Sunday, March 29, 2009


There's some things that hurt more in ministry than others. It's inevitable that people will not always be happy with me and that attendance is a roller coaster.

It's a bummer that some students inevitably don't connect with youth group and try as a I may, they find it's not a place they want to be or just don't fit.

While I don't love any of the above scenarios, I've come to live with them as something that I can't always solve nor am I always called to solve them.

However, the ones that I can't seem to shake and that cause me to vacillate between depression and angst the most are those who simply leave my ministry with little or no notice- especially when I was heavily invested with them or they were on our volunteer team. I was teaching today on division in the family of God in our youth group and how it hurts God, the family, and the influence of the church in the world. As I taught, I have 15 years of ministry and pastor-type conversations and I could fill pages and pages of broken funk in the church family, but the ones that weighed me down today are the ones that are the freshest.

In the last year or so, I've lost several volunteers and a few students due to changes in our church or some unknown reason. I'd love to know, but they often just walk away.

  • two of them left with like a days notice.
  • three left without ever having a face-to-face conversation with me
  • when I call, several of them refused to answer and never returned my voice mails. I always quit after 3.
I never know what I'm going to say when and if I run into them. I have so much more respect and understanding for those who God moved on for one reason or another and actually tried to reconcile things before they left. Even if we agreed to disagree, at least there was closure.

Perhaps that's what I'm missing. Closure. Without ever officially telling me what or why, or refusing to do anything about it via conversations in the future, or a refusal to see if there's a way to fix it has left me feeling like the family is divided and reconciliation is not an option. From where I sit, that leaves me heavy hearted and feeling like a failure some days. I don't think it's the Body of Christ at it's best. I wonder sometimes if it's even the Body at all.


Anonymous,  10:28 PM  

This made me cry. I wish i could find all of them and get you the closure you seek.

You are a great pastor, brother, and child of God, and i appreciate and love you more than i show.

Even though those people may have left without any apparant reason, you have at least done a lot in my life.

-Encounter Student

Anonymous,  9:16 PM  

Brian- Times like this can be so difficult. I remember tough days when we worked together. We can't always see what is going on in others. When you know that you are right with God and done all you can you have to let God do his job. People, even leaders, have issues that they don't want to let go of or things they don't want others to know. GOd is in control and will continue to do his work. I must tell you that I miss deeply working with you in youth ministry and wish I lived closer. I pray often for God to direct me in the right direction in ministry!! Hang in there it will all work out.

Anonymous,  1:03 AM  

Seeing people leave is really sad for me as well, though I probably don't feel the brunt of it like you do. I just want to tell you that you're an amazing pastor and your efforts to connect with us more now have not gone unoticed at all. I constantly ask myself if I'm growing in Encounter whenever I have a slump in my relationship and the answer is always yes. My friends brother left Encounter like last year and it was hard to watch him fall. But I've heard stuff about him possibly coming back to christ, it's slow but he's had encounters with some people at church that have got him to open up some. I hope that gives you some peace of mind.

-Another encounter student

Anonymous,  1:29 PM  

Having worked with you, even though I'm not actively in a church anymore I cant believe anyone who works or worked with you could be not affected. You are so passionate about what you do and believe and you give your all all the time, no one is perfect but you do amazing work just being who you are. We don't always get to see the work we've done in others. Yes sometimes it ends badly. But that doesn't mean none of it ever meant anything. The work you do stays in peoples hearts forever even when you cant see the fruit trust that its there. Sometimes they cant even see it themselves, but its there.

-former Powerhouse student

brian c. berry 1:31 PM  

thanks anonymous friends

Anonymous,  6:25 AM  

Hey Brian! It's Michell Garcia - not anonymous ... LOL!
Just remember that you're dealing with high schoolers that are still trying to figure out life! As much as they’d like to think they know it all … we know, they don’t and … they think they’re mature … we know, they’re not!! You give them the tools the best you can and then sometimes you have to watch them walk away and use them on their own – or not. Sometimes they're just plain embarrassed by their choices and can't look you in the face and say ... I'm gonna try it my way. BUT ... remember this (of course this has nothing to do with the grown-ups that leave cuz they're just dorks!) anyway ... “Train the child up in the way that they should go and they will never depart from it.” For a long time, I took that literally, like they'll NEVER go astray. I was reminded that it means they will have a foundation on which to come back to and rebuild on. I have recently witnessed this myself with my own "child" now 19! (WOW! I'm old!) He's found a place to call his own, is trusting God and working out his faith. Even though he texted his way through your services ... he was listening!! And my now 16 yr old is listening too! Big Hugz from a Big Fan!!

brian c. berry 9:06 AM  

Thanks Michell,

praying for your family in this time.

perhaps the misconception of this post is that many of these scenarios are actually ADULTS. Crazy. Sometimes the adults act more immature than the kids. I can chalk up kids to being kids to 15yr olds to being 15- it's the 40 yr olds acting like they're 12 that I have a bigger issue with.

Nothing lamer than an "adult" who plays the silent treatment or one who can't handle conflict so much they leave to find a better place instead of doing the hard work towards making this one better.

Anonymous,  7:40 AM  

HHHmmmm ... sounds alot like why the divorce rate is so stinkin' high in this country! A bunch of lame adults! Praying for you and your mininstry as you are the last line of defense before the 15 year olds turn into lame adults! No pressure though! hahaha!
Happy Easter and thanks for the prayers! Always! M:)


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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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