Archive for the ‘Rite of Passage-Book’ Category

I love this:


(L-R) Jonah Horton, Jonah Brooks and Michael Davis. I have confidence in those young men!

Those three young men just completed this year’s Rite of Passage (ROP) here at the church. It’s always a privilege to watch another group come through. We’ve seen 66 young adults go through ROP since 2008 at the church.

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. 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. He knew He had to be “about the Father’s business.” We learn from Luke 2 that Jesus was submissive to His parents and the Bible says that He “grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men.” And so we follow Jesus’ here at MPBC. Therefore, at the age of 12 (and up to age 18), you can participate in our annual ROP. It’s a way of marking time and saying, “We believe in you as a young adult and we have confidence in you in Christ.”

I wrote about this extensively in my book:


I’m very proud of the young men who completed ROP this year! It gives me great encouragement and hope for the Millennial Generation and let’s me know that the sky is not falling, contrary to Chicken Little.


You see, things are changing in the way we look at young adults and Christianity in this country. There is soon going to be a “weeding out” of the fake versus the real.

I read an article recently (Found here: http://www.millennialevangelical.com/millennials-are-leaving-the-church-they-faked-caring-about-as-kids/) that shared the truth that Christianity (according to polls) is declining in America, but here’s why:

Back in the day, it was “culturally savvy” to call yourself a Christian. It had cultural value—there were benefits to being a “Christian” in American society. As a result, a lot of people called themselves “Christians” who didn’t actually possess true, convictional Christian faith. These people are called “nominals,” or people who are Christians in “name only.”

Today, a number of years after “back in the day,” it is definitely not culturally savvy to be a Christian. People don’t like Christians in most parts of the country. It costs a lot more social currency to be a Christian than it used to. As a result, many of the people who called themselves “Christians,” simply because it was more beneficial than costly to do so, are starting to check “none” on the list of faith options on social surveys. So, you could say, nominal Christianity is declining, but you cannot say Jesus is losing followers.

Christianity may be “losing ground,” but only because it was ground it never really occupied in the first place. American Christianity is bleeding, there’s no doubt about that. As one lets blood from a wound to prevent infection, so the American church must willingly release the nominal Christians whose unbelief in the lifeblood of the church makes them enemies of it.


Blogger Matt Walsh has this to say about Christianity. The title really caught my eye:


“Maybe Christianity In America Is Dying Because It’s Boring Everyone To Death”

What is said here is powerful and without question is controversial (in some circles), but it’s something that needs to be said. I’ve cut and pasted a good chunk of the article here because it needs to be said:

…some 70 percent of us might “identify” as Christian, but how many actually subscribe not to Christianity, but to Convenient Christianity? (Convenientanity, if you like.) How many are the type who call themselves Christian but don’t consider the Bible to be a particularly authoritative document? How many are in the group who see Christianity as nothing more demanding or complex than the 30 second life lessons speech Bob Saget gives to one of the Olson twins at the end of each Full House episode? How many believe that morality and faith can be severed from each other? How many believe in a Christianity that doesn’t include the existence of sin or Hell? How many are relativists? How many are prosperity gospel proponents? How many say they’re Christian but only because they’ve convinced themselves that Jesus loves gay marriage and abortion?

And what happens when you don’t factor these Convenientists — members of the Church of Convenience, proponents of Convenientism — into the equation at all? Are we still at 70 percent? Not hardly. What’s the real number? Forty percent? Thirty? Ten? Less? I don’t know, but it’s depressing, whatever it is.

So while everyone offers their own diagnosis of the cause of this catastrophe, this is mine. The light of the Faith grows dimmer in this culture because of that…kind of Christianity, generally. The lame and bored kind. The flavorless, tame brand.

Every branch of the Faith has become infected by it, and if we want to understand why Christianity is not out winning souls and conquering the culture, look there. Yet many of our fearless leaders, pastors, and pundits think this is, rather than the disease, the remedy. It’s the same remedy they’ve tried for half a century. As the problem gets worse, they don’t change the medication, they just keep upping the dosage. They tell us that in order to bring the sheep into the fold — especially the millennial sheep — Christianity must be as un-Christian as possible. It must be stripped it of its truth, of its sacredness, of its sacrifice, of its morality, of its tradition, of its history, of its hardships, of its joy, and whatever is left will be enough to, if not engage and excite people, at least not scare them away.

And that’s been the strategy of the American church for decades: just try not to scare people. They put on this milquetoast, tedious, effeminate charade, feigning hipness and relevance…

There are still plenty of Christians who desire the true faith, but they are mostly ignored or scolded by the very people who should be leading them. And the Convenientists, of course, find no happiness in their secular Christianity, nor do they find it in secular secularism. Even if they don’t know it, they yearn in the pit of their souls for the true message of Christ, but they rarely hear it. And when they do hear it, there are a million competing voices, many from inside the church, warning them that if they go down this road it might involve changing their behavior and their lifestyle, which is a total hassle, man.

Often that’s enough to dissuade any further investigation. And that’s how we ended up here. That’s it. That’s the problem. It’s plain as day, yet every time this conversation comes up, we’re told that Christianity is declining because Christians are too religious, too bold, too outspoken, too moral, and too firm in their beliefs. That’s the conventional wisdom, but as we’ve seen a thousand times over, the conventional wisdom of an unwise society should never be taken seriously.

