Love is Moving co-founder, Joel Gordon interviewed Dave Jonsson who is a skateboarder, plane crash survivor and the Young Adults Pastor at Ethos, the young adults ministry of Coquitlam Alliance Church, which is an EFC affiliate.
Joel: Dave, we first met in 2012, when the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) invited all the affiliated presidents of ministry organizations and denominations to an event called Presidents Day. That year, each president invited a younger leader. EFC President Bruce Clemenger invited me, and who did you attend with?
Dave: I attended with Steve Falkiner who is the President of the Foursquare denomination, which is the denomination that I was with at the time.
Joel: What was most memorable about your experience at Presidents Day?
Dave: As I guy who’s been to a ton of conferences, I especially remember that event. It was amazing to see the unity with all of these church representatives and denominational leaders gathering together under one banner of their faith in Jesus and problem-solving how we can be more effective in Canada in building God’s Kingdom. It was so encouraging to me. And that conference marked the release of that research on youth and young adults. Do you remember that?
“The biggest scare during the crash was that I could have died having lived a life without purpose, a life that wasn’t lived with the blessing of God.”
Joel: Yes, that’s right. We released the Hemorrhaging Faith research on why and when us are leaving, staying and returning to Church.
Dave: So I think the EFC’s Presidents Day had a dual impact on me. There was great content and there was strong unity and vision.
Joel: How well are we doing in Canada in uniting the next generation of evangelicals to bless Canada in the name of Jesus?
Dave: On the West Coast, I have seen this more and more. Churches are realizing that we are better together than we are apart. Even in the last six months to a year, we have seen more initiatives from evangelical churches working together than we have in previous years. There are some movements happening right now that I can highlight that have many churches working together for one goal. The first one is Chapel. Chapel is a youth movement here on the West Coast that happens once a month where youth pastors and their groups are gathering from different churches in distinct regions to worship together and there’s always a huge emphasis on evangelism in Chapel. I’m excited to see that with the younger crowd. In my own community, I’ve seen something called United In Prayer. We just met this September. First, all of the local churches met together in one place and we prayed together. Then we went out in teams and gathered for prayer at key places in the municipality such as schools, government buildings, and other focal places that God’s Kingdom would come. We experienced huge unity through this. I’m really encouraged to see churches working together for one goal and for one purpose.
“Churches are realizing that we are better together than we are apart.”
Joel: It’s great that your local church is an EFC affiliate. How has your ministry evolved since you started as the Young Adults Pastor at Coquitlam Alliance Church with the Ethos ministry?
Dave: Youth and young adult ministry is a very unique age group that you’re dealing with. There’s more change that happens in a young adult’s life than with a teen or an adult. A youth is driven to the youth group by their parents, and most of the time the parents have a particular schedule that drives a teens involvement. There’s routine and consistency there. An adult, especially someone with a family, also wants routine and consistency in their life. But what you see in that 10-15 year gap with young adults is that they’re moving, they’re on their own often, engaging in relationships and sometimes breaking up, which leads some young adults to different churches. Other times, young adults grow out of young adult ministry, they get engaged or want to be part of a multi-generational group. So what I’ve found is that it’s so important to build a community with young adults while you have them for this short time. I really strive to close the back door as much as possible. What I mean by that is, you don’t want a ministry where someone can come in and leave unnoticed. So one of the things we’ve been trying to do at Ethos is to build a desirable community that loves Jesus and exemplifies the fruits of the Spirit. So, in the past three years our community has significantly grown. Fifty percent of our young adults are engaged in community groups. You can only grow so much by only attending a Sunday morning service. Three years from when I started, I praise God and give glory to Him. We’re seeing much more transparency and people are now more willing to share. You see life transformation when people are known, accepted for who they are, and challenged to be more like Jesus. I’m thrilled to see Ethos grow in the way that it has.
Joel: After you survived the plane crash, how did you encounter the love of Jesus?
Dave: After the plane crash, I had a choice to make. I felt that I had wasted my life up until that point. The biggest scare during the crash was that I could have died having lived a life without purpose, a life that wasn’t lived with the blessing of God. The first fork in the road that I came to after the plane crash was whether or not this time around I would put my trust in God and not lean on my own understanding. When I made that decision to trust in God, I had a second fork in the road. I was still injured, I was still very broken, I had lost my best friend in the crash and I saw him die. I was unable to work and the second fork that I was challenged with was asking myself, “Was I going to come out of this circumstance as a victim or as not only a survivor, but in the Apostle Paul’s words, more than a conqueror?” So what Jesus did predominantly in the beginning was that he allowed me to see that I was not a victim. In Romans 8:34 on onwards, Paul says that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us and that nothing can separate us from the love of God. What God taught me after the plane crash was that I am His and because of that, not matter the circumstance, no matter the hurt, the betrayal, the damage, I am more than a conqueror. I will not be a victim because I am a child of God.