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Archive for the ‘Adult Cntr’d Youth Min.’ Category

I sat in an office earlier this week and a lady asked me that question: “How are you doing that?” The question came because she knew I was a pastor and she knew about our church. She was lamenting the fact that her church wasn’t growing and they were trying really hard. My heart went out to her. Honestly, I’m praying she and her husband don’t burn out trying to do everything in their church. Yet, I pondered the question: “How are you doing that?” The “that” is “success,” or at least that’s the way I took it.  Honestly, I get that question quite a bit these days and I guess I still don’t have a very good answer.

Is MPBC perfect? No. No church is, but every church has fallible and sinful people (of which I’m chief). Interestingly, I just saw on Facebook where a lady told one of our members that she was no longer attending our church. And that’s okay. That’s why we have different churches, preaching styles, music styles, etc. Honestly, I’m okay with that. I used to take it personally when someone left the church, but I don’t any longer. I know the Lord has a plan for all of us and for where He wants us to be. We’ve not had many leave the church through the years, but it does happen from time to time. Nonetheless, it is true that the church has grown exponentially in the last 10 years and it is truly hard to explain. However, I heard years ago where a man said, “If you can explain it, then it’s probably not God.” I like that. Because I honestly couldn’t answer the lady with the “how” to her question.

For you see, a church can change the music style, put up screens in the sanctuary, the preacher can lose the tie and the pulpit can become a stool and an I-Pad, but that still might not change your church or make it grow. It might. But, it might not. Yet, as I’ve pondered the question for several days now, I’ve come to these four conclusions: #1 If you’re faithful to teaching the Word of God (I exegete and teach Scripture verse by verse through books of the Bible) and lifting Jesus up, that’s essential. #2 If you’re faithful to sing about Jesus, (you pick the style), and the words to the songs are Biblical and sound, that’s essential. Remember, Ephesians 5 teaches us to sing: Psalms, Hymns and spiritual songs. Do it all. #3 If you’re reaching beyond the walls of your church and being the hands and feet of Jesus (we call that missions), that’s essential. #4 If your congregation shows love for all people and are excited about coming to church, they’ll tell others (Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20), and that’s essential.

You might ask, “What about children’s church, youth group, nurseries, and other age-segregated programs?” My answer: they’re not essential. We don’t have them and it’s not slowed us down a bit. In fact, you can click on the “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry” tab if you want to see more about my Biblical understanding of the things just mentioned. But, the bottom line is something I’ve not even mentioned yet. What’s the glue to all of this? Drum roll please… THE FAVOR OF GOD. That’s right, the hand of God and His mercy and grace bestowed on a group of people for His glory. It’s about an often mis-used word: anointing. Yes, “anointing.” And no, I’m not going to go all Benny Hinn on you. The anointing of God is truly His unconditional blessing and favor that can’t be earned or “worked up.” It’s just His goodness on display. I’m so humbled to say that I’ve sensed that anointing in our church and all I can do is say, “Glory be to God!”

So, I looked at the lady in that office and I said, “I’ll be praying for you.” I asked her where she went to church and the pastor’s name. She told me both and I’ve been praying for the last few days for them. God can do anything! But, I did tell her this: God doesn’t necessarily desire for every church to “get big.” Yes, MPBC is averaging 600+ people for our three services, but that doesn’t mean the Lord desires every church to get that size. Honestly, there are times that people make disparaging remarks about the church because of our size. But, I can’t control the growth of our church anymore than I can control the direction of the Yadkin River. I can tell you this: I’m certainly not going to put a message on our church sign that says: “We’re full, don’t come!” And I’m not going to apologize that the Lord has chosen to bless us. Why is it that growth is good in every other area of life (watching our children grown, businesses grow, gardens grow, our favorite teams win), but it’s not spiritual somehow for a church to grow. Well, tell that to the first church after Peter preached on Day 1 and they added 3,000. Not 30, not 300… They added 3,000!

I hope I encouraged my sister in Christ by telling her to “keep on keeping on” and realize that she can’t do it all. And the goal is not to get BIG, but to be faithful…nothing more, nothing less and the rest is in God’s hands. There was just one Peter. There was just one Paul. But, the Lord used Epaphroditus and Aquila and Priscilla. He used a group of women (Luke 8) to fund the ministry of Jesus. On and on I could go. So, my advice: just be you. Be faithful to the Lord and seek Him first and just be you.

Well, let me tell you about next week. Honestly, I’m still recovering from the week’s work. The work in Mexico was H-O-T! And I mean HOT! It was 103-106 during the biggest chunk of the week. That made it in the 110-15 degree range for “real feel temps.” Yet, we got the work accomplished in Mexico (for the roof on the church) and in helping the “Church of No Walls” and Jason and Katie Church in Weslaco, Texas.

We couldn’t have completed the work on the roof or continued the work in Weslaco, without the work of the April Team:

And now for a collage of pictures… Enjoy!

  

I believe this picture says it all…

I mentioned earlier about how to grow a church. Those pictures above will do it.

