The following article is reprinted from the August 1, 2010 edition of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle with permission of Cheyenne Newspapers, Inc., Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
By Baylie Evans | email@example.com
CHEYENNE – The new pastor at Faith United Methodist Church, Travis Walker, said it will take some “out of the box thinking” to bring young people to church these days.
At just 24 years old, he might be just the person to do it.
The church welcomed Walker earlier this month as its new part-time student local pastor.
He is one of the youngest pastors at United Methodist churches in the region, he said.
That fact made him a little nervous at first and it took some guts to jump right into becoming a pastor.
“(But) age hasn’t been an issue,” he said.
Walker is working toward a Masters of Divinity at Iliff School of Theology in Denver and is not ordained yet. Ordination will require another two years after finishing his master’s degree, which he plans to complete about one year from now.
He will work part time at the church here and commute to Denver for classes a few days a week.
Walker was appointed to the position by the bishop, just like an ordained pastor would have been. Being a student local pastor means he can perform all the duties of a pastor but only at the church and in the community where he was appointed.
Jeff Hildreth, the administrative board chair and lay leader at Faith, said the church is behind Walker 100 percent. The church welcomes the opportunity to help train a young, new pastor.
But he admitted with a laugh, “I have hard time thinking about him as a pastor, because he’s younger than my son.”
So church leaders are working to instill in the congregation a sense of leadership in their new pastor, he said. “He’s a very nice gentleman,” Hildreth said. “I think he’s going to do wonderful.”
The church recently a made a shift from a full-time to a part-time pastor as membership has declined. There are now about 100 members and about 35 regular Sunday attendees.
Walker said the church would like to have Walker on full time but can’t until he’s ordained and membership increases.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to get back up there with Pastor Travis (Walker’s) help,” Hildreth said.
Part of increasing membership will mean reaching out to people his age, a tough generation to bring in.
“People my age don’t have the same concept of church as they did 50 years ago,” Walker said.
To reach that crowd, many churches of many denominations have become “megachurches” or employed very modern music to bring in younger people.
Those styles are fine for some churches, Walker said. “(It’s) healthy disciple-making,” he said. “I can’t know that.”
But he prefers the more traditional style, and said many of his age group prefers the traditional as well.
The church’s location in the southern part of the city has great potential for making an impact on the community and creating disciples, he added.
Walker, a lifelong Methodist, felt called to ministry in high school, but he ignored it initially and began studying to become a tax lawyer.
“That call just grew and grew and grew,” he said. “I’m not called to be a tax lawyer. I’m called to be a pastor.”
He grew up in small towns in Kansas and moving to Denver a year ago was a big jump.
“(Now) I’m happy to be where life is just a little slower and more personal,” he said.