Rite of Passage: A Return to Scriptural
D. Kevin Brown
Recently our 12-18 year-olds participated in a
“Rite of Passage” banquet and ceremony at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in
Wilkesboro, NC. What is this? It’s simply a wonderful process and
experience for our young people, their parents, and the church as a
whole that points back to Scripture as the model for adulthood.
Why did we do this? In our western culture, we don’t really have a way
of telling when a young person becomes an adult. Many ask, “Is it when
they can drive, vote, drink alcohol, leave home, and hold down a job?”
It’s very hard to tell. Therefore, as a church, we decided to change
that and give our young people a process to help develop them into godly
young men and women. We call this process, “Rite of Passage.”
A “Rite of Passage” is a powerful means of shaping young lives for God.
It is a specific time when parents and the church work together to blend
loving words with caring training and admonition into a meaningful
process, culminating in a ceremony designed to leave a lasting memory
and an indelible mark on the lives of our young people. This process of
preparation and training for the “Rite of Passage” provides a
stabilizing point for the rest of the young person’s life. Perhaps most
of all, it gives young men and young women the tangible knowledge that
their parents’ blessing, the church’s blessing, and, most importantly,
God’s blessing is with them as they continue to grow and mature as young
The young people had to be between the ages of 12-18 to participate and
they had to voluntarily complete a very detailed and rigorous
question-and-answer phase in writing. These questions and answers were
reviewed by the parents and the pastor in detail from a Biblical
perspective. Here’s a sampling of some of the questions we asked:
How does a person become a Christian? Tell in
detail about your salvation experience.
What does it mean to act like and behave like an
What is your opinion of the Word of God, and
what role should the reading of God’s Word on a consistent basis play in
your life? Why?
What does it mean to be obedient and to honor
How should you speak to your parents (tone of
voice, attitude, facial expression).
If you were told you were going to die in two
weeks, how would you spend the remainder of your life?
What does the Bible teach about espousal,
courtship and relationships with the opposite sex?
What does it mean to be responsible with money?
What type of friends should a young adult have?
What do you need to do to make changes or adjust
your priorities to draw even closer in your walk with Jesus Christ?
Ultimately, this process has “raised the bar” for
our young people at Mt. Pleasant. After completing the “Rite of
Passage,” the young adults are assured of and have been trained and
To affirm the claims of Christ in his/her life.
To discern the true values of life according to
Scripture and to be able to live by them.
To practice the presence of Christ every day by
having a consistent time of Bible study and prayer to the Lord.
To be able to accept himself/herself as God
created him/her and to take joy in it.
To experience the love of others and to know how
to give love to others by being mannerly, respectful, and obedient to
authority, particularly you, their parents.
To be an exemplary role model so that other
people will want to know the Lord Jesus because of his/her testimony.
Statistics show that 92% of Christian teenagers will leave the church
and abandon their faith by their 20th birthday, and over half of these
never return to the church (George Barna Research Group). We have found
through the years that a steady diet of activities, fun, and
entertainment are not enough to mature our young people. All too often,
when the fun and games end, they walk away because they’ve had little or
no part in the church or its ministries. When looking at what the Bible
teaches regarding children, one sees the premium placed on respect,
obedience, and honor (“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an
example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in
spirit, in faith, in purity,” 1 Tim. 4:12.) Therefore the church and
the parents are doing all we can to integrate our young men and women
into every facet of “church life.”
We have begun this process by including them into our “adult” choir and
placing them on committees as apprentices. We are going to continue to
do more. We want them to assist in being ushers and greeters and in
teaching children’s classes, Vacation Bible School classes, working on
Brotherhood and WOM projects, and the like. It should be said that we
are not asking for our young people to become substitutes for
adults. Certainly, we recognize they are “young” adults and need
training and mentoring. Rather, they are essential, complementary
components to our more seasoned adults. They will learn what it means to
truly be a Christian adult through this training and mentoring based on
Titus 2 in the Bible.
Ultimately, this is an apprenticeship program that
involves our young people into the life and activities of the church as
a whole, not just a separate functioning entity to themselves. This
process enables our young adults to have a better understanding of the
ministries of the church and will cultivate within them an interest in
using their talents for God. The key is involvement. We believe
youth learn best by doing and not just by being entertained. Our young
people are beginning to see themselves as a significant part of God’s
family and as making an important contribution to their church.
We have learned through this process that our young people will indeed
rise to the level of our expectations as parents and leaders. Low
expectations lead to low achievement, while high expectations lead to
high achievement. We’re excited to begin seeing the winds of spiritual
change in our young men and young women. What’s really exciting is to
know this concept is not really anything new at all. It’s as timeless
and ageless as the Bible itself.
If you are interested in learning more about the
“Rite of Passage,” please contact me at
July 9, 2008
D. Kevin Brown is Senior Pastor at Mt. Pleasant
Baptist Church in North Wilkesboro, NC.
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