Each year I thoroughly enjoy leading our church through our annual Rite of Passage (ROP) ceremony. I started ROP back in 2008 and we’ve had 75 young adults (counting the nine going through it this year) over the last 9 years. It’s been phenomenal for our church in how we look at our young adults and how we value them.
Here is this year’s group:
What is ROP? It’s simply a tool from Scripture, which points to a journey that is designed to move our children from childhood to young adulthood. It’s a “raising of the bar of expectations.” Because children will rise to our level of expectations as adults. Seldom will children reach further than our expectations of them.
The model for ROP comes from Luke chapter 2. You remember Jesus in the Temple? He was 12 years of old and yet, He knew exactly where he was headed in life and the ultimate purpose and goal of His life. He said “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” Yes, at 12 years of age, He knew exactly what He was to be doing. He was confident in His mission in life. And so, if Jesus is our example in all things, (and He should be), then He is certainly our example for 12 year olds.
Thus, there was a transition in Jesus’ life at the age of 12. We learn from Luke 2 that Jesus was submissive to His parents and the Bible says He “grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men.” And so we follow Jesus’ example today. Thus, here at MPBC, at the age of 12 (and up to 18), you can participate in the annual ROP here at the church.
1 Corinthians 13:11
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
ROP indicates that the young adults who participate in ROP are going to be expected and encouraged to act like young adults and to behave accordingly. It means he or she is expected to accept accountability for mature actions and to assume greater responsibilities. Why? Because we know maturity does not necessarily come with age, but with the acceptance of increased accountability and responsibility.
The young adults have to complete a rigorous gauntlet of questions that has them digging in the Bible for hours. They answered a myriad of questions in great detail such as:
- What does it truly mean to be a Christian? (And they described their salvation experience.)
- What does it mean to be obedient and honor your parents?
- What does it mean to act like and behave like a young adult?
- What does it mean to be responsible with money?
- What does it mean to live a life of purity?
In the ceremony on Sunday, the nine young adults took a public oath of their commitment to follow the Lord as a young adult. Here’s the oath:
“Today in the presence of my family, my church and my God, I commit to put behind me childish ways and serve the Lord with His leading and guidance as a young adult. I agree to follow the teaching of Scripture as Paul told Timothy in… 1 Timothy 4:12:
12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
We did a ceremonial “passing of the baton.” The baton represents Jesus Christ, the Word of God and the principles of being a disciple of Christ. The family is (in essence) passing the baton of faith to their young adult, who now OWNS IT FOR THEMSELVES. Here’s what one mom said afterward on Facebook about the experience with her son.
What is “Rite of Passage?” In a nutshell, it’s your young adult owning their faith, their own relationship with Christ and not ‘mom and dad’s’. The father (who is the head of the home based on Scripture) is passing the baton to their son or daughter to continue their race (1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Timothy 4:7). The young adult (12-18) is given 20 thought-provoking preparation questions for them to research through using Scripture based on what God says. The young adult develops his own alone time reading the Bible and praying. The questions are in regards to being a follower of Christ, work ethics, friendships, showing respect, future spouse, and character traits to name a few. Some start out and realize that they are not ready and that is ok. This is not about a notch in the belt. It is about taking on the responsibility of becoming a young adult and starting to put away childish things. When we make mistakes, we own up to it, ask forgiveness, learn from them, and move forward. Each individual, as a young adult, is accountable. The goal is representing Christ in all we say and do (Colossians 3:17). All for Him! We give glory to God for Josh’s testimony that came from his own heart.
This is the live version for Josh Saffold:
Here’s Josh’s testimony (which the majority of the participants shared with the church via video):
Here’s a picture of one of the young adults, Emma Wages with her baton…
Check out this look on Emma’s face…
I just love these pictures… This is Paige Phillips and me. What a smile!!!
I can’t tell you what this means to me. It brings tears to my eyes!
We had a banquet Saturday night here at the church. (We cater a meal for the families and their siblings.) It was wonderful. Here’s Pastor Dale speaking to the group.
The families also shared hand-written letters with their young adults and gave them a box or nice container, as a “keep-sake” through the years. Man oh man, did the tears start flowing when the letters were being read… This is Kenet Heacock and his mother and father, Scott and Victoria.
Yep, I’m pleased as punch! I think this verse is so powerful and describes how we feel about our young adults…
3 John 4
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
I praise the Lord for a church that’s willing to go to Scripture and ask: “What is working and what’s not with young ministry.” Are we just spending money and spinning our wheels, or are we truly raising Christ-centered Young Adults. As a former businessman, I look at ROI. Do you know that term?
Return on Investment
What’s the return on investment in many of our churches when it comes to truly raising warriors for Christ? You’ll have to answer that question. I have studied for years about what the Bible teaches about our young people and how to seek to train them and that’s why I wrote a book about it.
It’s not that I’m an expert (far from it). It’s just that I’m a businessman innately and I don’t want to waste time and money. And when I hear that between 70-90% of our young adults (raised in youth groups and “Christian homes”) walk away from the faith by their 20th birthday (Barna.com), that grieves my heart. There is a better way. It’s found in the pages of Scripture and it ain’t easy. Because it’s the parents who have to roll up their sleeves and train their children. The church comes alongside to help, but we can’t and won’t do it for them. It’s the parent’s job to trains their children and dad’s should lead out in this.
1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
5 He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
8 and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
Amen and amen!