A new administrator has been hired at Wayne Christian School.

Paul Brenner and his family had spent the last 17 years living and working in Columbia, Tennessee. They had deep roots in the community and were not looking to leave, he said.

But then came the call from the private school in Goldsboro.

Turned out it wasn't just hearing from the board, though, that resulted in the move two weeks ago.

It was also God's call on their life, Brenner said.

As a pastor's child, he considered Colorado and the Dakotas home. Brenner said he counts himself fortunate to have had his parents and others as examples.

"Growing up, our lives centered around church, so I learned from my parents at an early age that being a Christian wasn't just being at church -- it was having a relationship with Jesus," he said. "The way they lived their lives was the model for me."

He also learned that ministry can take on many different forms, not dependent upon a specific job or career.

After earning his college degree from University of Sioux Falls -- where his daughter, Hannah, recently graduated with an education degree -- he became a software engineer.

"That was my job, but I was there to be a witness for Jesus, and that meant I needed to make sure that I was doing the best that I could because I knew that people were watching me," he said. "We really felt God calling us to the ministry part, we just didn't know how or where."

As a youth, he had participated in sports like basketball, football and baseball, and always liked the idea of being a coach, he said.

So he decided to give it a try, starting out as a volunteer coach at a public high school. He found that he "loved it," he says now.

"That's where I felt God calling us into education," he said. "That's what coaching has been for us, that's what teaching has been, administration, it's all been a call to ministry.

"I was also very fortunate when I jumped into coaching, the mentors that I had were great Christian men. No matter where you're coaching or teaching, it's a ministry -- public school, private school, Christian school, it's all a ministry. I was very fortunate that God put great men into my life to just shepherd me along the way."

He continued to coach and teach, his last stint at Zion Christian Academy, where his roles included football coach, director of development and interim head of school.

Back in April, though, a board member from Wayne Christian -- which shares Zion's affiliation in the ACSI, or Association Christian School International -- contacted Brenner about the administrative job.

"We were open to God's calling, but we weren't actively looking for places to go," Brenner said.

That all began too change after he began the interview process.

His initial impressions of this area were positive, he said of the school as well as the community.

The biggest draw could be summed up on one word, he said -- the "people."

"The school is very similar to Zion, a very close-knit, family atmosphere. Relationships have always been the No. 1 priority in our lives, whether it was at church or school, or in the community. (This) just seemed like a place we wanted to be part of," he said, offering up an example to illustrate the point. "So a week ago Monday is when we pulled in town with our U-Haul. We pulled into the driveway and there's probably 20 people waiting to help us unload. I think maybe one or two had ever met us before.

"That's just the type of folks that are here."

He and his wife, a teacher by trade who launched her own business nine years ago as a dyslexia consultant, also have a 17-year-old son, Zach, who will be a junior at Wayne Christian.

Even some of the potential trepidation about the youth having to start all over in a new community was alleviated, Brenner said, by future classmates making efforts to include him.

"It's interesting how God worked this whole move out," Brenner said.

Brenner said the role of administrator at the 525-student private school -- which starts with preschool and goes up to grade 12 -- is to lead.

He sees the future as fraught with possibilities.

"I'm a team builder," he said. "I started in education as a volunteer coach and had the opportunity to be under some great men -- I have learned a lot from them. I still have a lot to learn, but Christ is at the center of everything. That's going to be my focus.

"Not just in our school but in our community. We're Wayne Christian School, we're part of this community."

At the outset, Brenner said his hope is to partner with parents and churches in the education of their children.

And while he admittedly misses some elements of being on the field or coaching young lives, that hasn't entirely been eliminated from his routine.

"This job's a lot like coaching -- it's all part of teaching," he said. "I spend more time with teachers and administration, but you'll find me doing everything I can to make sure I'm with the kids."