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Archive for the ‘Church Practice’ Category

I Finally Did It

Is there something in your life that you know you need to do and you know it, but you’ve been putting it off? Me too! But, I finally did it. Did what?

I’ve set up specified counseling hours. Yep, I had to finally break down and do it. It finally hit me that I’m pretty much counseling all the time…all hours of the day…every day…you name it. This included “days off,” which usually only comes on Saturdays. (As you know, Sunday is a work day for me… 🙂 And with three sermons…I’m running around like a chicken with his head cut off!) So, it became apparent to me when we topped 700 people a couple of Sundays ago: “Kevin it’s time. There is no way to keep up this pace…working all day and then coming home and answering emails and messages throughout the evening.”

Part of the issue is that we’re on local TV (two stations) and I’m getting thousands of view each week for the “Two-Minute Tuesday” on Facebook. Last week’s TMT got almost 14,00 views. Thus, people contact me through Facebook and ask for help, counseling, advice, etc. It’s truly non-stop.

Now, hear (or in this case, “read” my heart)…I LOVE people and I LOVE what I do! What a blessing! What a privilege and a joy! It truly is! But, there has to be “down times.” And I can’t shepherd half of Facebook. 🙂 So, I’ve made the policy that I only counsel church members or those who are actively attending the church. Peter said, “Shepherd the flock among you.” I take that admonition seriously. You can’t be all things to all people and no one can be “on” all the time. Not even a car can go “pedal to the metal” all the time. Even race horses don’t run every race. They have to have time to recover.

Recently, I read this book and was reminded again, “It’s time!” by what I read…

 It’s an excellent book and I’ve been using the nuggets in it a lot! One of those nuggets: a sabbath. A day where you totally unplug. A day where you don’t work unless it’s an emergency. What’s an emergency? Well, that’s different to different people. Everyone’s problem is an emergency to them. But, to me… an emergency is something that’s life-threatening. Again, to some people, an emergency is when the microwave doesn’t work. (wink, wink) Yes, if it’s an emergency…I’m on it. But, otherwise, going forward, counseling will need to take place during the hours I’ve set aside for that purpose. In fact, I’ve asked Pastor Dale to set hours as well. That way, we can do a better job of controlling our schedules and our time.

My counseling hours (which will be posted in this week’s bulletin) are:

  • Monday 1:30-4:30 pm
  • Wednesday 3-5 pm
  • Wednesday after Service

Pastor Dale’s hours:

  • Tuesday 1-3 pm
  • Wednesday after Service
  • Thursday 9-11 am

The sessions are 1 hour in length. We both counsel for these needs: marriage, financial and family counseling. We do NOT offer counseling for: drug/alcohol/substance abuse or psychiatric issues. For those areas we encourage folks to contact SureCord at 336.957.1710. SureCord is the Christian Counseling service MPBC supports through the Brushy Mountain Baptist Association. They are located in the Brushy Mountain Association Office on Highway 268-West near the Wilkes YMCA. https://www.surecord.com

I’ve been pastoring for 13 years and in the early years I could work in all the people when we had 285 people. But now that we have 700+ people attending (and truthfully about 850 who attend at least once or twice in a month’s period of time)…so, I finally had to do it.

Now what about you? What do you need to do? You know you need to do it. You’ve been feeling prompted by the Lord to do it. And now it’s time. Maybe it’s a difficult conversation. Maybe it’s something that’s been festering and needs to be addressed at home or at work or with a child. You dread it. You wonder how it’s going go? You are afraid it might be difficult and people might not understand it. I get it. Believe me, I do!

I think about all the ramifications of everything I do. I’ve thought about how some might even react to having to make an appointment to talk to me. I’ve thought about those who will not understand or complain: “He’s not accessible enough!!” You know what…there comes a time and place in your life that you have to do what you know the Lord has told you to do and let the chips fall where they may. I serve an audience of ONE. So do you! As a believer in Christ, we have to answer to Him primarily, first and foremost. My advice: Do what you know to do is right. Do it now and you’ll reap a harvest of peace from it. I already feel better about things just knowing that I can actually have some control over my life again. And I know my wife and family will be happy about that too!

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday is about problem. We’ve all got them. How do you see them? As obstacles? As something to be swept under the rug? How about this: “Making Your Problems Work for You.”

Kevin

 

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You would expect to read that headline in a paper from New York City, but not a paper in Columbia, SC. Yet, The State, South Carolina’s largest newspaper reported: “Losing Faith: South Carolina is Abandoning It’s Churches.” https://www.thestate.com/news/local/article215014375.html

The headline definitely stopped me in my tracks. The bottom line is this: churches who are abandoning the Bible as the authority from which they teach, preach and admonish their people, are in free-fall decline. That’s across the denominational spectrum: Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, etc. The churches who are waffling on the truth are the churches who are losing members right and left.

