written March 2003
To transform my world by helping others (re)connect to biblical truth and the triune God, using the most effective contemporary and traditional methods, communicating in a way that hits between the eyes and spears the heart.
My Life Mission Statement is a continual reminder of the direction and call that God has given me. Throughout this whole process I found myself coming back over and again to this statement. The entire process of ordination was a roller-coaster like none I’ve ever been on.
Thursday, February 6, I was approached by our Executive Pastor Mike Buster. He thrust out his hand to shake mine and spoke these opening words, “March 5th is a big day for you Kevin!” As I look up into his face I realized he was wearing an enormous grin. Having no idea what he meant, I replied (with slight sarcasm) “Is that my last day?” A confused look crossed his face. I laughed. He went back to smiling again. “March 5th?!?,” he brightly chimed again. I realized he still had my hand in a firm grip. “You have no idea what is happening that day do you?” Finally, he was understanding my confused state. His grin widened; His grip tightened. Buster continued with some authority now, “Well Pastor and I have talked and decided that on March 5th, in a special service, you and some other guys will be ordained!” His voice lifted at the end as though he were telling me I had just won a car. I almost fainted. “Wow… Thanks… Wow…” I could barely speak, and when I did the words were stilted. He continued on, giving me a few more details (by then he had released my hand). It was all I could do to keep my composure. We ended our conversation and I continued on my way down the hall, pulling out my cell phone to call Indiana.
So many thoughts were running through my mind. I had never expected to be ordained this quickly, or with such seeming ease. I had not yet been licensed (which is normally the year-long precursor to the ordination process). My graduation is also several months away. And in my mind the most damning piece of the puzzle was the fact that I was in the Media Department of the church, long assumed to be a dead-end road for a person with a call of God on their life. Fortunately, I couldn’t have been further from the truth in all three of these areas, and God humbled me quickly.
The next month was filled with well-wishes, notes of encouragement, and cookie bouquets! And the fanfare was everything that I ever dreamed it could be. But as day turned into day, and week into week, the impact of what was coming on March 5th began to sink in.
Thoughts of humbleness and unworthiness were mixed with excitement and healthy trepidation.
The Ordination Council
Tuesday, February 18, was the most psychologically stressful part of the process: the Ordination Council. In this meeting, the Ordination Candidate goes before a board of Ordained Ministers to answers questions about his life, call, ministry, theology, and just about anything else the men want to know. Best to be prepared for anything! Right before heading into my meeting with the counsel I stopped by the Worship Center for a moment of solitude and prayer at the altar. (If you have never been alone, at the altar, in the middle of a cavernous Sanctuary you have missed out. This is one of the best parts about working in a Church… instant access to a sanctuary.) In that quiet moment I felt peace that God was in control and His will would be done. Off to the Council I rushed…
Steve Smith, Patrick Berry, Neal Jeffrey, Joe Perry, and Charles Pendley were the grand inquisitors. Most of you do not know these men… but trust my judgment when I say that they are spiritual giants – Godly men who’s tremendous spirit and passion have long challenged me toward greater character in ministry. I do not wish to tell you all that they asked nor all that I answered, so I will leave that to your imagination and the recesses of my memory. As soon as it began, seemingly, it was over. I left the meeting feeling spilled out and spent, emotionally and spiritually. It was an edifying experience, no doubt, but still draining.
I will admit that I was mildly concerned about what they would decide. Fear of the unknown is a constant tormentor to my psyche. And while I was not afraid that they might cite me on some errant or heretical doctrine (I am a Cedarville/DTS guy, come on!), I was still a little concerned that they might think it better for me to wait and grow a little more before becoming ordained. I was very honest with them about my struggles and successes in the living out of my faith.
Fortunately, the wait only lasted about a day and then word came that all ten staff/intern guys had been approved for Ordination. When I read their names there were many that I had never spoken to before. Working in such a large church occasionally has its disadvantages. But over the next three weeks I can truly say that I learned to love each of these men. Their hearts and lives impressed me to no end and I count it a high honor to be listed among these men. Time quickly passed and March 5th loomed near. The intervening days were filled with video shoots, photo op’s, time in the recording studio, and time with our own inner thoughts and spirit, if these men were like me.
“He has given each one of us a special gift according to the generosity of Christ. He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” — EPHESIANS 4:7,11-12
The morning of March 5th dawned early for me. In typical fashion I was late before I even began my day. The video to be played in the service that night was not yet complete (the work never ends in ministry) and I still had a list of things to accomplish before the festivities of the evening. I wrote these words the morning of my ordination:
“Several hours from now I will be an Ordained Minister. So many thoughts and emotions are rushing through my head right now. It is so difficult to concentrate. I’m not sure that things will really change much, maybe only how I view myself. Ordination, in its most basic sense, is other ministers and the church body recognizing God’s Call to the work of the ministry on a man’s life and validating that Call. You don’t receive Ordination then become who you should be. You become what you should be, then receive Ordination. I qualify that last statement by admitting that it is God who gives the Call and makes us into who we should become.
