If there was a high school yearbook category for “Least Likely to End Up a Youth Pastor,” Dan Miller may have been the top candidate. Dan grew up in a loosely charismatic family and floated around in different churches through his early teens. By mid-high school, he quickly went downhill and was fully enraptured by the world. All of your stereotypical teenage angsty behaviors — girls, alcohol and substance abuse — he was experimenting with. He met his wife Charlotte (Charlie) at age 20 and by 22 they were married. Charlie was “more into Jesus” than Dan, but unfortunately Dan drew her further away from her faith and into his world.
Through what can only be described as a “series of wild events” Dan and Charlie came to know the Lord and quickly plugged into Grace Church-Medina East Campus where Tony Livigni was the lead pastor. Dan remembered Tony from his younger days when Tony would lead young adult events at the Grace Church-Bath Campus, but now he was a completely different person from the man Tony first met. At this new church, Dan says he and Charlie were “shot into outer space” in their spiritual growth.
In the midst of this new season of growth, Dan was approached about a facilities job at the church. He remains baffled that a young guy who should be seen as “untrustworthy” would now be entrusted with keys to all these buildings and have access to church finances. He and Charlie started leading Life (small) Groups and Dan was given opportunities to teach and help with the youth group.
As they continued to grow in their faith, Dan and Charlie were considering being missionaries to Africa when the church approached him about another job opportunity — this time leading the youth group. Dan says “From a worldly perspective, I’m probably the least likely person to be working with teenagers” yet God had a plan and it was clear they were supposed to serve in student ministries. He accepted the position as Student Ministries Manager.
Dan’s first time to Momentum Youth Conference with his new youth group was in 2017. He said his small group of students were in a pretty rough place spiritually and were more interested in their unhealthy relationships and vices than getting anything out of the conference. It was in a Momentum main session in 2018 that Jeff Bogue (now president of Momentum Ministry Partners) gave a call to full-time ministry. Several students came forward and it was a powerful moment. What followed next would forever change the trajectory of Dan’s life. Jeff unexpectedly gave a call to any adult that needed renewed encouragement in their ministry. Dan said he can look back at pictures and pinpoint exactly where he sat when he heard that call. He said, “I immediately shot out of my seat and was the first one on stage.” He and Jeff looked at each other and Jeff told him, “I’ll stand with you.”
Following that Momentum Youth Conference, Dan was determined to model his youth group after a Momentum Travel Team. He reached out to Timothy Kurtaneck (TK) who was, at the time, director of Travel Teams (formerly Operation Barnabas). TK encouraged Dan to connect with Momentum PRO director, Ed Short. Ed is the Ministry Coach and Consultant for Momentum Ministry Partners. The two men have similar personalities and it was an immediate connection.
Dan says Ed has “revolutionized” the way he does ministry. Ed introduced the idea that youth ministry is not simply about teaching but also about the relationships and equipping students. It’s easy to fall into the trap of having “killer lessons and sweet illustrations” and completely miss the mark. He helped Dan see that God is not inefficient and wants wisdom and strategy in ministry. Because of these coaching sessions with Ed, Dan says he clearly sees the fruit of their ministry. Their student program is “exploding” — relationships are being built, kids are coming to Christ, and just this week a student they have prayed for these past three years approached him about being baptized.
Dan’s describes his life as being “completely orchestrated by God.” God has used many faithful servants along the path to lead Dan to his current place. Dan’s wife Charlie lovingly stuck by him when he was deep in self-absorbed and unhealthy behaviors. They are happily married with two sons: Scott (13) and James (10). God used men like Tony Livigni to teach him how to study the Word of God. Dan is now deepening this love of Scripture by earning his Bible degree from Grace College. God used Jeff Bogue and his tell-it-like-it-is, unflashy call to ministry to re-energize and trust his calling. And finally, God has used Ed Short to help him recognize his gifts and maximize his impact in their youth group. The remarkable things that God continues to do through his ministry still amaze Dan. He’s humbled that God still chooses to use even the “least likely.”