An artist with a passion for people, Lindsay Hafner knew her call to ministry early on. But it was not until years later, through a residency position at Awakening Church, that Lindsay realized God’s vision for church planting.

Lindsay’s ministry began during her teen years, as she put her artistic skills to work painting visual representations of people’s testimonies or life verses. At Oklahoma Wesleyan, Lindsay studied graphic design and pastoral ministry. As graduation neared, Lindsay began to read stories of burn-out among young pastors. She knew she needed more preparation before full-time ministry.

At the time, Awakening Church of Colorado Springs was advertising their residency program on OKWU’s campus. Allured by the Colorado setting and opportunity for experience, Lindsay applied. Shortly after graduation, Awakening Church took Lindsay on as a youth ministry leader.

Lindsay HafnerAwakening’s dynamic was new to Lindsay. Because the church was mid-sized, there were plenty of opportunities for Lindsay to jump into leadership roles. As the youth ministry leader, she was leading a team of volunteers and organizing the Saturday night service. She quickly developed a passion for the church’s youth and her faithful volunteer team.

Inspired and stretched by her ministry position, Lindsay developed three assets of Christian leadership:

1. ” Holy endurance”—At Awakening, Lindsay learned the challenging aspects of leadership.

“In ministry, sometimes you have to walk into a room of dissatisfied people and be ready to cast vision, build relationships and glorify God in it all.” Lindsay calls this aspect of ministry “holy endurance.”

Lindsay realized pastors also face personal struggles. “The loneliness of a pastor surprised me. You can never step out of the role, whether you’re out in the community or with your friends. There’s a certain loneliness to leadership,” Lindsay reflected.

Lindsay learned that pastoring can be a lonely job. But she also found strength in solidarity with other pastors.

2. Support—Though pastoring may be lonely at times, leaders don’t go into ministry alone.

From the interview process, Lindsay knew that Awakening Church would be a place of encouragement as she grew as a leader. “Pastor Kevin understood that the path isn’t always laid out. He wasn’t focused on my art skills or my preaching ability, but how he could help develop me as a leader.”

When Lindsay met with challenges in leadership, she turned to the leaders around her. “It was helpful to talk to those who were farther down the road who knew me well and were praying for me.”

3. Vision—Participating in a vision shift of Awakening Church developed vision casting skills in Lindsay’s ministry as well. “I learned how to cast a vision and develop leadership with my volunteers.”

Lindsay’s residency program taught her the value of bold vision casting.

When it came time to cast a vision for her own life, Lindsay felt a strong call to church planting. She shared her vision with the district superintendent, who helped Lindsay transition to pastoring position.

Lindsay now works as the assistant pastor at Storyline Church, a start-up church plant of Awakening Church. She still helps with youth ministry, but also preaches on Sundays and works with leadership development.

Lindsay has found her niche. In the future, she hopes to continue church multiplication ministries, using her gifts as God leads. Lindsay’s story tells of the importance of community in leadership development and obedience to God’s vision-casting.

Gabriela Garver is a staff writer for Education and Clergy Development. Recently returned from a year studying in Istanbul, Turkey, Gabriela is finishing her undergrad degree in International Relations at Indiana Wesleyan University. After graduation, she hopes to work with refugee resettlement. When she’s not writing, Gabriela enjoys walks, talks, and road trips.