BRITT |If you were to ask Jon Versluis more than seven years ago what he wanted to do after high school, he likely would’ve said attend the Culinary Institute of America and become a chef.
But a mission trip, two internships and an education from Kuyper College later, he’s the new youth pastor at Britt Christian Reformed Church.
“It was just one of those things, it all clicked,” he said.
Versluis, a Rockford, Michigan, native, graduated from high school in 2011, and before attending the Culinary Institute of America, he decided to go on a mission trip with his youth group to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he found himself mentoring students.
“It became kind of clear, maybe culinary arts wasn’t what I wanted to go into,” he said.
That was reinforced near the end of the week-long trip after he asked God for guidance.
During worship, a thought to ask his youth pastor about an internship popped into his head, and although still intending to study culinary arts, he asked her.
After doing so, she informed him that she had recently finished setting up an internship program through the church, and she was planning on asking students after the mission trip whether they were interested.
“You can’t plan that any better, and nobody can plan that better except for God,” he said.
When he returned home after the mission trip, Versluis notified his parents and pursued youth ministry. He went to Grand Rapids Community College for his generals before attending Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, where he received degrees for youth ministry and biblical studies in May.
In March, he interviewed with the Rev. Joel De Boer, the pastor at Britt Christian Reformed Church, for “a good hour, hour and a half, maybe two hours.”
“It was a long conversation that really helped me kind of understand what the church was all about, the vision that they really had and how that compared to mine, and it matched the vision I have for youth ministry,” Versluis said.
In August, Versluis relocated to Britt, with his wife, Teaganne, after accepting the youth pastor position in the spring. He had his first youth group meetings in mid-September.
As youth pastor, Versluis mentors children of all ages, while focusing much of his attention on youth group for middle school and high school students as well as Boy’s Club for first- through fifth-grade boys on Wednesday evenings.
“My vision is to have students own their faith, believe in their faith and be able to defend it no matter what,” he said.
Part of that involves working with the students’ parents to show them “what it really means to be a Christian and how to do it.”
He encouraged students who don’t belong to a church or a youth group in the area to come visit.
When asked what drew him to Britt Christian Reformed Church, he said it was the congregation and the community.
“They’ve been fantastic,” he said. “It almost feels like a family. It’s a big family.”