After 16 years as the director of youth ministries at New Directions, the Greenfield community’s Christian youth ministry, Mike Anderson has decided it is time to follow a different path.
He said he will officially resign Aug. 31, and that a nationwide search for a new director will begin immediately.
“It was 16 years ago this month that I began my journey as the director of youth ministries at New Directions,” Anderson said in Facebook post he sent to The Times-Gazette. “It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve in this amazing ministry to the youth of our community. I love these kids more than you will ever know.
“Over the past nine years, I have also served in pastoral ministry in two different congregations in Greenfield — Good Shepherd United Brethren Church and First Presbyterian Church. I love preaching and teaching God’s Word and helping people to become deeply devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. I feel energized when I am in the pulpit and when I’m leading in worship among the people of God.”
A Newark native, Anderson said he came to Greenfield in 1995 to attend the Christian Union Bible College and earn a ministry degree.
“I came down here to go to college and never left. It’s been 25 years,” Anderson said.
With three teenage children, he said Greenfield is now his home and that it was not an easy decision to leave New Directions.
“I will miss the kids themselves the most. I have fallen in love with them and they are the reason I do what I do,” Anderson said. “There’s been a lot tears the last few days from them and myself. But they know I will still be here for them and that this doesn’t mean my love for them has changed.”
Anderson said in his Facebook post that over the past couple of years it has become increasingly difficult for him to maintain an effective ministry with his time divided between New Directions and the ministry at the church.
“It’s hard when both ministries are growing and demand more and more of my time,” he said. “It is difficult to be a good pastor, a good youth director, and a good husband and father all at the same time. I am at the place in my life where I must give something up — and I have decided it has to be my ministry at New Directions.”
Anderson said he would assist the New Directions board during the transition, and that that he would be willing to help the new director of youth ministries.
He said the New Directions board was to meet Monday evening and that a plan for searching for a new director was put in place about three years ago. He said his prayers will be with the board as it searches for his successor.
New Directions celebrated its 30th anniversary on May 1, Anderson said, adding that the search for a new director will bring new energy and enthusiasm to the program as it prepares for another 30 years.
New Directions offers programming for students in grades 3-5, middle school and high school. It has a center that is open from 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, a program during lunch at McClain High School, and offers and variety of service programs and mission trips.
“My family and I will continue to be a part of the Greenfield community. I will still be serving as pastor at First Presbyterian Church. I will continue to be a member of the Greenfield Area Ministerial Association,” Anderson wrote on Facebook. “And someday, when the time is right, I hope to return as an adult volunteer at New Directions among the students that I love so dearly!
“I love the ministry of New Directions more than I can put into words, and I hope my service here has been a blessing to many. May God bless each of you and may God bless the future of New Directions!”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.