A Chat with Pastor Darryl Bergen
Good morning good people! This past week I had the opportunity to reconnect with a friend and former partner in ministry, Pastor Darryl Bergen. Darryl came to Calvary as the youth pastor at around the same time I was asked to lead the pape youth centre ministry. We would frequently meet up to discuss strategy of bringing the two groups together, pray, and play a crazy amount of ping-pong.Since working together, Darryl has moved on to Wyoming Baptist (in Wyoming, ON) where he serves as youth pastor, and is a great brother in Christ to have. Darryl thankfully took some time out of his schedule to answer the following questions; hope you all enjoy.
Could you share a bit about your testimony?
DB: Born: Without clothes, to loving Christian parents who had no kids (until my siblings came along).
Grew up: A very, very good boy, musical and athletic, awkward, loved to read, was bullied, the sidekick to the class clown, in high school always wanted to be in a relationship (but always stuck in the friend zone) and…I was a Christian – whatever that meant (I just grew up that way) – oh, and people thought I was the “perfect kid”.
Messed up: Over time it became harder to maintain “perfect”. More I tried more I failed (a lesson I still continue to learn).
Fired up: As a teen I was invited to join a small group of peers and the youth pastor to do “life” together, there I experienced the forgiveness, grace and love of the Father, and the “perfect” sacrifice of HIs Son for me, got baptized and leaned into a life on mission to love God and love others.
Teamed up: Bridal College (I mean bible college) dated, graduated, married, and teamed up to love God and love others with the best partner ever! Really!
Low down: This is how I live today; not perfect but through grace – every step is gift of grace “for it is not I who live but Christ who lives within me”. Each day, each moment that is what I want to choose, to live “in Christ” and to walk in such a way so as to encourage others to do the same. Because that is really living!
This is me: Born and raised in St. Catharines. Lived in residence in Toronto 3 years for undergrad. Married summer 2002 and moved to Niagara Falls and served as a associate pastor of a Mennonite church. Moved back to St. Catharines where I commuted once a week for 3 years to T.O for graduate studies. At the same time my wife, Lisa worked on both an undergrad and a masters. Then we both moved to T.O. where she started teaching French at a private Christian school and I served at an urban church for 3 years as a youth pastor. We now live in Wyoming Ontario. Yes, there is a Wyoming in Canada. Wyoming is a little village of 2000 people where I serve as the pastor to youth and families.
When/how did you know you were called to your ministry?
DB: I felt the pull to vocational ministry as a teen, inspired by a significant move of God in my life and the influence of the youth ministry and my youth pastor whose goal in ministry was to develop young Christian leaders. I could think of no greater thing to do with my life than to do in others what my youth pastor did in me. Truthfully though, it wasn’t until everything else I tried to do failed when I truly felt called to do His work. Often it’s when we’ve reached the end of ourselves and let Him drive that’s when we hit the sweet spot of vocational purpose.
You have been a pastor in a moderate sized community (St Catharines), a big city (Toronto), and now a small town – what similarities and different challenges have you found in those places?
DB: No matter where you go every student and in fact every person needs two important nouns a someone and a somewhere. We cannot underestimate the power the right place has to affect relationships; Seinfeld had a diner, Friends had a coffee house, Cheers had a bar. Secondly, in anyone’s story of faith, there are people who have shown up and become catalysts for spiritual growth. Pastoring in any situation is all about making sure there is a place for people, any kind of person, to belong and to see them connect to others to be catalysts for spiritual growth. Challenges are always opportunities and I see these three challenges as similar no matter the context, whoever difference contexts will have different answers for these; Technology: (Unlimited potential yet unlimited moral and relational implications), Time: (Lot of options for wasting our time, but harness the power of love, words, and fun over time), and Training: (Specialism now forces us to provide excellence in our programs yet amazing opportunity to empower others to do something with the diversity of gifts and reach).
How do you determine what to share with the youth?
