An Interview with Rachel Young, Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation6 mission icons
Clear Lake Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX

Rachel Young profile

Seven years ago, Rachel and Josh Young received a phone call during their honeymoon that would lead them from Hollywood to Houston. As newlyweds and recent graduates of Fuller Seminary, they had been praying for an opportunity to minister in the same church. So when the call turned out to be a job offer for Josh from Clear Lake Presbyterian in Houston, and there was a position open for Rachel as well, it felt like a blessing from God. They both still serve at Clear Lake, though their roles have changed over the years and Rachel has shifted to a part-time position with a focus on adult discipleship in order to spend time with their just-turned-one son, Ezekiel.

Rachel first crossed paths with Ascending Leaders three years ago, during a time of significant burn-out. At work, she was lost in the middle of a visioning process at church that was getting bigger and bigger, to the point where the process became entirely overwhelming. It seemed like they were maintaining a lot of “stuff”, without knowing way. In short, she felt stuck—personally and in leadership.In her case, STUCK meant UNFOCUSED.rachel-question-1

That’s when she met Mike Johnson at an event for Fuller alumni. She remembered seeing something in the mail from Ascending Leaders, and opening it because it said something about discipleship. She shared a meal with Mike, intent on picking his brain about discipleship and what he was teaching at Fuller at the time. Shortly after that, she took a medical leave of absence—and that’s when Ascending Leaders really became a blessing to her.

During the medical leave, Rachel prompted her small group to do a test run of a study from Ascending Leaders: Your Pathways. The Pathways study reminded Rachel of who she was, and she was surprised 
to discover that she was not, as she expected, a “Contemplative” relational type, but rather an “Ascetic”. This discovery gave her the permission she needed to be herself, and equipped her to have compassion on how other people connect to God in different ways. She recognized this as a sign of growing spiritual maturity—the point of which is growing more and more in love with Jesus.

Shortly after Rachel returned to work, another staff member attended DiscipleForward and came back with a good report. So when Mike asked Rachel if Clear Lake Presbyterian Church might host a DiscipleForward workshop, the answer came easily. At the end of the workshop, Rachel was excited an energized by the process of redefining what discipleship is, and the framework of aligning church activities and programs to a clear disciple path as “boulders, rocks, or pebbles”. She was still at a loss on how to carry this new focus forward into action—but she knew she was onto something that was worth pursuing.

rachel-scriptureHer newly-formed discipleship team participated in DiscipleForward2: GoingDeeper and then DiscipleForward3: HereToThere, and Rachel eagerly joined the test group for the DiscipleOn online learning community. At a retreat this past summer, her team drew out a pathway with rocks and boulders, and the focus this brought to their vision for discipleship generated tangible momentum. Having her team on the same page, their thinking on discipleship shaped by the same influences, keeps them focused.

When asked why she keeps coming back to Ascending Leaders, Rachel recalls a moment in a workshop when she expressed great frustration over a challenge she was facing in her leadership—and someone piped up to say, with genuine empathy, “I don’t think you’re alone, Rachel.” Isn’t that what we all long to hear in our difficult moments? It’s hard, and I know this because you are not alone in facing it. Discipleship at the congregation level is unwieldly; being part of a community of people trying to do similar things at their churches helps, and it’s been just what Rachel and her discipleship team needs.



If you’d like to know more about Rachel’s story, including what she believes is the biggest challenge faced by the church today and what she’s reading right now, check our blog for bonus content. You can also connect with Rachel at http://reverendrachel.wordpress.com/

 

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