Julia Bauman is nursing her four-week old son when I call her, so in between I hear adorable little sighs of a precious baby. It’s the perfect picture of her life as a youth pastor and a new mom—a life that turned out so much better than she could have ever dreamed, thanks to an unexpected call three years ago. “It was really a dream come true,” Julia says.
She met her husband Kyle in 2009 at Duke Divinity School. They got married three years later and both got a job in North Carolina—but at different churches. “We loved the churches we served and felt very called to our ministries there. But we missed serving together, and also worshiping at the same church. Others may want that separation, but we discovered we really enjoy being the right-hand person in each other’s ministry,” Julia says. Their dream was to serve together in the same church, but it seemed like an impossible dream.
They often talked about Julia’s home church in Texas. “Kyle had done an internship there during seminary and he really loved it. And of course I had grown up there. We talked about it all the time, how much we loved that church. The outreach they did, the work with refugees, the focus on student ministry, we loved it. And of course, my family lived there.”
They were content serving in North Carolina, but that dream was always present. Until that day they received an unexpected call from Julia’s home church. “Their youth pastor had taken a position as a senior pastor in another church, so they were looking for a new youth pastor. But they had also been thinking about creating a position for a discipleship pastor. They surveyed the youth to find out what they wanted in a new youth pastor, and they overwhelmingly requested to have a husband and wife to lead their ministry. So they prayed about it and decided they would love to have a married couple filling these positions, serving together side by side, both leading. So they started thinking: ‘Who do we know that fits the bill’?”
The church called Julia and Kyle, who were now in a difficult position. Neither had served in their church very long, Kyle for a year-and-a-half and Julia just a few months. But this offer was a dream come true. “We hadn’t expected this to be even possible till decades later, maybe.”
They decided to pray about it, but seek counsel as well. “We talked to our professors and ministry guidance counselors and asked them to pray. Their advice was simple: an opportunity like this is rare and it may not come around again. Kyle and Julia agreed and decided to accept the positions.
They’ve now been at their church for three years and love serving together. Julia is the youth pastor, but also works with the outreach ministry with internationals and refugees. The combination of the two roles works well, since she often can bring along students and do both ministries at once. Kyle is the associate pastor, but also volunteers in the youth ministry Julia leads. “He leads a high school boys small group and often does the games. I’m very happy to delegate that to him,” Julia laughs.
Starting a Family
When they started working at the church, they weren’t ready to start a family yet. “We didn’t want to get pregnant right away, but I was also wondering how it would work, me being a mom and a youth pastor.” But it soon became clear that this was not going to be a problem. “The female worship pastor had five kids and often brought her youngest to staff meetings, or would nurse him in between what she was doing, even on Sundays. She kind of set the precedent, and the church set up a paid maternity leave of six weeks.”
It meant Julia did not fear starting her own family. “When I told the church I was pregnant, they were really excited. They wanted me to bring the baby to staff meetings so they could hold him! After my leave ends, I can work more from home or bring him with me, it’s all very flexible. And the middle school girls can’t wait for him to join our small group!”
She’s grateful for how God has worked it all out for her and her family. “To be called to a church you dream about, to be able to serve with your husband like this, it’s pretty incredible. It was obvious this was a God-thing, because we never thought we’d get this chance!”
Julia will be attending the next Women in Youth Ministry Campference, with baby Levi and husband Kyle. “I’m so glad I could bring them both. I know this is kind of a sacred space for women but without Kyle I couldn’t fully focus on the conference and take care of Levi.”
As I told her: as women in ministry, we have to take care of each other, even if that means allowing a guy into our conference 🙂