If the faith is to regain lost ground in this country, it will only happen when Christianity is presented and understood as what it is: a warrior’s religion. A faith for fighters and soldiers. CS Lewis said it best (as usual):

Enemy-occupied territory–that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.

There. There it is, explained more compellingly in two sentences than many pastors can muster in a lifetime of sermons. This is frightening, militant language, but it’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, and it is, most importantly, accurate. As Christians, we are fighting a war against the Devil himself. We are advancing against the darkest forces of the universe, and we march with God by our side. And all the while, all around us, on a dimension invisible to mortal eyes, angels and demons and supernatural forces, both good and evil, work to defend or destroy us.

That’s how you stop the “decline” of Christianity in America. Tell people the truth. The truth, that’s allMove them. Love them. Make them feel anger, and fear, and longing, and sadness, and happiness, and hope, and determination. All of these things. These are all a part of our Faith, because our Faith is everything. As Chesterton said, “there is more in it; it finds more in existence to think about; it gets more out of life.” Yes, Christianity gets more out of life. And whatever it gets might not be comfortable, convenient, or relaxing, but at least it isn’t boring. And best of all, it’s true.

Well said!

So, I’m hopeful and I’m confident there will be a sifting of Christianity in America and the wheat will be left and the chaff will blow away. What’s left will be strong, courageous and profoundly faithful to Jesus Christ.

And it’s this generation that will do hard things, like end abortion. This video is five minutes long and it’s powerful. It’s a video of young people who could have been aborted but weren’t. It’s amazing…

My Generation Will End Abortion, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ylD7ajPflqo

I must tell you that my kids aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I am proud of my children. Kandace is graduating from high school this weekend at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem.

She finished teaching her last clogging class last night. Here she is when she started (left) and then on the (right) is where she walked out of studio last night.

She said this:

From my first day of dance to walking out of the studio tonight on my last. So bittersweet. I can’t believe it’s over. So many memories were made here. Time really does fly. 💜


She sure has grown up. Here she is with her dance teacher, Tonya Wentz:
She’s now passing the baton to Clara…
I am so thankful for Kandace and for Clara and for these two:
I bet this next picture will make you say, “Aw!!!!”
I love Josh! What a phenomenal man he is!
Katy has been so busy being a mom that’s she’s not had time to blog much. But, she did the other day and here’s an excerpt:
…what I am saying is: don’t sweat the small things of life… and small things are usually material things. It sounds so simple, but it’s hard to apply to life. So. Here I am admitting that maybe I can’t make baby food all natural and do cloth diapers and cook and clean, pack to move home and a million other things and then wonder why there isn’t time to just sit beside the hubby on the couch or maybe write once in a blue moon or even touch that keyboard I haven’t hardly glanced at in months. Just maybe life is going to pass me by and what will I be able to say? Boy, I sure got all those clothes washed and look how much money we saved making baby food? None of that will matter. Time. Time will matter and what I did with it. Did I make a difference? And I used to think only “differences” could be made on extravagant mission trips or on big stages…. Ahh, that was a foolish thing to think. The biggest differences are made not from podiums or classrooms. They are made right at home.
So here I sit in my little home (only to be home for two more months) and savor each moment for what it is: a precious gift only given once. That is precisely why I shall stay home with my Rosebud as she grows never to leave her, for she is my legacy and a legacy can only be made with a whole lotta time, effort and love. I may not be good at this mommy thing all the time, but it’s right where God placed me and that helps me know… He thinks I’m good enough for the job.


And just so you’ll know…she’s now sitting up on her own…



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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.


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:


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.


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


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:


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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For years now I’ve been preaching, teaching, writing and blogging about the importance of raising Christ-Centered young adults and children. Sometimes I feel like it falls on deaf ears.

Do you ever feel that way?

You try and try and try and yet, it feels as if you are barely making a dent?

Sometimes that’s how I feel? I get a bit discouraged from time to time. Just being honest. After all…it’s my blog, right? Am I allowed to be honest? Or am I supposed to be all “pastoral” here too?

I mean people listen and hear the Word of God for weeks and weeks…months and months and…even year after year but they won’t heed the Word of God and then they come to me in a crisis and won’t me to fix it. Think about the audacity of that. Months and months…even years of doing it “my way” (as Frank Sinatra used to sing) and then they want me “the Pastor” to snap my fingers in a counseling session and make it better. Well, I love Jesus and I believe He walked on water, but I can’t! I’m not Him.

Do you know what I do? I just point them right back to the Word of God that they’ve been hearing with deaf ears. I will not back down from teaching the Word of God and using it to help lives. Why? It’s supernatural and it’s all we’ve got. And it’s all we need. All I can do is hope people will become “doers” of the Word and not “hearers” only.

So, I continue to teach and preach because God has told me to. I can’t help it. I’m just mule-headed and stubborn enough to do it and that’s how God made me.

This past weekend I spoke at the North Carolina Homeschool Conference in Winston-Salem.

NCHE Conference

I taught with all I had! And you know what. There were some really good folks there. They wanted…no…check that…they were hungry for how to go about teaching and training their children to follow Christ. You see homeschooling is more than just a method of education, it’s truly a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle where Pam and I have total control and total stewardship of our children. Scary? Yep. Yet, that’s the way God set it up. It’s my job to teach and train my children. In fact, I’m mandated in Ephesians 6:4 to do so.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

I’m to bring up my children in the discipline and instruction OF THE LORD. That’s what the Bible says. As a father that’s my job to educate my children in the ways of the Lord. The rest is fluff. But, that line of thinking will just about get you killed in this “education is everything” society we live in today. Education trumps God. Just look at what we value in our homes. We’ll pick Dancing with the Stars, The Voice and American Idol over talking about the Bible.

