the shape of leadership

The Measure of Discipleship

A conversation with Kathryn Breker

Matt Hufman on December 17, 2019

Kathryn Breker is busy. She works at the Ohio Ministry Network full time, goes to school, and is a pastor at Sunbury Assembly of God in the small town of Sunbury, Ohio, where she leads the youth group and the worship team, among other things.

She has been described as a selfless, hard-working, and fearless leader, but she brushes off the accolades.

“God has opened up incredible doors for me,” she says.

Nevertheless, she acknowledges that being bivocational has its share of challenges.

“There are a lot of things I don’t have time to do,” Breker says. “I’d like to be at the soccer games, but a big thing for me is not making promises to students I can’t keep. So, if they say, ‘Can you come to this?’ I can’t promise, but I’ll try. Or, if I can’t be there, maybe someone else can be.”

In her small church, the youth ministry represents a significant share of the congregation, and students serve as leaders and volunteers.

The students are also active in Fine Arts, which thrills Breker, who plays several instruments.

“We teach students to rely on the Holy Spirit.”
— Kathryn Breker

“It’s one of my favorite discipleship tools because that means I spent every Sunday with them for four months,” she says.

Breker recognizes the challenges today’s teens face, from electronic distractions to social pressure. She’s particularly concerned about what she sees as a sense of isolation and depression among youth.

“I’ve sat with young people as they struggled with anxiety and suicidal tendencies,” Breker says. “Only Jesus can fill the void.”

Creating a sense of community has been important to help break isolation. She has worked on building relationships among the group and taught students to reach out to other students in their schools.

Sunbury Assembly is the only Pentecostal church in town, and that’s a draw.

“We have something others don’t have,” Breker says. “We teach students to rely on the Holy Spirit. We teach them to pray in the Spirit and rely on the confidence of the Holy Spirit.”

One thing Breker has noticed is that many students she meets in the community and in her ministry don’t seem to have a moral compass or an understanding of the consequences of their actions. Through relationship building and discipleship, Breker is not only introducing students to Jesus but also helping them grow into adults who follow Jesus.

“I want them, when they step out of youth, to still be involved in church and in a relationship with Jesus,” she says. “I measure my youth group by how many Christian adults I create.”

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 edition of Influence magazine.

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