I wanted to learn more about my friend Jared Callahan, who is a youth pastor in San Diego, and he agreed to answer a few of my questions. Here is the first of two parts:
1. Jared, How did you become a youth pastor? is there an inspiring story that lead you to that?
The people, other than my parents, who had the largest impact on my development were all youth leaders. I realized very quickly that they all had incredible lives. They were using their God-given talents and passion for life to invest in teens…and they got to continue attending summer camp every year, haha! My answer growing up was always that I wanted to become a youth pastor.
I was thrown for a loop when I arrived to register as a freshman in college and they did not have a track for people desiring to serve as youth pastors. I got out of line, read all the options, and got back into line and chose movie making. I planned throughout my fours years of undergrad to make movies full-time almost as a missionary to filmmakers. The goal was to make honest films and love on the people around me. Through the course of school I started volunteering in a youth ministry and was offered an amazing position straight out of college. I have been able to serve in an incredible church and still have time to work on film projects over the last seven years.
2. How do you describe what a youth pastor does?
A youth pastor ends up doing a lot of things that aren’t really pastoring at all. We end up being event planners, accountants, managers, media techs, etc. A youth pastor ends up “needing” to do all these other things so that ministry can happen. I want to be a part of re-dreaming what it means to be a “youth pastor.” My title is “Pastor to Youth and Their Families.” The goal is to respect the family as a unit and encourage the parents to be the ministers to their own children. We can love the families by loving their kids, and by being in conversations to provide moments where families can be ushered into the presence of God together.
3. I have actually met other people in the Nazarene church. What exactly is a Nazarene?
Haha! so you want me to sum up over 100 years of tradition into a paragraph? Ok, how about this: Read anything by or about John Wesley. Nazarenes broke out to be social justice focused people who concentrated on holiness. We have also had a strong youth focus for the last 50 years or so.
That is a pretty sweet trifecta: social justice, holiness, & youth.
4. What practices nurture your own faith & spiritual life?
Lately I have spiritually nurtured by reading Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost For His Highest,” praying on my knees, writing on a prayer canvas, lighting candles for prayer, and setting and keeping days for Sabbath.
5. Where do you see God drawing you?
I feel God drawing me to the edges. I often want to be removed from the spotlight that ministry can create. I long for the moments where I get to serve unnoticed. It is funny, but the other place I feel called to be is up front teaching. I love telling the stories from the margins to the crowds in the middle…
It seems so simple, but God has lately been grabbing me with the “love me with your whole heart, soul, strength, and mind” passage. I have been trying to run my every thought, action, and reaction through that filter.
One of the areas of my life that has been flipped upside down has been purchasing. I realized that I need to know who is making my clothes and growing my food. Some of the corporations I have trusted my whole life are essentially murdering people to keep costs down. With information as accessible as it is now, it really becomes my responsibility to make the effort, research, know those things, and to act accordingly. My ability to live the Gospel needs to come through not just my words and acts of service, but through the way my purchasing power votes for what is good, fair, and just. I cannot claim freedom with my mouth but reenforce slavery with my money. Pope Paul VI said, “If we want peace, work for justice.”
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