I wrote a blog post 7 years ago in 2010 about why a mission trip can change your life. Check it out below. That post explains the very beginning of the work we were doing in Mexico and Texas.

https://dkevinbrown.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/why-a-mission-trip-can-change-your-life/

Several folks have asked me through the years why we don’t just stay in Wilkes County and do missions right here. Why go to China (which we just had a team return last week, as well…read all about it at Kandace’s blog: http://kandacebrown.blogspot.com/2017/06/china-part-2-orphanage_26.html)

We’ll be heading back to the Philippines in November. So, here’s my blog post to answer that question:

https://dkevinbrown.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/why-we-go/

Take a mission trip! Do it! It will change your life and change your church. If you would like to learn more about doing mission work in TX and MX, you can contact our missionary pastor, Jason Church at: forhisglorychurch.jc@gmail.com or on Facebook. The church Facebook Page is: Church of No Walls. https://www.facebook.com/churchofnowalls/ Jason can schedule house groups in the Mission House of up to about 30-32 people. He’ll plan and coordinate the work for you and train you on to bring a team to Texas. We only charge $125 per person for an entire week at our mission house. The biggest expense is the plane ticket (usually around $500-$600 per person). But, it’s amazing to consider that you can do missions in another country and our country this inexpensively.

Indeed, it was a great question I was asked earlier this week: How are you doing that?

Yes, thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ for the privilege to serve Him and watch Him bless, even though we are undeserving!

Kevin

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There’s certainly a lot going on in the world. The news is littered with trials and troubles and problems. I think about and pray about how the Lord might use me during “such a time as this.”

Think about our world. Problems. There are problems everywhere. But, isn’t that life, folks? Isn’t like about dealing with problems. Problems: not enough money, not enough time, not enough health, not enough patience, not enough gas in our tanks to enjoy life…instead…we just endure it. Is that what God intended? Just endure this life? Surely there’s more.

I believe there is. Jesus said, “I am come that you may have an abundant life and live it to the full” (John 10:10). What does, “abundant” mean? According to http://www.blueletterbible.org it means: “exceeding some number or measure or rank or need.” I’m glad of that! Jesus wants to give us a life on this earth…yes…a sin-filled earth that exceeds measure and need. That’s good! That means that even in this crazy world, we can enjoy the journey. Even with the debates about immigrants and refugees…we can enjoy the journey. Even though work may not be perfect, your health may not be perfect, your kids may not be perfect, you and I can still “exceed some number, or measure or rank or need.” I don’t know about you, but that comforts me!

I’d like to post some articles I’ve read this week that are really good. Two from folks who are near and dear to me. First, my daughter Kandace. She wrote this beautiful blog about music. I want to post the entire article here because I think it’s that good and because I’m big-time prejudiced about my daughter and I believe (like I do the rest of my family) that she’s the best thing since sliced bread. 🙂

http://mpbcworship.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-power-of-music.html

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Power of Music

 Music is a powerful thing. Music has been a part of my life for as long and as far back as I can remember. I remember sitting in Dad’s car as a little girl and listening to classical music. He always said it made a person smarter. I remember my first piano lesson and how I hated it and Mama telling me that I would learn an instrument and learn it well so I had better find one that I liked and stick with it (it wasn’t the piano) 😃 I remember Daddy would sometimes pull out his old tape of instrumentals composed by Michael W. Smith and he would have us close our eyes and try to imagine seeing heaven for the first time. I remember singing my first solo at church when I was about 6 years old. And from the time that I was about 4 or 5 until I was 14 Mama and Daddy would sing a hymn to me before bed every single night.

One of my earliest memories of actually feeling the Lord’s presence in my life very much involved music… I was about 5 or 6 and we were singing the song “Shout To The Lord” one Sunday morning at church. We always showed a video during the song of different things in nature…. One of the things on the video was waves crashing in the ocean. I remember standing there, singing along, and when the waves part of the video came on the screen I felt the Lord speak into my spirit and say “Do you see that? I made that. And this music. Those notes that make up this song? I made that too.” I came home from church that day and told Mama that when we sang “Shout To The Lord” I felt Jesus.

That’s the especially beautiful thing about music. Still to this day when I hear those songs by Michael W. Smith I remember thinking about heaven. Or when I hear certain hymns I think about being little and the feeling of peace, safety and contentment I felt as I laid in my bed, in my little pink bedroom, with Mama and Daddy sitting on both sides of me singing those old songs with such rich and meaningful lyrics. Music has a way of embedding itself in our minds and bringing back memories, thoughts and feelings…. and for me, it has and always will be a source of peace and comfort. I have this thing that I do when I’m feeling afraid or overwhelmed. I sing. I usually sing a hymn or a worship song and I’ll sing it until the feeling passes. After the car accident I was in back in December I had dreams about it for about 3 weeks. Almost every single night I would wake up in a sweat after dreaming about the crash in slow motion over and over again. Every night that I had a dream about it I would turn on my light and sing “It Is Well With My Soul” or “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus” and slowly, but surely the fear would dissipate and I would go back to sleep.

