Interview with NAYC Speakers: Michael Ensey
Yes! You heard it. North American Youth Congress is not that far away. And NAYC 17 is chock full of anointed speakers and musicians who will be ministering in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in just a few short months. We’d like you to get to know them before they preach to you and lead you in worship.
Our first interview comes from our first speaker in Indy, our General Youth Division president, Rev. Michael Ensey. So, students, It’s my pleasure to introduce you to your president, Michael Ensey.
InsideOut: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three items would you want to have with you and why?
Michael Ensey: I’m going to assume this deserted island doesn’t have any electricity, or surely it wouldn’t be deserted. (Am I taking this question too literal?) So, I would choose:
1. The Bible because it is the #1 book of all time, and it doesn’t require electricity.
2. My running shoes because I love to run, and they don’t require electricity.
3. A knife because I would need to build a fire and hunt for food. It’s better than a gun because it doesn’t require ammunition…or electricity.
IO: Please tell us your favorite joke.
ME: I am a horrible joke teller because I can never remember a good joke. What was the question again?
IO: What is the funniest moment you have had while preaching?
ME: I have had several funny moments occur while I was preaching that were not funny (to me) at the time, but looking back on those scenarios, they were quite hilarious—mostly because of things I said that I did not intend to say. Those situations shall remain unknown.
However, one of the funniest moments I have had recently occurred at the very end of a message. As I invited everyone to stand, a boy about five years old was apparently sleep walking and walked out into the foyer. He thought he was in the restroom. He was not. And there was a glass wall between the sanctuary and the foyer. I had a great view. Thankfully the congregation did not.
IO: Besides the Bible, what is your favorite book?
ME: My favorite leadership book is Leading Without Power: Finding Hope in Serving Community by Max DePree. I have read it multiple times, used many quotes from it, and given it away to a lot of people. Another of my all-time favorite books that I have given away to many young adults is The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews. It is a powerful book with a unique style. The author uses historical fiction to keep the reader fully engaged from cover to cover.
I know you only asked for one book, but I have to recommend one more book that has recently become a favorite. My staff is currently working through it, and I provided a copy to each member of our General Youth Committee. Made for More: 7 Proven Strategies for Reaching Your Full Potential by former UPCI General Youth President and current pastor Brian Kinsey is a must have for any teenager, young adult, or minister serious about being all God created and called them to be. I challenge you to read (and apply) these three books before Youth Congress, and I promise your life will be changed.
IO: Why do you feel North American Youth Congress is so important for students to attend?
ME: Practically speaking, since it only occurs once every two years, if you miss one then it is four years between events. This creates an urgency to make it to every NAYC. Spiritually speaking, there are numerous important reasons to attend. I have never experienced a more spiritually dynamic atmosphere than the one we experience at youth congress with 18,000+ young people and young adults worshipping God and affirming our Apostolic identity. The atmosphere is charged with faith and expectation.
On Thursday and Friday, the attendees will be treated to the best preaching and teaching they could ever hear. Anywhere. Every worship service will lead by a worship team that is both anointed and as talented as any music team. Anywhere. I truly believe every attendee will be eternally impacted by youth congress. Their life will be changed and their calling clarified if they will hear the voice of the Spirit in every service and session.
IO: How do you prepare to preach to thousands at North American Youth Congress?
ME: Well, that’s a good question. I can tell you from past experience, standing on the stage at Youth Congress in a basketball arena is one of the most intense, intimidating, overwhelming, yet exhilarating feelings in the world. The atmosphere is so dynamic you can physically feel it. Standing on the stage at youth congress in a football stadium. OK, to answer your question, I think the preparation is more about a lifestyle than a moment. I hope I can live a life worthy of ministering in that setting so I can deliver more than just a sermon. I want to communicate a love for God, a passion for truth, a burden for people, and a message that the Spirit is speaking to the church. It is such a rare and special opportunity to preach at youth congress. I want to deliver a message that is God-inspired for this time and for this generation.
IO: Briefly share your testimony, especially from your life as a teen.
ME: When I was born, my parents were not in church, and my name was not Michael Ensey. It was Michael Rathbun. My parents both experienced the new birth when I was one year old, and my dad felt a call to preach and began attending Texas Bible College. After two years at college, he was electrocuted while working on a house and died immediately. I was 3 ½ years old. My brother was 6 ½, and my mother was twenty-four.
Mom decided to return to Texas Bible College as a student where she married Randy Ensey two years later. He adopted my older brother and me. For three years we were in Dallas, Texas at Pastor Tom Foster’s church. For the next five years my dad served on the staff at Texas Bible College. Then, when I was thirteen, we started a home missions church in Montgomery/Conroe, Texas. That decision had a profound impact on my life. I was afforded the opportunity to be involved in many areas of ministry as we worked to build a church in our community. See the question below about answering the call to preach for more details about my teen years.
Another factor that greatly impacted my life was Bible Quizzing. I thank God for the opportunity to quiz that was afforded me by my parents, my pastors, and my coaches who saw the value in memorizing the Word of God. They helped cultivate in me a love for the Word.
IO: What do you feel are your top two personal strengths and weaknesses?
1. I am a very detail oriented person. I value accuracy, and I am very thorough. I really like things to be done right.
2. I am highly committed. If I start something, I will finish it. I can be stubbornly committed. I hate quitting, and I have a strong dislike for quitters.
