Hi, I’m Ray Carlson.

Milan, WI

Phone Number

(715) 680-1221


[email protected]


Trinity International University


Trinity International University
BS of Pre-Seminary Studies

Church Affiliation


Years In Ministry

1 year




Teaching, discipleship, leading worship, active listening, leading small groups, and pastoral empathy

Tools & Software

Microsoft Office Suite



Top 3 Strengths




Student Pastor Questionnaire Responses
Personal Info
Please share briefly how you became a Christian.
I grew up in a Christian household and knew the Lord from a young age. However, my impression of God was often that of a distant God who sits far off in heaven looking upon the world with disgust, anger, or apathy. Theoretically, I knew that God was loving and present in my life, but that was a truth I struggled to actually internalize. (This negative perception of God was largely due to growing up in a high Lutheran church with an atmosphere of dead orthodoxy as well as living in a fairly turbulent household that often struggled to exemplify the mercy and grace of God.) However, God was faithful and worked to bring me closer to Himself. In middles school, He introduced me to Jade Sales, a wonderful Christian woman who would soon become my best friend. She could relate to my struggles and turbulent upbringing and helped me find God in the midst of my difficulties. My friendship with Jade laid the foundation for God to fully break into my life. Sometime later, in the summer of 2017, I took a weeklong job as an assistant recreational director at a Bible camp in northern Wisconsin. It was here that I cried in the presence of the Father for the first time. It was here that I tangibly felt Christ’s overwhelming love and compassion for me. It was here that saw the Spirit moving powerfully in the midst of His people. Over the course of this week, God began to systematically dismantle the negative image I had of Him. The God I assumed was distant and cold revealed Himself to be near and compassionate. By the end of this week, my relationship with God was wholly transformed. As a result of what God had done during this week, I recommitted my life to Jesus and was baptized the next week.
How would you describe yourself?
  • Intense
  • Flexible
  • Loving
Personality Type
  • Myers Briggs: INFP-T
  • Enneagram: 4w5
  • Strength Finders: Connectedness | Achiever | Analytical | Learner | Individualization
Tell me about some people (i.e. authors, mentors, and ministry leaders) that have had a big impact on you.
  • Jade Sales: As mentioned when I briefly shared my testimony, Jade was the friend I met in middle school who God used to bring me closer to Him. She was (and is) a model of Christ-like endurance in the midst of hardship and a faithful friend.
  • Jana Sundene: Professor Sundene has been a strong mentor figure in my life. She has pushed me to examine my presuppositions and to take potentially difficult steps for the sake of maturing in my faith.
  • Mike Winger: Pastor Winger is the founder and director of “Bible Thinker,” a ministry dedicated to helping people think biblically about the Word and life. He has been extremely beneficial in helping me learn to increasingly analyze the world from a Christ-like perspective.
  • Henry Nouwen: Of the people on this list, Henry Nouwen is the most recent addition. He is a Dutch priest and an author. His books are proving to be profoundly beneficial in shaping my view of Christ and my understanding of how God views His people.
How do you plan to engage and inform parents or guardians about your ministry objectives and progress?
There are three primary ways in which plan to engage and inform parents/guardians/teams about our ministry objectives and progress: weekly emails, quarterly meetings, and volunteer opportunities. Each week, I intend to send out an email containing an overview of the week’s Bible lesson/discussion, pertinent Bible passage(s), the goals and aim of the lesson/discussion, and any relevant issues that came up during youth meetings that may need to be addressed further at home. The purpose of this email is largely informative and will serve to help parents encourage student growth in their own homes. In addition to these weekly emails, I would like to hold a quarterly meeting in which parents/guardians/teams could (1) hear my vision and plan for the next few months of youth ministry, (2) ask questions about the vision and plan, and (3) express what they would like to see added or removed from the vision and plan. This meeting will largely serve to make sure the direction of the ministry and the expressed needs of the parents/guardians/teams are aligned. Finally, I want to offer opportunities for parents to volunteer at special youth events. This would help parents/guardians/teams both see what is happening at the ministry and allow them to participate in the growth of the students.
Tell me about a time when you developed a new team of volunteers into a strong working group. What did you do?
In college, the upper administration of the university restructured many of the undergraduate programs. This restructuring resulted in the termination of most of the Biblical Studies and Christian Ministries professors. To thank these professors for the impact they had on us, I organized a group of volunteers to help me put on an event thank these professors. This event featured worship and prayer components. Volunteers were recruited to lead worship, work in the sound booth, pray over the faculty, and design “thank-you” boxes (decorated and individualized containers for students to submit thank you notes). The volunteers were all impacted by these faculty members and were motivated by the common goal of thanking them for their investment in our lives. Thus, with this centralized focus, we developed into a strong working group. Without the help of these volunteers, the event would not have gone nearly as well as it did.
