GOLDFIELD - Craig Carlson is a new face at Crossroads Ministries on Main Street in Goldfield.
As director, he brings new ideas, new vision and new energy to the position. But he's also renewing the original mission statement of the youth center now in its 13th year.
Carlson, the first full-time hired director, shares duties as the director of Crossroads and as youth minister at the Goldfield United Methodist Church.
"Leslie Danielson, a college student originally from Florida but with relatives in Goldfield, had a vision to reach out to the kids of the community and the area," Carlson said about the beginning of Crossroads Ministries. "What she did and the programs she implemented had as its mission to 'provide a fun, safe environment where everyone can come to discover and experience God's visions for their lives.' And that vision continues today."
Crossroads opened in 1995, he said, and Danielson carried out those duties until she met and married her husband and moved to another state. Since the late '90s, the center has had a succession of volunteer directors who kept the center operating and the mission alive.
The double-front building, at 502 Main St., houses free games, games which require a quarter to play, hang-out tables and chairs, a lofted area, a stage, study area and a bank of computers.
"We want to have something for everyone," Carlson said. "We want to reach out to teens. We want to attract adults who want to work with youth. We want to let the kids know that they are loved and cared for. Kids can smell a fake. Adults who give kids attention are like a magnet to them."
Carlson, born and raised near Waterloo, spent his college and work years in Oklahoma, Washington and, most recently, in California. The 42-year-old single dad said he thinks God called him to this area to serve as Crossroads' director and Goldfield Methodist Church's youth pastor.
While Carlson continues to lay groundwork for programs and implementing outreach ideas, he recently organized "Halloween at the River" - but held it at the Crossroads because of the weather - on the day after Halloween. He termed the party a success, reaching out to both area youths and their parents.
"We are currently open both Friday and Saturday evenings," Carlson said. "Welcoming seventh-graders and under from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and eighth-graders and up from 8 to 11 p.m. We also have a Monday night football Bible study, where we study, watch football and hang out together. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:15 to 6:30 p.m., we are open for kids to come in use our computers and work on their homework assignments."
Aaron Thomas and Randy Johnson, both ninth-graders at Clarion-Goldfield High School, are enjoying the transformed youth center. "We both are attending the Monday night Bible studies right now," Thomas said.
The small group watches the first half of the football game together, has a brief Bible study at half time, then watch the final part of the game, plus just hang out together.
Johnson said he drops in at the center every time Crossroads is open on the weekends.
"It's just a fun place to be," he said. "It was pretty crazy before Craig got here. I was one of the crazy kids. Now we know what the expectations are, so I know that I have to play within the rules."
While Carlson appreciates the adult volunteers working with the youths now, he hopes to attract more adults to become involved with the young people with whom the center works.
"Sometimes people get the wrong idea of what a youth pastor's job is," he said. "It is my job to equip others and prepare them to help become what God has called them to do as we minister to others together."
To attract more adults, Carlson is organizing four-week cell groups. "We meet for 45 minutes to one hour each week," he said. "We bounce around ideas, what we are doing, and what could be done. We want to share, direct, develop and learn together."
From those cell group meetings, Carlson hopes to find adults willing to work with youths, from an occasional volunteer to those who have more time to offer.
"As Christians, God has a purpose for all of our lives," said Carlson. "Crossroads can give us new opportunities to discover and experience God's will for each of our lives. It takes time for that to happen. It is sometimes hard to be patient, but ministry is like our lives - it has to be built slowly one block at a time."