And this stands to reason in my mind. The Word of God is our authority. It is the foundation of the revelation of who God is and when you walk away from the truth of His Word, you will fall for anything. Therefore, as denominations and congregations walk away from the truth, they are in essence saying: “We’re okay with dying.” Ultimately, that’s what is happening to many churches. They are becoming pubs, rock climbing stations, restaurants, etc. And this is now happening in the South…in the buckle of the Bible belt.

Here’s my TMT about the article and my thoughts on the future of churches in the South:

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt0Ymc2a2hkP2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

What a fantastic weekend it was with FaithFest. We started out with the preconcert on Thursday night. What a blast! Our Praise Team did an outstanding job!

 

The crowd was amazing! I would guess at least 1,000 people came!

The weather was perfect and what a time of rejoicing and celebration in the Lord! And then Saturday came and FaithFest!!

Oh my!!! What a crowd!!!

Estimates are 20,000+. That’s at least double from last year (the first year)! I really believe FF will become the largest Christian Concert event in the country within the next couple of years.

I know my granddaughter, Evie had a blast with the face painting!

And of all the pictures she could have chosen to be painted on her face… She chose a basketball! That’s a girl after my own heart!

The Lord blessed tremendously to say the least. My heart was stirred on many occasions. I was particularly touched by these two…

Mandisa and Jason Crabb! My heart rejoiced as they were singing: “Bleed the Same.” Truly, for me, it was a taste of heaven Saturday night. I watched the moon come up and the stars circle the Wilkes Community College field and I thought, “Lord, thank you for blessing us with this taste of heaven.” I honestly can’t wait for next year!

It was a great weekend at church too. Can you believe this… We had 704 people at church on Sunday! Are you serious!!! Yes! Now, again…I don’t get caught up in the numbers. I never have. But, they do represent people. And that’s A LOT of people for a church in the capital of podunk! 🙂 The Lord continues to blow our mind as people come to worship and learn from the Word of God. Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all mine to myself.” We are seeking to do just that and this past weekend…I saw 1,000+, 20,000+ and 700+. Thank you Jesus!

Kevin

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Last weekend was amazing! I had one of those life-changing weekends. How often can you say that in life, right? But, it’s true. I was able to go to Atlanta and attend Passion City Church. You’ll notice they don’t have their name on the side of the building. Just the address.

515. That’s how they are known. They have another campus in Cumberland, Georgia about 30 minutes away. They are called: “Cumberland.” I like that. Our logo for MPBC is a cross with a circle around it. Just pointing to Jesus. People were lined up to get on a shuttle to go to their car at a remote parking lot.

The church has three Sunday services: 9 am, 11:45 am and 5 pm. It’s mostly a Millennial church. I was an old guy as I looked around. Most were 35 years old and younger.

Did you notice that sign on the wall in the background? “Jesus is Life.”

When someone gives their life to Christ, they go to that center table under the sign and write their name on a light bulb. Then they climb that later (to the right) and screw in their bulb. How about that! So cool!!! And so true! JESUS IS LIFE!!! If we try to have life any other way, we’re settling for Satan’s counterfeit. Whatever we can’t “get enough of” is our god.

It was wonderful to sit back and just drink in all the Lord is doing at that church! Normally, on Sundays, it’s really kind of tough for me to worship 100% because I’m so focused on the sermon, the time, remembering everything I need to announce, etc. But, Sunday was amazing!

The church at 515 seats about 1200-1400 the best I could tell. Cumberland seat around 600, but they have plans to expand. They also have a church they’ve started in Washington, D.C. So, I’m guessing they probably average attendance for all three campuses of about 8,000 or so.

We sat near the back so we could take it all in. I feasted, let me tell you! Thank you Lord! I needed that. Sometimes a pastor needs to go somewhere just to have his own soul fed. I’m so thankful for the church allowing the pastor/elders to have a “conference” line item, so we can go do these things. Truth is: I would never spend money to go do it on my own, because I don’t have it to spend. I’m trying to raise a family and pay bills and I just don’t spend money on myself, and yet, I know I need time to get away from time to time to re-energize. Thanks to MPBC for my “conference” line item in the budget!

They have these metal containers like you see hauled on the back of tractor-trailers where they greet people and talk with folks after the services who are inquiring about being saved or want to join the church, etc.

The pastor of the church is Louie Giglio.