1. I am a very detail oriented person, and I can tend to be a perfectionist. This causes me to be very deliberate in my actions and overanalyze situations. I tend to get bogged down in the details and hesitate to act until I have thoroughly researched a solution. Sometimes I hesitate to start a project until I feel like I have the time I can dedicate to get it done right. This is also known as procrastination.
2. I am highly competitive, which is probably one of the reasons why I needed to give up sports to follow my calling (see next question). I really hate to lose, and I really have to watch my attitude on the court or playing field so I don’t let my competitiveness get the best of me.
IO: When and where did God call you to preach, and how did you answer you His call?
ME: I was sixteen years old. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, and I had just made a decision that I wasn’t going to play on the basketball team at my private school the next school year. It was a difficult decision but one I felt like I needed to make because I was so busy, and I needed to make room in my life for the call of God. I will never forget the moment God called.
It was at the Texas District Senior Bible Quiz awards banquet. I was scheduled to make a short speech about Bible quizzing. While I was making my way up to the stage, multiple people said, “Preach to us, Michael!” I just laughed it off and went up to give my little speech. At the end of the awards banquet a young man began to sing the song, “Draw Me Nearer.” The second verse of the song got my attention:
“Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, by the power of grace divine; let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, and my will be lost in Thine.”
I felt like God slapped me across the face as I hit the floor, and He asked me this question, “Is that your answer?” I knew exactly what He was saying. When I just laughed off the challenge of “Preach to us, Michael,” God was asking me if that was my response. For a long time I laid on that floor and made a commitment to God that I would do whatever He asked me to do and go wherever He asked me to go.
I didn’t preach my first sermon for almost two years until I was eighteen. I interned with a pastor in Michigan for a year and went to secular college. Then I went to Texas Bible College for three years and graduated in 2000. After graduation I became assistant pastor at Living Way Church in Conroe, Texas.
IO: What advice do you have for someone feeling a call to ministry? What should their next steps be?
ME: Your first step should always be to talk to your pastor and also to your parents if they are living for God. The spiritual authority in your life—pastor, parents, youth pastor, etc.—will also hear from God and be able to confirm what you are feeling and give specific direction so you can pursue that calling. Let me caution you. Don’t miss out on opportunities to minister where you are (now) because you are always looking down the road to some future ministry or place of calling. You don’t need a position or a title to be a minister. You don’t even have to be on a platform to minister.
The word “minister” simply means “servant.” Serve God by serving people. Prepare and stay busy where you are. My grandfather, Rev. J.R. Ensey, has given me similar advice at multiple junctions in my life. He has said, “Keep moving forward toward your purpose until you see a red light. Don’t wait for a green light before you start moving because you may never start.” You will never be perfect, and the conditions will never be perfect. Just act on the experience, knowledge, understanding, and training you have. God will make the difference. That’s why we need the anointing. It takes over where our ability ends.
IO: What are your long term goals for ministry and life in general, and what steps do you plan to reach those goals?
ME: My big picture perspective of goals can be summed up in this saying that has become my personal mantra: “Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” In every area of my life and ministry I want to do things with excellence and in righteousness. My long-term “life” goals are to be the best husband and father I can possibly be. I want my family to know they are my priority, and I want to raise children who love God and want to be involved in ministry. That’s priority #1.
I would also like to write a book, learn a second language, visit all fifty states (I’m missing thirteen) and six major regions of the world (I’m missing three), and run a marathon in less than four hours (my best time is 4:09 in four tries). My long-term “ministry” goals are to become a better soul-winner and a greater student of the Word of God. I would also like to obtain my Masters of Divinity (I currently have a Bachelor of Theology), pastor a thriving Apostolic church, and start multiple church plants. Whew—I better get busy!
IO: How can the students take the North American Youth Congress fire to their homes and home churches and keep it burning?
ME: Follow-through is absolutely critical to the success of youth congress. In sports terminology, when an instrument, such as a bat, is swung at a ball, “follow-through” is what happens after impact. What happens after youth congress is just as important as what happens during the event. Students must accept the challenge to be disciplined in their daily decision-making process. They must have very specific goals for their life when they return home and a very specific plan to reach those goals. A life of consistent prayer, fasting, and Bible study will be the key to help them maintain the “fire,” reach their goals, and fulfil their plans.
“Running is optional. The race is not.” In other words, you are in the race whether you want to be or not. The choice you have to make is whether or not you are going to run. Paul admonished us, “Run with patience the race that is set before us.” You have a race to run. Let’s go!
Michael Ensey joined the General Youth Division team in January of 2010 and was elected General Youth President in 2013. He is from the great state of Texas where he served as youth pastor and assistant pastor at Living Way Church in Conroe, Texas, and as Texas District Youth President for seven years. He is married to the gorgeous and talented Rebecca Ensey (she’s from the very cool city of Seattle, Washington), and is the proud father of two awesome boys, Lincoln Michael and Grant Mason, and one beautiful princess, Avery McKay.
Michael is passionate about student ministry and considers it an amazing privilege to serve the teenagers and young adults of the UPCI. He believes this generation of Apostolic Pentecostal youth are committed to loving Jesus Christ and living the truth of the Word of God, as well as being anointed and positioned to dynamically fulfill their mission to reach their world with the gospel. He spends his free time enjoying his family, reading, playing golf, interacting on Twitter, and running marathons.
Michael Ensey is scheduled to speak Wednesday, July 26, 2017 during the 7:30 p.m. general session.