I loved what speaker Todd Wilson shared in the keynote on Saturday morning. He had four points…

Todd Wilson

#1 Home is the best place on earth. #2 Parents are the best teachers of their children. #3 Each child is a masterpiece and #4 Relationships with our kids come first.

It was powerful, humorous and blessed my heart. As a man who preaches and teaches at least three times every single week, sometimes I get dry. Man oh man…I was fueled up and reinvigorated this weekend. I was reminded that it is my job to train my children in the ways of the Lord in all facets of their lives.

I want to follow Psalm 78 and be the faithful father and not the stubborn father.

[God] 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.

I am to teach my children to set their hope in God…not a diploma and not getting a high paying job. Life is not about the American Dream. Think about it. Share the Gospel in China and what do you tell them to hope for? Share the Gospel in Ethiopia with people who live in a hut with a dirt floor and what do you tell them to hope for? Are they going to get rich and live comfortably like all of the Americans chasing the DREAM?

Are American Christians really teaching their children to love and desire Jesus or love and desire money, success, material possessions and a comfortable lives? I’m passionate about this. I see it over and over and over again. We SAY one thing and DO another (even in Christendom). We sing songs about our love for Jesus, but live like He’s a nuisance who cramps our style. We often treat Him as a cosmic therapist to make us happy or as a divine butler to bring us stuff.

Lord forgive us and Lord help us to teach our children. Help us to spend time with them. Help us to teach them when we sit down, lie down, rise up and walk along the way (Deut. 6:7). But, in order to do this…we’ve got to be around them. They’ve got to be in our presence in order for us to do so.

Here’s three of my lovely ladies…

The ladies

We had a wonderful time. And Clara got her one of her favorite things…

Clara and Krispy Kreme

Oh the simple things in life. That’s what really matters…

It’s listening to my daughter singing with Andrew Greer this past Sunday.

Kandace and Andrew Greer

It’s seeing Andrew on a “one wheel” tractor that his grandpa refurbished…

Andrew on one wheel tractor

Those are the things that really make me smile.

So what if they don’t make a million dollars? So what if they don’t live in two-story house with four bedrooms and two baths? So what if they live in a mobile home or even 7,000 miles away on the mission field? What really matters…I mean REALLY matters is that they know Jesus and make Him known.

I teach my children all the time that ALL education and ALL learning is really about God Himself. Jesus is the preeminent One. He holds everything together. So, when we’re teaching our children biology, we are teaching them how God put the body together. When I’m teaching Kandace the quadratic equation, I’m teaching her how precise and absolutely succinct our Heavenly Father is in mathematical precision. When we teach about civics and government, I point out the three branches of government in our republic and liken them to the Trinity. When we are teaching about persecution and suffering, I give my children those experiences by taking them to third-world countries on mission trips. I teach my children to do hard things and I’m not necessarily interested in them having it “better” than I had it. What’s “better” about “comfortable?” Was the Apostle Paul comfortable? How about Stephen or the prophet Jeremiah or Jesus on the cross?

Oh I’m passionate and I don’t apologize for it. I’m tired of mediocrity in Christendom and lack of committed dedication. I’m ready to see people put their money where their mouth is and convictions where their time is mostly spent.

If you are a parent, what do you really want for your children? What do you desire? What would be your greatest joy for your child to accomplish? Would it be something in academics or athletics? What about spiritually?

I thank God every day for the privilege of being with my children and for being with them a lot! And so does Pam! We love them and desire to give them our very best.

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

So, I’ll keep on preaching, teaching, writing and blogging. Maybe I’m deluded. Maybe I’m over the top. Maybe I’m off my rocker. But, at least I’m passionate, right? 🙂

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Want a sneak peak of this summer’s weather? This is from the Weather Channel and I don’t agree with them all the time, but I think they are pretty much on this…

I’ll give  you another hint. That’s what it’s going to look like this winter too. El Nino is forming off the coast of S. America and we’re going to see the beginning of that this summer.

It was a great weekend.

Kandace clogged up a storm…

Clara was a pretty little peppermint…

Sure proud of my dancers!

And then…it was year #7.

63 teenagers.

What am I talking about?

Rite of Passage of course…

Here’s one of the eight young adults to go through Rite of Passage this year.

That’s Brooke Phillips.

Here’s the entire crew…

That’s a fine looking crew isn’t it!!

That was the banquet on Saturday night. We had a wonderful barbeque dinner with the families.

ROP Banquet 2014

I have such a heartfelt passion for our young adults. I love them and their families dearly!

ROP Banquet 2

On Sunday morning we had the ceremony. We symbolize the fact that these young adults are receiving the baton of faith from their parents.

Here’s the pass from the Keith and Kim Anderson to their son Scott…

Look at the resolve on Scott’s face:

This fire’s me up!

This is one of my most favorite moments in our church life each year. We are coming alongside the parents and saying, “We value and love your children and we want to see them be about the Father’s business and grow as young adults.” It’s wonderful!!


