First impressions are funny things, and sometimes not very accurate, case in point- Doug Sayers. Upon meeting this Assemblies of God District Youth Director a few thoughts could come to mind:
His Boy-Band/Super Mario Bros. good looks (any one remember Joey Fatone), his cartoon character like voice which would be great for the Muppets or Disney (I would know, I sound like Kermit the Frog myself), and not to mention the fact that the man never ages. I think he got a hold of Dick Clark's or Carson Daily's DNA. Doug looks the same as he did when I was in high school (I have been told on good authority that his hair color is legit too).
Did I mention that he has been the DYD since I was in high school? In fact, this past PennDel Youth Convention would make it Doug's twentieth Youth Convention. Awesome. Inspiring. Rare.
To give you an idea of how long twenty years is...
1 Philadelphia Phillies World Series (yes that is a major milestone).
2 Wars (Golf War & Iraq War).
3 Different female Adjudicators have graced American Idol (Paula, Kara, & Ellen).
4 U.S. Presidents have been in office (H.W. Bush, Clinton, W. Bush, & Obama).
5 Major Batman Movies have been made (Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman&Robin, Batman Begins, & The Dark Night).
If Doug Sayers was a TV sitcom (and youth ministry often is) he would be up there with The Simpsons (21 seasons) as the longest running active TV sitcom to date.
What I am saying is that 20 years in the same position in youth ministry is a big deal.
It is not just Doug Sayers' longevity which has proven him to be an effective force in youth ministry, it is who he is as a man which has made the difference, especially in my life and thousands of other students in the Penn-Del District. Students are always coming up to Doug at colleges and events thanking him for his influence; he knows a lot of their names too! (I am still working on that talent).
I have to admit when I was in high school I would crack jokes on Doug's larger-than-life persona, however my perception would change once I became a Youth Pastor. I'll never forget that first year in ministry, it was tough. Doug took me out to lunch (which he paid for by the way) and shared his heart and helped give me some peace and some strength.
I learned about a man who would on a whim drive to the beach in the middle of the night with his wife just because (very cool). I saw a man speak who had a love and passion for young people. He is not in it just to receive a paycheck, but he is in it to give his life away to see young people grow closer God.
I remember asking him if he missed being a Youth Pastor since he works at the District Office (yes I was young and a little dumb). He looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Al, I may be the District Youth Director but I still see myself as a Youth Pastor."
That mindset has helped him become one of the most progressive and successful DYDs in the country. I have attended the last three National A/G Youth Conventions and the PennDel Youth Conventions are better... a lot better. Doug is always praying, thinking, and strategizing with youth pastors to help take Youth Convention to the next level. I don't think many people in his position would do that. I was talking with a Master's Commission student from Texas recently who said that the PennDel's Youth Conventions blow away the Youth Conventions in Texas (and everything is bigger in Texas).
Doug Sayers has set a standard and continues to leave a legacy that never settles when it comes to youth ministry.
Thank you Doug for being the District Youth Director.
Thank You Doug for being my District Youth Pastor.