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From podium to pulpit

Former CHS teachers find calling in youth ministry

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From podium to pulpit

Roberts reads a birthday card students made him during Opportunity Camp, a mission project completed by the University Church of Christ youth group each year.

Roberts reads a birthday card students made him during Opportunity Camp, a mission project completed by the University Church of Christ youth group each year.

Courtesy of Chris Roberts

Roberts reads a birthday card students made him during Opportunity Camp, a mission project completed by the University Church of Christ youth group each year.

Courtesy of Chris Roberts

Courtesy of Chris Roberts

Roberts reads a birthday card students made him during Opportunity Camp, a mission project completed by the University Church of Christ youth group each year.

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Forensics to Philippians. Math to Matthew. On the field to behind the scenes. From the podium to the pulpit. From teaching in school to teaching about God, two former educators have embraced a subject change.

Former teachers Jared Peddy and Chris Roberts transitioned from teaching at Canyon High to ministering the youth in their respective churches. Peddy ministers at Hillside Christian Church and Roberts at University Church of Christ

“It really had nothing to do with teaching or coaching–it had everything to do with what I felt God was impressing upon me to pursue,” Peddy said. “It was probably 2013 when I was asked if I wanted to be a youth minister, and I said, ‘No way. This is my dream job and this is what I want to do forever.’ It was kind of a seed that got planted though. Over the next four years, I never thought about it much but every now and then I felt like God was stirring something inside of me.”

There are a lot of older kids, juniors and seniors, who know me as Coach Peddy that I see and interact with often.”

— Jared Peddy, Youth Minister at Hillside Christian Church

Peddy said soon after he felt this stirring, God opened a door to youth ministry. Peddy took the job and said he loves his new role.

“One of my former students now leads a group of high school freshmen on Wednesday nights,” Peddy said. “Another in my class, I see two or three times a week. He helps me with all kinds of stuff. Another I saw a lot in high school now leads a group of seventh grade girls on Wednesday nights, and she sings in the worship band. There are a lot of older kids, juniors and seniors, who know me as Coach Peddy that I see and interact with often. I think it’s all really neat.”

Roberts said he did not switch jobs because he was tired of teaching, but approached it as a new adventure.

“I think in a lot of ways, the classroom prepared me more for youth ministry than a Bible degree would have because I had 10 years to work on classroom management and things like that,” Roberts said. “I have a relationship with these students I would not have had otherwise. I’m always a teacher; I just view this as a subject change. I went from teaching the language of God to teaching about God himself.”

Roberts said his time in the high school benefited his transition into ministry.

It was a transition just knowing that he’s here to help us have fun and learn about God rather than to watch over us and help us do physics.”

— Ariel Swires, 12

“Having been a teacher, I know when things get hectic like one-act play or football season or musical,” Roberts said. “I understand the fluctuations of the year, so I feel I have something to offer to the kids and also the parents in that respect. I saw in the hallways how different our kids were compared to others. You could tell the divide between kids who went to church, and those who didn’t take it seriously. I feel like I can offer a support to kids and parents I couldn’t have offered otherwise because I was in the high school.”

Senior Ariel Swires said Roberts’ transition from the classroom to the church was challenging for her, as she had him first in class and now as a minister.

“It was a weird transition for me because as a teacher, he was Mr. Roberts, but as a youth minister, he prefers to be called Chris,” Swires said. “It was a transition just knowing that he’s here to help us have fun and learn about God rather than to watch over us and help us do physics.”

Peddy said the biggest aspect he learned from teaching was to be open and honest with his students.

“Most students expect the adults in their lives to have all the answers, or, if they don’t, they expect them to pretend that they do,” Peddy said. “When I was open and honest with students, their amount of trust and buy-in with me would just go through the roof. I think that’s a fear that a lot of teachers have–they just can’t be wrong or else they’ll lose credibility. But actually the opposite is true. You gain credibility by not knowing everything.”

Peddy said he brought that lesson with him into his ministry.

I don’t love these kids so I can convert them, I love them because I am converted, and I was called to love.”

— Jared Peddy, Youth Minister at Hillside Christian Church

“It was actually empowering and it empowers the students to say ‘I think you can do this and bring value to this,’” Peddy said. “I saw how much value it gave the students in my classroom, and I took it with me to ministry. This is actually from Craig Groeschel. He said, ‘People will always follow someone who is real over someone who is always right.’ From a teaching standpoint, if teachers would be real rather than always right, they’ll see that the gap they have between them and their students will be removed.”

Roberts said he wants to remain connected to the students in school, as well as at church.

“Regardless of whether or not I was hired here, all the students were going to get to know me by proximity,” Roberts said. “But whenever I do Monday Lunches, I am able to talk to students I had last year and ask how their senior years are going. I am able to have a relationship with those students that most wouldn’t be able to, but in a few years, that will all be gone for me. I want to remain involved in the schools, and I’m looking at getting hired to be a substitute teacher for a day or two each month. I just want to be a presence and attend the youth events. I just want to try to continue that.”

Both Peddy and Roberts said the biggest lesson they taught students both in the classroom and at church is that they are not perfect.

I am able to talk to students I had last year and ask how their senior years are going.

— Chris Roberts, Youth Minister at University Church of Christ

“As a teacher, it is your calling to minister,” Peddy said. “I think it’s really clear when you’re looking at the gospels. Jesus said there isn’t a need to rant and rave in your classroom about Jesus and the Bible–that is not being a witness. I don’t love these kids so I can convert them. I love them because I am converted, and I was called to love. For me in the classroom, it was more about being real and showing the kids they are valuable. I wasn’t perfect. There were days I was a total butthead to my class. But for the most part, I genuinely wanted to make every kid in the classroom, on the field, in the locker room to feel like they mattered. I tried to live as someone who has been changed by love rather than just trying to impose my beliefs on you.”

Roberts said a big lesson he taught students was forgiveness.

“I always hoped I was a good role model and lived a life above reproach,” Roberts said. “I would always have students who drove me insane and did things to make me angry in class. When that happened, I tried to make a point either in that class period or the next day of asking for forgiveness. Them seeing from my side that I messed up too and need to ask forgiveness is a huge deal. I told them I didn’t know if they believed in forgiveness or thought it was important, but I did and I knew I needed to ask for forgiveness.”

Peddy said he wants everyone in the classroom, at church, and everywhere, that God is interested in every part of day-to-day living.

When I started to realize God was with me, not just above me, it just changed the way I saw everyone around me.”

— Jared Peddy, Youth Minister at Hillside Christian Church

“He is not only interested in Heaven and saving us to get to Heaven,” Peddy said. “He is so interested in us in every part of work, home life, and school. He wants to be a part of that. When I started to realize God was with me, not just above me, it just changed the way I saw everyone around me. It changed my whole mindset. The more opportunities I gave God, he was always faithful. He’s not just watching for you to mess up.”

Peddy said he intends to minister as long as God will allow him.

“Sometimes people ask me how long I’m going to do youth ministry like it’s some sort of stepping stone,” Peddy said. “My answer is always, ‘If God will let me, 20 years. If he will let me minister and walk with students, I will always be excited about it.’ I am at his whim and will.”

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About the Writer
Aryauna Thompson, Staff Reporter

Hello! This is my third year as a staff reporter on The Eagle's Tale staff. I am incredibly excited to yet again work with such an incredible team of journalists....

1 Comment

One Response to “From podium to pulpit”

  1. James Barrington on May 1st, 2019 11:47 am

    Great story about two wonderful men!
    Grandpa

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