How would you alleviate the confusion when you are communicating with volunteers and it becomes apparent that they don’t understand what you’re saying or vice versa?
In a situation in which I was communicating with volunteers and it becomes apparent that they do not understand what I am trying to say, I would first ask them to tell me what they hear me trying to say. In doing so, I hope to identify the point in which I communicated poorly and clarify what I am trying to say. The issue also might be that the volunteers are generally unfamiliar with the concepts or ideas I am trying to communicate. If this is the case, I would then hope to briefly explain the new concepts and (if need be) set up a time in which later training and instruction would be available. If I were the one that seemed to not be understanding what is being said, I would gently communicate what I hear them saying. I would also seek to ask clarifying questions on the areas of conversation that seem to be unclear. Throughout this, volunteers would have ample opportunities to clarify their ideas or concerns, hopefully resulting in mutual understanding between us.
Spiritual Growth
Once you lead a student/child to Christ, how do you communicate their decision to their parents? Once a child accepts Christ as their Savior, how do you begin discipling them?
If the parent(s) of the student are Christians, the student is free to personally tell his/her parent(s) about the joyous decision he/she has made. Afterward, I would also attempt to contact the parent(s) (preferably in person or over the phone) and communicate the appropriate details of the student’s decision to give his/her life to Christ. If the parent(s) of the student are not Christians, I would sit with the student and help him/her discern the appropriate course of action. If the parent(s) are likely going to be apathetic towards the student’s decision, I would let the student tell their parent(s) and contact the parent(s) if the student thinks it would be helpful for them or their parent(s). If the student could potentially get kicked out of their home for their decision to follow Christ. I would help them find a place they could stay and figure out other pertinent details. I would also allow the student to have plenty of time to plan and prepare for when he/she tells his/her parent(s) about his/her decision. If the parent(s) are likely to be somewhat confrontational towards the student’s decision, I would offer myself as a resource and a point of contact for the parent(s) if they have questions or concerns. Additionally, I would try to give the student various resources that will help them defend and persevere in his/her decision. Concerning discipleship, I would invite the student to attend (or continue to attend) weekly youth gatherings and special events. I would also try to set up a time where I (or a trusted female youth leader if the student is a female) can have oneon-one meetings and spend time together. I would also ask if the student would like any accountability (either for devotions, sin struggles, etc.) and connect them with a group or individual (myself included if appropriate) to help them as they begin to grow in their relationship with Christ.
As the spiritual leader of your ministry, how are you going to help volunteers grow in their faith?
There are two primary ways in which I would seek to help volunteers grow in their faith: Christ-centered training and personal investment. First, I want to help volunteers fulfill the ways God is calling them to serve by providing them with Christ-centered training. This can include training in biblical literacy or practical ministry skills. The goal here is to equip volunteers to live out their faith and follow what Christ is calling them to do. Second, I would like to be able to spend one on-one time with the volunteer and invest in them personally. In hearing how they are and where they are in their faith, I would love to be able to walk with them, recommend them resources, and help them grow closer to Christ.
Ministry Growth
What is your philosophy of ministry?
Ministry ought to be (1) centered on the person, teaching, and work of Christ, (2) conducted under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, (3) continuously trusting in the provision, sovereignty, grace, and mercy of the Father, (4) founded on the truth of the Word of God, (5) enacted with a posture of love for the people being ministered to and respect for the imago dei they possess, and (6) seeking to bring people into a more intimate relationship with God.
What was the most creative idea you introduced in your last ministry role? What steps did you take to implement that idea with leadership, volunteers, and families if applicable?
When I worked with my campus’s worship ministry, we (myself and a couple of other leaders) thought that having an outdoor worship service would be a unique way to both worship God and make worship available to those passing by. In our weekly meeting, we brought up this idea to the leader of the ministry and began to work out the details. After modifying our weekly plan to best suit the needs of an outdoor worship service, we coordinated with our volunteer teams to find a worship team willing to take on the task. We found unique lighting options and gathered blankets to spread across a large area of the ground. We also worked with the worship team to find instruments that were readily available and transportable. Thus, implementing this idea was made possible through diligently planning and preparing for the needed modifications and effectively communicating the details to our volunteer teams.
How would you evaluate systems and structures to see if there could be improvement?