DB: I follow a curriculum plan from Orange that has a scope and cycle so that we don’t get stuck somewhere and miss critical aspects of faith development. Their scope and cycle for weekly programming is set up around 3 critical relationships that come from Matt. 22:37-42 (the great command) God, God and self, God and others.
Are there any preachers/authors/theologians you learn from that you’d recommend?
DB: Andy Stanley/ Carey Nieuwhof – Introducing a new paradigm of single point preaching and leading churches that unchurched people love to attend. Major Ian Thomas/ A.W. Towzer – These guys (preachers) just knew God. Louie Giglio – Almost nothing bigger than the Passion movement (speaking to the hardest age to appeal or speak to – US College students) and heck there almost isn’t a modern day worship song that isn’t co-written by him. Reggie Joiner and ReThink (Orange) – With all that they produce they encourage partnering home and church to PLAY FOR KEEPS when it comes to the next generation. N.T. Wright and Chris Wright (missiologist), Lesslie Newbigin (missiologist), Alan Roxbough Reach Records – Props to Lecrae and his posse – the artists will lead us.
If you could change the ‘youth ministry’ model – what would you change?
DB: I would love to challenge this mentality that says that students are a “problem to be solved not a person to be loved”. And who loves a student more than their parent? Granted every students home life is unique but a youth ministry model that looks to leverage the 3000+ hours of yearly influence of the home life of a student will set itself to win maybe not just the student but also the parent/ family as well. Increasing the partnership of home and church so that each and every student has a place to belong and a person/ people who care about them increase the chance of faith taking root in a students life.
What is a difficulty faced by the church today?
DB: Irrelevance and Extremism – I recently listened to an interview with David Kinnaman about new research from the Barna Research Group on Christianity in the USA. In this study they identify that American Christian faith is increasingly being seen as irrelevant and even extreme. It is getting easier to dismiss and harder to promote the Christian faith. In a secular, post modern, post Christian age the church no longer enjoys an important place or speaks to the lives of many North American’s today. The challenge and opportunity is for living out the Christian faith incarnationally and to finding new and relevant ways to tell the greatest story ever told to a generation that doesn’t know they need to hear it. Post Literate – Another significant challenge facing this and upcoming generations is the changing way we communicate and learn. We are now in a post literate age – where many young people communicate using image this will pose a huge challenge to reading and understanding such an ancient text as the Bible.
What has been your biggest struggle as a person in pastoral ministry?
DB: I find myself inadequately trained for growing, leading and managing staff and volunteers and lack a basic knowledge of best practice principles for business. Because the church is a business – we’re in the business of making disciples who make disciples. That means there is a process, a system working to achieving that goal. And that goal is done not as a solo effort but through a system of volunteers. How do we come up the goals, who defines the goals, the process, and how do we manage the resources well. How well we define the goal and work together will be the limit or potential of our reach.
What are some of the ways you see the Lord at work in Canada?
DB: There are some Canadian Seminaries that are leading the way in innovative thinking on how to train in pastors and leaders in this new paradigm. This includes building cultural/ contextual theologies, developing theologies of faith in the market place, preparing students for ministry in a post Christian, post Modern, post Literate world.
And finally – what would you say to someone thinking about pursuing youth and/or worship ministry as a career? Could we change to – vocational ministry
DB: Pursue your primary calling with singular purpose and intentionality – Oz Guinness reminds us that we all share a primary vocation to love God and love others). Be a listener first – St. Francis reminds us to “seek first to understand before being understood” So be a listener of God and others. Do together – There is such a power in doing things as a team! Not only to you extend the limit of your reach but you encourage others by allowing them to use their gifts.
Thanks for reading everyone, hope you enjoyed it. In an unrelated note, I haven’t been posting as much cause I have been really sick lately (in and out of emerge four times, having trouble keeping food and liquids down at points). Please keep me in your prayers. It is my hope and prayer the Lord spoke to you through the interview.
God bless my friends.