In episode 163 Chad interviews Caitlyn Smelser, the Student Team Leader at Connection Pointe Church in Indiana. Hear from her leadership insight, wisdom, and practical advice for those who are young in their call story and those who are serving in leadership at a church. There is some incredible stuff in this interview. Thanks Caitlyn.
Caitlyn is a self-described: "Perfectionist. Dog lover. Go-getter. Introverted. Loves Mac & Cheese and 3-time national champ in college basketball."
Key Takeaway: If you truly feel called by God to do that, then seek out other people to journey along with you in that way.
- I went to church growing up to see my one friend in middle school. I went because I wanted to see my friend.
- My call is all about Helping students to have a fuller understanding of what it means to follow after God.
- “My mom even said “can women even be in ministry?”
- Being a woman in ministry our network is not as great as the one that men have in youth ministry
- Prepare young women that there is going to be resistance and challenge
- If you truly feel called by God to do that, then seek out other people to journey along with you in that way.
- Know up front that it is going to be difficult
- I didn’t know that every church has a level of politics and you can’t let that dictate how you serve God and love students.
Speaker 1:0:12Ministers, welcome to episode 63 of the youth ministry booster podcast. We are closing in on the last week of our month long celebration of women and Youth Ministry. Today's a very special interview with Caitlin smelser in the Midwest in the Indiana area and not just in the Indiana area because of Indiana, but because she is pro when it comes to playing basketball like three time national champ in college basketball. Thank you very much. She's also an incredible youth minister and leader and has some wonderful insight and practical wisdom for you and you're going to love this interview. You're great. I was challenged by. You're going to be challenged by and encouraged by it, and so you're going to love checking that out. Just a couple of reminders. We would love to hear from more of you if you're tweeting, if you're instagramming facebooking, use that. Hashtag women in Yam. We're celebrating and encouraging all month long.
Speaker 1:1:02We've got a few more days left before October is over. Uh, so whatever you're doing for your fall festival this weekend or Halloween celebration next week, take a minute to shout out your favorite women and Youth Ministry of volunteer in your group, a pastor that's important in your life, a youth director or a small group leader that was challenging and encouraging for you, whoever it is, let them know this month, this whole month long celebration to bless and encourage those that are leading and you finished three at every level. And before we dive into this interview, I just wanted to say a couple things. One, we are so thankful for your listenership. You all listening and encouraging and talking about youth ministry has been the biggest blessing, at least in my life and growth and youth ministry. So thank you for that. And so many of you that have shared and given follow up conversation on the ministry booster network. Thank you for that as well. We love y'all. You are our people. You are our tribe. Have you finished yours? And we just wanted to say thanks, but until the end. Here's Chad Interviewing Kaitlin.
Speaker 2:1:58Hello and welcome to youth ministry booster. My name is Chad Higgins and I am so excited to be with you today. Caitlin, how are you? Oh, I'm doing great today. All right, so tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? Where are you from? Give us the nitty gritty. Yeah. My name is Caitlin smile fair. I live in Brownsburg, Indiana, which is just outside of Indianapolis on the west side. Uh, I have been in ministry for about nine years. I love it, absolutely love everything about it. I work with students directly. I work at a church called connection point Christian church in Brownsburg and I am very fortunate to get to oversee our student ministry team there. So, uh, absolutely love leading our middle school and high school ministries and just getting to work with students all the time. That's awesome. So tell me a little bit of like your genesis story, like how did you get into student ministry life, Batman, you know, in the alley kind of story.
Speaker 2:2:59Right? Tell me, tell me how it all began. Absolutely. So I actually made the decision to go into youth ministry when I was in high school. I have kind of the typical story of grew up going to church, but it wouldn't necessarily say I had a Christian family. My mom brought my sister and I the church our whole life, but that was really where being a Christian ended right at the doors of the church and so it wasn't until I was in middle school, my family moved, which made me move schools, which is the very best thing you can do for a middle schooler is make them change schools and all their friends, you know. No, not at all. But the saving grace was that our church was about halfway between where I had lived previously and where we were moving to and so we didn't change churches because that would be a lot of work and not worth it to my family and I had one friend from my old school who went to that church and so I started getting involved in the youth group because I wanted to see my one friend because I was a middle schooler.
Speaker 2:4:05And moving to where you have no friends is not fun at all. So I started getting involved in our youth group and through that got to know my youth pastor and his wife really? Well. It was with a smaller church. You also, our youth group context was maybe 12, 15 kids on the regular, uh, so really had personal relationship with my youth pastor and his wife and through that, through that relationship, got to know, hey, there's so much more to being a Christian than walking in the door. So the church and really got to see what it looked like to follow Jesus. I'm all the time and not just on Sundays. And so that relationship was just so huge and instrumental in my life. So when I was in high school, then decided, you know, I want to do this for other people. I want to be able to foster those relationships for other people, for other students who maybe don't know who Jesus is or just don't have that full understanding of what it really means to follow after God completely and fully and be obedient to him in that.
Speaker 2:5:05And so made that decision to go into student ministry at that point in high school. But didn't really know what that would look like honestly for me. Uh, so went to school for Youth Ministry and did my internship actually with CII. Wasn't really sure if I should do like para church organization or work in a church setting. Uh, so did that internship and absolutely loved it. Absolutely loved every single thing about it. But just at the end of that internship, didn't feel that peace from God of Yes, this is what you're supposed to do with your whole life. Um, so after college decided, you know, okay, I'm gonna jump into church ministry and started off the year long internship and then jumped into ministry from there. And um, God has been directing my path every, every step students and just trying to lean on him and that a lot. That's awesome. Um, for you like looking back at your student ministry experience, like tell me some, like in one or two highlights or like amazing moments for you in student ministry? Yeah, absolutely. When I was a student or as a student minister, we didn't care what it was like. I'm kidding.
