By Emily Loughridge
Yukon Church turned over a new leaf recently as Pastor Griffin Smith became the church’s new lead pastor.
The church, which was established in 2002, was led by Smith’s childhood pastor for the last 21 years; however, after maturing and developing throughout his years at the church, it was decided that Smith should fill the role and lead the church.
“I think it says a lot about the church – that they would have someone from within – that I’ve been in some ways raised here and trained here and developed in this church and that they would trust me in this position,” Smith said.
Smith was in college when the Yukon Church was established, and he volunteered his time to help the church. He said at that time he worked in a janitorial position.
As time progressed, Smith began helping with the youth ministry and found joy in helping people within the church.
In 2008, Smith became the youth director – a role that he held for 16 to 17 years.
Smith said he continued to develop within the church and as his time in the youth ministry, he accepted the title of associate pastor.
He worked in this position until mid-May when members of the church named him the lead pastor.
“I think this is a wonderful church with wonderful people, and so it’s been very humbling that they would trust me to be in this position and choose me to be in this position,” Smith said.
A position Smith will take on Sunday as he leads the Sunday morning sermons.
Yukon Church’s new lead pastor emphasized the importance of scripture, explaining that not only will it be present Sunday mornings, but also within Sunday school classes, songs sung, and in the messages preached.
Throughout the summer, Smith will walk through the Book of Philippians – which is a book of joy and encouragement according to Smith. He will move through the book chapter by chapter and verse by verse.
“After some time in transition, we are now experiencing joy and a lot of excitement for the future. So, what we are doing now is I’m preaching the Book of Philippians,” Smith said.
Over the last two decades, the Yukon Church’s motto has been “Building the BEST.”
Smith said he tries to embody this motto in a number of ways. He said he and the church are very relationship orientated – meaning he genuinely wants to get to know those who walk into the church.
THOUGHTS ON EVANGELISM
Smith said he enjoys helping people through worship and ministry. He continued to say that his life has been about helping those around him since he was saved at 18 years old.
“There’s nothing better that I’ve ever experienced than sharing to an individual the opportunity that God offers for their forgiveness of sin, and then to see the person accept that forgiveness and their life changed,” Smith said on evangelism.
“For me to be able to see not just the moment but to see their lives after that and see how they become a new person after God saves them. So, for me personally that is maybe the greatest joy of my life – is to see a person’s life changed.”
Ironically, Smith said he never saw himself working in a church. Before becoming full-time at the Yukon Church, Smith worked at Redlands Community College’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) as a director for three years.
In his time there he caught wind of a program from the Southern Baptist of Oklahoma, who were offering free tuition to go to seminary school.
“A lot of that was God opening doors so I just walked through it, and I thought if anything it would be good to learn and I didn’t know what that would lead to,” Smith said. “I’ve never had a big master plan of my life, I’ve just kind of walked through a lot of open doors and opportunities God has given me.”
Smith walked through the open door and attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas for a few years before finishing his master’s degree at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
Eventually, Smith returned to his roots in Yukon and with the Yukon Church.
“I think there’s familiarity,” he said. “First of all, in that the people here have been my family for 21 years and I view them as my family just as much as my genetic family.”
Smith said that the city of Yukon highly supports families, which is why he and his wife have made it their home.
Smith has been married for 13 years and has three children – an 11-year-old daughter, a seven-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter.