Photo by Jack Grooms
Jason Ishmael is a cheerful family-man who believes that being a husband and a dad are the most important and joyous ministries in his life, but those aren’t his only ministries.
Ishmael is the Associate Community Pastor and the Student Community (StuCo) Director at Community Christian Church in Plainfield. His job consists of organizing and directing volunteer leaders, teaching and pastoral care.
“I hang out with people when there’s counseling involved, or when people are in crisis,” Ishmael explained.
He wanted to become a pastor since he was in middle school, when he was overwhelmed with a sense of calling.
“I got to share a little miniature 5-10 minute message at our school’s chapel, and I just loved that experience so much,” Ishmael said.
His first inspiration was his seventh grade teacher Jan Brandenburg. Her encouragement significantly impacted Ishmael.
“She was really the first one to sort of see something in me and call it out, which was a really powerful thing in my life at the time,” Ishmael said.
He wanted to go into ministry as a result of having exceptional experiences in church. Despite this, Ishmael was also bored, and he wanted to prevent others from being bored in church.
“I just wanted other people to feel the passion and excitement that I experienced,” Ishmael said.
The pastor achieved this goal of his. His passion and excitement for Jesus and God is visible to everyone in the audience.
“Jason is full of life and has a strong love for everyone that crosses his path,” said Dr. Jessica Monu, a StuCo small group leader and active member of the church. “His passion is inspiring the youth to learn and follow Jesus Christ.”
Along his journey of becoming the pastor he is today, Ishmael had another important figure in his life, Gene Fox, the first pastor he served with.
“He really taught me what it means to be a shepherd; he’s the guy who taught me how to do that and train me up that way,” Ishmael said.
Ishmael believes that this lesson he learned from Fox, being a shepherd first, is one of the most important skills needed to be a pastor. It’s also important to love and care for people.
“I think you’re wasting your time if you’re not loving people,” Ishmael said.
Loving people is especially important because according to Ishmael, the most fulfilling part of being a pastor is people.
“It’s so rewarding to see things come alive in others and to see the heart of other people start to beat for something that is greater than themselves,” Ishmael said. “To see people begin to live for others and live and walk and move like Jesus.”
Ishmael was bullied badly when he grew up, something that scarred him into his twenties. He ended up despising people because of these negative experiences.
“At one point when I was in junior high, I said that I hated people and I never wanted to be around people, and I never wanted to work with people,” Ishmael said. “It’s so funny the way that that has come full circle, because I can’t imagine a life without daily just wanting to connect with people.”
Ishmael has been a positive influence in the lives of many people in the congregation.
“He’s such a motivating and accepting person who has been able to lift the spirits of even the most drained people,” North junior and member of the church Molly Diehl said. “He’s someone who has taken time to be there for me when I felt like no one else was, or when I couldn’t be there for myself.”
Ishmael knows that he personally cannot reach hundreds of people in a way that makes a difference. Because of this, he would rather have a big impact on a few people in hopes that they turn around and have an effect on more people.
“I think the pathway to having an impact on lots of people is actually in concentration,” Ishmael said.
He believes preaching should be something deeper than just an information exchange but instead to “engage in a form of worship with the people that are hearing the message.”
According to Ishmael, young people should understand that there are more ways to do ministry than just pastoring.
“I want to encourage people in whatever walk they feel passionate about and do those things for the Lord,” Ishmael said. “Make those things ministry in the way that they’ll impact the world.”