Each year at youth conference, Momentum Ministry Partners honors one youth pastor who is faithfully discipling the next generation and investing in the lives of students. This person is selected by a panel of Momentum staff, based on meeting certain criteria. This year’s Student Ministries Pastor of the Year Award recipient is Jordan Gillette, student pastor at Grace Community Church in Goshen, Ind., a role he has served in since 2016.
If you ask anyone who knows Jordan to describe him, the first thing they would say is he is relational. Whether he’s known you for ten minute or ten years, his interactions are intentionally relational, and he makes you feel like there is nothing more important than the conversation he is having with you in that moment.
“I first got to really know Jordan in the summers of 2009 and 2010 when he interned at Grace Polaris Church,” said Dave Nicodemus, pastor of student ministries at Grace Polaris Church in Westerville, Ohio. “What made him so incredibly successful and loved by all during those summers was his intentional pursuit of students to love them and know them deeply. That foundation has carried on through his entire ministry. He invests deeply and personally in people as a trusted and wise shepherd.”
Tyler Myers works alongside Jordan at Grace Community Church as the student ministries and young adult director, and he credits Jordan with being a steadfast influence in his life over the last five years. He said, “Jordan has reshaped what I had previously known or understood youth ministry to be. It is not a starting point, it is not a step toward being ‘a real pastor’…it is a calling, it is a joy, and it is lifegiving. Jordan is the reason that I am in ministry today, so getting the opportunity to still learn and be influenced by him is a true gift!”
Jordan and his wife Shelbi, along with their three kids, truly model what it means to embrace a ministry calling as a family. They continually welcome students and leaders into their home, take their kids to students’ sporting events and graduation parties, and intentionally include others in their family life. Tyler said, “Dependable is an understatement, and this does not stop at the church doors. They live out what it means to be hospitable; their home is a place welcome to all and a place where all our students love to go.”
Jordan’s influence extends beyond just the students. Addie Findley has served with the youth at Grace Community for the past six years. She said, “Jordan is the most intentional, patient, passionate, fun, and prayerful person I have ever worked with. He is so gracious in training and equipping leaders. He empowers leaders and students to take ownership of the role they play in Axis (Grace youth group).”
Addie added, “Jordan casts a vision of belonging that helps students see God better alongside their peers. He gives grace to students during their youth, while praying for and preparing them for the future ahead. He is real, never afraid of hard conversations, diving into the uncomfortable with truth and humor…He also juggles, is great at spike ball, reads great books, and makes good coffee!”
Jordan first felt called into youth ministry as a teenager himself. He participated in Momentum Youth Conference and Travel Teams, both of which had a significant impact in Jordan’s life. In this video, Jordan shares how he learned to own his faith and began to explore the idea of fulltime ministry at Momentum. He also talks about the relationships he built that he has carried with him into his current ministry role. Addie said, “He has intentionally chosen to be a youth pastor and it shows. He loves where he’s at and takes the burdens that come with the job with humility and grace.”
“When they announced I got the award,” Jordan said, “I obviously felt overwhelmed with gratitude, but the way the students from our group reacted made me feel like an ABSOLUTE rock star. Then as I was coming off the stage, my friend Dayne met me and gave me the biggest hug. That evening I got a lot of messages from other youth pastors, all guys I really respect, who were way too kind and encouraging!”
Jordan went on to say, “This was probably my favorite year of youth ministry. I feel like I have grown in the areas I’ve been coached in and have been trying to develop. One of those things was creating opportunities for students to lead by hosting, leading worship, or teaching. So I was feeling extra thankful about what God did with the year, which made it even more special to receive this award.”