Pastor Deon Clark

by Tonya Dixon | July 11th, 2013
Pastor Deon Clark

Pastor Deon Clark (Photo by Still Shots Photography)

Deon Clark has always been involved in the church and ministry. He grew up in the church. He comes from generations of pastors and preachers; from his grandfather to grandmother to aunts, uncles and cousins. The Greensboro native is a self-professed church baby. Ministry was and always will be a part of his everyday life. But one thing he isn’t is perfect. As a matter of fact he says that he is perfectly imperfect, but perfectly determined to do and be what God has ordained for him.

Although Clark grew up in church and was surrounded by church leaders he didn’t immediately accept the obvious ministerial call upon his life. In fact, it took some time and even rejection of his destiny before he ultimately surrendered to the will of God for his life. “Growing up I was always in church. Tuesday night prayer; Wednesday night Bible study, Thursday night rehearsal and all day Sunday,” he jokes. “It’s funny, but because of that I wanted to experience what was outside of the church. So I strayed and tried to do my own thing, but I got to a point where I hit a wall and I just couldn’t go any further. I finally recognized and accepted the call of God on my life. But still going astray made me who I am today.”

Today Clark is the youth pastor for the growing and dynamic youth ministry at Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Greensboro, Inc. It’s his imperfect past that perfectly enables him to minister and lead over 1200 youth on a consistent basis. It’s overwhelming, daunting and at times a 24 hour job, but Clark simply calls it ministry and he loves every minute of it. The former insurance adjuster says becoming youth pastor was nothing but answered prayer. He says he had a good job and made good money but it was difficult and stressful with no real reward and it certainly wasn’t his passion. Ministry was his passion. “I would have to take vacation days to accept and fulfill speaking engagements so I just began to talk to God about it. I asked God if he would make a way for me [to operate in ministry] and he did just that. The position became available at Mt. Zion, I interviewed for it, God opened the door and I walked in.”

Clark gives all glory to God for answered prayer but he’s also grateful for the men and women like his grandmother, Pastor Willie Mae Scott, who was also his pastor growing up and taught him much of what he knows in ministry and Apostle Reginald White, his spiritual father who spiritually guides him daily and Bishop George W. Brooks, a great mentor who believed in him enough to hire and allow
him the opportunity to share his ministry gift on a different level, and current Senior Pastor Bryan J. Pierce who is training and mentoring him to become a great leader and better man. Pastor Pierce has trusted the God in him enough to allow Clark to be creative and use unconventional resources and tactics to reach and engage a generation of youth that at first glance seem unreachable.

However, Pastor Clark readily admits he is not a one man show. He isn’t able to operate in ministry without the many committed team members including dedicated Advisory Chair Tonya Young, Felicia Andrews, Dee Jordan, Fred King, Tamera Dix, Jackie Jackson and Reese Marchan that assist with the youth ministry. Most importantly his high school sweetheart of 18 years, (8 of them in marriage) his lovely wife Jennifer is involved and immersed in the youth ministry as well. She is a nurse by profession, but she has come to be a role model for many of the young females; a trusted and listening ear to vent, a confidant, counselor and voice of reason. Jennifer says she’s more of the support system for her husband. She is his biggest cheerleader and encourages his creativity even when she can’t always be alongside of him; she supports and undergirds the family by caring for their twins Noah and Nilah when ministry calls Pastor Clark away. They both understand ministry is constant. It doesn’t punch a time clock, end at a certain time of day and restart the next. In fact there are often times when ministry and family life lines are blurred, but they welcome and embrace it all. welcome and embrace it all. Pastor Clark makes it clear that he could not do this without his wife being by his side, and he is a better man because of her.

Clark has been the youth pastor at Mt. Zion for nearly two years and nothing about him or the ministry is ordinary, predictable or conventional and that’s exactly how Clark believes it should be. He told God he wanted to make a difference, but he didn’t want to be like everyone else. He has definitely succeeded. Clark uses every available tool to minister to the youth including the youth ministry team’s latest idea to roller skate from the chapel to the main sanctuary to welcome and escort any uninvolved youth to the youth church service. Perhaps it was when he arranged for the North Carolina A&T drum line to “drop a few beats” during a ministry event or maybe it was when he brought in DJs to scratch and mix during the New Year’s Eve Service? Unconventional as they and he may have been, the bottom line is that no matter what seemingly “unchurchy” thing is going on, the invitation for salvation is always extended and dozens, hundreds even, of souls are being saved on a regular basis. This Clark says, is thier ultimate goal.

The youth are coming (and staying) because of the unique delivery of the Gospel message but also because they have developed relationships that they can trust in and count on. Pastor Clark believes relationship is imperative and the foundation to touching and changing the lives of the youth. Clark will often have “Real Talk Sessions” with the youth. He simply gets them together, sits down and just says, “Tell me what’s on your mind.” The activity works because the youth trust him, and he respects them. He’s not just visible and onsite at the church but he makes regular trips to different schools throughout Guilford County and even conducts the sessions on the school campuses. He has learned that relationship goes much further with youth than cold, indignant condemnation.

“You would be surprised at what many kids are dealing with-depression, suicidal thoughts, lack of self esteem, pregnancy, STDs, simply trying to fit in, and even rape,” Clark says. He admits admonition and chastisement is important and has its place, but to just deal with kids by only addressing the wrong is a recipe for failure. “We dare and challenge our kids to be different. We teach them to be trendsetters; to change their environment. We want to equip them to change and shift their environments. If we equip them to change their environment they will go out and become trendsetters. When they become trendsetters they get followers. Followers will follow them here, because they have shifted their surroundings and circumstances. We have kids that worship here whose parents don’t even attend. Once the child comes though, the parent comes just to see what’s going on because their child is so interested in coming.”

The youth ministry at Mt. Zion is broken down into three sections: the nursery (newborn to 4 yrs. old), Kings Children Church or KCC (K-5th) and Youth Blaze (6th-12th grade); and Pastor Clark oversees and interacts with them all. Although he is in more direct contact with Youth Blaze, he makes every effort to devote specific and intentional time with each group, developing relationships and helping to cultivate their entire
physical and spiritual beings. Youth church is held every first, third and fourth Sunday at 10:00am in the church chapel. But don’t expect anything resembling normal. Rather, expect radical, out of the box ministry. Everything involving the youth ministry is purposeful and intentional. Everything is done with the youth in mind. It’s all about presenting the consistent and powerful Gospel of Jesus

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