I love when I’m onstage on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night and I close my eyes during a song and listen to all of the voices around me. I love that God is using something so near and dear to my heart to bring people closer to Him. I love when people say that something I have sung or played has made them feel the presence of Jesus in their lives. There is nothing else like it. I am so thankful for the power that music carries. It has brought me out of many a dark place. I encourage you, the next time you’re at church, to close your eyes during one of the songs and just listen to the voices around you. It truly is a powerful thing.

~Kandace

“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the Lord, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”Psalm 98

Pretty good, huh? I’ll say so!

And if I might brag (albeit humbly) on her a little more… Check out this song she wrote herself.

https://www.facebook.com/MPBCNC/videos/316741702061073/

I also want to link to our Daily Devotion page to a devotion that our Ministry Assistant, Caleb Triplett wrote earlier this week about raising children. It’s near and dear to my heart, because we’re getting ready to embark upon our 10th class of Rite of Passage participants at the church. It’s crazy to think it’s been 10 years, but it has. For 10 years we’ve been seeking to raise the bar of expectations for our young adults. In fact, on this blog, you can click on: “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry” and see a ton of articles on the subject. You can also click on: “Rite of Passage-Book.”

Well, the upshot is this: our kids will rise to our level of expectations and that’s true of their spiritual lives. I know we all have goals of what we want our kids to do academically and vocationally and even athletically, but what about spiritually? Caleb’s devotion addresses that very well.

https://dkevinbrowndailydevotions.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/the-desperate-plea-of-a-father/

Here’s some pictures from of our Sportsmen’s Banquet last week.

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We had over 400 folks come and participate. Do we love our community at MPBC? You better believe it! Here’s Amanda Eddins helping Andrew shoot a bow.

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Amanda is an amazing teacher and she is quite a markslady herself!

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Don’t you just love that picture. Desi and her son, Jace taking care of making sure all our folks had plenty of soft drinks and water! Yes, we love our community and gave them a wonderful meal, music and most importantly, Jesus!

And you see, that’s important. We’ve got to give people help in one hand…but, Jesus in the other and a lot of churches are moving away from that. Today, they only offer the “social gospel.” Just feed people and that’s it. Well, if that’s all you do and that person dies without Jesus, they’ll go to hell with a full belly, but what have we really accomplished? Give ’em food and clothes and love…but, for Pete’s sake…give them Jesus!

People are asking me: “Is winter over?” Well, it’s certainly been an anemic winter if you like snow. What a roller coaster. From low 40’s for highs to mid-70’s within just a few days. It was a high of 43 yesterday and Sunday it’s supposed to be 74! Is that crazy or what?

As far as the snow goes…there’ll be nothing for the rest of February. But March is always the wild card. It’s possible we could see one more snow, but the odds are slim. It’s been a La Nina winter and they never bode well for snow. We’ve had right at 8″ for the year, which is below the 12″ average for our area. Yet, the forecasters said it would be a “slightly below-average” to “average” year. So, we’re pretty much on track for that. We’ll see how it all turns out. In the mealtime…enjoy the roller coaster ride! 🙂

The grandkids are growing…

Evelyn rolled over this week. She’ll be three months old tomorrow. Here’s the aftermath from Facebook…

https://www.facebook.com/katy.brown.3150/videos/1505020449510635/

I’m a proud Papa!

Kevin

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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:

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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…

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Check out this look on Emma’s face…

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I just love these pictures… This is Paige Phillips and me. What a smile!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Psalm 78:1-8

1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
    incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
    I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
    that our fathers have told us.
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.

He established a testimony in Jacob
    and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
    to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
    so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
    but keep his commandments;
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! 🙂

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Hey parents, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the craziness of our world. Here in America we are spinning out of control morally. We’re upside down in so many ways. Since last summer and the Supreme Court decision to legalize so-called “homosexual” marriage, and Bruce Jenner suddenly becoming Kaitlin Jenner, it seems the slippery slope has been super greased to destruction.

Are your kids ready for the persecution and peer pressure? Did you know that according to Generations with Vision, 44% of Christian Evangelicals under the age of 29 believe in homosexual marriage. Folks that’s nearing half! And get this…that percentage has almost tripled in just 10 years. Can you see how fast we are moving? Put another 10 years on this country and that percentage will likely be greater than 60%. And don’t forget, we’re talking about “Evangelicals,” not the population at large.

Are your kids going to stand for truth or get sucked into the political correctness? Will they stand on the Word of God and the orthodox teaching of close to 2,000 years, or will they drink the Kool-aid of the day that re-states the Bible according to the cultural whims of the 21st century? Because your kids are being told that they need to “be in the right side of history.” They are being told they need to be all-inclusive and non-judgmental. They are told if they have absolutes that reside in Scriptural teaching they are uneducated, unintelligent and bigoted. They’ll be called hateful and discriminatory. Can they handle it when they are maligned in this way? Do you know? Have you asked them?