He’s 10 years older than me (60) and was going strong! It really gave me encouragement! I’m preaching three sermons every Sunday like Louie and I thought, “Lord, you are giving a 60-year-old man the strength to do that every week, and you are doing that for me too! Thank you Lord!” He is lived streamed from either the Cumberland campus or the 515 campus. Can I tell you something? It took me 10 minutes to realize he wasn’t at 515. Why? Because I was watching the screen because we were in the back.

I guess I have mixed emotions about live-streaming and satellite campuses. Each site at 515, Cumberland and D.C. have campus pastors and their own praise teams, etc. at each location. Yes, I get it in big cities. Traffic is horrible and it’s just tough to get around. In Wilkes County, people drive long distances to go to town or wherever. We are the third largest county (landmass) in the 100-county state of NC. So, people are used to driving 20-minutes to town (or more) to go to the grocery store. Therefore, people drive to church great distances too. We have folks driving 30 minutes or more to come to MPBC. Again, a lot of these dynamics for churches depend on the setting. I don’t see MPBC doing satellite churches anytime soon, if ever. I just don’t know if that would work in our rural area. I still believe people around here will drive to wherever they want to go. We’re not Atlanta or Charlotte or D.C.

I learned a lot this weekend and I was blessed beyond measure. One of the blessings was spending time with a family that we adopted with from China. The Windsor family. Their daughter and Clara were adopted at the same time, same town, 12 years ago. What a blessing they are to our family! They hosted us at a Braves game Saturday night. We had great seats!

Yes indeed! What a weekend! Thank you Lord! Now it’s on to the Iron Men Conference tomorrow night and three services here on Sunday! We have over 260 men and boys signed up for the conference tomorrow night. Will you pray for us! It doesn’t matter how hard I’ve worked on this and the men in the Praise Team, etc., if the Lord doesn’t empower it! We need His anointing and blessing. Would you stop right now and breathe a five-second prayer for us, please? I believe lives will be changed tomorrow night! I know mine has in preparing for it!

You can still sign-up, but you have to do it today: http://www.mpbc.ws/signuptable.

Here’s the past three week’s Two-Minute Tuesday’s. I forgot to load them on the last couple of blog posts. Sorry about that! 🙂

Two weeks ago: “Cheap Sex and the Decline of Marriage.” http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLysycTNuZG10P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Last week: “So You Don’t Think God Will Judge-Francis Chan.” http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLys3czhydzVoP2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

This week: “Helping Our Wives and Jumping Hurdles.” http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt3NW5wYzlwP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Blessings,

Kevin

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Are you growing spiritually? You either are or you aren’t. There isn’t any middle ground. There is no standing still. Are you growing in your faith? How about your children? Are thy growing spiritually? Mom and Dad, it’s your responsibility that they are growing spiritually. Please don’t think that God has given the Church the responsibility to disciple your child. That’s your job. The Church is to equip ALL the believers in “works of ministry.” There are no special “groups” in Scripture. So, how are things spiritually with your children?

The Two-Minute Tuesday was about that very subject this week. Take a look: “Are Your Kids Spiritually Healthy?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLytkaDhueTVuP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Regarding this subject of children/kids, we often have families come to the church and as they are learning about the church, sometimes they’ll ask: “What about ‘Children’s Church,’ ‘Youth Group,’ etc?” I tell them, we don’t have those. We keep everyone together, just as you see in Scripture.

My daughter, Katy, blogged about this not long ago:

https://careercalledhome.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/children-in-the-church-service-why-and-how-its-for-the-best/

Not long ago, we had a family with several children come to the church and the mom and dad told me how excited they were that we didn’t split their family up as soon as they hit the doors of the church. They were so pleased that we worship as a “family.” Yet, people hear this and they say, “That’s great! But what do you do about the teenager who come to church who has no parents with him. What do you do for him?” Or they’ll say, “Hey, it’s great you have families in your church and dad’s who lead their homes well, but there are some dead-beat dads out their today, so what are we supposed to do with the kids of those kinds of dads?”

Well, most churches have asked that question and have come to the conclusion that they must be a substitute where the dads are not getting the job done. Thus, before we realized it, the Church was handling the training for all dads, Christian and non-Christian alike. But, this is a problem. For the past 30-35 years, the Church has undertaken a role that was never intended for the Church to do in the first place. Instead of getting our hands dirty in the hard work of teaching and training, and “adopting” into our families young people who don’t have a family in the church, we often want to take the easy way out and hire someone (a youth pastor) to do it for us.

Yes, we can simply “adopt” these young people into our families. This means inviting them to sit with of our family during service and making them feel they are accepted and belong. Problem is…in many churches today, the youth are never in the service with the “adults.” This is tragic! Paul instructed Titus to teach the elders in Titus 2 that the old should teach, mentor, the young. How can we do this if they are never with us?

