my wife is jeannie. i dig her.
but today i’m posting about another jeanne i’m stoked about: jeanne stevens.
i first met jeanne when she was in 8th grade, and i was the junior high pastor at first baptist church in wheaton. she came to our group with friends, and quickly became a regular. she was a wonderfully fiesty kid — i used to call her ‘jean, jean, the dancing machine’ (a very old reference to the gong show — c’mon, some of you are the right age to remember this!). in high school, jeanne really connected with god and became a leader in the high school ministry. but i lost touch with her.
fast forward to three or four years ago, when our emergent convention planning team really wanted to add a sharp female leader, and doug pagitt suggested jeanne, telling me she used to be in my youth group. it took me a bit to remember who she was (last name change due to marriage and all). jeanne joined our planning team, and for the last two years of that sweet event, became part of our little family. at that time, jeanne was the youth pastor for the willow creek regional churches. i met many of her staff, and got to see through them (and her involvement on the planning team) what an amazing leader she is. jeanne is one of those leaders who is a fantastic leader whatever her gender, and yet is wonderfully feminine also. she’s a strong woman without an axe to grind; relentless in her belief that god has gifted her and called her to lead. she’s insightful, a great communicator, a stellar strategist, and a darn good friend.
jeanne and her husband jarrett just moved to atlanta, where jarrett has joined the staff of northpointe community church, as the leader of 722, the young adult group that louie giglio used to lead.
why am i gushing about jeanne?
because as of a couple weeks ago, a long-term goal of mine has been realized: jeanne is now on staff with youth specialties. her title is something like ‘ministry development architect’ (or something ron martoia-ish like that), but she’ll basically have four official roles for now:
– moving into leadership of the CORE (our one-day training seminar for youth workers), over the next year or two
– helping to give leadership at national youth workers conventions (she’ll be the third mc, will give input to seminars, and other stuff)
– provide leadership to our ‘women in youth ministry’ initiative (this is critical, because we’re committed to expanding what this could be; but it’s also critical to realize that jeanne’s role is not limited to ‘women’s ministry’)
– develop a one-day training event for girls (we’re all pretty stoked about this)
with karla yaconelli moving into a less-involved role around here, i was concerned about our leadership team tilting toward male dominance, a situation that wasn’t acceptable to me, and not healthy for ys. i could not be more convinced that jeanne will be a significant voice into ys, and out of ys into the youth ministry world, for many years to come!
in the oft-quoted voice of mike yaconelli: WOO-HOO!