Who will carry the banner of Christ that brings freedom to sinners? Will we call sin, “sin” any longer? You see, in order for a person to be saved, they must realize they are a sinner. They can’t be saved if they stay in their sin be that an adulterer, drunk, thief, homosexual, liar, or gossip. Problem is: if you put the word homosexual in a list of “sins” you will now be called an unloving person. You will be told that homosexuals are “born that way.” Problem is there is no empirical evidence for that in science or the Bible. In fact, the Bible is clear that the power of the resurrected Christ can change lives.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Did you notices the words in verse 11? Did you see the word “were?” It was breathed into the Apostle Paul by God’s Spirit to write to mankind for all time. Do you understand that? In Christ, people can be converted from their sin and transferred into freedom from bondage.

“Such WERE some of you…”

But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you see? When people identify themselves in any other way than by the name of Jesus, then they have not been transformed. One of the greatest examples of this is Rosaria Butterfield. This video is riveting and shows the power of conversion and truly being born again. This former lesbian now identifies herself as a follower of Jesus Christ.

This is from the Family Research Council website:

It’s no secret the sexual revolution of the 1960s laid the groundwork for the post-gender age in which we now find ourselves. The path from free love to transgenderism and the “alphabet soup” of the LGBT movement was a relatively straight one, made even smoother by several landmark Supreme Court decisions that favored unfettered sexual license. What was once unthinkable is now promoted and celebrated in our culture, and woe to you if you do not join in worshipping the new categories of self-identification. The temptation is strong to flee the ever-darkening landscape, but Christians are called to bring “grace and truth” to a society in crisis.

Gender, sexuality, and marriage all matter, and that is good news for a nation which increasingly hangs its morality on thin air. As we seek to love our neighbors as ourselves, it helps to have a grace and truth-filled teacher from whom to learn. Rosaria Butterfield’s beautiful story of redemption has equipped her to be just such an instructor, and through this lecture she encourages and challenges us yet again to engage our culture for Christ.

Rosaria Butterfield, Ph.D., was once a tenured professor of English at Syracuse University who identified as a lesbian and worked to advance the cause of LGBT equality. After her conversion to Christ in 1999, she came to see the sinfulness of having any identity apart from Him.

Rosaria is married to Kent Butterfield, pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Durham, North Carolina, and is a homeschool mother, pastor’s wife, author, and speaker. She is helping Christians to better understand their LGBT neighbors and loved ones so that we can lovingly look past labels of sexual identity and share the gospel effectively.

In 2012 she published her conversion memoir, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey to Christian Faith. Her second book, Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ became available in July of 2015. She writes about sexuality, identity, Christian community, and seeks to encourage all in faithful Christian living and service.

Video: http://www.frc.org/university/how-sexual-orientation-became-the-idol-of-our-day-and-what-christians-need-to-do-about-it

Prepare your teens for what’s ahead. It’s here…on our doorstep and Christianity will change in the balance.

Here’s today’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “What Will Happen to Christianity by 2050?”

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/02ff2f3

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This is Kandace’s blog and it’s excellent (sorry I’m biased) and I wanted you to see her perspective from our mission journey. Enjoy!

Walk By Faith, Not By Sight

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Philippines Trip 2015

What a week this has been. I’m sitting here typing this in the Detroit airport because we have a four hour layover until our flight to Charlotte. I thought I’d go ahead and get working on this blog while it is all fresh on my mind. My ankles are swollen, I’ve had the same pair of Chacos on for almost a whole day, the powder that I hurriedly put on my face yesterday morning has melted off of my face, the circles under my eyes are probably scaring the people around me, and I’m running on about 3 hours of sleep, but I am happy.

There is no feeling that can compare to the feeling that you have after you’ve been on a mission trip. Yes, you are exhausted, sick of airplanes, airplane food, and sitting, but you feel a certain joy that’s impossible to describe to someone who has never been on a mission trip before. You know that you have done something worthwhile and important. You have made a small dent on another part of the world.

This trip was different than any other trip that I’ve been on. I did things on this trip that I have never done before. It was a lot of new territory for me and at times it was intimidating, but it stretched me and now I feel even more prepared for the other trips that I will go on in the years to come. I didn’t really know what to expect. Everything was pretty hazy before we left. I did try my best to prepare some different things. I can’t stand not having a laid out/thought out game plan. I guess that’s the “Brown” coming out of me. 🙂

Let me start from the beginning of the trip. We left on Wednesday night after church and drove straight to a hotel near the airport in Charlotte, NC. I was blown away by all of the people from the church that came to tell me bye and that they were praying for us. What an amazing church family I have. We were up bright and early the next morning to head to the airport. We flew to Detroit first and then flew the 13 and a half hour flight to Tokyo, Japan. I haven’t flown on a plane for that long since I was 8 when we adopted Clara. I only slept for about an hour and a half of the entire flight. By the time we reached Tokyo at 3 in the morning I was worn out. I experienced deja vu over and over again as we walked through the airport. It was the same airport we had had a stop over at when we went to get Clara. Pretty crazy to have walked through the same place again 10 years later! From there we flew to Manila, Philippines. As soon as we stepped off the plane a wave of sticky heat hit me right in the face. There were Ebola warning signs posted everywhere. That unnerved me a bit. We were also handed a paper in the immigration line that listed potential sicknesses you could get while you were there. I tried not to dwell on the thought of getting some incurable Philippine sickness and being banned from the U.S. I guess when you have only slept for about 4 out of the last 48 hours your brain automatically thinks up the most ridiculous scenarios that it can comprehend.

