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Youth Pastor Leaves Adventist Church Employment – In the Name of God


Shayne Daughenbaugh, known affectionately as the bearded pastor, has a rich history of serving young people. After graduating from Union College in 1996, he served as a chaplain at Bakersfield Adventist Academy in California and as youth pastor at the Hillcrest Adventist Church. Two years later, he moved to the Oregon Conference where he served as a youth pastor for four years before pursuing a Master’s degree in Divinity at Andrews University, which he completed in 2004. The Kansas-Nebraska Conference hired him out of Seminary, and he has spent his time as a youth pastor at the College View Church in Lincoln, Nebraska…until now.

His dream job was to work with young people within Adventist congregations, but time changed his dream.

The shift in focus began about a year ago, when God put a burden in his heart to reach label-less, hip, independent millennials—the young adults who don’t want to be institutionalized or put into a church building. After months of prayer and wrestling with giving up his dream job as youth pastor, Daughenbaugh decided he couldn’t help but do what he sensed God was calling him to do.

Shayne Daughenbaugh said his final goodbyes on October 25—his last day as a pastor at the College View Church in the Kansas-Nebraska Conference. The congregation and the conference offered their love, blessing, and grace to Daughenbaugh in his transition. They appreciate his honesty and humility in ministry, Daughenbagh notes, even if he doesn’t expect them to fully embrace his radical and unorthodox decision.

There’s no step-by-step plan for how to reach this specific demographic, but Daughenbaugh has chosen to go the route of house church, where one can find the principles of the early church Christians in the book of Acts embodied—fellowship, community and “the breaking of bread.” With his wife and two other couples that will form the core leadership team, Daughenbagh has begun Simple Church training through the Simple Church at Home network. “We won’t start until we have that completed,” he said.

The conference and the College View Church offered to collaborate with the house church project, but Daughenbaugh resisted the offers. “[House churches] don’t need conference support in the way of buildings and insurance and policies. That is one of the beauties of this model; anyone and everyone can do it.” He points out a difference between traditional church and house churches: Church is a once-a-week, receive-something, “thank you very much, see you next week” kind of event. House churches, he notes, are not events.

While Shayne doesn’t know exactly how it will work, he knows what he doesn’t want to do. He doesn’t want to go out with the “This-person-is-our-target” mentality. Instead, Shayne expects God to lead him where He is at work. He frames the task as serving as a local missionary while being actively aware of how God is weaving people into the tapestry of His salvation. And while some pastors who quit denominational employment become anti-Adventist, that is not the case with Shayne. He remains committed to the message of the Adventist Church.

“I don’t want to be denominational,” says Daughenbaugh. “I don’t want to say we’re non-denominational, but we’re un-denominational. I don’t want a label, because labels don’t work with the demographic we’re going to be working for. They’re not interested in labels. But we will still be (if you want to put a label on it) Adventist in beliefs and values. Hopefully, without some of the baggage. While there may be some Adventists involved, we’re not looking to cater to Adventism.”

This type of ministry isn’t new or revolutionary. It’s ancient. Maybe that’s what this generation— the Millennials—need. Something basic, fellowship-oriented, transparent, genuine, and unlike what they know. While Daughenbaugh expects his ministry to focus on the house-church participants in search of closer fellowship, who frown on the concept of traditional church style, he recognizes that community and fellowship are not limited to a house location. The same experiences can be found at cafés, dinners, and mobile places.

Instead of coming to church and being preached to, house church will encourage those involved to experience God through the week and bring that experience to the conversation at the end of the week where they can get a more rounded, fuller view of God. House church will dig deep into the word of God through the lens of the one another’s experiences. In doing so, the Holy Spirit pastors them.

Daughenbaugh admits there is danger in institutional denominationalism. Placing labels on beliefs does a disservice, he contends. Labels build walls instead of bridges. He notes that Millennials seem to understand that a relationship with Jesus saves—not a particular denomination, system, or institution. Jesus told His disciples to “Go!” “[He] didn’t come to make us Adventist, or Methodists, or Lutherans, or Baptists. He came to make us family,” Daughenbaugh argues. His contention is that it is not about branding or labeling—it’s about saving.

Abner Campos is a sophomore studying theology and graphic design at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. A shorter version of this article was originally published in The Clocktower, the official weekly news publication for Union College.

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