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Archive for the ‘Church Practice’ Category

One of the most dangerous things in our cultural climate today is the idea that the Bible should never be taken literally and that personal experience and preference supersedes truth. Those words, “experience and preference” dominate the culture. If your experience is meaningful to you then it should be considered truth to you and given equal footing to any other “truth.” And if your “experience” doesn’t match with my “truth,” then you get to jettison that truth…even if it’s the Bible. In fact, most assuredly you get to dump it, if it is in the Bible. For you see, the Bible cannot be taken literally if the truth purported in that “ancient book of fables” doesn’t match your 21st century experience. Do you grasp the line of thinking today? Experience trumps truth.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know how passionate I am about the word of God. I am convinced the Bible is just that: THE WORD OF GOD. I am convinced that God breathed His word into 40 authors over a period of 1,500 years on three continents (Europe, Asia, Africa) and three languages (Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic). The Bible is “theopneustos.”

Here’s a way of picturing that…

Someone or something is going to be your authority. We can’t all be THE authority. I believe the Bible is THE authority. It has the final say in all matters. Why? Because it is God’s Word. Now, there will be those who say I am being closed-minded and short-sighted. That’s their prerogative. But, if I am having a surgeon taking out my gall bladder, I want him to be closed-minded and short-sighted and ONLY take out my gall bladder and not my heart! I want an airline pilot to be closed-minded and short-sighted and ONLY fly me to the destination printed on my ticket. I don’t want him flying me to the place that best fits “his preference.”

The Two-Minute Tuesday for this week is perhaps one of the most important ones I’ve ever done. It’s important because of where we are as a culture in America. Only 24% of Americans believe the Bible is the literal word of God. That being the case, “who” is the authority? Politicians? CNN? Movie Stars? Athletes? Your grandma? Fox News? Who is the authority? What is truth! Where do we look for truth? Do we look to the one who screams the loudest? Do we look to the one who seems the smartest? Does truth belong to the richest, most educated? Does truth belong to the one who has the greatest social media presence? Who is the authority in your life? Is it you? Is it God? These are questions we all must grapple with and questions (as parents and grandparents) we must settle in our hearts as we teach our children. What will your teach as the “authority” in the life of your children?

Are you afraid of what people will say to you if you say, “I believe the Bible is the final authority on a particular issue/subject”? Are you afraid to stand on the Word of God? If you are, then why do you trust what the Bible says about being saved? Why do you believe any part of the Bible, if you can’t stand on all of it? Let’s not be guilty of picking and choosing what we’ll believe about the Bible. Because if that’s the case, we have made ourselves above the Bible. We’ve made ourselves above God. We are in essence saying, “I’m smarter than God.” And if that’s the case, “Every man does that which is right in his eyes,” Judges 21:25.

Take a look…

https://fpdl.vimeocdn.com/vimeo-prod-skyfire-std-us/01/1931/13/334658188/1322052829.mp4?token=1557267067-0x35ac435580d25743dd450668802b67dc6601058d

This past weekend was “recital weekend” for my daughters and granddaughters. There’s Charlotte (second from left)…

And Clara…in the middle (the tall one…like her daddy)…ha ha…

And here’s Kandace with her girls. (It still blows my mind that she’s no longer a dancer…but, is now a teacher)…

Truly, it seems like yesterday that Katy was dancing on that stage…but, now it’s her daughters.

What a joy!

We also had our annual Rite of Passage (ROP) here at the church this past weekend.

Amazingly we’ve been doing ROP for 12 years now! 107 young adults! So, what is ROP? ROP is simply a tool derived 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 we all know, children will rise to our level of expectations. 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?” We know Jesus is our example in all things, and in all stages of life and that includes 12-year-olds and becoming a young adult.

Look at that smile! I love ROP! I love what it does to inspire the young adults and show them that they can be mature and responsible, even at a young age!

Here at MPBC, at the age of 12 (and up to 18), you can participate in our annual ROP. Our theme verse is: 1 Corinthians 13:11 “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 according to Scripture, a young adult is expected to act like “young adults” and to behave accordingly. It means they are 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 and ownership of increased accountability and responsibility.