We finally got our bags and met Pastor Dave outside of the airport by about 10:30 Friday night. We hopped in a little Filipino size car and made it to our condo at about 12:45. The condo was only about 15 miles from the airport. The traffic was so bad that it took us over 2 hours to get there. It was quite a sight! We got to know Pastor Dave and one of the deacons in the church named Romano on the way there. They kept us entertained the whole way! Exhausted was an understatement by the time we made it to our beds though.

We got some rest and were up the next morning (Saturday) to do a crusade at Exodus Elementary School. There were about 550 people there! The principal was so kind to let us use their outside gym area. It’s awesome to see people in the school system who still allow people to come in and share about Jesus. It was a wonderful service. Many prayed to accept Jesus!

12027109_977735408936535_2037930773761725981_oAt Exodus Elementary on Saturday morning.

The next day (Sunday) we had a wonderful service at Shekinah Glory Baptist Church. They are such wonderful people. They immediately accepted us into their church family. Dad preached and many said that they prayed to accept him. I spoke to a group of the girls at the church after the service. Dad spoke to the adults and Pastor Dale spoke to the young men. I loved talking to those young women and sisters in Christ. They listened to me with their whole hearts and we had a question and answer time afterwards. They asked me some challenging questions and we all chipped in to answer them. It was so encouraging to see that people like me who live across the world deal with the exact same struggles and temptations that I deal with. We are different in some ways, but are so alike in others. We are alike in Christ. It was a wonderful time that I will never forget.

12182438_977967165580026_1977110929367950333_oSharing with girls/women at Shekinah Glory.

On Sunday night Shekinah Glory had their 25th Anniversary Homecoming Service. It was a huge celebration! It was such a blessing to watch the church members sing and speak about that last 25 years in their church. The members of Shekinah Glory are so devoted to their church and reaching the people of the Philippines. It was very encouraging to see how this has been lived out so faithfully by these people. It was a wonderful time of worship for us all.

12182418_977944518915624_3698578133049007073_oA picture of the whole church after the Homecoming service.

On Monday morning Dad spoke at the Flag Ceremony in Pasig City. The Mayor and most  of the city officials were there. It was an unbelievable opportunity! Monday was also supposed to be our first day sharing at the schools, but with the typhoon (more on that later) school had been canceled. We instead went to a couple of different prisons in Pasig City. The conditions in those prisons we appalling. Those are truly the desolate and desperate people of the earth. My heart broke for the women/girls I saw behind those bars. They just needed something to believe in. They needed someone to love them and show them their self worth. I sang Amazing Grace to them before Dad spoke. It amazed me at how many of the people knew the words and sang along with me. Dad’s sermon of salvation and freedom in Christ touched many. It was powerful. God was there in a tiny prison in the Philippines. He was there speaking into the hearts of murderers and thieves. People who only knew hopelessness, pain, and sorrow. You are never too far gone. I saw that first hand in those prisons.

121815Dad speaking at the Flag Ceremony in Pasig City.

DSC_0315Speaking in the prison.

DSC_0337Standing outside of one of the prisons with the group from Shekinah.

That night we experienced something that was pretty crazy. We had already been dealing with the torrential rains and high winds that typhoon Lando was bringing in, but we never expected an earthquake! I was sitting on my bed typing out an update for the day when the dogs upstairs in our condominium building started barking VERY loudly. They had barked before quite often, but this time it sounded different. It was more like frantic barking. I found that kind of curious… I glanced at my clock and it said 9:49. I went back to my typing, but not a minute later my bed started shaking. The table and lamp began to rattle and then my door began to sway quickly back and forth. I knew immediately that it was an earthquake. Dad wasn’t so sure. I usually jump to unrealistic conclusions. At first he said it was the wind that was making the building sway. Either way, it was concerning considering that we were staying in a five story building and our room was on the second floor. It went on for about another 30 seconds and then stopped. Not long after that I saw on twitter that there had indeed been an earthquake only about 60 miles away from Manila, Philippines. Needless to say, I slept a little uneasily after that!

On Tuesday we spoke at one of the largest high schools in the area. We shared the gospel with hundreds of students all day long. We went from class to class and spoke over and over again. It was exhausting, but awesome work! I shared my testimony with them. I think many of them were able to relate to it in some way. I had struggled with knowing if I was truly saved or not for years. It was a hard, hard time for me. I didn’t know how to have a relationship with Christ and for the longest time I didn’t even want to have one with him at all. I had to get to the bottom of my emptiness to be able to see what I was missing in my life. As I shared this, I saw many of them cry and nod their heads at what I was saying. The Lord was all over that work.

