In over a decade of youth ministry, Sean has transformed 7 spaces into youth rooms and two vehicles into advertising, multi-purpose, eye catching, coach-machines. His creativity, vision, and ability to delegate and partner with gifted people makes for unique opportunities.
Big Oak is Sean’s non-profit that develops some of his unconventional ideas. Speaking at camps, developing devotional materials, and partnering with other youth ministries works well under the name of a non-profit instead of a name of a specific church.
Sean’s creativity always has him dreaming outside the box, whether it’s church ministry, Big Oak type ministry, or other ideas entirely. One day he may open a barbershop- he has plans created. He’d love to build a shop house and reminds me of the perks of concrete flooring- pressure washing is more effective than mopping after kids have eaten spaghetti!
Another one of Sean’s loves is the small Dutch town we live in. He’s not Dutch and he often sticks out like a sore thumb (or uses my Dutch maiden name for clout to fit in a little better) but he’s made every effort to be part of the community.
The Front Street to our little town has a little Dutch Village Mall that historically has had a pull for tourists. The first time I visited Lynden as a kid my family stayed in the hotel there, watched the koi fish in the indoor canal, and shopped for Dutch trinkets. When my family came back to consider moving to Lynden in the late 90s our first stop was at the Mall to eat at the Sidewalk Café and peruse the lace shop.
Sadly in recent years the Dutch Village Mall fell into negligent hands and disrepair. The downtown sagged like a wrinkly old has-been with businesses shutting down and people taking pocketbooks to the outskirts. Locals cringe with embarrassment at the tourists meandering around, trying to find what they remember about the former charm. We’ve talked about it many times around the dinner table- even praying that God would bring a new owner with vision to breathe life and tourism back into downtown.
Many prayers have been answered as local people purchased the Mall and are starting off by putting their business in a good portion of it. They have been hard at work doing deep remodel and restoration work. The entire hotel will be redone, new shops are signing leases, and plans for restaurants are looking promising. We were giddy watching the plans and ideas unfold as the owners are committed to our community as a whole.
The owners are friends of Sean’s and have seen his work with Big Oak and the community. They called Sean in December with a proposition. Bringing Sean into the basement of the Dutch Village Mall, one of them gave a tour of the mini golf course under a layer of dust- it’s been closed to the public for some time. He showed Sean the 4,000+ square feet of neon painted, dilapidated, musty smelling space adjoining the mini golf course.
“What would you think about Big Oak transforming this into a teen/community center?”
Sean has a knack for seeing things as they can be and not necessarily as they are. He breezed past the neon paint and ignored the dingy as the dream took shape. Mini-golf, study areas, all types of games, a little Cafe, an area with built in bleachers and a stage, training volunteers... he was off and running.
It became a no brainer. The owners are determined to give back to the community through this acquisition and want to do it in a way that can reach out to people and be used freely by local churches. With Big Oak at the helm we are able to pull in churches, organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and Young Life, and involve local businesses.
We decided to go for it. The full, crazy, ministry driven life Sean already lives? We just threw a major fundraising/remodel/community project on it all. Pretty much how it goes.
The support has been tremendous already. The owners of the Dutch Village Mall have been working hard gutting the space, setting up presentations for fundraising, and creating amazing plans. We’ve been waiting for the uphill trudge but so far have been on a paved, provided for path with the momentum of a town behind.
Of course, we will have to name this thing eventually. You can cast your vote (as long as it's against "Magnificenter"- I've deemed that one cheesy, regardless of Sean sticking up for it). If you're local, come to the Open House Saturday, April 26 10am-5pm for a round of mini-golf. Check out the plans, decide if you want to be involved or cheer from the sidelines.
www.lyndenteencenter.com The website is in process... cast your name vote and have a quick look.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...