Through the years, Pam and I have “adopted” several young adults into our family. One of which is now our son-in-law. We have tried to model and exhibit what a biblical family is to look like. We plug them in to our family life and we try to show them what a Christian family looks like. The most important part of this process is simply to show them love.

Christopher Schlect, in his book, Critique of Modern Youth Ministry, says it this way:

“Ministering to children of unbelievers need not be as difficult as it seems. These children should be drawn to associate with Christian families that will take them in and mentor them while at church, thereby showing those children the family model as illustrated in the Word of God. Invite them over for dinner, where the Biblical model of the family can be exhibited.”

state-of-youth-ministry

I believe it is time to get young people out of these church “game rooms” and get them plugged into our churches and get them on the mission field of life. We need to see our young adults as capable of “being about the Father’s business.” We need to expect them to step up to the level of a teenage apostle or Timothy or David.

Does offering more concerts, camps, lock-ins, pizza blasts, zip-lines, ski trips, and the like stand to give us spiritually mature young adults? No, not if that’s all we give them. A steady diet of activities and fun is not what they need or want. Our society’s youth orientation has bred little more than young adults hyped up on the junk food of entertainment and fun, yet they are starving to death and dying for answers to the difficult and tough questions of the day. Our young people sit in our churches week after week and we see them, but are they really there? Are they really engaged? Do they want to be at church or are they just coming because they have to or because they’ve been lured by the fun and games? Doesn’t our focus need to change?

If you think about it, of all the programs in churches which one is most commonly the largest and well-funded? The answer: youth programs. It seems that evangelical churches, and many mainline churches, began breaking out the youth in their congregations about 30-35 years ago. In fact, there is a feeling in Christendom that you aren’t doing too well as a church if you can’t fund and hire at least a part-time youth minister of some sort. But, what do youth ministries do? Many of these programs, if not managed carefully, can breed immaturity because they hinder younger people from associating with and learning from their elders. Paul told young Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22). Yet, it is common to take the young adults on an outing at night and youth pastors have to station chaperones throughout the church bus to make sure everyone is being nice. Is that something we should have to be doing with adults in the church? There should never be a youth function in a church in which everyone, young and old alike, cannot participate.

You see, when we totally separate our young adults from the rest of the church body, we are setting them up for an identity crisis. They don’t know who they are apart from their friends and buddies in the youth group. They know nothing of the functioning of the church, as a whole, outside of their youth room. After all, they have their own culture and music, geared to their own tastes. So, by the time they are 18, and we tell them they must leave the youth groups, they are sent to the “grown up” church where, in some cases many have never been. It is culture shock to say the least!

Despite all of this, some may think that we are trying to take the fun out of the lives of our young adults. Some say, “They’ve got to be kids. Let them have a little fun.” Please understand, I am not against anyone having fun, but is this the role of the church? Are we supposed to set up our churches to be centers for having fun? Somehow I believe we have mistakenly come to believe that teenagers are entitled to more fun than anybody else in the church. We may believe we must put something fun on the calendar every week or two, certainly monthly, so they can have a good time. Let me ask you this question: Do we owe any group in the church a good time? Truth is: Many youth ministries seem to be run like a cruise ship. We hear things like, “When’s the next event? When do we get to eat pizza and hotdogs?” Have you ever wondered why there is such a high turnover rate with youth ministers? They burn out after two or three years of this kind of activity planning.

youth_room_640

Can youth groups be a negative influence on our young people? Yes, some (not all) can. Unfortunately, I believe, (and this is certainly without meaning to), they can become a place of peer-driven frivolity. You see, when we place our young people in these peer-driven groups where the spiritual maturity is usually very low, and yet we desire for them to grow spiritually…we need to ask ourselves… “How?” How can they grow spiritually in these environments? The truth is…most of the time, youth pastors are trying to administrate some sort of crowd control versus being able to really teach. Unfortunately, our young people tend to find their identity in their friends and that can include youth groups. For them, it’s so easy to find their identity in what they wear, drive or have. Some young people have their entire identity wrapped up in the type of clothes they wear, cell phone they carry and who they are dating. This same mentality often transfers into our youth groups and can even be fed within the youth group.

Through the years, I’ve become more and more dismayed that many churches  no longer mix their young people with their adults in any way. They keep the youth in their own rooms, as far away from everyone else in the church as possible, in case they get too loud or rowdy. These rooms often have painted-tie-dyed walls…

youthroom2NEW%20copy

…posters, road signs and leftover sofas from our basements. These rooms are “play rooms” of video games and places to simply “hang out.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some youth rooms I’ve seen look more like arcades. Some churches have even given their youth their own building, where they come for an entertainment smorgasbord anytime they want. Is this the structural model we really believe is going to grow mature, solid, faith-filled, Christ-centered, young adults? You sure won’t find this model in Scripture. We must stop kidding ourselves. The numbers, the surveys, and the statistical data do not lie. Many of our young adults continue to abandon their faith and will continue to do so unless we change our strategy and return to the Biblical model, where the church body worships and does life TOGETHER!

