The new First Baptist Church youth/associate pastor Jordan Hempel has hit the ground running since starting at the church on June 1. Jordan’s excitement about being a part of a growing community has him looking forward to the future of not only the church but Newton as well.
“I have been getting the calendar and youth group together,” Jordan said. “The youth group is going great. We have met twice since I have arrived. We have a great group of kids. I have been connecting with them well while providing them a safe place to come and enjoy a night of being themselves.”
Jordan is only two years out of college, and Newton is his first youth pastor job out of school. He plans on being here for the long-term.
“All through college, I was a volunteer but was also the right hand of the youth pastor. I was very involved in leading many of the activities, including the band, games and small groups,” Jordan said. “I took a break to begin graduate school. During that time I became an intern at a pretty big church in Minnesota.
I love youth ministry, I am going to do it for the rest of my life for as long as my body allows me to.”
Since starting at the church, Jordan has found that Newton is a community wanting to invest and give support to its current younger generation.
“The community of Newton has been very welcoming, not just to me, but with the youth group kids as well, especially the older generation of the church,” Jordan said. “I can tell they really want to see this community come around. They support the teenagers by providing role models and mentors for them, so they don’t go down the wrong path.”
Jordan has been impressed with that even though Newton is considered to be a small town surrounded by many other communities, it has a lot to offer. He plans on implementing that into the activities of the youth group.
“We have the movie theater, Maytag Pool, frisbee golf, other parks, restaurants to go to and many more things to do in town,” Jordan said. “I find sometimes these things get overlooked because many of the kids experience these things everyday. I am hoping to shine a new light on these things with the kids. It’s also good that if we do get bored here, Des Moines is only 30 minutes away. It’s really cool to have so many cool things to do within a close distance from town.”
Although summer has just began, Jordan is planning his goals to keep his youth group active throughout the upcoming school year.
“One of my biggest goals of the school year is to be on the school campus as much as possible by going to all the games, concerts, plays and anything else that requires an audience I want to be there,” Jordan said. “Not just to support the teenagers and families, but I love going to these things. I plan on talking with the school board to find out how much I can get involved on campus to be able to interact with students. I know its one thing to invite them to church, but being able to go out to where they are to connect with them is big for kids.”
In the end his top goal for the youth group is to have a welcoming feeling for all students (sixth grade through 12th grade) no matter if they attend church or not.
“We’re going to welcome you and make sure you remain up to date on everything were doing for youth at the church,” Jordan said. “We will never turn anyone away that wants to be welcoming to other. We will have tons of fun and talk about the Bible. I am not going to push what I believe because I want people to be encouraged and inspired by learning about the Bible. We will not stray away from talking about faith, but were going to do it in a way that is teen friendly.”