Speaker 2:6:23One of the best things has been seeing just dedicate their life to ministry. I had one particular student who I started when she was in middle school and formed a relationship with her, got to mentor her, and then her senior year of high school, she called me up and said, okay, I want to go into ministry. I want to do an internship for her school, for their public high school. They got to do an internship. And so she interned with me that whole year, um, which was just a really cool experience to get to pour into her from a student to more of an intern role. And then she went off to college to pursue ministry. And I just haven't got to really journey with her along the way to the point where we're, she's, uh, you know, we're, we're friends, we talk about ministry, we talk about her goals and, and just to see that whole progression from her, from going to a student awkward middle school student that we all know and love, um, to be somebody who is chasing after God wholeheartedly and wants to pursue ministry occasionally with our whole life.
Speaker 2:7:30And for her to have that desire to minister to students and master students in the same way that I did as a, as a high school student was really cool. Just rewarding honestly to see that from her and just the passion that she has. Awesome. I would love to talk with you a little bit about, um, so I mean, you recalled specifically in student ministry, you've got this amazing story of another female student of yours being called to ministry. As I've got the opportunity to do a lot of these interviews over this month. Um, there have been, there's been less and less like women who like in middle school and high school, if that makes sense, where like, called have even heard from some of them that they felt like, um, they weren't encouraged right into the ministry here the same way that some of the young men were right at that. For you now, what are, what's some advice on how to encourage, um, women in middle school and high school, they do feel this calling of their life and how to begin to like prepare them. They take those steps into college and then into full time ministry. Absolutely.
Speaker 2:8:53I would definitely say it's not easy a woman in ministry. For me, I had a good deal of push back going into ministry with the my sights set on student ministry particularly, you know, when I honestly, when I, first of all my mom I wanted to go into student ministry. Her first reaction was, but women can't be in ministry. And it's like, okay, well they can. Um, and, and even going to college for Youth Ministry, you know, had some pushback there too. And so it was hard and challenging and just being a women and youth ministry, our network is not as great as men ministry, which is growing. And that has been so fantastic to see. But it's really challenging. And so honestly just trying to prepare students for that. You know, we've, I've had the privilege of getting to coach and mentor several students who have expressed that interest in high of going into student ministry and just preparing them like, this isn't gonna be easy.
Speaker 2:9:49You are going to face challenges being a woman in ministry. But if this is something that you truly feel called by God to do that you're truly interested in doing, then you're able to overcome that. And you know, seeking out other people that can journey with you along this way. People who are ahead of you, people who are beside you through this journey will will be hugely beneficial. But just knowing upfront mic, it's going to be difficult because if you think that you're just going to go in and it's going to be all roses and great and easy, then you're going to be fooling yourself and you're going to be greatly disappointed. So just trying to prepare them with that rewind time, sit down with yourself first year student ministry, what advice would you give yourself? Yeah, the thing that I wasn't prepared for coming into church life in general was that politics that can be a part of ministry in the church, whether that's in a smaller church setting and you know the politics of the family that has been at the church for 100 years, that kind of runs things or allergic church context that, you know, there's just the business side of things.
Speaker 2:11:05And I church, I think I just wasn't prepared for that, didn't. I didn't know it existed, you know? So I think that would be the thing, just to again, prepare myself for that. Knowing, hey, this is a thing and you can't let that dictate how you do ministry, how you love God, how you pursue him. And I'm in your ministry, but just knowing that a thing and something that, well, you'll encounter a lot throughout ministry. That's so interesting and I think that's such practical advice that I've ever heard any of our other guests give. But I think it's so like, that's so good because I think early in ministry in general, we can almost get jaded by that, if that makes sense. Right. It's like we have these views, I think on the outside looking in that working in church ministry, it's just like, well, of course my staff just sits around and reads her Bible together, praying constantly in serving the poor and then you get on there and you're like, you realize that it's not that way.
Speaker 2:12:10Right. And we can almost like grow the psych hard heart towards people who are sinful, right? Like we're working with people who have their own motives and own desires and pride gets in the way and all those kinds of things. And if we're not careful, we can see them as the enemy rather than the people we're serving. I think that that's phenomenal, like very practical advice. That's really, really good. Yeah, that. Thank you for that. That's really good. Practical advice for someone like first and Seton ministry have listened to that first year student ministry. I hope you listen to it now, right?
Speaker 2:13:00Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That's one of my favorite things, like asking that question, like we ask that question to all of our guests and I found that the advice that we often give ourself and our mind to our first yourself is often still the same advice that we're like, we're good with it now, but we're constantly telling you don't need to be reminded that. That's so good. Well, thank you so much for being on this episode. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and if you're listening, we want to thank you for tuning in. Thanks for being with this in this month as we get to celebrate these amazing women in student ministry.
Speaker 1:13:44There you go. Let's review with Caitlin. Caitlin, thank you so much for the insight, the wisdom and the practicality that what we're going into and leading a ministry, no matter what the church size requires a certain navigation of the politics, the relationships that were preexisting and it will exist after you in this certain dynamics, so other people in leadership. Thank you for that reminder. If you'd like to say Katelyn, then make sure to check the show notes below and you can find places to friend her on facebook and follow her back on twitter. We've got one more week of this. I hope you guys are doing great and you are ready to enjoy just a little bit more of our emphasis for October, celebrating and encouraging women in youth ministry. We've got some really good ones next week, so don't miss out and you've got a few more days for women and youth ministry, the giveaway as.com/giveaway and would love for one of you lucky listeners to win it, but until then, have a wonderful weekend and we'll see you back next week.