My name is Brandon Metcalf and I live in a double-wide…down by the river! As tempting as it was to introduce myself to my congregation this way using my best Chris Farley impression from that classic SNL skit, I decided that probably wasn’t the best course of action. On June 16th, I started my Director of Christian Education (DCE) internship at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Lake Ozark, Missouri. The reason for the SNL reference is that I live in a double-wide trailer that serves as kind of a de facto church parsonage. It is actually a wonderful place to live and a true blessing, along with the people that have made it possible for me to live there. It is in a gated storage area near the Bagnell Dam and the Osage River. Never thought I’d end up living in a gated community this early in my life. I always joked with my friends at college that if DCE ministry didn’t work out for whatever reason, my back up plan was to live in a van down by the river. God came up with a way for me to basically do both. He certainly works in mysterious ways!
The purpose of this blog is to reflect on my year as a DCE intern, sharing the joys, struggles, experiences and things I’ve learned along the way. I pray that it can be a source of hope and encouragement to other youth workers, both new and veterans. Hopefully we can all learn from the mistakes I am going to make along the way this year, but also learn more about how God is always in control, is faithful even when we are not and is always working in and through us.
I just finished my first week as an intern, and am really blown away by how amazing the body of Christ is. I’ve been so blessed by the people at Christ the King and at how well they are taking care of me. I’ve learned early on to accept people’s generosity, even if I don’t want to. It brings to mind what my parents taught me long ago about giving and receiving: sometimes it’s not about you needing the help; it’s about others needing to give the help. It’s easy for me to want to assert my independence and adopt an “I’m on my own, I can take care of myself” mentality. But what I’m learning is that having others around me who want to take me out to lunch, provide housing, help with appliances and technical support, provide meals and be there for me is the church in action. It’s their way of welcoming me into their church family. The church is meant to be a place where interdependence on one another and total dependence on God are the norm, instead of self-reliance.
My advice for youth workers, especially new ones, is to accept the generosity of your congregation with gratitude. Set aside your need to take care of yourself and allow others to bless you through giving. That doesn’t mean that you stop going to the grocery store and live on the leftovers of the coffee hour or church potlucks. But it does mean that you need to adopt a mentality that you are not being a burden to those who give to you. You are allowing them to serve you and share the love of Christ with you, which is faith in action. Use these opportunities to build relationships, learn names, share stories and say thank you.
I have been blessed with opportunities already to lead children’s church, give a children’s sermon, teach an adult Bible class, and go to the National Youth Gathering. There are many, many wonderful people at the church here and I am looking forward to learning their names, their stories and doing ministry with them. To God be all the glory!