Kevin Carrigan is an Anabaptist in the literal sense of the word. In its Jan. 1, 2012, morning service, Culloden MB Church, Vancouver, baptized and commissioned Carrigan to minister to the congregation as associate pastor of young adults and worship.
A condition of Carrigan’s employment at Culloden was baptism according to the Mennonite Brethren tradition. “Wholeheartedly!” Carrigan responded; “All along in my Christian journey, I’d been wanting to make that profession, but it just didn’t fit the theology of the church I was in.”
The Carrigans, Protestant immigrants from Northern Ireland, christened Kevin in an Anglican church as an infant – not out of spiritual conviction, but cultural imperative. He didn’t set foot in a church again until Grade 8, when a friend invited him to youth “because they played soccer…and had cute girls.” Even though “the God stuff” didn’t really appeal to him, Kevin continued to attend youth group, ending up at camp at 16 where the gospel message took hold.
Giving his life to Christ, he read in his Bible about new believers being baptized and thought, “I want that for myself!” But, it wasn’t part of the theological tradition of the denomination he attended, so he simply made a public profession of faith.
Carrigan’s journey led him to Tyndale Bible College, Toronto, and Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, B.C., to prepare for a career in ministry. “There was nothing else I wanted to do but to tell all my friends and people my age about Jesus.” However, through some negative experiences over his years at Bible college, he felt “burned by the church.” After fours years of Bible college training, he wanted nothing more than “a nice life and to just volunteer with youth groups on the side.”
He got it, but one day, “God closed that door,” Carrigan said. He was laid off from his “cushy union job,” ended a long-term relationship with a girlfriend – and was offered a job at a Christian summer camp. “God reawakened my call to ministry, and put a burden on my heart to reach young people for Jesus.”
After five years as youth pastor on Vancouver Island, Carrigan was increasingly concerned about the absence of post high school young adults in church. Searching the internet for job postings, he stumbled across BCMB and found Culloden’s ad for “young adults and worship pastor” at the bottom of the page. Lead pastor Ted Klassen responded to his enquiry within half an hour, and things quickly fell into place.
“Culloden Church is experiencing a fresh wind of God’s Spirit,” says Klassen. Planted by Vancouver MB in 1968, Culloden now has a membership just under 200, down from more than 500 in the 1970s. “Many faithful people have persevered in prayer for a ‘miracle of Culloden’ – a church full of people excited about Jesus,” says Klassen. He sees the investment in young adults and worship through a new pastor as part of the answer to those prayers.
In the short time Carrigan has been at Culloden, the young adults group has doubled, and the consistency and skill he brings to worship leading has been appreciated, says Klassen.
Carrigan loves being at Culloden, where he calls young people back to participation with the congregation. He challenges churches to be “a safe environment to ask tough questions about life and faith,” and to be relevant – “Are you answering the questions young people are asking?”
To young adults, he says, “You need to step up to the plate; the days of us entertaining you are over. God has gifted you and called you to serve the church, to serve him, so let’s do that.”
Like the early Anabaptists, this modern radical is drawing people into the church with a call to discipleship.