In 2011, 2012 seemed so far away and too much to think about. But 2011 flew by and here we are in 2012. In ministry, the plans for 2012 started long before the year ticked over, and movements were in progress long before the fireworks sounded on New Year’s Day.
For a few people, the end of 2011 meant the end of their long-time ministry because 2012 will hold new adventures, new beginnings and new challenges for them. One person facing new beginnings, adventures and challenges is Steve Dixon.
Steve Dixon has just commenced in the role of Director for Youth & Young Adults NSW & ACT through Baptist Youth Ministries (BYM). Steve has a long history working with youth, as prior to taking up this role at BYM he was involved at Gymea Baptist Church overseeing the youth and young adults.
But where did it all begin for him? How did he come to know God and get involved in ministry? I interviewed Steve to get his story and I discovered it’s another story of new beginnings.
‘Growing up, my parents took me to Sunday School, but it wasn’t for me.’ Steve explained. ‘More specifically I hated that everyone else knew each other because most of them went to school together and I consequently felt like the odd one out. Once I hit high school my parents allowed me the choice of attending church and youth group or not, and I chose not to go.’
Curiously, I wondered how Steve became involved in church after this early experience. A chance conversation with a school acquaintance left Steve thinking about his future and the person he wanted to be. ‘The long and the short of it is that I started going to church as a 17-year-old. I had spent six years walking past this church on my way to high school, and at 17, I walked through the door. From that one decision more than ten years ago, I never stopped going to church. What I found was a God of forgiveness, wholeness and new life. It was the nature of Jesus that caught my attention, the way that he interacted with people and the claims that he made about himself.’ Steve still had questions about life and what difference Jesus could make for him. So far he had found no satisfaction in the party scene; was church the answer?
‘The one big question I had was along the lines of where could meaning and satisfaction be found. I felt God saying, “Steve if you’re done trying to figure out life on your own, I can give you the answers to your questions. In fact I am the answer to your questions”. From then on I essentially played “catch up” on everything Christian. I wanted to learn and experience as much as possible as quickly as possible. I threw myself at every possibility for growth – books, small groups, ministry, camps and conferences. It was through this that I believe God called me into pastoral ministry and placed a burden on my heart to be involved as a leader in the life of His church.’
Coming from nine years’ ministry experience at Gymea Baptist Church, Steve is enthusiastic to encourage other youth pastors and leaders in his role at BYM. ‘To begin with, my role will involve getting to know youth pastors and the various ministry contexts they find themselves in. As Baptists, we have a rich history centered on the Bible and the cross of Christ, and we also have a diverse expression of what this looks like across the state. I want to be the kind of person who seeks to understand both the gifts and passions of those serving in youth ministry in NSW and the ACT and also to know what God is doing in those places.’
And for the long term, what can Baptist Churches hope to see in the future for BYM? ‘I want to focus on training youth pastors and leaders, as they are the men and women who are on the ground working with young people week in, week out. Without dedicated leaders who themselves are committed to following Jesus, youth ministries fail to be effective. I see a major part of my role to be providing training and support. The great thing is that some of this work is already happening, especially with John Lewis in the Hunter region.’
With new beginnings there are often challenges and hardships. Steve, his wife Renee, and their two children Sage (6) and Amos (2) have moved house and church, as well as new jobs and ministry opportunities. Steve and Renee hold onto the faithfulness of God. ‘For us, one of the major life lessons, if you want to call it that, has been the faithfulness of God. God always provides for His people; He always has and He always will. We have taken great assurance and comfort in the faithfulness of God in providing for our family over the past nine years and as we head into a new season and role with all of its unknowns we look to the future knowing that God will provide for each step of the way – often in ways we could never have imagined.’
As I finished up the interview with Steve I had one final question. ‘What verse or quote has encouraged you in times of new beginnings?’ Steve responded. ‘Psalm 91 most recently has been a source of knowing the faithfulness of God. Our faith must always go beyond our experiences and back to the Scriptures. The words of the Psalmist remind me that no matter what our eyes see or our ears hear, God has our lives in His hands. In times of new beginnings, reminders like these are of utmost importance. It’s what allows me to hold my head high during the day and rest it on the pillow by night.’
What a great reminder of the faithfulness of God at all times. No matter what 2012 brings in terms of new beginnings for you, God is faithful.