By Rob Schellenberg
Editor's note: This story is the third in a four-part series about three college alumni at Moncton Wesleyan Church. Stay tuned for more about Jeremy MacDonald ('09).
outh Quake changes lives.
David Steeves (College '00), the youth pastor at New Brunswick’s Moncton Wesleyan Church, knows that it was critical to his decision to go into full-time ministry.
Steeves was providing counselling support at Youth Quake back in 1998 when a young teen came forward. Steeves prayed with the teen and helped lead him to a personal relationship with Christ. He then stayed behind to pray and very directly felt God’s leading.
“(I) had my moment where I just felt so incredibly impacted for God and really felt like he just imprinted on my life that I was meant to impact teenagers,” Steeves said. “I didn’t know what that exactly looked like, but it was 100 per cent that I had received a call into full-time ministry.”
Steeves went on to complete two years of Sports Ministry studies at Briercrest while playing hockey for the Clippers. He then returned to New Brunswick to fulfill a promise to his mother by finishing his degree in kinesiology. While studying there, he also finished his Briercrest degree by doing five distance learning classes, completing his exit interviews, and working 20 hours a week at an area church.
Moncton Wesleyan then hired him to work with the pastoral team, which allowed him to focus in on his assignment rather than dividing his focus.
“I was really able to dive into youth ministry for nine years,” Steeves said.
Jeremy MacDonald was in Grade 8 when Steeves started working with the church’s youth, and now they are team members who want to reach the youth of Moncton.
MacDonald went through the youth program, did an internship at the church, graduated from Briercrest College and Seminary, and now is being trained to take over the large youth program.
“I just went to the board, to our executive pastor, and I said, look at Jeremy. (He) is about to graduate and I don’t want him going anywhere else. We have too much invested in this guy, and so I’m willing to give up my seat here as youth pastor to bring him in, and what I’ll do is I’ll mentor him for another two years and really try to make the most seamless transition possible in youth ministry.”
The pair just completed the first year of the transition, and Steeves is happy with how it is working.
“The first year was a home run. The numbers increased and we’re doing really well with the transition plan.”
The plan includes making sure none of the kids fall through the cracks during the crossover.
“So the kids that were connected to me still feel like I’m around and still feel like they have their youth pastor and the newer kids that didn’t make the connection with me have Jeremy,” Steeves said.
Steeves was the architect of the transition, but it was executive pastor Kevin Matthews and the board that granted the permission to roll out the plan.
“The basis of the plan was simply I spent nine years of my life building this ministry and pouring into the families of these kids and I just didn’t just want to walk away from that and turn it over to somebody to come up with a new mission statement and a new plan and disconnect with families that have been established.
“I wanted to make sure it was a smooth transition.”
Steeves will be moving on to student ministries at the church and will also be in charge of missions. He recently took a team to Congo, where they were building a school, have built a medical clinic, and have established a child sponsorship program for kids in a school for deaf children.
The pastor credits Briercrest with giving him the foundational training he needed to do his ministry.
“Certainly the biblical foundations—that might be obvious, but it needs to be stated. The enrichment of the Word, the hunger for the Word, understanding how deep the Word, is certainly what I kept gleaning from Bible school.”
“I believe it taught me leadership principles as well. And it fostered an environment where I received my call to ministry.”
He especially appreciated Briercrest’s perspective on teaching. He was told that if you came from these denominations you’ve been taught this, and if you came from these you were taught that. He appreciated the professors’ teaching because “it gave me a birds-eye view of what causes the divisions of denominations.”
“I really love that about Briercrest. It was able to teach me here’s what other denominations believe and here is the deviation of Scripture that they decided to go down with.”