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An Open Letter about College…

Dear Parents of Teenagers,

It’s just your friendly, neighborhood thirty-something youth worker here. I know that some of you are already planning and saving for college for your teenager. I applaud you in that. I know that for some of you, getting your student into the “right school” is a huge stress. I get that. As another person in your student’s life that cares for them, I want to share something that can help. It doesn’t look like what everyone else in society is doing, and it may seem a little strange, but there is much about following Christ that fits both of the preceding statements.

As a youth worker, my calling is to help you as parents fulfill Deuteronomy 6:4-9. I am on your team. My job is to help you speak God’s truth into the lives of your students. To “be in their corner” when maybe no one else in their life seems to be pointing them to truth. I am here to help.

A couple of first questions:

1) Do you want to see your student prepared for life after college and succeed in their early adult life?

2) Do you want to see your student start life after college without being shackled by piles of student loan debt?

Any parent that cares for their child is going to answer “Yes!” to both. So let’s approach this in a way that can reduce your stress and help equip your student to boldly chase what God has called them to do in their life.

Is your child cut out for college? I do not mean this in the least as a rude, condescending question. The fact is that some students have passions wired into them that require little or no post high school education to make their life. Pushing someone like this into a four-year college is a waste of time and money. For example, My older brother is a welder. A very good one. He won a contest in high school that gave him a lot of free tuition at the local community college welding department. He has worked at several companies (his current one for several years) and has made a life for himself. He has worked on VERY LARGE mining equipment to make repairs or help fabricate replacement parts.

Maybe your student just needs a certificate from a local trade school to do what they feel led to do in life. Give your student permission to prayerfully go this track. If they decide later that a college degree will enhance what they are already doing in their career, You can cross that bridge when you get there.

Time is not of the essence. In the rat-race of essays, guidance counselors, admissions personnel, and slick college marketing packets, It’s so easy to see those “4 year degree tracks” and get sucked in. I can tell you from experience, that if your student makes their degree in 4 years, you should applaud them. However, more and more students are extending that time for good (and not so good) reasons. Some are changing majors midstream, deciding that they course they had set from day one of college was not going to work. Others are taking a lighter load in order to work, so they can graduate with less student loan debt. I did both. I finished my BS in 6.5 years, graduating with Magna Cum Laude (Second highest honors) with only $10,000 in student loan debt… From a private university! There is one key that made this happen.

Imagine the job interviews… “So you took 6 or 7 years to finish college, but worked like crazy to fund it so you could have the degree in your hand with zero debt?”… “That’s the kind of work ethic we need here!”… Hired!

Utilizing the Community College System. My first three years of that time period was spent in theivy techCommunity College System in Illinois. I was able to take classes that would transfer to several different Bachelor’s Degree tracks for a fraction of what it cost at a State University. I was able to live at home with parents and commute, saving room and board. I was also able to schedule classes where I could take 15 credit hours in two days a week (long days, but it worked). By doing that, I was able to work a significant number of hours at my job, allowing me to “pay as I go” as I completed the first portion of college. Things like English, Math, Literature, and Business classes all transferred to the Private University I attended. In fact, I brought in a two year degree in Business, which allowed me to only have to take one more class to fill out a Minor in Business Administration!

In Indiana, they have done a great job aligning the community college with the state schools to allow the students to do a 2+2 for many majors. They take two years of community college to get general education requirements, then they go to a state university to complete specialized majors. They have made satellite learning centers all over the state. In fact, there is even one where I live in a town of 2500 people.

Check what will transfer. My wife took a little different path than I did, with similar results. She had her mind on a teaching degree. She started in Community college, but discovered that only the classes she took in her first three semesters were going to transfer. So instead of “wasting” a semester to get a two-year degree before transferring, she transferred to the four-year university at three semesters, and completed a Bachelor’s degree in 5 years, while working part time. She planned ahead for what was coming up, and worked her plan.

Don’t pay for the name.  There are many that would argue that degrees from prestigious colleges are worth more. That may be the case for a Princeton/Harvard/Yale/Stanford, but beyond that, I call “Hogwash”. Employers seeking a degree in the field are going to look at how you did in class and whether you went to class, instead of where you went to school. There are many schools that feel that they can charge a premium, just because of who they are (or were). This is not just state schools. There are Christian Colleges that also do this.

