Crouse trades blueprints for sermon notes
Rick Houston, Special to the Recorder
August 23, 2010

Crouse trades blueprints for sermon notes

Crouse trades blueprints for sermon notes
Rick Houston, Special to the Recorder
August 23, 2010

To some, Justin Crouse’s

decision might have made little sense.

For more than seven years,

Crouse worked his way up from the mailroom in the Lowe’s Home Improvement

Warehouse corporate offices to the point where he was drawing blueprints for

new stores. With annual sales of more than $47 billion, Lowe’s is the

second-largest hardware chain in the world.

The job was a good one,

stable and relatively secure.

Crouse had also served as

youth minister at West Yadkin Baptist Church in Hamptonville since February

2008. When the previous pastor left in 2009, the church asked Crouse to step in

as interim and then called him permanently. Going full time made Crouse an even

busier guy.

“It was time intensive,”

says Crouse, 30, who is evidently a master of understatement.

Crouse always had to walk

the balance beam between work and ministry. Countless bi-vocational ministers

around the world can relate with Crouse’s situation.

“For two years, I did both —

I did the store plans and served as youth pastor,” Crouse remembers. “The store

planner job was mentally intensive during the day, and then I would come home

and work some nights until I went to bed, trying to study and research for

youth lessons. It was tough. You come home and you’re just mentally drained,

and you sit down and flip on your other computer again.”

In the midst of all that,

Crouse continued to coach football at local schools. Something had to give.

In May Crouse stepped down

from his role in the Lowe’s home office in Mooresville. And while he stayed

with the company, the 2002 graduate of Piedmont Baptist College now works part

time on the loading dock in the chain’s Elkin store.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and

Fridays, Crouse clocks in at 5 a.m. and typically finishes by noon to allow

time for his ministry duties.

Any questions?

His wife, Jessica, was

cautious but supportive of what her husband was about to do. Asked if anyone

else questioned the move, Crouse simply laughed.

“For me, I knew it was what

God wanted me to do,” the young pastor says.

Photo by Ginger Wagoner

Justin Crowe, right, shakes hands with Brad Myers following worship service at West Yadkin Baptist Church.

“In that respect, it was an

easy decision for me. Several people said, ‘Are you sure this is what you want

to do? Are you sure this is a good decision? You’re giving up this and giving

up that.’ I said, ‘I’m safer giving that up than I am holding on to it.’”

The decision to scale back

at Lowe’s was not made lightly. Crouse began work as a temporary employee in

the mailroom in October 2002, and he eventually joined the store environment

and operations departments. He helped set up new stores, which led to designing

the layout for locations about to be opened.

“It was a great job,” Crouse

says. “It could be stressful at times, but it was a really good job. I came in,

did my work and went home. I had a really good experience.”

As busy as he had been,

actually shepherding a flock in his first full-time pastorate is yet another

huge leap in responsibility. Ready or not, Crouse was willing to take the


“There were second- and

third-hand conversations where people said, ‘Is he ready for that?’” Crouse


“Satan would put thoughts in

my mind, ‘You’re not ready for this. You’re just 30 years old,’ that type of

thing. I finally got to the point where I said, ‘You know what? If I wait until

I’m ready, I’ll never do it.’

“It doesn’t matter whether

I’m ready or not, anyway. Moses wasn’t ready when God told him to go. It’s

whether God’s ready for me, not whether I’m ready for God.”

Full-time ministry had

always been a goal of Crouse’s, although he probably didn’t expect it to happen

as quickly as it did. He’d been an interim pastor at a church in Wilkesboro and

he’d served as music leader for a Charlotte congregation. Step by step, he was

being prepared.

“The Lord’s really made it

clear to me that I need to work on His timetable and quit trying to force my

timetable on Him,” Crouse says.

As Crouse closes in on a

year at the helm of West Yadkin Baptist, members of the congregation have been

there for their new pastor and he’s been there for them. He calls the last

several months “wonderful.”

“I think things are going

well,” Crouse concludes. “I don’t have any agenda, other than to promote

harmony and hold the body together.”