Ministry Transitions

by Justin Daleiden



Justin Daleiden graduated from Augsburg College’s Youth and Family Ministry Program in 2011. He is from Eden Prairie, MN where he served at Prairie Lutheran Church for five years. He is currently working with Young Adults in Global Mission in Edinburgh, Scotland.



Many of us know the fragility of working in ministry. The brittleness of working with teenagers, parents, and the staff that surrounds us in the midst of our call. Over the course of the past 5 years, I have been a part of youth ministry in a congregation that consistently went through staff transition. Coworkers came and went for a range of reasons including marriage, kids, seminary internship years, and even the ear piercing “it wasn’t a good fit”.

Transition sucks. Sometimes it’s necessary, sometimes it’s unwarranted, but sometimes it is done extremely well. Yet even in the midst of the best transitions there were people who still felt abandoned and alienated. For me, this is one of the toughest parts of transition. No matter the reason for moving on, we are leaving people who we have grown to love and care for, and there are people who have grown to love and care for us. I guess this is one of the hard-hitting effects of relational ministry done well. It is hard to leave.

With all of this in mind, there are two key things I have learned about making transitions as smooth as possible. First of all, no matter my context, I can start prepping for my best transition right now. The best transitions I’ve seen happened after we took the time to make sure there were adult leaders equipped to support different areas of ministry, parents who felt confident in being the primary minister in their household, and a congregation that has a willingness to lift up youth ministry as a whole. Empowering others for ministry now will insure a smoother transition later. This takes time, and is something that I know I can start working towards immediately.

My second takeaway has to do with the role of the leader. A teenager once told me he was struggling with faith because he saw his former youth leader as “godly” and now this leader was gone. Once his “godly” figure was gone, his faith was goe with it. I don’t think I need to remind any of us that we are not God, but we do need to remember that we should constantly be getting out of the way in order to allow the people we work with to encounter Christ. This ministry I participate in is not my own, but the work of God in this particular place. The more I practice this, the better prepared I (and the people around me) will be when the time of transition comes.

I pray that as you come across transitions, God’s presence might bless each of you and the people you are leaving. Transition is just flat out hard, and I pray that God might support each of you in the midst of one of the hard parts of our work.

Tindog Tacloban

by Jon Bates

Jon Bates

Jon Bates is a fourth year student in Augsburg College’s Youth and Family Ministry program who recently transferred from St. Cloud State. He is from Shoreview, MN and is currently serving as the Congregational Life intern at Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Jon spent the summer serving in the Philippines. This reflection is about his summer experience.


We see courage everywhere in our lives if we look hard enough. When people use their courage… well I think it’s really cool. Whether it’s the courage someone needs to get out of bed, the courage to finish their homework or college, or the courage needed to talk to someone about their own struggles. Continue reading

Believing What Youth Say

 by Ross Murray (’00, ’09)

Ross Murray


Ross Murray is the Director of News at GLAAD and Director of The Naming Project.,  a faith-based youth group serving youth of all sexual and gender identities. He graduated from Augsburg College’s Youth and Family Ministry program in 2000 and earned his MBA from Augsburg College in 2009.


In my time working at The Naming Project, I’ve developed a standard practice for myself and for the other counselors I work with:

Believe what the youth tell you about themselves.

It seems like a pretty simple rule, but in reality we don’t do it.

First, about The Naming Project, we are a Christian program for LGBTQ youth. Our main program is a summer camp, so we have an intensive week with youth who are working through their sexual orientation, gender identity, and faith all at the same time. It’s a time of exploration, and they are working through who they are and how they relate to God and the rest of the world. Continue reading

Sarah Grans (’01)

225629_10150230026476343_7115634_nWhat year did you graduate? What were your majors/minors?

I graduate in 2001 with a Youth & Family Ministry major and Psychology minor.

What are you doing now (for work)?

I work at St. Peder’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. I’m the Director of Outreach and Faith Formation. I have been on staff there for 5 years as of Aug. 2012. Continue reading

Justin Daleiden (’11)

Justin-DWhat year did you graduate? What were your majors/minors?

I graduated in May 2011 with a major in Youth and Family Ministry and a minor in Sociology.

What are you doing now (for work)?

I am currently the Director of Youth and Family ministry at Prairie Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, MN. In my job, I have opportunities to teach confirmation, create and write Bible studies, and learn alongside the youth of the congregation. Continue reading

Kirsten Kelly (’00)

kkelly-e1347232328438What year did you graduate? What were your majors/minors?

I graduated in May 2000 with Youth & Family Ministry (Major) and Computer Science (Minor).

What are you doing now (for work)?

I was at Trinity Lutheran Church in Long Lake for 12 years as the Director of Youth & Family Ministries (working with MS, HS and college age youth over the years – most recently I’ve just coordinated the Confirmation ministry).  I will be starting a new position in Children’s Ministry at Zion Lutheran in Buffalo. Continue reading

Geoffrey Gill (’12)

Geoffrey-GillWhat year did you graduate? What were your majors/minors?

I graduated in 2012, with a Youth and Family Ministry degree.

What are you doing now (for work)?

Currently I work at Chrestomathy as a program support staff. Chrestomathy is an adult day program for people with mental disabilities. We provide direct supervision, job coaching, and data collection. Continue reading

Erika Hiland (’05)

Erika-HilandWhat year did you graduate? What were your majors/minors? – I graduated in 2005 with a Youth and Family Ministry major and minors in Sociology and Psychology

What are you doing now (for work)? – I work at St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, MN as the Children’s Minister of 4th and 5th Grade Education and Children’s Communication Lead. Continue reading