Untitled 2 copy 2Dad speaking at one of the schools.

DSC_0428Me speaking with a class.

There was one girl who had cried the whole time we were in her class. I felt the Lord prompting me to talk to her. After we had finished our sharing time I asked her if she would be willing to talk to me outside of the class for a minute. She agreed although I could tell that she was a little afraid. I asked her if she was alright and if she wanted to tell me something and she said that her Uncle had been murdered by Muslims. There was so much fear in her eyes. She didn’t go into a lot of detail and I didn’t push her, but I asked her if I could pray over her. I prayed and she cried and then we shared a long hug. Her name is Wendy. I will always remember her. God put her into my path for a reason. I’m sure of that. Please pray for her and her family.

12132616_931900306885113_9213543123360586474_oSpeaking with Wendy.

On Wednesday we went to another school and shared with almost a thousand students at one time. Afterwards, they asked us for pictures with them and for our autographs. They treat us like we are celebrities there. They are so amazed that Americans would come there to see them and invest in their lives. We finished it off by going to another school and sharing for the rest of the afternoon. By the end of the night our voices were gone, our feet were numb from standing all day, and we were beyond exhausted, but I have never felt so satisfied. Knowing that we had shared with so many people in those two days was an amazing thought.

1545064_933479666727177_2986322752695151417_n copyDad speaking to the big group of students at Star of Hope High School.

DSC_0474Me speaking at Star of Hope.

During our days at the schools some of the young people from the church had come along to help translate and hand out tracts. I got to know all of them so much better during that time. There was always laughter and a lively conversation going on. They taught me things about the Philippines and I taught them things about the America (although they already knew almost everything there is to know about America) and we talked about our common interests. We made enough inside jokes to last a lifetime. 😉 I made some true friends for life and I’m so thankful for Facebook so that I can keep up with them! Gotta love technology! I will miss those Jeepnee rides and conversations so much, but there will many more in the years to come. I can’t wait to go back and see my Filipino friends again.

12185569_978003075576435_1971313304603308705_oMe with the Shekinah Glory young people. I love them all so much!

Thursday morning we started a long two days of travel home. I slept the majority of the plane rides home. Exhaustion had finally taken over. That Chick-Fil-A sandwich in Detroit was so good! I love my American cuisine. 😉

This trip changed my life. I know that’s a pretty cliche thing to say, but it’s true. I will never forget my first trip to the Philippines. It’s in my blood now and I’m already planning my next trip. God did so many amazing things. This blog barely scratches the surface of it all. He did a tremendous work in my life through those people. I am so excited for the things to come with this new mission opportunity. I can hardly wait to go back!

Paalam!

Kandace

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Often I believe many parents today just cross their fingers and hope everything works out with their kids. I believe this is true spiritually perhaps more than any other area of life. We push them hard in the school and in they gym, but spiritually? Not so much.

Just take them to church. Drop them off. They pray a prayer at some point around 8 or 9 and get baptized and off we go. The rest is gravy on the potatoes. Not so fast. Are you sure they know Christ? 100% sure they are born again, regenerated followers of Christ?

Hey parents, if we get everything else right (good grades, good athlete, good education, well-rounded, etc.) and miss that one, then we’ve really blown it. The other stuff I mentioned is temporal. It’s going to vanish and yet their soul is eternal.

I bring this up because of the article I saw a few days again. Did you see it? It was a Wall Street Journal story profiling twin brothers who followed separate spiritual paths — one to become an Anglican bishop, the other a Catholic priest. Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary said this is a travesty because they grew up Baptists. Take a look: http://baptistnews.com/faith/theology/item/29880-mohler-says-churches-to-blame-when-youth-leave-the-fold

I bring this up because it reminds me why I wrote my first book: Rite of Passage.

http://www.amazon.com/Rite-Passage-Home-Church-Christ-Centered/dp/1893729958/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426023454&sr=8-1&keywords=rite+of+passage+d+kevin+brown

We’ve got to have a way in our homes of pointing our children to Jesus, not just a church service. We’ve got to be intentional about instilling the teachings of Scripture into their lives. If we don’t make time to do this IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. It’s all there in the book.

But, most won’t take the time to read it. In fact most people don’t read. Why am I telling you this? You read! Thank you! Yet, most don’t read and they won’t take the time to invest in their child’s eternity. They invest in the transient…that which will soon pass away.

If you read the article about the two boys (above) you’ll see that their parents basically dropped them off at church and let them decide what they wanted to do. It was like picking out ice cream at the grocery store freezer section. I’ll take THAT RELIGION! Scary! But, if we aren’t careful, we’ll do the same thing, except the religion’s name will be: sports, academics or good looks. Ouch! I’m sorry. I just had to say that. I’m a preacher. I can’t help myself. 🙂 As the old black preacher says, “If you can’t say, ‘Amen,’ then at least say, ‘Oh my.'” Amen Brother!!