Another fantastic year and another fantastic crop of young adults. Way to go young men and young ladies!

You know what…

This is beginning to catch on. I’ve been talking about this for a long time. So has Dr, David Black.


I was introduced to this book back in 2007, but he wrote it in 1999. Brother Dave…folks are starting to get it.

I got this in the mail the other day at church…

Not Enough

1/168. Many churches only have 1 hour out of 168 hours each week to disciple the next generation: IT’S NOT ENOUGH. Here’s the backside of the card…

Not Enough 2

There are some really big-time “Youth” names on there like Greg Stier of Dare 2 Share. They are starting to get it. They are starting to see that you can’t just entertain young adults (teens) and think they will hang around after they graduate. We have to do two things:

#1 Make CERTAIN they are truly born again

#2 Involve them. Give them a job

If we’ll do these two things…then the church becomes their church, and NOT just their mom and dad’s church.

I just taught this at the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church.


This is the youth pastor, Pastor Jerry.

RCCC-Pastor Jerry

We look like brothers don’t we. He desires to move the church in the direction of ROP.  I really love those dear folks down there in Cary, NC.

As you know I was recently in Kentucky teaching this. Point is… I really believe folks are starting to get it!

I mentioned in the last post about the myth of the modern gospel message. I’ll return to that next time. Truth is…there are a lot of myths in Christendom today. I so wish we could get back to following Scripture and not these “flash in the pan” methods.



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I want to show you a picture of an old couple…

Kevin and Pam

Oops… No…that’s not right…

This would be the picture of an old couple…

Kevin and Pam at Atlantic BeachPam looks awesome! But, me… Man…I have changed a ton, wouldn’t you say? I was so thin and had such a good looking head of hair! 🙂

Things change…

But, they have changed for the good too. When that first picture was made, these folks didn’t exist in our lives…


So, I’m grateful! No…check that… I’m more than grateful. I’m ecstatic!!!

Here’s the family on Sunday up at my mom and dad’s after hiding Easter eggs…

Family at Easter 2014

Pretty fine looking crew if you ask me!

I’m sure you could show me pictures of how you have changed too. And I’m certain you have been blessed in many ways as well.

Old things…

I like old things. Truth is…the older I get the more I like old things. I guess it makes we feel younger.

I like old phones… I like eating at Cracker Barrel and seeing old signs and old-timey candy. It’s just fun!

As you know…my all time favorite TV show is The Walton’s. I really only like the years that had “John Boy” on there. It’s kind of like when Don Knotts (Barney Fife) left The Andy Griffith Show…it wasn’t any good after that. Recently Ralph Waite (John Walton) died and I saw this 1 1/2 minute spot about him on the INSP network last night and I looked it up. It’s a good one…


He got his priorities right and returned to the “old things,” which was his faith in Christ. The problem is that this is an anomaly. This doesn’t happen much anymore. We continue to lose our young adults at an alarming rate to the world (even those who profess to be followers of Christ).

This Sunday, I’ll be in Raleigh speaking at the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church in Cary, NC.

RCCC ChurchI spoke there last year and they’ve asked me to come back. (I guess I did something right. :))

Here’s the flyer on it that the church has on their website…

It’s a quick-hit day. I’ll be on the road by 6 am Sunday and back around 9 pm Sunday night. Our mission team that just got back from Mexico will be sharing this Sunday at Mt. Pleasant. Don’t skip out on our folks! 🙂

I tell you this to say this. As I was preparing for this one-day conference, I stumbled across something I wrote all the way back in 2008 about Youth Ministry. It’s old to some degree. Mainly because it’s been six years ago. In our church, that almost seems like a life-time. But, the truth of what I wrote back then remains the same in my heart today.

Adult-Centered Youth Ministry


For almost 17 years I taught the Youth class (7th grade through 12th grade) at my church. For two years, I served as Associate Pastor with responsibility for all Youth and Children activities. However, as the years went along I had to stop and think and really take an honest and objective assessment of the results we were getting and had gotten over the previous 17 years. In all honesty, I was disappointed in what I was seeing. During that time, I had also become quite convinced we do not need more programs, nor more bells and whistles, nor more activities for our young adults (youth). I was seeing statistics as reported by the George Barna Research Group and Josh McDowell Ministries that showed we were losing our Christian young people to the world in large part by the time they turned 20 years of age. Why? Because many were not truly born again and most were not engaged in the inner working of the church. I became utterly convinced we must raise the bar and integrate our young adults (teens) into the total life of the church.


The Lord began to reveal to me that in order to hold on to our young adults, we needed to concentrate our full, undivided attention on holding them responsible and accountable for their attitudes and behaviors. For sure, I knew some people wouldn’t understand. But on the other hand, I knew what the Lord was showing me in His Word regarding moving children to adulthood.


It is time we “raise the bar” for our young people. A truly Biblical and Christ-driven approach can and must form the core of what a church does in regards to the young adults and children attending there. And that core is this: the overall objective in youth work must be to lead teenagers to Christian maturity (1 Tim 4:12). If we are not leading them to mature Christian adulthood, we are spinning our wheels, spending a lot of money on activities and staff, but ultimately are failing to accomplish God’s objective for teens: maturity that leads to adulthood.


Below is a process for leading children, teenagers and young adults to Christian maturity that involves at least four basic commitments on the part of a church.


