Charles Stoicu from Anaheim’s Eastside Church is committed to continuing the legacy of leading the young as disciples for Christ. During his six years as Director of Young Adults, he’s gained a reputation for constantly taking on challenges, responsibilities, and leadership roles — until now.
As a new father of a baby boy, Charles recently took a step back to watch this team take center stage in youth-ministry leadership. From dedicated interns to small group leaders, his crew is leading bigger and better than he ever imagined. Among them are Matt Feldkamp and Taylor Gonzalez who took ownership of the ministry during the seven weeks Pastor Charles took paternity leave.
Now, Charles is reaping the benefits of equipping and empowering the next generation. His investment has clearly paid off, especially with someone like Taylor who is spearheading their social media channels.
“Charles has been investing in my leadership for five years,” says Taylor. “Through that, I’ve been able to trust myself and trust that God has put me in the right situation at the right time.”
The impetus for her maturity was the belief from others that she was able. As is the case in so many ministries today, people are given tools and resources, but lack the belief. Self confidence comes with trust from others, as was modeled to Charles by a college pastor who once handed him the keys to his future.
“It was that single moment, the one thing to step into wholeheartedly that gave me the opportunity and challenge to lead,” says Charles. “Even now I’m learning to seek out opportunities to present to people so that they know that they have what it takes to lead.”
This summer, Pastor Charles did just that, by encouraging every young adult on his team to share a message and publically speak to their peers. This platform to develop future communicators is a huge responsibility and also an opportunity for ministries to capitalize on, he says.
Such was the case with Matt Feldkamp, now a staff member at Eastside. Once feeling inadequate to serve, Matt was encouraged by Charles to step into his current role. He recalls the moment when Charles told him, that despite his fears, he was the perfect man for the job.
When other young leaders on the team reflect on what they’ve gleaned from Charles, there’s no hesitation in their responses.
“It would be humility,” answers Jake, “— to approach life and leadership from that posture of humility. That’s the kind of leader I desire to be. The second thing is innovation, to refine, change, grow, and never settle and always push for the sake of the Gospel. The last thing is selflessness that comes with intention and devotion.”
Jake is the first to admit that leading someone can often be taxing. Yet, there’s no greater reward than the time you devote to somebody, caring, and walking with them.
“You hope that there’s those moments that just bless you,” he adds.
He makes the comparison to Apostle Paul’s letters to Timothy, just pouring with love, but also the whole process being a sacrifice.
Adding to the discussion is Kyle, an Eastside staff member who says the first time he walked into church, he wanted nothing to do with it; but it was Charles who changed his perception of God’s family.
“The first thing I saw was Charles walking up to me,” recalls Kyle. “He wanted to have those real conversations. He told me ‘Hey, if you win, it’s a win for Jesus and it’s going to be great. But if you fail, know that it’s not the end of the world.’ There’s learning that comes from leaning into that mentality to just get better.”
Part of leaning into these young adults requires assigning different roles, tasks, and responsibilities to those who are surrounding him in the ministry. That requires trust, commitment, and time.
“The team that we have today wasn’t the team that I inherited,” says Charles. “It’s a team that I prayed for and invited to just show up. It takes energy. It’s not pretty, it’s messy. It’s not linear. It kind of goes in these loops and these backwards areas. But I think that’s kind of the best pieces, to keep asking God to bring people to you and to help make you be the best leader you can be. He’s brought all these people to you, so just steward the ones that he’s brought you.”
Charles always places his focus on the people that are going to build long after he’s gone. This means loving and developing them for the Kingdom. Taking a look at his team, he considers it a victory of what God has done in their ministry — a family of banner wavers for the next in line.
Charles adds: “It’s just a matter of identifying them and asking, ‘Hey, I think you can be a banner waver for the next person. Will you be willing to do it?”
Follow Eastside Church at Instagram: @Eastside_CC / #EthosFmly / www.Eastside.com