“This is all still a little surreal. Many ‘pats-on-the-back’ have happened already, and I am sure many more will come. And yet, just as many jokes and humorous statements have been lodged at the prospect of my Ordination. I enjoy both the solemnity and joy that comes with this occasion.
“In the end, I find myself asking what the future holds….. and I wait knowing full well that God will be silent on the issue. That is the exciting part of ministry! One never knows in what direction the wind may next blow or on what adventure the path might next take. But knowing that You and God are making the journey together is comfort enough.”
The day of the Ordination was filled with tension and emotion. As the afternoon progressed it became apparent that my parents might not make it in time for the service. They were delayed in Detroit due to ice and snow in Michigan. Their new flight wasn’t scheduled to land in DFW until 40 minutes before the start of my service. Mom was a wreck! The news got worse as the day went on and by late afternoon the airport was estimating their landing 5 minutes before the start of my Ordination.
At 5:00 I had to leave the worry behind and go for a pre-service meeting with the Ordination Council. What a sweet time that was! We spent the moments before the Ordination Service in prayer, praise, and discussion about the call of ministry. Time and again I was impressed by seeing a side of these men I had rarely seen before. Openness, honesty, and love were a few of the qualities I saw in them that I hope to continue to cultivate in myself.
The events of the evening were picking up pace now, and mere moments stood between me and my ordination.
My parents were yet to be seen…
The Ordination Service
The Ordination Service began at 6:30pm. I was sitting on the second row with several empty seats beside me, reserved for my parents who were hopefully on their way from the airport by then. As the opening music began, we sang “Forever,” “Let Everything that has Breath,” “Evermore,” and “Ancient Words.” By this time my adrenaline was running high and my emotions rampant. I prayed that my parents would arrive to at least see part of the service, and beyond that I was ‘crazy’ with the knowledge of the weight of the service in my life. This was a night that would change everything.
The video rolled, Ephesians 4:7,11-12 faded up, and the opening music swelled. The final events leading to my Ordination had begun. This was the video that I had worked so hard to put together over the last several weeks. It turned out great! What a difficult difficult task it was to introduce an audience of thousands to ten men in less than four minutes, but we did it. I am very proud of the results and I really think we captured each of the Ordainees’ personalities and passion for ministry.
At the end of the video the lights came up in the auditorium and all of the Ordainees and their families were lined up at the altar for introductions (except mine). I kept stealing glances toward the back of the sanctuary in hopes of my parent’s arrival. No such luck. By the time they reached the end of the list, and my name, I was the only person at the mic. “Hi! My name is Kevin Young and my family is on their way from DFW airport.” I grinned widely, feeling more than a little awkward at having no one to introduce. The crowd must have caught the humor (and tension I was feeling) because the house erupted in laughter. It made me feel much better. Pastor McKinley, our Teaching Pastor and my mentor, broke in to say that my parents were delayed to weather in Detroit and we were praying that they would be arriving soon. He then went on to thank the families for their dedication, support, and guidance in our lives. And then I saw it out of the corner of my eye…
In the rear of the auditorium someone was waving their hand. I turned around to look (remember myself and nine other men with their families were still standing at the altar) and saw that it was my dad. I motioned as nonchalantly as possible for him to come on down, hoping that he would get the message. (Our 7,500 seat auditorium sometimes makes it difficult to discern non-verbal’s from over 150 feet away.) He caught on and started down the aisle with Mom following not too far behind.
As they made their way down the aisle in the middle of Pastor McKinley’s statements it began to become apparent to the audience what was going on. About halfway down the aisle Mom passed dad and began to run. We met at the altar and embraced! It was a sweet moment. Pastor McKinley broke off from what he was saying, smiled enormously and said, “Well will ya look at this!!”
The crowd broke out in thunderous applause and it was one of the most powerful moments of my life. Looking back on it, I realize that it stressed the importance of family and Ordination to the congregation. I don’t think that there was a dry eye in the house. I know mine weren’t. After the crowd died down Pastor McKinley said, “Well Kevin, why don’t you introduce us to your parents!” which I did in great haste. Pastor McKinley then went on to tell the crowd that I was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary and had also put together the video that they had seen several minutes ago. I appreciated his remarks, but kinda felt a little bad for the other nine guys. In a way, I had stolen the show. But the service continued on as planned, and my parents were now here to see the most important parts.
Steve Smith stepped up to the pulpit and submitted all of our names to the church for ordination. He briefly explained the process that we had been through and relayed the confidence that the Ordination Council had in each of us.
Then Joel Rutherford, Rick Briscoe, and Alan Monk stepped to the stage and sang “Your Love Still Amazes Me.” During the song I found my thoughts wondering to times in my life long past. I remembered how God had protected and directed me through the years. Wonderful memories of my salvation, baptism, and life in the church flooded my conscience. The Lord has allowed so many countless people to impact my life throughout the years. God’s love still amazes me.
Dr. O.S.Hawkins, President of the Southern Baptist Annuity Board and former Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, gave the Charge. He gave a magnificent message to the men that were being ordained and to the congregation that was sending them. It is a message that I will not soon forget. Throughout his speaking I was continually reminded of my home church and the part that they have played in making me into the person I am today. I thank God for them and their support of me.
