We're featuring the one and only Nathan Cooledge in this post. Nathan serves as the youth pastor at Lacombe Pentecostal. He also serves as the Central Youth Rep.
If you could have any super-power, what would it be? I know Aquaman is probably the lamest super hero to exist, but breathing under water has always been my go-to superpower. I mean, a pet shark would be the most epic thing ever IMHO!
Do you have any nick names? My last name tends to bring on a few: Cools, Coolio, Coolaid, Coolay, and my youth group now refers to me as Pastor Nay Nay.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in a small town called Cayuga, Ontario and went to church in the neighboring town of Dunnville. At 13, my parents were called into missions, and I spent all of my teen years in Harare, Zimbabwe. As a result, I’m super passionate about small town ministry and missions, go figure.
What’s your favorite movie show of all time? Movie: Gladiator .“Are you not entertained?!” Yes, yes I am. TV Show: Prison Break. STOKED for that fifth season!
Do you remember when and where you were called to ministry? For me, it was a process, not a moment. It was my 17th year for sure. I was helping to lead a youth group with a few of my friends and had no clue what I was doing. It was the closest I had ever felt to God. I slowly started realizing the passion God had given me for watching Him work in the lives of students, beyond my limited capacity to facilitate that. Then Bible College just kind of fell into my lap and here we are now.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in ministry that you look back at and laugh now? My first day as a youth pastor. I went to where the Sr. Highs were meeting for Bible Study, introduced myself and then sat back to watch and analyze and get a feel for the culture of the group. Sounds good, right? No. Near the end of the study, one of the girls decided to pipe up and say “Do you at least want to know our names?” Not cool bro. Not cool. That student has since become one of our student leaders. Thank-you Jesus.
Have you ever lost a student at an event/camp/retreat? Not yet, but give it time. I’m only two years into this thing.
What’s your favorite piece of tech for doing youth ministry? I love the MinHub youth app. It makes my attendance taking a breeze and makes me look like a chart BOSS in board meetings when I use the self-generating charts to show where the ministry has been at. It has feature to track those who have/haven’t shown up in a designated period of time is pretty great too when trying to figure out who might be on the fringe in your ministry. It’s helped me to make a couple key saves in the past two years.
What do you enjoy doing outside of youth ministry?I love the great outdoors. Whether it’s fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, canoeing, swimming, etc. I’m in.
What’s the worst injury that’s happened to a student at youth group? The worst injury ever was probably one that I caused. We were playing house of pain (aka killer volleyball, murder, etc) and I got a little too into it. I spiked the ball at one of my youth boys’ backs, but my hand caught the ball at a weird angle and the ball proceeded to clip one of the girls right in the temple, smashing her face into the ground, breaking her glasses, and bringing on a seizure. Oops.
Yea or nay to all-nighters?Nay, but I’d do it if necessary. Sleep is one of my core values.
What’s the best event you’ve ever done with students? I love nights where we get to bring the small town feel to our group. We did a split night for guys and girls. The girls had a giant pillow fight and had a sleepover. The boys went to a farm, started a giant bonfire with a kijiji couch as it’s centerpiece, had fireworks, and for the finale, blew up a TV using 5 lbs of tannerite. Search for the stuff on YouTube. You won’t be disappointed.
If you could gather all the youth pastors in our province in a room, what would you want to say to them? I can only speak from what God is working on in my heart. Don’t try to be your students’ savior. It’s not you, no matter how hard you try. It’s Jesus. Let Him be the one that saves them, not you. Sometimes I think we work so hard at saving our students from things that we get in the Savior’s way. We become an obstacle rather than a catalyst to the saving work of Jesus Christ. It’s pretty cool that we can take that pressure off of ourselves, too.
What’s the hardest part of being a youth pastor?Seeing students make decisions that directly oppose God’s purpose for their lives. It breaks my heart every single time.
What’s your favorite part of being a youth pastor?Seeing students minister to each other or take the initiative in ministry on their own. I would love to work myself out of a job one day. Students are just so much better equipped to minister to students than we are.
Is there anything that you’re really excited about in the near future? I’m getting married in two months! Nothing can really top that. I mean especially when you have the Reverend Jeremy Gifford and his wife Rachel doing the ceremony! Come on!