Systems and structures are ultimately meant to be tools to serve the people God has given to a ministry to shepherd. Thus, one of the most crucial points of evaluation is feedback from people involved in the systems and structures. I would prefer to do this through an anonymous feedback survey. However, introspective evaluation (simply asking myself if the goals of the system or structure have actually been met) is also necessary. Additionally, simply making myself open for critique on behalf of the systems and structures is tremendously helpful in securing honest feedback from participants. All of these evaluative inputs can help illuminate weaknesses or inefficiencies in present systems and give clues for potential improvements.
Give an example of a successful outreach program or event that you put together.
To be transparent, I have not personally organized an outreach event or program before. However, if I were to plan an outreach event, I would look to engage students who are friends with my current youth students. In doing so, I would look to have a relaxed evening with food, games, a small gift for each student attending, and a simple invitation to come to weekly youth group meetings. In having a more relaxed time of fellowship and fun, I would hope to create an environment in which lasting relationships can form, which would ultimately help new students feel more comfortable with a new youth group.
How would you deal with a teenager in trouble?
If a teenager is in a situation in which he/she is in immediate danger of harming themselves or harming someone else, I would call emergency services and have them perform a check-in on the student. If the student was suggesting that they would harm themselves or another person, I would first verify if he/she was serious and, if so, offer to escort them to either a hospital or counseling office. If they declined, I would ask them to stay with me while I contact emergency services. (In informing them of this, I would use far less formal and tense language.) In both of the above cases, I would also contact the parents to inform them of their teenager’s plans and my corresponding actions. If a teenager was engaged in a troublesome or dangerous activity, I would first verify that such information is true and, if so, move to connect them with the proper resources. Additionally, I would contact the parents (and inform the teenager that I am doing so). In an extreme circumstance (such as an unplanned pregnancy), I would give the teenager time to establish a safe and healthy plan before they talk to their parents. In all of the aforementioned cases, I would offer my support to the teenager and seek to walk with them in their struggles.
What goals have you set in the past for your ministry area. Did you accomplish them and if so, how did you accomplish them?
I lack the experience to answer this question to its fullest extent. When I was a young youth leader, my goal was to simply help my students enjoy reading the word of God. I did this by having relaxed Bible study times with inside jokes about certain Bible stories. I also sought to create a fun and engaging environment outside of Bible study times. If I had the opportunity to set new goals for a youth ministry, I would seek to (1) create an environment that fosters a more intimate relationship with God and other believers, (2) help students to live out their faith in meaningful ways, and (3) walk with students as they face the unique challenges of following Christ in a postmodern context. I would seek to do this by leading with authenticity and investing in the students outside of youth group settings. I want to be appropriately transparent about my own struggles growing up in hopes that they may be encouraged and feel less alone. I would encourage (with discernment) openness and authenticity with myself and other members of the youth group. I would seek to spend time with students outside of the youth group to better know them as individuals and seek to minister to their unique needs.
Is there a process that you go through when choosing a platform for screening volunteers, curriculum choices?
Again, I have not had enough experience to answer this question to its fullest extent. However, in screening volunteers, I would ideally like to sit down with the potential volunteers and interview them about their lives, their relationship with Christ, their motivations for wanting to volunteer, and the callings God has placed on their hearts. I would also inquire about any potential criminal history that would prevent them from working with the youth group. (If background checks are available, I would pursue that as well.) As it relates to evaluating the curriculum, I would prefer to read the curriculum myself to make sure it is Christ-centered, orthodox, and relevant. It is worth noting that, in the Bible study I lead, I write my own curriculum and would be willing to do so for a youth group.
What have you done in the past to ensure your church has a safe environment, including emergency procedures.
Again, I have not had enough experience to answer this question to its fullest extent. However, when I was a youth leader at the Lutheran church, I was CPR certified and a certified lifeguard. Presently, I would also make sure the students and I were familiar with fire evacuation routes, tornado safety zones, and the location(s) of first aid equipment. Moreover, I would establish general guidelines for safety, including prohibiting excessive roughhousing and treating other individuals with Christ-like kindness and respect.
How would you describe the ideal relationship between senior/lead pastor and student pastor?
I think the ideal relationship between senior/lead pastor and student pastor (in my case) would be one of mentorship. I would love for an experienced pastor to walk beside me as I being ministry. I am looking for someone willing to support, advise, and correct me as I step into a role as a youth pastor.


Logan Esposito || (262) 290-0028 || [email protected]
Ryan Kersten || [email protected]
Jana Sundene|| (847) 317-7165 || [email protected]
Michelle Knight || (309) 838-4659 || [email protected]


Favorite Bible Story

Moses and the Burning Bush

Favorite Scripture

Exodus 4:11-12