Dr. Hawkins finished and Pastor Graham stepped to the pulpit to call the ten of us from our seats in the front row to kneel at the altar for the laying on of hands. This event, this moment, was that one point in time that I knew all my life had been leading up to and the future would proceed from. This was the bottleneck. I hesitate to say that it was the high point, that might be going to far. But it was the “setting apart”, and as I knelt at the altar waiting for these men of God to lay their hands on me I knew that this was my one moment in time.
The praise team began to softly sing “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” and in that solemn moment I felt a hand on my shoulder and the voice of a man that I immediately recognized to be Ross Robinson, Minister of Missions. Amidst saying many many things in my ear, Ross called me a “friend.” This sticks out in my mind as one of the most mind-blowing things any of the men said to me… and while it does not sound very special here in print, the way he said it made me tear up.
I will not betray the confidence of what these men said to me, nor the prayers that they prayed, but suffice it to say it was one of the most memorable and moving experiences of my entire life.
Pastor Jack Graham then stepped up in line next and put his hand squarely on the crown of my head. I knew it was Pastor because of that voice, that power, the presence.
His lips were mere inches from my ear and he spoke to me and prayed for me like no other man has ever done so before.
The grip he had on my head and the cadence of his words almost made me feel as though he was transferring something into me, and in a way I guess he was. It will forever remain one of the most precious and powerful moments in my life.
I could not hold back the tears as he laid his hand on me and ordained me in the gospel ministry. Even now the thought of that moment brings great emotion with it.
After Pastor stepped on to the next Ordainee, Mike Buster (our Executive Pastor) put his hand on my shoulder and begin to talk and pray. Mike has always been something of an enigma to me, but over the last year I have truly come to love him and better appreciate his ministry. This moment was something of a catharsis for me, and I will forever cherish that prayer he prayed over me.
“It’s all about You, Jesus! And all this is for You – for your glory and Your fame. It’s not about me, as if You should do things my way. You alone are God and I surrender, to Your will.” continued the praise team as I awaited the next man to step forward.
I felt two hands this time, as they were gently laid on my head. Then the compassionate voice of Teaching Pastor Dr. David McKinley filled my ear. This man is my mentor and one of the main catalysts for this moment in my life. He has supported me, shaped me, and lifted me up so many times over the past year. He has taught me about ministry, administration, love, and so many other topics. I can truly say that he is one of the top 3 people who has had the greatest ministerial impact on my life. In that moment I broke down again. I’m not sure that I have ever really communicated to him the impact he’s had on my life. I will forever cherish this picture of him praying with me at my ordination.
I’m not sure where the road will lead or what path God will have me walk, but I hope that he always has a ‘Pastor McKinley’ to walk the path with me. What a great balance he has been to my drivenness, impatience, and general greenness to the practice of ministry.
The line of ministers who prayed with me continued. Men like Neal Jeffrey, our Associate Pastor for Prayer, and there was Mike Fechner, our Minister of Spiritual Development. Patrick Berry, one of our Single’s Ministers and others came and went saying wonderful things and prayer spectacular prayers. While my knee was screaming for relief from the torture, my heart was wishing this moment would never end. The praise team transitioned into one of my favorite songs, “Lord, I Give You my Heart,” and the laying of hands began to wrap up.
“Lord, I give You my heart; I give You my Soul – I live for You alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake, Lord have Your way in me.”
As we slowly rose from our knees, we came up different men. While we were not changed in a way that could necessarily be seen or felt, we all inwardly knew that our lives would never be the same again. We were changed men in a way that could not be seen but would set our course for decades to come. We had each shared a moment in time that had changed our lives.
We each received a beautiful french calfskin leather Bible signed by Pastor Graham and Pastor McKinley.
We were also given our Ordination Certificates signed by all of the men on the Ordination Council.
This Bible is irreplaceable and I will cherish it, and the evening that it represents, for the rest of my life.
Thus the service ended and we began the process of hugging all of those who mean so much to our lives and ministry.
I was amazed to see all of the people who made an effort to come to the Ordination Service. Yet, there were so many more who were unable to be there.
My home Pastor, Dr. E.G. Robertson, was unable to attend. This man has probably had the greatest ministerial impact on my life. Far and above any other, he has mentored me, guided me, and supported me. I can without a doubt say that he has done more than anyone else to make my ministry what it is today.
Fortunately, his daughter and son-in-law (who are members of Prestonwood) were able to attend and even sat in the family section with me! What a blessing they have been in my life too. I also wish that my grandparents could have been there.
They too have done so much to make this day happen. But alas, health and distance would not allow their attendance. Fortunately they will be able to attend my graduation in May and I look forward to that day!
Many people in my home church in Indiana, Connersville Baptist Temple, wrote notes of encouragement to me. I will cherish this album forever. What a sweet spirit those people have. I love them all very much.
My parents and some family went in to purchase my favorite painting, a work by Tom DuBois called “The Commission”.
This was quite a surprise to me! It will occupy a place of honor on my office wall and will forever remind me of this day when I received my own commission.
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”
– 1 TIMOTHY 1:12