For a long season of my life God was gently steering me towards becoming a pastor, while I – at the same time – was trying to avoid becoming a pastor. One of my final stops of avoidance brought me to an internship in the “College Life” ministry at First Baptist Church in Davis. Why in the world would a punk like me, who was trying to avoid becoming a pastor, decide to be a ministry intern? Simple – I wanted to, once and for all, prove to God that I really wasn’t cut out for that kind of work. You see I’d read about how young pastors were trained in colonial America. Back in those days they would go to seminary and then do a year of “pastor’s study” where they served as somewhat of an intern to a local parish pastor. If a year in “pastor’s study” proved them ready, the young man would become a pastor. If that year proved them unfit for ministry, the young man would either decide it really wasn’t a good fit for him or work that much harder on his areas of weakness. I thought “pastor’s study” was a great idea – a way for me to look devout, and wise while proving to God that I wasn’t fit for pastoral ministry.
Therefore, I served as an intern under the watchful eye of the college pastor, Dan Britts. Dan immediately went about putting me in charge of things I should not have been asked to lead. I immediately went on a mission’s trip to Baja Mexico. It rocked my world. I returned only to be told I would immediately be leading a worship band (that did not currently exist) for First Baptist Church’s contemporary worship service. This was something I had never, ever, done before. My church back home was still singing hymns and repeated choruses accompanied by piano and organ. I’d led worship at camp, but not in front of adults in a church. Dan simply put me in charge with a smile. Then Dan put me in charge of all the leaders for the men’s off campus bible studies. He was insane enough to trust me to develop 12 college men, teach them the word of God, and then release them to teach what they had learned from me to all the college dudes in their off campus studies. Dan gave me responsibility to teach at the College Life Sunday school class, at the College Life on campus outreach, and at the Spring retreat (me the main speaker at a church retreat!). At the end of my internship year, Dan simply said to me, “Andy, you’re in charge of the whole ministry for this entire summer. I have other church responsibilities and some family vacation and I think you can handle it. So you’re in charge of the whole ministry. Have fun.” In my humble opinion, it was sheer madness, but it was how Dan pastored. Dan gave responsibility and ministry away to students. He firmly believed that a pastor’s job was not to do the work of the ministry for the saints, but to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. I thank God and I thank Dan for his insanity. The internship I signed up for in order to prove I wasn’t fit for ministry, became the pivotal year that proved over and over that whether I liked it or not God was using me to make a difference in the lives of others.
A good pastor is insane enough to give ministry away to people who are “too young,” “too opinionated,” “too inexperienced,” “too lacking in knowledge,” and “too immature.” The American pattern for discipleship is BELIEVE – MATURE – SERVE, but that’s not the pattern you see in scripture. The pattern of scripture is BELIEVE – SERVE – MATURE. Dan fundamentally understood that the sheep under his care would mature as they were trusted and released to engage in a life of service. Thanks Dan!
By the way, Dan Britts now has an incredible lineage of numerous missionaries, ministry leaders and pastors who trace their roots to his “insanity” – the insanity of putting young people in charge.