Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister, and today, we are pleased to introduce you to Joy Yee.
Joy, tell us about your current ministry?
I serve as the lead pastor at Nineteenth Avenue Baptist Church in San Francisco, California, where I have been since 2005 after a church merge. The church is small, diverse, and filled with wonderful people I love.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your ministry journey?
There have been several major challenges in my ministry journey. The first was overcoming the prevalent idea in Baptist life at the time that women should not be senior pastors. I felt this challenge at the national, state, local, and church family level, with the latter being the most difficult to handle because I was in the community that had raised and nurtured me in faith.
A second challenge I have faced was leading a church people away from Robert’s Rules toward a discernment model for decision-making. Acts 15 become our model for conversation, prayer, scripture, and trust in God’s Spirit to lead within the wisdom of the community. This shift took about five years to be fully engaged and shaped.
A third challenge for me has been figuring out how to be and do church in an urban area that is filled with people who are open to spirituality but distrust Christianity for one reason or another.
A fourth challenge is a current one. A mentor shared with me once that in order to pastor long term, we need to “reinvent” ourselves two or three times. We cannot stay the same all the time. I’m not exactly sure what that means for me or my ministry, but I have been feeling the need for something to change in who I am, how I am, and what I do as a pastor.
A final challenge has been ongoing from the beginning of my ministry. About every fourth month in my thirty years of ministry, I wonder if I’m doing a good enough job and whether there is anything I should be doing differently or better. Sometimes I think everything is okay. Other times I consider launching all sorts of great outreach programs, preaching in the original Hebrew and Greek, and becoming more of a winsome extrovert. These plans last about a half a day, and then sanity returns.
What do you love best about your ministry position?
I love the long term relationships I have within the church family–serving with people from birth to death. It is a blessing to walk alongside people through all the experiences of life. I also love pointing people to God.
What is the best ministry advice you have ever received?
Ministry is all about being faithful, not necessarily successful.
Try not to get in the way of what God is doing in a person’s life.
Whatever happens in a church can be used to mature people in Christ.