Tom started as youth director of BPPC on Sept. 1, 1968 and the served there until Aug. 31, 1996 a span of 28 years.
There were many important people, memorial experiences and lessons learned during the years at Boulevard that continue to serve Tom and Judy well today. Some of the most significant were:
1. Dr. Robert C Wheatley. The senior pastor Dr. Wheatley began a weekly bible study with Tom from the very beginning. This continued until Bob’s retirement in 1990. To say the least, this weekly time played an overwhelming role in Tom’s life. Tom has often told people, in a variety of settings, that Dr. Wheatley was his “second savior” and “his love and commitment to my success was unconditional”. Tom believes that God used Bob Wheatley to mold and shape him into a man God could use.
2. Judy - Tom also has come to the understanding that the role his wife played in the ministry and in his life was and is critical and is unfortunately missing with a far too many youth leaders today. Judy’s support, encouragement, counsel, advice, help, service, convictions, comfort, love and kindness was just what he needed to develop as a Christian, minister, husband and father. As he often says “My wife plays a role like the Holy Spirit in my life.”
3. Retreats – The retreat style of using booklets or study guides and small groups for the lesson times while tenting or using state park type cabins and cooking our own meals made it possible for low costs and greater frequency of retreats through out the year. Multiple Jr-hi, Sr-hi, and college age retreats (around 400 of them) became a youth ministry style that the leadership at BPPC allowed Tom & Judy to develop and were the foundation to what they are doing today. Tom’s brother Lanny brought his old small ski boat on many of the summer retreats which was prelude to the youth group raising the monies to purchase their own church boat.
4. Ministry Camps – In 1971 the first peer to peer rural youth mission trip to Boardman Oregon launched the Ministry Camp strategy that has become the main emphasis of RCYM. These rural mission trips also played a big part in the purpose of the Way Inn.
5. The Way Inn – Because of the number of community youth that were reached through the weekly outreach ministries in local school gyms, retreats, bible studies and yearly ministry camps the Way Inn came into existence. The Way Inn was to provide a bridge between the community youth and the church as well as provide a conducive setting for preparing and equipping students for a life of service. An Internship was started which saw over 60 interns (most are activity involved in leadership roles around the world today) during the 12 year existence of the Way Inn. Tom has noted that he has not seen anything like the Way Inn in all his travels.
6. The Word of God – Weekly bible studies, Sunday school classes and discipleship groups were the main stay of the youth program. Tom prepared most of the curriculum for the youth ministry out of his own devotional times. This became a pattern for much of the training at the Way Inn as well. Not only did this practice serve well in the training of the students in their walk with the Lord it also was extremely cost effective.
7. Volunteer leaders – With the need for many helpers on so many of the retreats and youth activities, many parents and church leaders became part of the volunteer team in the youth ministry. Having small groups as the lesson format of most retreats and weekly bible studies many volunteers learned to serve in the youth program through the hands on small group ministry experience. Strong relationships were built within the ministry team and with many of the students. Because Tom and Judy served so long in the youth ministry at BPPC so many of the former students became leaders when they became adults. The youth ministry experience was a great training program for future volunteer leaders and church leaders.
RCYM History -- A high impact but low cost ministry strategy
On September 1, 1996, RCYM (Rural Church Youth Ministry) was started. This ministry of partnership and cooperation between a larger city church youth ministry and a small rural church has proven to be a great joy and blessing to so many. For three years and four months Tom served under the umbrella of ProYouth, (directed by R.J. Thompson) to determine the validity of RCYM’s strategy.
Then on January 4th 2000 RCYM became a nonprofit organization, seeing over 600 ministry teams serving rural churches since 1996. Little they know how God had prepared them while at BPPC for a ministry that would impact the Pacific Northwest and beyond as it has. It truly was a mustard seed type experience with a small inconspicuous beginning growing into something so wide spread and life changing. Tom and Judy agree with the chorus, “To God be the Glory great things He has done”.
Rural Church Youth Ministries is a para-church youth ministry whose purpose is to assist Christian leadership in rural communities to build solid Biblical youth programs. We provide any combination of these three customized venues: partnerships, which includes ministry camps, rural youth ministry notebooks/materials, and mentoring of youth leaders from full time to volunteer. Our mission “is to assist and encourage youth leaders to bring young people into life changing encounters with Jesus Christ.” Our method is to provide youth leaders a creative ministry strategy which will effectively assist them in developing student ministry skills.
Rural Church Youth Ministries (RCYM), was founded in 1996 by Tom, a veteran youth leader of over forty years. Chris Renzelman (associated with Network Northwest) and Paul Evans (associated with The Rural Connection) joined RCYM. Tom has developed a way to provide youth leaders with a creative ministry strategy called, “Ministry Camps,” which effectively assists in developing ministry skills in young people and youth leaders. His developed approach to youth work has become uncommonly successful. Over the years, Tom has developed fruitful relationships with many rural Christian leaders, gaining not only a sensitivity to their needs, but a vision for ways in which God could use them.
Thus RCYM also serves as a resource provider for many Christian organizations. Over the past twelve years we have seen over 600 ministry teams serve rural communities in the Pacific NW (WA, OR, ID, MT, and AK.) and beyond. These rural ministry camps have served three rural home mission organizations (Village Missions, Rocky Mountain Bible Mission, and N. Am. Indian Mission) two Christian camps (Camps Elohim and Utmost in Montana), a rural Hispanic ministry and multiple community youth centers.
In the fall of 2004 RCYM joined with Youth Dynamics to organize a rural youth ministry conference that was held at the Youth Dynamics youth center in Moses Lake Washington. Ministry teams have come from and have served in a variety of local Christian fellowships representing many organizations (Baptists; Conservative Baptist, S. Baptist, N. Am. Baptist, Baptist General Conf., and Am. Baptist. Presbyterian; United, PCA, and Evangelical. Methodist; United and Free, Lutheran, Assemblies of God, Church of God, Evangelical Free, Four Square, Wesleyan, Covenant, Alliance, Mennonite, Nazarene, and Christian Reformed as well as many nondenominational community churches).
RCYM seeks to assist youth and their leaders through a variety of ministry venues attempting to enhance and expand the rural youth ministry outreach and discipleship wherever possible. Consequently, many rural youth are reached with the gospel while many rural Christian youth rededicate their lives to the Lord through a peer to peer youth ministry outreach. Many volunteer youth leaders are encouraged and supported in ways that assists them to more effectively disciple and encourage these young people.