Churches should work to promote cross-generational interaction as Paul admonished Titus to teach the elders in Titus 2. In separating the youth from the church body at large, we are in essence saying, “Unlike adults, they can’t handle the weighty things of Scripture.” Thus, it seems okay for us to give them a driver’s license at 16 and put them behind the wheel of a 3,500 pound vehicle and turn them loose on our highways. We expect them to learn algebra, chemistry and calculus. Certainly, they can study and learn Scripture as well. Yes, our young people need to be with adults and be trained…older to younger. In fact, they will graduate from high school and college and go to work in environments with people of all ages. Only in our schools and churches are our young adults segregated by age.

What’s the role of the Church regarding our young people? Well, the Church is certainly here to help and partner with the family to grow our young adults in the way of the Lord. We are to equip all the saints (believers) for works of ministry. Yes, we are to partner with the family in training our young adults…yet, we don’t do the job for the parents. The church’s vision must shift from a consumer-driven focus, regarding our young people, to a partner-driven focus. In other words, the church must stop seeing itself as a vending machine of fun activities to give young people or children something to do to keep them out of trouble. As parents, we must stop seeing the church as a place where we drop off the kids to let the youth pastors train them or give them a little “faith development.”

We must stop thinking the church building and its programs are the conduits through which the gospel is spread. The gospel is spread through people, not programs. What programs existed in the first church? None that I know of with the exception of meeting together to fellowship, break bread, study the gospel and pray (See Acts 2:42-47). Afterwards, they left their homes and went out into the community and shared Jesus. The gospel must travel house by house through the community in the same way it did 2,000 years ago. And in the meantime, let’s continue to worship together and grow spiritually TOGETHER, just as the Bible teaches.

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Left Behind

See these two pictures…

The top picture is the Sheetz in Yadkinville, just off of Highway 421. The bottom picture is the Exxon, right beside of the Sheetz, that has been there for years. See the difference? Look at the number of cars. I couldn’t even get a pump at the Sheetz and was waiting when I took the pictures.

The Exxon used to be hopping! I’ve stopped there many times. Look at the picture again. It doesn’t look necessarily “run down.” But, there are bags on all the pumps, except one set of pumps. So, what’s the problem? Simple. It was “left behind.” Why? Because it didn’t stay up with the times. Sheetz provides a lot more than gas. They are a lot more than a service station with candy bars and soft drinks. They are a “store of convenience.” You can buy gas, use the restroom (very, very clean ones I might add) and (and this a big AND) order food via a touchscreen and it’s GOOD!

How many times have you been traveling and didn’t want to stop in two places. You need gas and you need to eat. So, Sheetz has solved that issue. What about the Exxon? They’ve been left behind. It’s that simple.

Think about Walmart. What are they doing now? They’ve got me singing the old Anita Ward song, “Ring my bell…” Why? Because Walmart doesn’t want to be left behind. From what? From the Amazon revolution and door to door deliveries. Walmart wants in on that cash cow. People want convenience and the sooner that folks in the “people” business figure that out, the better.

Hey, you know what? I’m in the people business too. That’s right! As a pastor/elder, I’m in the business of thinking about, “How do we get people to come to our gas station?” Convenience, order, structure, ease of use, getting the value you want, etc. You say, “Okay pastor…you are not being very spiritual.” Well, forgive me if I’ve not included chapter and verse…but, I well say it this way… “Go out into the highway and hedges and COMPEL them to come in.” Jesus said that you know.

So, the pastor/elders are constantly thinking about how do we compel people to come to our station. There are so many competitors… And NO…I’m not talking about other churches. I’m talking about the competitors of the bed (it’s so comfy on Sunday mornings) and the lake (in the summer) and the ski mountains (in winter). Will we get left behind? You see, as a church, it’s true… “It’s a dog eat dog world” out there and sometimes I feel like churches are a milk bone biscuit and we’re getting eaten alive because we are getting left behind.