Would I love to see many students get a Christ-centered education, so they can be prepared to be a generation that changes our society? Yes. Would I like to see that at the expense of them spending the first 20 years (!) of life after college paying off student loan debt? No.

Parents, I want to see you and your family be different. In a way that honors God with the resources He has blessed you with. I want to see your students leaving the nest in a way that they can follow the dreams that God has placed in their hearts to serve Him in vivid, society-altering ways. These are decisions that can affect whole family trees.

Let’s do this.

Signed, Your Youth Worker.

 would you like to know more? Dave Ramsey has some excellent tips here on college…



Brent originally published this post at his blog,

WHAT’S GOIN’ ON?! Newsletter – Dec 15, 2013

Yes, you guessed it!  It’s time for another news update…lots of good things to share!  Sit back for a few minutes…I’ll try to make it enjoyable…

This Sunday, December 15, immediately following the morning service, there will be a Q&A session with Garry Jones.  Our deacon’s have called Garry to be our interim pastor starting January 2014.  This meeting will last approximately 30-45 minutes, and the deacons and their lovely brides have agreed to watch our little whippersnappers, so you can listen in peace!  If you young parents want to hold hands during the meeting, you might even count it as a date!  Start thinking of questions you may have for Garry, don’t be shy!  Whatever you do…don’t miss this!

Same day, December 15, different time, 6 p.m. people!  Lottie Moon Missions Soup Supper.  It was 5 degrees this morning…OUCH! That’s COLD!  Let’s dirty every bowl the kitchen committee has in the pantry trying out all the different choices that y’all will be bringing that night!  (Sorry, Ms. Charlea!)  Don’t forget your missions offering!  How often can you say you helped make a difference on the other side of the world?

Sunday, December 22, is the church family Christmas at 6:00 p.m.  I think Sabrina has all her slots filled, but if you really want to do something you need to let her know ASAP.  Call to hear her sweet voice at 765-562-2249.  And Sabrina, we changed our mind AGAIN!  Put Kathy and me down for “Silent Night.” (Sorry!)

Please be praying for the mission team that will be driving to Atlanta, GA, on December 16-18…Whoa!  They will be volunteering at an Operation Christmas Child processing center.  Totally cool!  And until you hear differently, there will be a special prayer time each Sunday morning at 8:15 a.m. to lift up the Pastor Search Committee.  This is a very important time for our church…let’s get it right!  Your prayers ARE needed.  Thanks, in advance!

Here is the list of who will be filling our pulpit in the coming weeks:  12/15 Steve McNeil, 12/22 Andy Sutton, 12/29 Derron Connor, 1/5 Joe Coppedge.  Looking forward to this!

252 is HUGE for so many of our non-church kids and we need your help!  Volunteers are needed to help with activity time for all our classes.  Talk with Andy or Janine Sutton if you’re interested.  Think of all the cardio-vascular workout you’ll get!…Awesome!

Sunday, January 5, 2014, there will be a church council meeting at 8:30 a.m. for ALL 2014 church ministry chairpersons, as well as EVERYONE who serves in a church ministry for 2014.  The council meetings are open meetings, so all members are welcome to attend.  There will also be a business meeting after the morning service.  Be there, or be square!

Looking ahead…February 28- March 1, 2014 there will be a Marriage Renewal Weekend at Highland Lakes.  More information will be available beginning December 15.  Don’t forget about VBS!  More information to come sooooooon!

Lastly, don’t forget the church office will be closed on the following days:  12/24-12/27, and 12/31-1/1.


Back 40 to 10/40… The Bhutanese Refugees of Rochester

This weekend, my wife and I are on a scouting trip for the missions team at our church. We are in Rochester, New York, with a pastor that ministers to a church plant founded and full of Bhutanese refugees that have been relocated from Refugee camps in Nepal and India to the US by Catholic Charities. There are approximately 3-5000 in the Rochester Metro Area, and many thousands more in other parts of the country, such as about 10,000 in the Atlanta area.

We got to meet with one of the Bhutanese pastors at the Plant yesterday. His family was brought to Christ by the efforts of William Carey in the village in India where this man’s great grandparents lived. His grandparents were some of the first Christians in Bhutan. His father died as a martyr for the faith there.

This young pastor planted 11 churches and a Pastoral training center in the Bhutanese refugee camps before coming to the US. He turns 35 this year. This young  pastor was one of the first 5 Nepali-speaking Christians in Rochester. He voluntarily relocated his family there, because there was no Bhutanese pastor in the area.  There are now between 200-300 Nepali-Speaking Christians.