1. Resist the temptation to give in, promote and push an “adolescent” approach to youth ministry.

Dr. David Black, professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a very dear friend and a mentor of mine, wrote a wonderful book entitled: The Myth of Adolescence. It totally changed my understanding of youth ministry and raising and training my own four children. The book details and defines what the Bible teaches about the stages of life. Did you know the Bible has nothing to say about an “adolescent” stage in life? In Scripture, there are two types of people: children and adults. Unfortunately, in our society adolescence has become a waiting period of leisure with few responsibilities and little or no meaningful contact with adults for our young people. This isolation from adults is one of the most harmful developments of adolescence and has provided a breeding ground for the rampant feeling of alienation among our youth today.


According to Dr. Black, the way you can tell that someone believes in an adolescent approach to youth ministry is by the programs they develop to segregate youth from adults. He goes on to say, “Most youth ministries have their own Sunday School, youth missions, youth small groups, youth worship, youth evangelism teams, youth choir, youth discipleship programs, youth retreats, and youth outings. Youth leaders, who have swallowed the myth of adolescence, assume that by isolating the youth into their own independent subgroup in the church they will be better able to instill in them Christian values. The truth is that this solution is worse than the original problem.”


Studies show most teens lose interest in the church during the seventh through twelfth grades. This is because they have simply been “entertained.” Seldom do churches today seek to integrate them into the body-life of the church (which involves responsibility, not just fun and games). A church should focus on helping young people make the transition from childhood into adulthood spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. The Bible clearly teaches that it’s the parents (Dads leading) who are the ones responsible for raising their children spiritually (Ephesians 6:1-4, Deut. 6:1-10, Hebrews 12:5-11). Yes, the church should come alongside and help the family do this important work. But, the church should never give the impression to the parents that they (the church) will do the job of spiritually training their kids for them. It’s the churches job to help integrate even young people who don’t have parents actively involved in the church by “adopting” them into families within the church who can help mentor them (Titus 2); thereby showing them what a family structure should look like in our culture today.


2. Integrate teens with adults in every typical church setting and activity.

This is a step that most churches are afraid to take. Why? Because the culture has split our children into “graded” categories in everything they do…from school, to teams and now…even in the church. Some churches today never had the children or teenagers in the regular worship service with the adults. You will never find this occurring in the pages of Scripture…not even once!


Mark DeVries, a former youth pastor, in his book, Family-Based Youth Ministry said, “Teenagers will not learn the skills required of mature adults in a peer-centered youth Sunday-school class. They will not learn these skills by talking with their friends. The process occurs as the less mature repeatedly have opportunity to observe, dialogue and collaborate with the more mature.”


Many Christian churches across America today are seeing the merit of integrating young adults (7th-12th grades) into a Sunday School (Bible Study) class that is led by adults and mixed with adults. This class is often called a “Mentoring Class.” This model is taken from Scripture as Jesus modeled discipleship to His young Apostles (whom, scholars tell us were mostly teenagers other than Peter, who was married) and the Apostle Paul with young Timothy and Titus.


Therefore, Youth can and should:

  • read Scripture during the worship service
  • usher and pass out bulletins
  • sing with the adult choir
  • help with teaching younger children’s Sunday School classes with their parents
  • serve as greeters
  • go on missions trips with other adults
  • attend “adult” Sunday School classes
  • help operate the audio/video equipment for services
  • help in all areas of the church (i.e., with preparation and clean-up for meals), etc.


Our young adults do all the above at our church. The wonderful thing about this is the transformation we have seen in our young people. They have “ownership” in what is going on in the church. It’s not just their parent’s church, they say, “It’s my church.” If a young person, or anyone for that matter, feels like they are making a difference and have a stake in what’s going on, they will be much less likely to abandon the church when they leave the church for college or work. Even when they move away for college or work, they will find a church and seek to plug-in. Therefore, it is essential that we not deny young people this kind of involvement with adults. If we do, we will be sending our teenagers into the world without truly preparing them for the challenges of adulthood. Ultimately, if they relate only to their peers, they will most likely remain trapped in immaturity. On the other hand, young people who have been fortified with significant adult relationships are consistently the ones who exhibit responsible behavior and who are able to resist involvement in negative behaviors such as rebellion, drug abuse, and promiscuity.


Thus, the most important foundation a youth ministry can have in its work with teens is providing them with opportunities for significant dialogue and relationships with mature Christian adults, which will lead to belonging, involvement and service. This is especially important for those teens who do not come from Christian homes and who therefore need a circle of adult Christians to model the Christian life for them. Again, a church should seek to develop a culture whereby young people in this condition are “adopted” into a family within the church. Yes, this can get messy. But, our young people need more than a room to go to and play video games and eat pizza and have a short devotion. They need to see what a biblical “home” looks like. Churches should seek to take youth who come to their church without parents and “adopt” them into families who have a desire to mentor that young person while they’re at the church and “show them” what a family looks like Scripturally.


3. Reject the myth that healthy development among youth requires a strong break with their parents.

Although peers exercise some control over a teen’s choice of dress, music, and entertainment, only when parents are extremely negligent, do peers exercise more control over the teen’s choice of beliefs and relational styles than their parents. It remains a fact that in the vast majority of cases parents remain the single most important influence in the development of a teen’s character and personality. Children desire experiences with their parents. An article in the Journal of Research on Adolescence, concluded that (1) equating the youth years with inevitable rebellion is inaccurate; (2) the predictable disintegration of parent-teen relationships is false; and (3) teens are more likely to support parental values than to be in conflict with them. This means that more of our programs in church need to be designed for the youth themselves to serve and lead while providing them with mature mentors (which includes their parents).


