterian Church’s members.
Jones’s energy and passion for youth ministry, combined with his desire to bring continuity and stability to the youth program made him the ideal candidate, said Patty Quattlebaum, chair of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee for Youth and Their Families.
Jones interviewed over the summer and was hired in September. He officially became a pastor during a service on November 22.
“David is a remarkably gifted pastor who comes to Shandon Presbyterian with a wonderful range of experience in church leadership and youth ministry,” said Rev. Dr. Agnes W. Norfleet, pastor at Shandon Presbyterian Church.
“His warm and friendly personality makes him easy to know and love,” she said. “He’s already doing a great job leading our youth with energy and passion, and we look forward to the ways he will expand the ‘youth and their families’ part of his work to support whole families in the nurture of Christian discipleship.”
The committee, which began its search in June 2008, was “looking for a youth pastor who loved God, articulated his faith well and had the skills to help our youth discover their call as Christians,” Quattlebaum said. “(Jones) is a hard worker who brings a creative, fun–loving spirit to each endeavor.”
She has been especially impressed with how well he’s gotten to know the congregation in his first few months.
“David relates well to people of all ages,” she said.
Hand Middle School eighth grader Kelly Teal has enjoyed getting to know Jones during retreats and a successful Halloween carnival. She said, “He’s a great youth pastor,” she said. “He really knows what we like.”