The young adults had to complete a rigorous gauntlet of questions that had them digging in the Bible for hours. Today, the baton was passed to them by their parents, indicating they have accepted responsibility for their faith and walk with Jesus. We rejoice! 3 John 4 says it all: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

I love it when the parents pass those batons to the young adults…

And then they hold them high!

That baton represents the fact that they have taken ownership of their faith in Jesus and have chosen to live for Him. It’s not the faith of mom and dad…no…they are now saying, “It’s MY faith… I own this and I’m going to follow Jesus!”

Praise the Lord for His goodness in this process of establishing in the minds of our young adults: WE VALUE YOU AND WE TRUST YOU TO LIVE OUR YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST. It’s truly a powerful thing in the mind of the young adults. Now, does this mean that each and every young adult will always follow Jesus? No…not necessarily. But, we have seen the paradigm shift. Instead of seeing 80-90% of young adults walking away from the church and the Lord by their 20th birthday…we’ve seen the opposite. 80-90% are continuing to follow Jesus by their 20th birthday. The secret? Intentionality and investment. We have to intentionally invest in the lives of our children spiritually. Yes, it’s important they do well in school and make good grades and even excel in sports, or extra-curricular activates… But, at the end of life…all that matters is Jesus. That’s the point! Point them to Jesus and place importance on this while they are young.

Clara plays violin. Many of you know that. Yet, I’m not sure I even realize at times how good she is. See what you think…

That was at tonight’s recital in Winston-Salem. Pretty amazing if you ask me! The ability the Lord has given her as a 14-year-old is wonderful! But, it’s not just talent…it’s a ton of hard work! And it’s not just Clara! Olivia Eller is an amazing, hard-working talent too! She and Clara played together, along with another student at the recital tonight too.

Pretty awesome! And yes, again…it’s a lot of practice and hard work, but it’s so beautiful to listen to violin music, don’t you think? Thank you Lord for your many blessings!

Kevin

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Traditions

Traditions…

We all have them. What are traditions? They are patterns for living. We have just come through the Thanksgiving Holiday Season and you lived by your traditions. You had places to go and people to see and food to eat. Those traditions bring comfort to the human heart. Here was a Thanksgiving meal we had at my mom’s. We did this the day after Thanksgiving.

We like tradition and that’s because we like routine. Think about your routine in the morning or when you go to bed. Don’t you have a routine? Sure you do. We all do. I like routine. I always have and I love traditions…particularly at the Holidays.

Next up… Christmas and the tradition at MPBC with our Christmas Candlelight Spectacular (CCS).

It’s going to be wonderful! Check out the children’s costumes that Evie and Charlotte were recently trying on and modeling…as dressed by Katy and Josh at their home.

Now tell me those aren’t the cutest costumes ever!! And the kiddos will be wearing these at the CCS, December 15-16. We’re going to have fun and activities for the kids on Saturday night and Sunday nights at 5 pm when the doors open. The presentation of the spectacular will start at 6 pm. We’ll have hot chocolate and hot apple cider too! We’re even going to have a photo booth. So, bring the family and get the special Christmas photo made! And perhaps most exciting for the kids is the fact that it’s going to snow! Yep…we’ll make it snow inside the building and it will be a joy!

Here’s today’s Two-Minute Tuesday that’s all about it!

http://mpbc.ws/media/?sapurl=Lys3ZWViL2xiL21pLyt5OXRoNWZxP2JyYW5kaW5nPXRydWUmZW1iZWQ9dHJ1ZQ==

I hope you will make plans to come! So, don’t forget to go online and reserve your spots for the Saturday evening or Sunday evening performance. Go here:  http://mpbc.ws/signuptable/

When you arrive, we’ll check your name off the “Reserved List” and your spots inside will be reserved. Now, if you choose to come on Sunday morning the 16th to either the 8:45 am or 11 am service…you will NOT need to reserve seats.

Traditions! They are wonderful and we hope you will make Mt. Pleasant part of your holiday traditions going forward and come and be with us this year and the years ahead!

Kevin

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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 14,000 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.

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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…

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

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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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