To implement the ideas detailed above, I implemented what is called: “Rite of Passage” (ROP) in our church. ROP is a process for our young people whereby, when they turn twelve, they can participate in a program that will acknowledge them as a “Young Adult” in the church. This program has been invaluable in letting our young people know what the expectations are of their parents, the church and God, as we take what the Bible says about becoming young adults. We do not have a “youth” pastor, because we don’t see this role depicted in Scripture. I encourage “Youth Pastors” to change their title to “Family Pastor.” Why? Because, the main strategy of a church (regarding young people) should be to come alongside and assist parents in raising Christ-Centered young adults…not doing it for them. Parents, particularly fathers, are going to be held responsible and accountable by the Lord in how they raise, teach and train their children in the discipline of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)


An adult-centered youth ministry is not a program to be added to a church’s educational ministry plan. Instead, it is a foundational model with one primary goal: to equip all believers (youth included) to grow toward mature and responsible Christian-adulthood. If this becomes a church’s priority, it will radically effect that church’s philosophy of youth ministry. Instead of trying newer and newer gimmicks to get youth to attend our “programs,” we will simply teach, train and equip our young people and show them that we value, love and appreciate them enough to include them in the body-life of the church.


4. This model is not something “new,” but something “old” that comes directly from the Bible.

What has been described is not a “new” model or philosophy for youth ministry. It is simply a return to God’s design for the church as detailed in the Bible (Luke 2, Deut. 6, Heb. 12, Eph. 6, and the Proverbs). Jesus had no organizational chart or curriculum. His priority was to call his youthful disciples “to be with him” (Mark 3:14). Jesus’ ministry was relational, and ours should be the same. The Christian faith becomes real to teenagers when they see it lived out in real-life situations. In short, an adult-centered youth ministry is not about creating special programming for young people. The goal is to provide them with the kind of foundational relationships with Christian adults that will lead them to spiritual maturity. In doing so, we seek especially to connect youth from non-traditional homes, (divorced, blended, etc.), with adult mentors. If our youth ministries are to become Biblical and have a meaningful impact, they must reject the traditional model of highly programmed activities and entertainment and instead give the central place to connecting young people to mature Christian adults. Why? Because if we don’t, we will continue to lose our young people to the culture, as they leave our churches in their early 20’s.


Churches should become committed to strengthening families by keeping them together as much as possible. We should be very careful not to over-schedule activities at the church, so we can allow families time to truly be a family during the week. In our church, our teens function in every possible position of service. We work very hard to provide activities which allow participation with adults and in family oriented settings. The goal is NOT just to group the young adults together for “play” or “entertainment.” We do not want to foster or reinforce to them that they have an identity separate from the rest of the adult community in the church. Please understand, it is not my that God does not work in youth groups, but rather He can accomplish the much, much more when teens are elevated to their high calling within the general body of believers.


In conclusion, during their teen years, when young adults are told they are not needed by society, they have a special need to “belong” to a community. Thus, while waiting for “adult” status as defined by their culture, they need to have a sense of belonging to a group of people they respect and from whom they can receive recognition. Our churches must rise to the occasion. If we, as adults make the church a community to which young people want to belong, we will be helping our teenagers move more smoothly into mature adulthood. Ultimately, the Body of Christ becomes a significant factor in the moral and spiritual development of our young people. Not surprisingly, when teenagers are treated with respect and are shown that they are valued, they will reject the self-absorption of immaturity and rise to the occasion of becoming a young adult who spiritually flourishes.


To God be the glory!

Pastor, D. Kevin Brown

Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church

Wilkesboro, NC



So, I’ll be in Cary on Sunday. I’ll be sharing how to implement these things in the Church and home. Pray for me that I might effectively share these principles and they may be heartily received. They are good, good folks down their in Cary. I can’t wait to renew old friendships!

Old things…

I love them…

And that includes the principles and tenets taught in the Word of God. I love young people and I love families and I love my family. My heart is full considering all the “old things” I have to be grateful for today!


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When I was a boy I was told that three most important things to remember in life are:

#1 People are more important than things

#2 People are more important than things

#3 People are more important than things

Do you agree? I think you probably do. Then why do we go after the “things” so much? Why do we work so hard for stuff…material possessions? Why is it that the desire to be comfortable in this life drives us to be uncomfortable because of all the hours we work and time we miss with our families? What’s really important in life? People or things?

I think we’d all say: PEOPLE.

I try to practice what I preach, albeit not too well at times. One of the things I had promised Andrew that we would do is join a group called “Contenders.” It’s a group of dads and sons that seek to follow the Biblical admonition to be “contenders of the faith.” Clara and Pam are going to a group for moms and daughters called “Keepers of the Home.” It’s important to spend time with our kids. We all know that. And I thoroughly enjoy my time with my children.

Contenders meet twice per month on Monday nights. Here was our project for the first night:

Andrew building

See all of those tools lying there. That’s the project. Learn the tools by name and what they do and then use them. Here’s some other dads and sons…

contenders 2

Yep…people are more important than things.

Here’s another proof of that.

