Threshold Helps Youth Director Contextualize His Ministry

Jon Hane

Jon Hane’s two decades of youth ministry have included time spent in both urban and rural contexts. After serving with Youth for Christ in San Diego, and then working with underprivileged youth on the south side of Chicago, Jon and his wife moved to Orcas Island, a rural community located in northwestern Washington. He has been serving as the youth director at Orcas Island Community Church since 2018.

Jon admits that doing ministry on an island that can only be accessed by ferry can feel isolating. That’s why he’s grateful for his interactions with peers and professors during his Threshold classes at Western Seminary. Every semester, he drives from Orcas Island to Portland for several days to attend class intensives, combined with meals together which provide time for mentorship and fellowship.

We sat down with Hane at Threshold this spring and asked him about the importance of seminary and the transformation he has seen in his own life and ministry:

Why did you choose Western?

The most important values for me in choosing a seminary were a high view of Scripture, combined with humility. Professors here have real conviction, but they are honoring to colleagues and students who may differ on the nonessentials. I love that the faculty here are all involved in the ministry of the church. They are not just ivory tower academics. We are always asking the question, “How does this apply to ministry?”

Why is attending Threshold each semester important to you?

The interactions with peers and professors enhance what I am learning. Youth ministry on an island can be isolating, and Threshold is an opportunity to encourage each other and figure out what it looks like to do ministry well in each of our contexts.

After many years of youth ministry, why was attending seminary still important to you?

I acknowledge that I can come to some odd conclusions on my own. Part of the process in seminary is that it takes time and energy. One of the dangers I see in the church is that people have gifting in certain areas, but don’t necessarily have the spiritual maturity and understanding to use that gifting in nondestructive ways. There is real value in committing to the work and the depth of knowledge so that leaders of the church can have guardrails and be qualified for ministry.

How has seminary transformed your ministry?

On a practical level, I have literally used and adapted class assignments for my middle school curriculum on the story of God. On a spiritual level, it has been very helpful to remember my own need to be transformed to do the work of ministry. I need to be able to live these things out before I can ask my students to live them out. Thanks to seminary, I am more excited to read God’s Word and know Jesus better. If that’s not happening while you are attending seminary, something is off.

Jon is a student in the MA (Biblical and Theological Studies) program.