We must be constantly thinking about improving and making things better. And that’s true of anything. How about your business? How about your life? Are you keeping up? Are you striving for the things of God and seeking Him? He’ll show you the way. Think of it like Chick-Fil-A. They do fast food, right? Wrong! They do “customer experiences” and the chicken is a great “cherry on top of the sundae.” Truett Cathy figured that out a long time ago. The chicken sandwich is a big part of their business…but, it’s an expensive chicken sandwich comparatively speaking (to some). But, the experience of fast, friendly, efficient, excellent service makes the extra buck or two worth it. 🙂

This week’s Two-Minute Tuesday has received the most views in a while. It’s about Oprah’s view of Jesus, NOT being the only way to heaven. Take a look…

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt4NDVmdjNyP2F1dG9wbGF5PXRydWUmYnJhbmRpbmc9dHJ1ZSZlbWJlZD10cnVl

Finally, in case anyone is interested… I finally got my beans staked and I’ve sought to address the crows coming and eating my corn. My radio in my five gallon bucket is back. It got “shorted out” with the rain a couple of weeks ago. But, I’ve got another one out there now…and not a crow has been seen. They don’t like noise!

Kevin

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It’s hard to believe…but, it’s year 11 for Rite of Passage (ROP). Amazingly, 101 young adults have passed through the waters of ROP over the past decade. Time flies and I’m getting older. Here’s this year’s group!

What a wonderful time we had at our banquet Saturday night. One of my favorite times at the banquet is the family sharing time. The members of the family share with their Young Adult what it means to be a follower of Christ and encouragement on how to live for Him.

Here’s the Anderson family…

And the Button family…

Here is the Bullock family…

In the background of the picture above you can see Pam and Andrew and part of Clara (as Andrew participated this year).

Here is the Wentz family…

Here is the Aiken family…

The Heacock’s have a huge family with 6 children…but, Daddy, Scott stayed with the kiddos, so Kaden could be pampered a bit by her momma, Victoria…

What a joy! It’s a great night where gifts are often shared…

And even pictures with the preacher…

Thanks Avery!!!

One of the questions I ask in the question section of ROP is this: Why do you think you will not fall away from the faith, since 70-90% of Christian teens fall away by their 20th birthday?

Check out some of these responses from this year’s group:

One young lady said:

This is a mind-blowing thing to me but I don’t think this will happen to me cause i’ve grown up in a house where God is number 1. Most people have grown up in a household with a parent that is too busy or they are just too hooked on the world that they don’t set their priorities straight. This is a common thing among families today. They don’t pray before meals or barely ever have a family dinner together. Families are growing apart which makes the children want attention leading them to get into bad situations…

Parents aren’t realising that they are hearing just bible stories and not the real deal. So when kids grow they think that Christianity is just another joke and they take it like it’s another day. Parents need to start bringing their kids to the sermon so they can learn that Christianity is not something to joke about, it’s a matter between eternal life with God or hell.

Here’s another young man:

I think that many 20-year olds that are raised in church fall short and walk away from church because of the people they choose to hang out with.  Also, they can become a follower instead of a leader…

Another young lady:

I think it’s because there are so many things that have Satan’s hand.  On top of that, it’s so easy to forget or get distracted if you take one step in the wrong direction it will become 2, 3, 4, 5 and on and on. It will never end.  It will be from a little step to a big step, to a huge step… I cling to Jesus and I’m passionate about him.  I love him too much he is my friend and without him, I would be nothing.  Jesus helps me not matter what.

Another young lady:

I think that the reason why 70% to 90% of Christian young people who were raised in church are supposedly likely to abandon faith by the age of 20 is because they were not well grounded in faith. They took Christianity lightly and then later became influenced by wicked people. I know that this will not happen to me because I know that the Word of God is true. I am reading the Bible and through this, I gain wisdom that will assist me on my everyday walk with God.

Another young man:

Sometimes they leave their family or move or get a job and they get too busy. They find new things in life and they don’t do what they used to do. They make new friends that don’t go to church and that causes them not to take the time to go. This will not happen to me because I was taught to read the Bible and go to church and to know the Lord and taught to do things without people having to tell me. And I was taught to remember and make time and do all I can for the Lord and that’s why I know I will not turn away from him.

Another young man:

I think so many young people abandon their faith because of peer pressure and the way the society is changing. Mainly they don’t have or never had a real relationship with God. They don’t know the danger they are in. I will never abandon my faith. I can not thank my parents and the Lord enough for being brought up at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. I am so thankful for the knowledge the Lord has given me and the church I was placed in.  I one day hope I can bring my family to MPBC.

Another young man:

This may be because the individual’s parents have not urged them to make firm their own beliefs before being thrown out into a secular and evil world. To many, Christianity is “what my family believes” and they fail to create a long lasting and meaningful relationship with Christ. Furthermore, when they go to a university and see people with different values and different beliefs, they may only see one side of the argument for Christ. If Christian households are not careful to back up their child’s faith with evidence and logic, a university may persuade the individual that one side stands for fact and logic, and the other is nothing more than a story passed down from generation to generation. Faith is of course important, but why give secular universities the opportunity to falsely portray their beliefs as logical and Christianity as illogical and not factual? Failing to back up faith with fact and evidence and not leading the son or daughter to develop their own walk in the Lord may be the cause for the multitude of youth leaving Christianity.

