Breakthrough: Matthew Mason
Posted by: DVULI | April 27, 2022
by Kimberlee Mitchell, Staff Writer
Anyone who has ever had a conversation with Matthew Mason (Pittsburgh 2018) most likely had a very kind and gentle encounter. Well mannered, respectful, and attentive, you might even think: Wow, does this guy really do urban youth ministry?
First impressions aside, Matthew's work in ministry, on the surface, seemed to be going well. As a music teacher and show producer, he could dazzle the best of any audience. But behind the scenes, he admits a lot of work needed to be done.
"My ministry lacked the depth, measurable impact, and focus on what God was calling me to," divulged Matthew. "I had some vision, but I needed clarity. I had some fortitude, but I needed leverage. I knew there was more, but I didn't know what it was, exactly, how to find it, or how to walk in it for myself, my family, my programs, and the kids I minister to."
When the DVULI training experience required Matthew to craft a breakthrough plan, one of his goals was to develop an accountability system. He wanted to see the benefits of his networking relationships in hopes they would lead to long-term sustainability.
"I've learned to resist the tendency to go rogue without an accountability system," shares Matthew. "I now proactively and regularly seek and prioritize honest feedback and guidance from trusted, godly people."
Matthew credits God for helping him craft an ongoing plan that involved three tiers: his "Paul, Barnabus, and Timothy" relationships.
His Paul: Matthew has submitted to the leadership of his mentor, who imparts great wisdom and gives godly counsel. "I am accountable to him to be a good student, putting the knowledge and wisdom I gain into practice on a personal level and passing on what I'm given."
His Barnabas: Matthew has several male peer relationships that are like a mirror to him. "Because we are in similar life and ministry stages, we have shared experiences and can connect in real time," explains Matthew. "We're all in the game, on the field together, and we all need each other," he said. "In these Barnabas relationships, I am committed to walking in the light in full transparency, growing together."
His Timothy: Matthew has several mentees that he "pours into and encourages them to multiply themselves in their spheres of influence." In these Timothy relationships, I am accountable to them to be an example and to be worthy of following, as I follow Christ."
Now that he's a grad of the DVULI training, Matthew sees interdependence as a strength rather than a weakness. "I have a greater value for collaboration and an expanded view of the resources God has provided for my organization, network, and community," explains Matthew. "And through leverage, I work smarter, not harder. I don't spin my wheels with the 'bigger is better' mentality seeking to quickly and completely transform my community while dismissing the power of seemingly small actions over the long haul."
Matthew's ministry partnerships are bearing the fruit of him embracing the core value of interdependence. He partners with local dance and music program leaders to produce an annual community concert and outreach called Urban Impact Live. The event presents the gospel through the arts, featuring a cast of approximately 80 youth, and attracts thousands of attendees.
"Through my work in both the urban and suburban context, I am able to leverage my leadership to facilitate interdependence between two partner organizations," shares Matthew. "At New Community Church, I am able to schedule and host Urban Impact performance groups on Sunday mornings throughout the year, giving youth an opportunity to use and hone their gifts while church members are blessed by youth as they minister."
He also sees the youth he leads as leaders themselves, whose contributions he depends on. "Now, my programs are not just for young people but by young people," he boasts. "I can see the depth and impact of my ministry since implementing DVULI strategies in many ways."
"We are seeing more students launch successfully from the program into life and, most importantly, walk with the Lord," reports Matthew of his youth. "We are producing more student leaders who are leading their peers in other Urban Impact programs, and more alumni are returning to serve students currently in the program."
Matthew says he gets feedback from parents who have noticed positive changes in their children, which is one of the most gratifying measures of impact.
"As an introvert in ministry, I am especially susceptible to falling into the trap of walking alone on a path that was meant to be shared," offers Matthew. "Each of the core values has helped me emerge from the quicksand of ministry in isolation and embrace the frontier of holistic, kingdom ministry in the urban context. This new way has its challenges, but they are the challenges that result in exponential impact that far exceeds the impact of doing it alone."