restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


Rite of Passage: A Return to Scriptural Adulthood

 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 adults.

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 adult?

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 your parents?

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 equipped:

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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