I dont call myself a church planter, because when I think of a church
planter I think of someone with training or a seminary education and I dont
have either. I love my job with Seger Communications and I am working hard to
advance myself in the company, but my heart is also in youth ministry at my
church. I guess Im a lay church planter, because I feel called to both my
career and my ministry.
The sense of family at Alden Community Church is unparalleledso loving, so
caring. Even though we are a rural church in Alden, New York, we are not small
or quaint. Pastor Barry Whitworth launched the church on Easter 2000, and we
have grown to almost 200 people. We are already into a building campaign before
being fully constituted as a church.
I was raised in nearby Lockport by Christian parents and gave my life to the
Lord at a young age. But as a teen I lived a double life. I was a good
Christian on Sunday, but I didnt live for the Lord at school. After I
graduated, I went off to a Christian college hoping to qualify for med school
but for all the wrong reasons. I was looking for prestige and money.
At college my relationship with the Lord took off and I developed a thirst
for the Bible and a passion for ministry. I began reading everything I could
get my hands oneven theology books! Everyone noticed the difference in my life
and their questions allowed me to talk about Jesus and lead many to the
After a year and a half, I left college because it was too expensive. I got
a job as a manager at McDonalds. Even though I loathed the job, God used it to
direct my life. Working at McDonalds gave me my best training to work with
youth. If you can make a teenager scrub toilets, you can do anything! Learning
how to motivate and inspire teens is a valuable tool for ministry.
Because I talked about Jesus all the time and invited my employees to
Christian events where many of them found Christ, Beth Whitworth, Pastor Barrys
wife, noticed me. Beth asked if I would like to be involved in a new
I told her I would pray about it and when I did, God confirmed that
this was the answer to the prayer
I had been praying for some time already.
I met with Pastor Barry in June 2000 when Alden Community Church in Alden,
New York, was only a couple of months old but already had 40 people attending.
I loved it right from the start. Ive never stopped being excited about what
Gods been doing since the first time I went. Alden isnt like any church Ive
ever been to. The focus is evangelism. I feel so honored to be the youth
I had no experience standing in front of adults in a church setting and my
knees would shake every time. But Im a step-up-to-the-plate kind of guy and so
I relied on my managerial experience to give me the confidence I needed at
Alden. The message in I Timothy 4:14-15 do not neglect the gift but be diligenthas
helped inspire me to use my gifts for the Lord. Im not scared anymore.
In order to be closer to the church, I left my job and found work with
Seger, a cable company. I was so happy to get this job. I invited five
employees to a youth event where every one of them made decisions to follow
My youth ministry started in the summer of 2000 with only a couple of kids.
Since I didnt know what I was doing, I fully relied on God to lead methat
turned out to be the best method of all. Pretty soon I found some Christian
musicianstwo brothersand we started our all-student worship band. I took teens
to local concerts and retreats and we met every Tuesday night for worship and
Bible study. More and more kids accepted Christ, and our numbers increased. We
now have a regular attendance of 30 kids, and there are new people every
My church sent me to a youth conference where I learned about Purpose-Driven
Youth Ministry from Doug Fields, an associate of Rick Warren, pastor of
Saddleback Community Church. I adopted the PDYM format and for the past six
weeks, we have seen at least one teen come to the Lord every week.
It had to be pounded into my head that the purpose for being on earth is to
tell about Jesus. Too bad I never did that at all during high school. My prayer
now is that I can be a tool that the Lord can use. I have no special method
other than listening to God and doing what He tells me.
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