Well if you haven’t heard the big news about 24/7 church moving, now you know (serious face). I get sick to my stomach looking at old pictures of 24/7 in the past. It still doesn’t feel real that we are moving. Someone wake me up. I still wish that someone would hit me with a pillow and say wake up, it’s not true. To be honest I’m pretty sad. Some of the best memories of my life were made in there and thousands of people got to experience 24/7 over the years. But as everyone is saying “The best is yet to come.” It’s true, it’s time to move forward!

1041_47593798131_2052_nWhen I was a teenager I always wanted to do church different, I was so frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t bring many non-Christians to church. I though it wasn’t fair to my friends outside of the church. I would stay awake so late at night writing down my ideas and praying so hard into it. I remember having a big binder full of what the layout would be for a drop in centre/ youth group if I were to start one. When I got out of high school I had the privilege of following around this guy named Kip. He taught me so much as he was my former youth pastor. Kip is someone that gives a lot of freedom and says, “go dream and do it.” I remember talking with my brothers saying things like “imagine if NRG night club became a church, you never know, it could happen…” They thought I was crazy but I shared with them about how I had a vision of a church in there. About a month later I talked with Kip and he was telling me how he was thinking the same thing and that he was going to talk with the management of the night club to try to rent it out. 7 years ago this church called 24/7 was started. I was still a teenager but for some reason Kip asked me to be the jr. high pastor. A year later after the church was started the night club shut down and we were able to use the building any night of the week. I then became the youth pastor and I remember the day he gave me the key to the building and that was the moment when ministry got more serious and things started to take off. Having a key to a building this big was pretty cool. I’m not going to lie, it was so sweet to be so young and to be trusted like that.

As I first walked in the back room of the church I noticed that it was pitch black. I’m talking it was scary, you would not want to be in there on your own. With no lights the walls had old beer advertisements and the floor was sticky and disgusting. Kip told me that if I wanted to use that room as the youth side I could and that I would have to clean it up. I went there many days each week for a few months in a row. I am so thankful for all my friends for helping me out, I wouldn’t have been able to finish that room if it weren’t for them. They did so much work on it.

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Many people that stepped foot into that room had huge ideas exploding out of their heads. It was the ultimate place to dream. We would sweep and mop up the floors, paint the walls, smash out old counters, bring in old couches, build skate ramps… Before you knew it, we had a pretty cool youth room.

We only had a few teenagers to start with at the time but within a few months we got up to 50 kids with no problem. We had a really special teenager named Chris Cutler who came out faithfully every week to our programs. I would pick him up from his complex and drive him to 24/7 early because he was always willing to help. He had such a beautiful heart. When Chris passed away, many of his friends from his high school started to come Thursday nights to 24. Chris’s legacy lives on and he had such a huge impact on so many people. I remember one time walking outside trying to do a head count of how many teens we had coming out and I seriously lost track after counting to a hundred. It was so awesome how in our parking lot we would have so many kids smoking, that was the kind of crowd that were coming out to our church. They didn’t dress like typical church kids and they definitely didn’t talk like the typical church kids but as soon as I would loudly say, “Come into the V.I.P. room!” you would see a flock of them swarm in as they put out there cigarettes. They would come inside to sit on the old couches and hear me share a bible story. Not every teen came in to listen but there was always a packed V.I.P room. We had many deep times of conversations, prayer, jokes, and good friendships that were built in that room. It wasn’t a really beautiful room that attracted the youth, however it was a place where young people could belong and feel loved the way they are. We had an amazing team of volunteers that really cared about the teens. We accepted people no matter what. If I were to tell you some of the stories of the teens we were reaching, I don’t even think you would believe me. Most of them came from broken families and 24/7 was a place where some would call their home. I know that for me it was my second home and I loved that place even though it was an old building.

mr perryEverywhere I look in there I have a special memory. Whether it be those times tons of graffiti writers would come or the many girls nights we had as we would sleep over there, the skate completions that went down were rad, the squishy concerts of tons of bands playing, doing co op with all the different students. The reason why I stepped down from being on staff with 24/7 was because I had a few other churches calling up asking for some skateboarding and graffiti at their church. As we started to travel around to Oakville, Hamilton, Brantford helping visit these other places, I realized I was doing exactly what I did at 24/7 but it was now short term in other cities. We were trying to encourage them to think outside of the box too. The goal was to try and get other youth groups to reach people outside of their church. As I started to get invited more and more to farther places I would bring along 24/7 friends. We came up with a name that would give our generation a message. We wanted to inspire them with a saying that would challenge them in what they believed. We wanted them to be so real in their faith and we wanted them to Keep it Real. K.I.R. got launched around the same time as 24/7. As my brother Mike is now the Youth Pastor he continues to run all the programs with so much passion and he is seriously a champion. He is so good at mentoring others. He leads with the wisdom of someone in there 40’s but yet he’s only early 20’s. As I’m now a volunteer at 24/7 I still continue to stay connected with the youth there and at times when I travel I will bring some youth along with me.

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As the church moves into the new place we are changing the church name to Emmaus. Shout outs to God for helping me fulfill my dreams. It was never even my dreams in the first place, it was his. It was never me who did any of this because it truly was all God that made everything happen the way it did. God gets all the credit! Bye 24/7, I will miss you forever. I will never forget the good memories. 24/7 changed my life and I don’t think I would be the leader I am today if it weren’t for that amazing place. 24/7 taught me that true leadership is not found in the spot light, but it is hidden in the shadows of servant hood.

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What are some memories you have from 24/7?