HORSHAM'S Greg McKinnon always knew that he wanted to work with youth in the region and at just 24 years old, he is already living his dream.
Pastor McKinnon was born and raised in Horsham, attending Horsham West Primary School and then Horsham College.
He has always been ingrained in the community, playing footy for Horsham Demons and being involved in other sporting clubs such as basketball and swimming.
Like many young people, after he finished year 12 he faced the daunting question of what he was going to do now.
He decided working with youth was his calling, and he went into chaplaincy.
"I did a Certificate IV in Christian Leadership through a college in Adelaide," he said.
"I did that via correspondence through the Harvest Church in Horsham."
From there, he soon landed a job as a chaplain at Warracknabeal Secondary College, followed by a job at Horsham College.
Not only did he return to the school that he once studied at, but his career also led him back to the Harvest Church, where he studied after leaving school.
He now also works as a youth pastor at the church.
"My role there is quite similar to being a chaplain - my school chaplaincy role is all about supporting young people, which is the same as my role in the church," he said.
Mr McKinnon said from an early age, he loved the idea of working with young people.
"I was a youth leader for my youth group at church in year 11 and 12," he said.
"I always loved getting alongside young people and encouraging them and empowering them to make good choices.
"I also had people in my life when I was young that really took me under their wing and I knew that's what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
"I tossed up between chaplaincy and becoming a youth worker, but chaplaincy is where I landed."
Mr McKinnon said like any job, being a youth pastor had its good and bad days.
"Being a pastor at a church is tricky because it's an occupation that is really tied to people and their faith," he said.
"A lot of the time, I am operating out of a place of genuine love and care for people, but at the same time, it's my job, so there is a fine line between the two - when does it stop being a job and just because I care about this person?
"The thing I really love about the job is the people and the relationship you get to build with people from different walks of life."
Through his work at the church, Mr McKinnon runs a number of youth programs in the region.
In the past he has organised youth camps and social nights.
The church also has a youth program every Friday night.
Mr McKinnon said earlier this year, he took about 80 teenagers to Halls Gap for four days.
"We also take them to big events down in Melbourne - we try to go to things where they can have fun and connect with each other," he said.
"A big part of what we do is focused on raising leaders - about being the change you want to see in the world.
"We have lots of leadership focused days and as a result, lots of young people we work with have gone on to be school captains or house captains."
Mr McKinnon said being young himself, he was able to connect with other youth in the region.
"Being relatable is good, but so is reliability - that's what young people are really looking for, someone who is reliable," he said.
Mr McKinnon said his passion for helping youth would continue in Horsham for years to come.
He and his wife Rhiannon welcomed their baby daughter Mya, in May this year.
"We aren't planning to go anywhere - we love this community and I want to continue to see young people encouraged and supported in the region," he said.
"I definitely can't see myself doing anything else, this is my passion and what I love to do."
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