Jim Murphy is the NextGen Pastor at the Covenant Church in Bemidji, a small town in Northern Minnesota.

This blog is about my experiences on the growing edge of our ministry with kids, students, young adults, their families, and the larger church. It includes posts about my ministry priorities and attitudes, systems and strategies, and lessons learned. But, ministry with the next generation also includes internal struggles with change and self doubt, the external pressures of expectations, the realities of long working days, the exponentially difficult learning curve of managing a growing ministry, the relentless cry of crisis and need, and many more issues that one experiences when your own context for ministry is constantly changing. So I share these posts with you with transparency and openness, hoping to let you in on what it’s like … even hoping for feedback and continued conversation.

But, you must know this: I am, without a doubt, committed to growth…kingdom growth…ministry growth…spiritual growth…and…personal growth…growth for the sake of God’s redemptive mission in this world. I’m always stretching forward, seeking God’s vision for the present and the future; identifying current challenges and thinking of new possibilities. Yet, at the same time, I try to remain committed to certain standards, values, and biblical priorities. Sometimes commitment to these principles can lead to growth and sometimes they must be fought for in spite of growth.

That is where I always find myself … on the growing edge of ministry with the next generation.

Just to give you some context …

I’ve been in youth ministry since early 1992. While I was the Student Pastor in our current church, the student ministry grew over 8 years from about 75 students average weekly attendance to about 175-200 average weekly attendance with approximately 270 total active students. In 2014, we did some staff restructuring and I became the NextGen Pastor. Our NextGen ministry consists of 5 staff (Pastor, Director of Student Ministries, Director of Kids Ministries, Worship Leader for Students, and Worship Leader for Kids) and about 140 volunteers providing spiritual care for about 500 people ages 0-30. 

We are an Evangelical Covenant Church and our general weekly attendance has grown over the same period of time from about 600 to about 950 (the average number of separate individual adults, youth, and children who attend our Sunday and Wednesday ministries) with about 1500 active attenders who call the Covenant Church their spiritual home. Of course, we certainly are not a large church relative to the mega-churches and giga-churches of today. However, relative to our little town of 15,000 people (30,000 in the zip code), the growth has been pretty exciting…exhausting….but exciting.

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