Another young lady:

I know that for a lot of young people, it’s an identity thing. Many times they don’t see themselves fitting into this whole “Christianity thing” and they fit themselves into other groups of people. Also, a way that I’ve imagined it, is that some people just want to have a little “pet Christianity.” They take it with them to church and they leave it home whenever they go out with friends. But, they can always show someone a cute picture on their phones of their “pet” whenever they want. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any little “pet Christianity,” I want a big honkin’ elephant that goes and takes me anywhere it wants! 

I don’t care if I’m not cool or popular, all of that fades. Plus, life is miserable without God. I have no purpose or reason for living. I may not know exactly where I’m going in life and I could have a lot to learn, but at least I have a core idea of what I am to live for.

(Don’t you just want to shout: AMEN!!!!)

Another young man:

I think they leave because they don’t have a personal relationship with God. 

Another young lady:

I think they leave because they were never part of the church to begin with. They never really set out to grow in a relationship with Christ. I think in this situation, it’s the parents who are making their kids go to church rather than the young adult wanting to go. Now I’m not saying that parents shouldn’t make their kids go to church… I think a lot of the reasons why they leave the church is because of life in general. We live in a very sinful world full of distractions and people are easily distracted and tempted by Satan. So they leave the church and abandon their faith. I think that this also has to do with bad choices of friends who they hang out with. 

Another young lady:

They have their parents’ faith and not their own faith. It will not happen to me because I own my faith…

Another young man:

I believe it is because young people today are on social media and watch R-rated movies a lot. If people are constantly exposed to this junk, it can be very bad for their minds and will make them act poorly. I do not think this will happen to me because I have parents who love me and have “taught me in the way I should go.”

Am I ecstatic? Oh yes! And I’m so grateful! I’m grateful for the families who are super busy, yet they are intentional about saying to their Young Adult, “I want you to know that this season of your life matters…and this spiritual aspect of it is worth it!” Man I love that thought!

3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

If you are interested in learning more about ROP for yourself or your church, just click on the tabs: Adult-Centered Youth Ministry and Rite of Passage-Book. There’s tons of information there about how to do a ROP ceremony with your church, or even with your family. All the details are there and if you need me, ask me!

This past Saturday two of my girls danced at their recital! Again, super grateful!

Daughter…Clara…

Man, can that girl spin!!!

And I know she’s mine…but, she’s really graceful…as are all the girls…

And granddaughter, Charlotte…

Check out the smile!!!

Of course, flowers must be given by Daddy and Papa…and little sister, Evie will be next!

What a joy!

And I’ll look forward to spending more time with these wonderful folks as I’m on vacation starting Friday through Sat., May 19th…back in the pulpit the 20th.

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday, “We’re All Icebergs-What’s Below the Surface?”

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt0ZHQzcXM5P2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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I’m asked often, “What is the reason your church has grown so much?” I respond, “Well, first of all, it’s not MY church.” I say that in a kind way…because folks don’t mean it in a negative way. It’s just the way we talk about churches. But, then I hasten to say, “All I can say is the Lord has chosen to have favor on us and bless us.” Yet, now I add this: “But, the truth is I do believe I can point to something that we’re doing that’s pretty much a guarantee of the Lord’s blessings… GOING! Going and sharing the Gospel. Missions.”

I am convinced the Lord blesses churches who “gather for the going.” My job as a pastor/elder is to “equip the saints for the works of ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-16). Honestly, many churches tithe to themselves. Most of what they do is inward focused. Yet, Jesus told us to: “GO and make disciples of all nations…” So, we “gather for the going.” That’s got to be the goal. Why? Because Jesus’ command (not suggestion)…but command…is to GO!!

Last night we had a mission fundraiser called our “Cake Auction.” We raised over $7,000 for the mission work we’ll be doing this year. It was a fabulous time of fellowship and laughter and joy of being together and loving on one another and knowing that every dime that was raised will go to sharing the Gospel!

It’s always a blast making the cakes. Andrew made a cake all by himself (well…with a wee-bit of help from his momma) and it was delicious!

Check out this cake made by the Jason and Kristina Shropshire family. Can you figure it out…

Yep, it’s the “Lion and the Lamb” cake, representing the fact that Jesus is the “Lion of Judah” and the “Lamb of God.” I’ve been using that in the messages from Matthew 24-25 and Revelation. See this from our website:

Pretty awesome! We had some fabulous cakes and a WONDERFUL time!