We were taken to a “Home Fellowship Meeting”. The best way I can describe it is how I would envision a house church meeting in another country. We were taken to an apartment in a Government-Assisted housing unit in downtown Rochester, where we entered an apartment packed with Nepali speaking people. There were probably 40 in a 15×10 living room praising God, reading scripture, and one young man shared a message from the Bible. He spoke for a couple minutes in English, then repeated the thought in Nepali. It was amazing. This man works as a translator for one of the hospitals in Rochester to translate Bhutanese patient care needs to English speaking medical personnel.

There was so much that we experienced. Pray for the refugees as they adapt to the changes they face by being relocated to a new country and culture.


Brent originally published this post at his blog,

December 1, 2013 Newsletter



Whew!  Just got done with our turkey dinner, so it’s time to let you know what you need to know for December.  Here it is….


We collected 80 boxes for Operation Christmas Child…WooHoo!  $574.03 was also collected which will cover the $560 we needed to ship the boxes out.  God is good!  Thanks to everyone who helped.  Only 350 more days until next year’s collection…I think I’ll start early this time!


Reminder:  Immediately after the December 1st  a.m. service, there will be a business meeting to vote on the proposed budget and a couple other items.  I’ve been told the meeting will be SHORT!  You’ll have to let me know if it actually is!  Someone vote yes for me!


Saturday, December 14 from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. the youth will be out trashing Pastor Brent’s place (I mean, having their Christmas party)!  I’m not sure if there is a gift exchange or if the end time is correct.  Check with Pastor Brent…he’s the MAN!


Sunday, December 15 at 6:00 p.m. is a Soup Fellowship.  We’ll be remembering Lottie Moon a little differently this year.  The evening will have a bigger focus on missions and there will still be an opportunity to give to the Lottie Moon offering during the evening program.  It’s December, it’s cold, you need some soup!  Bring it, share it, we’ll see you there!


Let’s not get Sabrina too excited.  Let her know ASAP what (not if) you will be doing for our church family Christmas on December 22 at 6:00 p.m.  Call her at (765) 562-2249 so she can get an order of service ready.  I’m doing something, so you should do something!  C’mon peeps, it’s FUN!


The church offices will be closed December 24, 25, 26, 27 and 31.  Also, there will be no 252 or Wednesday studies on December 25 or January 1.  Enjoy your families!  See you next year…or at least until the next newsletter.


Quick preview for 2014…just under 120 days until Vacation Bible School!  I know! Crazy, right?!  Be thinking about what you want to do to help this year.  And a little hint…you’ll want to break out your cool, black shades…

Turkeys, Hot Dogs, Teenagers, The Gospel.


Ok. I will try and explain this the best I can….

Yes, we bowl with turkeys in the church fellowship hall. Yes they are frozen. Yes, the trustees know about it. Yes, students from all over come to find out if we are really using turkeys. Yes, we use the opportunity to share the Gospel.

I have had more conversations like this in the last four years than I can remember. It always seems to be one of those above answers coming out of my mouth. I would not trade it for anything. This event reminds me more of the ministry of Jesus than many on our youth calendar.

– It sounds totally outrageous. Check.
– It sounds completely out of character for our church to do. Check.
– People show up that would maybe not otherwise even set foot in a church. Check
– People show up mainly out of curiosity. Check.
– The people present are pointed to Jesus. Check.
– It’s something that hasn’t been done before in this area. Check.

It sounds cheesy, but you would think that we might serve turkey at Turkey Bowling. Nope. We serve hot dogs. mainly because it gives the students something they didn’t really expect. Secondarily, because you can feed a lot of students for cheap with hot dogs. However, there is always a second thing the students don’t expect when they attend turkey bowling. We intentionally program the event where they come face to face with the God of the universe that loves them. Not in a pushy, overbearing way, but in a blunt, direct, unmistakable way.

This year, that Gospel presentation is going to come in the form of the MyHope with Billy Graham Film called “Lose to Gain“. It is a very well done film that weaves together the story of three people that thought they had everything, everything left them empty, until they found Christ. It is a powerful film geared toward youth and young adult/college age groups.

My challenge to you is to ask yourself some of the above programming questions on some of your upcoming events. Do they look like the ministry of Jesus?

Brent originally published this post at his blog,