In 1996, Joe Webb made a commitment to the Lord to go into full time ministry. Eight years later, Joe watched several of his youth members make the same commitment at the very place he heard God’s calling.
In those eight years, Joe graduated from high school, earned his bachelor’s degree in ministry at Huntington University and became Associate Pastor of Student Ministries at North Anderson Church of God. In early 2004, he was one of only 20 ministry leaders across the nation to be invited to the National Council for Faith-Based Youth (NCFBY).
Joe was the youngest invited guest at the first-of-its-kind NCFBY Conference in Washington, D.C. Established at the urging of some key leaders in Washington, the Council serves as a liaison of relationship and action regarding the issues affecting youth within the faith community.
“At the conference, we talked about several key issues affecting teens throughout the United States, such as drugs, violence, divorce, family issues and more. We were challenged to stand up as godly leaders and work collaboratively to bring the country back to where it needs to be,” Joe explains. “Being a member of the Council has expanded my horizons and challenged me to step up my ministry leadership.”
Joe’s ministry and opportunities are a key testament to the education he received at Huntington University. Ironically, Joe did not initially consider attending Huntington University since he was from Huntington and wanted to “go away” to college. But once Joe felt the call to full time youth ministry, he knew there was no other place to go but Huntington University.
“If you are called into the ministry, Huntington University is the place to be,” Joe said. “It is the only college that offers the highest quality classes in leadership, youth ministry, cross-cultural and worship-leading. No other school does that with the demand that Huntington does.”
Though the classes were challenging and the demands intense, Joe says it was very rewarding to share in the knowledge and wisdom of his professors. He claims his ministry would not be what it is today without care and instruction from professors such as Dave Rahn, Karen Jones, Luke Fetters and Tom Bergler.
“One thing I loved about the professors at Huntington is that they always treated me as an adult. They treated me as though I worked alongside them as a fellow worker in ministry. I loved that. They always saw great potential in me as a student and made me aware of it,” Joe said.
Along with the knowledge and wisdom he gained from his professors, Joe also benefited from his involvement with Joyful Noise, the campus praise and worship team. He credits his time spent with the group as a key development to his worship-leadership skills. His leadership was also refined while serving as the student-leader for several missions trips to Haiti. But Joe says the biggest key to his ministry development was his mandatory seven-month PRIME (Practical Research through Immersion and Ministry Evaluation) internship.
During his PRIME experience, Joe was able to put his skills and knowledge into practice and adapt to an unfamiliar setting. He and his wife, Kristi, moved from their local church of 180 people to a church in Knoxville, Tenn., with more than 3,500 members. For seven months, Joe was one of four interns at the church. He taught small groups, led worship, organized a missions trip to Haiti and worked in Knoxville’s first “Operation Backyard,” a backyard mission that teaches youth to serve in their own community.
“PRIME was the best experience to equip me for my future ministry,” Joe explains. “Once I got into the internship, the practical knowledge I had gained from my classes and professors gave me an edge over the other interns. Every time a problem came up, I could go back to something I learned in any of my classes. I had already studied what to do in those situations. It really helped me to be pro-active in answering questions before they came up.”
And speaking of pro-active, it’s the very thing Joe teaches his students. “I’m not only supposed to teach the youth how to be great Christians, but I’m also supposed to make them aware of what is out there in the world, giving them a heart for the world and a heart for ministry.”
One way Joe teaches that lesson is by taking his youth on various 10-day summer tours. These tours usually consist of a conference or retreat and several days of Christian service, capped off with a fun adventure, such as whitewater rafting.
“Through the trips, I try to get our students to see the need that is out there and learn to put others first,” Joe said. “I want them to learn to work with a servant’s heart and always look for opportunities to do that.”
As Joe watches the members of his youth group begin to understand what God has created them to do, he is humbled by the position God has entrusted to him. Joe says his thoughts often lead him back to his original calling and the important role Huntington University played in teaching and equipping him to fulfill his mission, which multiplies through the lives of the youth he serves.Discover what Huntington University can do for you.
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