Next up is our Soccer League that begins on Saturday! We have close to 200 kids signed up and about 50-60% of those (in my estimation) are in families that don’t have a church home. Would you pray for us as we kick off on Saturday? The weather looks to be perfect! Thank you Lord!

But, don’t get used to it. What? Yep, I believe after a brief “mild-up,” we’ll see cooler than normal temperatures lasting into the last 2 weeks of the month and probably into the first half of May. It’s really been a roller coaster ride. And this past winter proves that. See this graph…

I know it’s kind of “busy,” but you get the gist. We had a warm December overall. Yet, it snowed 7″ on December 8th. Then January was cold and February felt like “Spring had sprung.” However, March smacked us in the face. More snow. Huge flakes…

April will be much cooler than normal. Yep…big time roller coaster ride! Watch out for Sunday! There will be tons of potential in the atmosphere for bad storms. You’ll see this in the Plains today and then moving to Alabama and Georgia tomorrow and Saturday.

Someone asked me a few days ago: Do you do Spiritual Gifts tests for your members? I said, “No, because that’s between the person and the Lord. I see no spiritual gifts test in Scripture.” And what do you know…just a couple of days later I saw that Dr. David Black, professor of Greek and New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary posted this on his blog http://www.daveblackonline.com:

9:50 AM “In your opinion, what’s the best book on spiritual gifts?” A student asked me this question after my NT class yesterday. That’s easy. Kenneth Hemphill’s Spiritual Gifts: Empowering the New Testament Church. That said, I cautioned my student to be aware of two things: (1) the lists of NT gifts are not exhaustive, and (2) none of the gifts is defined per se. Then I asked him this question: “What, in your thinking, is the difference between a ‘natural ability’ and a ‘spiritual gift’?” I had a reason for asking him that question. You see, in the end I think there’s very little difference between a so-called natural ability and a spiritual gift.

When you become a follower of Jesus, two things happen. First, you acknowledge that every one of your so-called “natural abilities” is really a gift from the gracious hand of God. And secondly, you now employ those gifts in His service and for His glory alone. One of the gravest dangers of doing a spiritual gifts inventory on people is that it can all too often produce carbon copies of a stereotypical archetype. Instead, let’s ask people, “What do you love to do? What is your passion in life? What is it that you do that causes you to feel God’s pleasure?” Psychologists call this “self-discernment,” but for Christians, self-discernment is always connected to our relationship with God. The more we become like Jesus, the more we become authentically ourselves. What incredibly important theology. The path to self-fulfillment is simply discovering who our Creator designed us to be. (Side note. Here’s a quick test to determine if you’re doing the rightthing with your life and not merely a good thing. Do the satisfactions of your work outweigh the stresses? If your vocation is born out of a relationship with Jesus, then it will be a pleasure both for you and for others. After all, Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” So what are we complaining about?)

Our chapel speaker on Tuesday drove this point home. “Don’t waste your life! Don’t bury your God-given talents!” It’s simply too costly. So let’s give people the freedom to be what God wants them to be. The best we can do is give them Jesus, not a book about spiritual gifts. I have no confidence in Dave Black but I have every confidence in my Savior. He is utterly dependable, and if we look to Him, He will guide us in the right path for our lives. Trust me, no one wants to follow a fraud. Be who you are, the real you, the person God created you to be. The church is for real people with real families who lead real lives. And always remember the theology: Our true self emerges only from our uniqueness in Christ.

Amen Dr. Black!

So often I hear people say, “I can’t get plugged into my church.” Well, I don’t mean to be crass, but that’s your fault. It’s your church! Look and see what the church is doing and get involved. The reason you don’t feel plugged in is because you haven’t plugged in! Listen, people do what they want to do. If you have a heart to serve, you’ll serve. If you don’t, you won’t. So, plug-in! Go! Get moving!

Here’s this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday. Yes, yes, I know it’s NOT 2 minutes. I’m sorry. They usually never are! But, I try to keep them under 4 minutes…wink, wink. 🙂 This week’s TMT is about the task of not losing our kids. Should we teach them the 10 Commandments? Yes. Should we tell them there are 66 books in the Bible: 27 in the New Testament and 39 in the Old Testament? Yes. Should we teach them about David vs. Goliath and Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Jonah in the great fish? Yes. But, we must do more. We must give our young people a reason for their hope, beyond just memorizing facts and hearing wonderful stories. We must 1 Peter 3:15 this deal if we’re going to have young people who embrace the faith. Tell me…what do you see?

Take a look at this to find out…

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyszd3l6cGpkP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

Kevin

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