Dakota Draper

You Can Take the Boy out of Kentucky
(but you’ll probably put him back)

Growing up in one of the largest churches in America has its advantages. Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY is a great place, and an even better place to be when God gets hold of your heart for the things of Him.

This is where Dakota Draper was all through high school.  “I gotta admit, I have been given a gift,” says Dakota, “how many people get to see hundreds, maybe thousands, of students give their life to Jesus and follow Him?” But that’s exactly what it was like at Southeast.

Dakota describes the moment when he knew his future plans were going to change, “I was ready to go to a college to play soccer, but my youth pastor really had an influence on me to take a different path. It changed everything, really.”

Nebraska Christian College was different than any other college Dakota had taken a look at, and he was intrigued by the thought of doing two years in a classroom and two years serving on a church staff finishing his degree online. “I didn’t go to college in Omaha because I was convicted about lost people in Omaha,” says Dakota. “I went there because I was convicted about lost students in KY, and I was passionate about being the most prepared as I could be at graduation, and I knew this was the way to ensure that happened.”

Dakota says he never dreamed he would be back just a few miles from home, but that’s exactly what eventually happened.  A two-year residency in Lexington, KY, at Crossroads Church and now full-time ministry (offered to him even before graduation) and he is a Kentucky boy again!  Dakota is a campus youth pastor. He once again finds himself in one of the country’s largest churches.

“I have learned a ton the last two years, and mainly I’ve learned I have a long way to go!” says Dakota. “I am humbled to even be here. I mean, all through high school I was exposed to some of the best student ministry anywhere, and now here I am working for just the best people anywhere. Maybe someday I can be for students what my youth pastor was for me. That’s a crazy thought.”

And he gets to do this all in his home turf of the Bluegrass State.

StoriesDave Miller