By the way, did you know since we’ve been doing Rite of Passage (ROP) here at the church since 2008 and we’ve had over 70 participants in those 7 years and I can report something rather dramatic and amazing to you. According to various statistics from Barna Research Group to Lifeway Christian Resources to Pew and Gallop polls, between 80-92% of teenagers will leave the faith by their 20th birthday. Yet, because of the emphasis we place on intentionally imparting Christ to our teens here at MPBC we have seen a total reversal of that percentage. Is ROP 100% guaranteed to work? No. But, I’ll take an 80% success rate over and 80% failure rate any day, wouldn’t you?

Here’s the proof. Pardon the quality of the pictures, but I just ran downstairs below my office in snapped these pictures (of the ROP participants through the years):

ROP 2008

ROP 2009

ROP 2010

ROP 2011

ROP 2012

ROP 2013

ROP 2014

Isn’t that a phenomenal group!! I’m so proud of these young adults and their families. You see, we (the church), don’t do this for them. No sir. We only come alongside the families to place an intentional emphasis on raising Christ-centered young adults. The job is for the parents to do…not the church.

We’ve just started this year’s ROP work and we’ve got five more (all young men this year) to go through and we’re excited to keep adding to the numbers. Again, I’m not saying that ROP is foolproof and guaranteed. Nothing is 100% with creatures who have “free will.” Yet, I am convinced when churches and families come together to emphasis the importance of Christ-centeredness in the lives of our young adults, then we’ll have a much greater opportunity of seeing success.

I pray that we’ll teach our kids to have a love for the word of God like these dear believers in China:

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0FECC1NU

Maybe your young adult is having a hard time believing and trusting in the Bible. Well, watch this 2 minute 25 second video with them and I promise you it will help and encourage.

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/172214-how-to-help-people-trust-the-bible.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cl_topvideos&utm_content=CL+TodaysVideo+-+20150224

Maybe your kids are just spending too much time in front of screens. Here’s how you can tell…

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/01/the-surprising-amount-of-time-kids-spend-looking-at-screens/384737/

While we are on the topic of children did you know how beneficial music lessons can be to your kids? You say, “Wait a minute. You were just talking about all the things that get in the way of spiritual stuff.” No I wasn’t. I was saying we must be intentional about things that are eternal. I’m not saying that sports is bad. I’m not saying making good grades are bad. I did both. I was the most valuable player on my high school basketball team, all county and I graduated #1 in my class in high school and in the College of Business at Appalachian State University. So, please hear me… There is nothing inherently wrong with sports and academics. But, if you have small children or grandchildren, you might want to read this:

ergasia-daskalos-mousikis

Psychological studies continue to uncover more and more benefits that music lessons provide to developing minds. One incredibly comprehensive longitudinal study, produced by the German Socio-Economic Panel in 2013, stated the power of music lessons as plain as could be: “Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance.” The study found that kids who take music lessons “have better cognitive skills and school grades and are more conscientious, open and ambitious.” And that’s just the beginning.

Here’s the full article: http://mic.com/articles/110628/13-scientific-studies-prove-music-lessons-were-the-best-thing-your-parents-did-for-you

Talk about development and growing up. Check out the growth of Charlotte from birth to three months. Amazing!!

Charlotte stages

Truly amazing!!

I’ve got to show you the Lego cake that Andrew and I made (actually I didn’t do much…Pam did A LOT more than I did) for the cake auction to raise money for Mexico/TX Missions.

Lego Cake-Andrew

Pretty cool, huh? 🙂

Pam is so creative. She is the genius behind everything in our house. And we didn’t just cross our fingers in making that cake. It took intentionality and hard work. 🙂

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I love being a pastor. It’s not easy. It’s challenging. It’s scary (preparing to teach the Word of God…stricter judgment). But, it’s also very rewarding.

You know when you teach and pour your heart into it, then you care about what happens to the people (the flock). And oh, do I care about the flock I have the privilege to help lead. I love them! Old and young alike. All the way down to the little tots. And I particularly love our millennials. I love that group of young folks (mostly in their 20’s). They are a wonderful group of bright and energetic folks. If you are in your 20’s and you are attending church, then you are the real deal.

We’ve got many of these wonderful folks! Thank the Lord! But, many churches don’t. I read an article recently that outlined the ways a church can hang on to millennials. It was very enlightening. My comments are in italics. The article is titled:

Want to Keep Young People? Here Are Two Central Reasons Why Millennials Stay Connected

“Millennials have a dim view of church. They are highly skeptical of religion. Yet they are still thirsty for transcendence. But when we portray God as a cosmic buddy, we lose them (they have enough friends). When we tell them that God will give them a better marriage and family, it’s white noise (they’re delaying marriage and kids or forgoing them altogether). When we tell them they’re special, we’re merely echoing what educators, coaches and parents have told them their whole lives. But when we present a ravishing vision of a loving and holy God, it just might get their attention and capture their hearts as well” (from the blog post “Millennials Don’t Need a Hipper Pastor, They Need a Bigger God”).

I said this same thing over and over in my book: Rite of Passage. We have been raising a generation of kidults because we don’t expect them to do anything hard. Instead of involving them in ministry, we’ve built buildings and programs to keep them out of our hair. It’s been a colossal failure. We must involve people, not entertain them.