Recently our “Mentoring Sunday School Class” had an outing called, “Survivor” at the home of Mark and Kathy Eller (a wonderfully hospitable couple in our church). What is a mentoring class? Well, we take the concept from our Rite of Passage philosophy. What’s that? (We’re getting deeper and deeper aren’t we? :))

I wrote this book 2 1/2 years ago…

In the book I chronicle the fact that the church can come alongside families and encourage the family to teach and train their children in their homes in an intentional purposeful way. Jesus at the age of 12 said, “Didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” Thus, at age 12, Jesus was seeking the things of God. He set the example for all of our children. We push that at the church. We push that to the Dads. We push that to the moms. We don’t have a youth group or children’s church, or even a nursery. Everything we do is via the conduit of the family. We believe that’s Biblical.

One of the ways we seek to raise the bar for our young adults is to encourage them to take ownership of their faith. From the age of 12 and up, you can go to any Sunday School/Bible Study class in the church you desire. You can go with your parents to their class, or you can go to our “mentoring class.” The mentoring class is something we’ve taken from Titus 2, where Paul admonishes Titus to encourage the older to teach the younger. We have parents and other adults in the class along with our young adults. We don’t just have a room full of teenagers with one teacher trying to maintain order and keep everyone off their cell phones. No sir. We don’t have that problem. We’ve mixed adults with young adults. Isn’t that the way life is going to be. Since when do you work with peers who are all your same age or within 2-3 years of your same age? That’s not “REAL WORLD.”

So, we don’t spoon-feed our young adults. In fact we don’t even use the term “youth.” It has a negative connotation in many respects. So, “Young Adults” it is. Because that’s how we want them to see themselves. YOUNG ADULTS. So…get this…in the mentoring class they actually often teach the class. Yes, they are expected to learn the Scriptures well enough to teach them. Think about it. If they can do Algebra, Biology and Chemistry, they can certainly learn to teach from the Word of God.

So, back to “Survivor.” Annually, the mentoring class goes to this wonderful couple’s home on W. Kerr Scott Lake in Wilkesboro and the young adults have a blast competing against each other in bicycle races, swimming, canoeing and the like. But, here’s my favorite part…

Wayne Shepherd

See the man in the orange T-shirt? That’s Wayne Shepherd. He’s the teacher of the Mentoring class and he’s also the Principal of West Wilkes High School, where the majority of our young adults end up in high school. (We do have some at Wilkes Central High School and a few at North Wilkes High School and a bunch of homeschoolers.) Wayne has been leading the class in teaching from the books of Job, Ecclesiastes and even some of my Wednesday evening teaching on 1 Timothy. If they get the question right, they get a piece of candy and their team gets a point in the “Survivor” contest. Man are those young adults getting it and they are having fun in the meantime!

Survivor 2

Yes, learning the Bible is fun and you learn it best when you have to study, prepare and then teach it! You know that if you’ve ever taught a Sunday School lesson or a Bible Study.

Did you see those smiles? Yep…people are more important than things.

All the family comes…not just “youth.”


More great pictures:

See the man in the green hat? That’s Mark Eller. He is our host.

The ladies were on the “red team.”

Guys are on the “blue team.”

The ladies won the doughnut passing contest…

The two-legged, one-blind-folded race was super!

Race those canoes!!!

First team with all team members to the dock win!!!

Okay…here’s another example of the joy of people versus things. It comes by way of some scenes from our annual Deacon/Staff dinner at our home this past Saturday. We had such a blast. I am so blessed to serve with such wonderful people.

Deacon dinner

Deacon dinner 2

This is one of my favorite pictures. That’s Ken Bryan. He gave me permission to show you this picture.

Ken Bryan

He’s on a diet. Can you tell. His wife, Renee said, “Are you kidding me?” 🙂 He told Renee and me that there was fruit on his plate. I counted two strawberries and one cherry. 🙂 Did I tell you about my plate? I didn’t, did I? I don’t plan on it. 🙂

Guilty as charged!

We had close to 50 people at our house! So, we had some tables set up in our garage.

Survivor 3

Yes…I’ll say it again… People are more important than things.

I wrote a “Daily Devotion” this morning about this couple…

Kevin and Pam back in the day

Don’t recognize them?

Kevin and Pam at Atlantic Beach

Maybe you recognize this good looking couple? 🙂 So let’s review. The three things about life that you must remember:

#1 People are more important than things

#2 People are more important than things

#3 People are more important than things

By the way…just so you’ll know. I’m going hurricane dodging. It’s that time of year. It’s time to head to the coast with the most. We’re off to the beach this Saturday. So, I’ll be signing off for about a week. I’ll miss you. I hope you miss me and mine. 🙂

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Here’s a little bit of “this and that” for your reading pleasure…

I received a great email yesterday. I preached a message on handling anger on Sunday. Here is an excerpt from the email.

