Ep. 89: Messy Middle Part 1

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Seasoned youth pastor and podcast host, Justin Herman believes that every person has a story to tell. His mission in life is to help others tell their stories, especially those that are about how messy ministry can find order in chaos through God’s grace. He is the host of “Controlled Chaos” – the highest-rated youth ministry podcast on iTunes.

Go deep into dimes of wisdom dropped, connect with the speaker, and check out the resources mentioned in this episode:

  1. Mariner’s Church: marinerschurch.org
  2. Sandals Church: sandalschurch.com
  3. Instagram: @heyjustinherman
  4. Twitter: @heyjustinherman
  5. Controlled Chaos Podcast

Episode Transcript:

Seasoned youth pastor, Justin Herman has come a long way in ministry. Despite only being in his mid-30’s, he’s held positions at Christ Presbyterian Church, Mariners Church, Sandals Church, and today is the host of “Controlled Chaos” — the highest-rated youth ministry podcast on iTunes.

In it’s first year, Controlled Chaos landed over 2,000 weekly downloads with listeners spanning 40 countries. Justin talked shop with some of the most respected leaders in ministry, including Andy Stanley, Henry Cloud, and Patrick Lencioni.

Yet throughout the journey, Justin was the first to admit that ministry got a little messy in the middle. It was December 2017 when the valley seemed particularly relentless. The young leader was approaching his 10th year as Junior High Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, when his mother was diagnosed with brain cancer.

“The whole thing was complete chaos,” recalls Justin. “I flew out to see her every three weeks. She wasn’t gone, but she was not there mentally.”

Shortly after Justin’s mother died, he sat down with his wife, and together they made three radical changes in their lives. As the parents of two children under the age of five, they decided to move to a home with a backyard, to live closer to their in-laws, and to gain financial independence.

With these goals came a new pastoral position at Sandals Church in Riverside, where Justin oversaw youth ministry. It was a prestigious position, but before long, Justin knew it wasn’t where he was meant to be leading.

“I sat down with Matt Brown, the Founding Pastor there,” says Justin. “He’s an incredible leader. It’s a great church, with great people, but it just wasn’t the right fit.”

In hindsight, Justin wishes he had asked more questions about how the church manages change. He felt that if all were in agreement of where the ministry was, and where they were headed, roadblocks could have been identified sooner. Yet through the ebbs and flows, there are no regrets he says.

He’s had a chance to climb the ministry ladder, from youth leadership to pastoral podcasts, and ultimately to share the advice he wishes he had received.

“There’s freedom when you can look at a young leader and say, ‘Hey, listen. Just take a deep breath. We’re for you. We’re going to help develop you and train you.’”

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