Taylor Snodgrass of Church of the 20somethings offers some firsthand insights: “Our generation has been advertised at our whole life, and even now on social media,” he says. “Consequently, when a company isn’t being authentic with their story, we can easily see through this. If the church isn’t giving you the whole story, if it’s sugarcoated and they’re trying to put on an act on stage, people in their 20s will see through this. This causes us to leave. We’re good at seeing when people are lying to us.”

And they are leaving at a clip of about 80-90%

Brian Coffey, senior pastor at First Baptist Church West and East in Geneva, Ill., and himself the father of four Millennial sons, agrees, “Millennials don’t like to be programmed to. They can hear honesty. They have a radar for that.”

“The days of the light and fog machines and overly produced church services are a gone era,” says Tony Ranvestel, lead pastor at Clear River Church in Lafayette, Ind., located near Purdue University. 

Amen to that. There is a church in Charlotte, NC that caters to 20-somethings that has the drummer to the Praise Team come down on cables from the ceiling while the rest of the band members swing in on sheets from a trapeze. That’s ridiculous if you ask me!

With 80 percent of the church under 40 years old, Ranvestel and his co-pastor Zach Miller have a clear focus. “We don’t schedule lots of activity,” says Ranvestel. “ We call people to follow Jesus. If you follow Jesus, this leads to serving and justice. You should shovel a neighbor’s driveway, but it’s not a program. It’s disciples in relationship.” All who attend worship are encouraged to join a small group. That’s it.

And that’s why I believe it is important to keep things simple. Therefore, we don’t schedule a lot of activities during the week. Hardly anything to be honest. We try to “meet,” via email and give people the opportunity to be salt and light in their homes and community. 

Miller, a Millennial, says, “I appreciate the clear understanding of what is expected and what I can do. We’re not going to overwhelm you with choices. We think you should follow Jesus, and here’s one or two ways to learn to do that.”

Building relationships and learning about Jesus are two central reasons why Millennials stay connected to church. Barna’s research shows that young adults who remain involved in a local church beyond their teen years are twice as likely as those who don’t to have a close personal friendship with an older adult in their faith community (59 percent versus 31 percent). 

Now I want to give you the impressions of this article from two millennials. These are the perspectives from our two ministry assistants. First, Justin Gourley: Justin Gourley

I have to agree.  In today’s America, people my age get entertainment very easily; in some cases without even having to seek it.  They are so bombarded by good entertainment, they are almost becoming immune to it.  The last place they need or want to be drawn in for sheer entertainment is the Church.  First because it’s the total wrong reason for drawing people and second because they will simply become bored and find somewhere that is clearly genuine and meaningful.

I find that my generation is coming to realize there is much more worth in something that is intentionally honest rather than flashy and fun for a while.  They are seeing that the intoxication of shallow entertainment is temporary and a waste of time.

Please don’t get me wrong; lights, environmentals and large praise teams are great and it’s how some people worship.  My generation greatly enjoys those things in the church…as long as the intent is to worship the Lord and meet with Him.

Next up: Caleb Triplett’s impressions:

Caleb Triplett

I agree 10000000%. My generation isn’t, to most people’s surprise, interested in flashy, fake, and over the top performance centered churches. We want authentic, genuine, and honest community. It’s not that we want to return to hymns or cut out the drums. It’s just that we don’t care. We just want to worship, no matter the style. Where God is the center, and not man. We want to pray, and we want to encounter genuine community. We don’t want to be advertised at, or “sold a product”.

…We are seeing a mass movement away from Christendom as the dominant “religion and lifestyle” choice in our society. Thousands of millennials are fleeing the church in droves, and that leaves what? it leaves the few millennials that are interested, they are most often pretty solid, and pretty hungry. If they weren’t they would have left with the “droves” because it’s certainly more popular. We don’t want popular, hip, or relevant. We want transformation, truth, and genuine community.

I’ll tell you the top words I have heard in talking with other young men and women about what they desired from the Church and the body of Christ:

REAL, GENUINE, TRANSPARENT, TRUTH, PASSION, COMMUNITY, MENTORSHIP, FELLOWSHIP, ACCOUNTABILITY and AUTHENTIC.

Those were the buzz words.

I’ve spent a lot of time around men and women my age that were hungry for Christ, especially at ASU. The group I was involved in, we met in a building with exposed pluming, heat and AC. It had no “rows or pews”, and no pulpit. The churches that most of us went to in Boone had a few things in common. They were unconcerned about denominational preferences and traditions, they were very focused on community and fellowship as the heart of the church (small groups, missions, etc.), and Gospel/Bible/Jesus/Prayer focused (they weren’t concerned about lights, music, buildings, etc).

So there you have it. Pretty solid, straight-up insight huh? The future looks bright if you ask me. I’m encouraged! How do you keep 20-somethings? Involve them and expect great things as disciples of Christ! And I’m glad that I don’t have to come swinging down from the ceiling on a cable! 🙂

 

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