Just wanted to take a moment and say thank you for your message on Sunday…anger and the battle in the mind! Whew!!  Tough ones!!  I’m going to be clearly open and honest here, and with absolutely no intention as being self righteous.  As someone who has fought through years of depression, anxiety, and yes, even anger, I have sat with more counselors and tried more medication than what I care to admit.  And yes, I do feel at times those things are necessary…and I’m not trying to discourage or belittle the matter in any way.  But, I have found that when I was finally ready to sit with the Great Counselor, be honest with Him ( He knows anyway!!), and allow Him to work in my heart is when the Holy Spirit began to change me.  It’s not been an easy road and the hard stuff in life is never easy, but there are great rewards.  So, I thank you for an encouraging and challenging message.  It couldn’t have come at a better time for this week. And I have used your phrase MUCH this week….”you are responsible for your response.  Do not return evil for evil”…

Isn’t that great? And here’s the cool thing. I don’t preach topical messages. I preach straight through Scripture. I’ve been in the book of Acts for 2 years and 2 months now. I might be done with it by this time next year. 🙂 Anyway, God is the One who orchestrates the messages, not me. So, when Paul blew his stack in front of the Sanhedrin in Acts 23, well…God used that to help a lot of folks deal with anger. Neat! God’s sovereignty at work!

I sometimes talk about the weather and I must tell you that I love the weather. God is in TOTAL control of the weather and mankind can do NOTHING about it (but try to forecast it). There is much talk about global warming and I must tell you that I believe it is WAY overblown. So does this guy.


This is Joe Bastardi. I think I’ve mentioned him before. But, he’s really a good forecaster. He’s on Fox News a lot. The Weather Channel (owned by NBC) won’t touch him. The week of the nasty tornado in Moore, OK…well, he predicted “killer storms” and drew with his pointer over Oklahoma and Kansas. Here’s his latest forecast for the hurricane season and it’s a BIG one!

I guess you heard the Boy Scouts caved in last week. Gay boys can now come into the Scouts. Amazing. The Boy Scouts logo says this…

In my mind the BSA can no longer use this phrase in good faith.  It has demonstrated by its actions that the organization’s values are not timeless, and instead they are governed by changing tides of polls, politics and public opinion. The saddest part of today’s decision is what the organization is teaching our children and young people in the program.  I read a post from an organization that is looking at planning an alternative to Scouts. It’s www.onmyhonor.net. They said this:
The BSA is teaching our kids that when your values become unpopular, just change them.
The BSA is teaching our kids that when your convictions are challenged, just cave to peer pressure.
The BSA is teaching our kids that public opinion polls are more important than principles.
The BSA is teaching our kids that you should not stand up for what is right instead you should stand up for what is popular.
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.” BSA is teaching our kids through its new mission that we don’t make ethical and moral choices through the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law but we make them like an unprincipled politician does, by putting your finger in the air and seeing which way the wind is blowing or by looking at the latest polling results. 
What kind of a message are we sending to young people about being brave when its top adult leaders don’t even have the courage to stand up to the pressure of a militant lobby when the bullies in Washington DC, Hollywood or even some of their own renegade councils start pressuring and harassing them?  We hoped to keep sex and politics out of Scouting. Now we grieve for those young boys who will not have the wonderful traditions and experiences that so many of us have had in Scouting.

See this young man?

Lincoln graduation

That’s 2013 Class President, Jonathan Harwick of Lincoln County High in Stanford, KY. He’s a hero in my book. He was told not to pray at his high school graduation and he did anyway!  Here’s part of what he said: “Thank you for helping us get here safely today, Lord, and thank you for the many blessings you have given us.” What’s so bad about that? What’s so insidiously evil about that? Here’s the full story if you would like to read it.

As I think about Jonathan, I think about the high expectations we should have for our young people. Yet, many parents are oblivious to what’s going on in their child’s life. Don’t believe me? This quote came from a recent “Rite of Passage” participant in our church when I asked this…

Statistics show 70% to 92% of all Christian young people, who were raised in church, will abandon their faith by their 20th birthday. Why do you think this is so and do you think this could happen to you?
Here was a response from one of our young adults:
“…in my opinion, the main reason is because of the lack of expectations that their parents request from them while they grow up. Sadly, this example can be easily seen in many teenagers in middle and high school these days. …teenagers…are attending church because they are told to… However, they are actually just living a fake Christian life. Their parents are oblivious to what they are doing with their boyfriends or girlfriends in their “2nd” life and are really not even present in the process of guiding their children on the TRUE Christian path.”

Did you catch the phrase, “…parents are oblivious to what they are doing…” Why is this the case? Is it because we are too busy trying to make money or make sure the kids are in every sport, dance class and extra-curricular activity available? Is it because we are trying to vicariously do through our children what we couldn’t do ourselves?

The same is true in our churches. I read this quote recently…

Youth leaders, in an attempt to be “relevant,” have begun to abandon a true reliance on God’s Word and a deep belief in the inherent power of the Bible. They have lost faith in God’s ability to get his work done through his inspired, written Word. So they try in all sorts of ways to “spice up” the message. They analyze the newest Lady Gaga song. They show lots of YouTube clips to demonstrate their main points…. Talks become more funny, more cute, and seemingly more ‘relevant” … and the Bible plays a less and less prominent role.

Here is what many of us youth leaders have forgotten: the Word of God alone holds inherent, divine power to accomplish the saving work of God in people’s hearts and lives. God’s Word is God’s chosen way to get his work done in student’s lives. So when we make our talks cute, relevant, and funny—and shove the Bible from its rightful prominent place in our teaching—we have stopped grounding our teaching in the only truly powerful foundation: God’s inspired Word.

Jon Nielson, Bible Study: A Student’s Guide (P&R, 2013), 36–37. Full article here…

That’s why I wrote my book! God help us to think! 🙂 So long for now…

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