This weekend is our Youth Explosion weekend at MSMBC. Last night, we had a banquet for our youth, led by Pastor John Scroggins. It was a wonderful evening of fellowship. Our guest speaker was Pastor Reginald Payne, who serves the Full Gospel Baptist Church here in Los Angeles (by the way, the name of the congregation does not reflect its theology). Reginald and I grew up together here at Mt. Sinai. He is a few years older than I am. His mother was one of the key lay leaders here in the churc during my father’s pastorate. And Aunt Pat, as I called her, used to babysit me. When she did, she would make Reggie take me with him when he went somewhere. And so we kind of became friends because we had no choice. Yet we have remained friends down through the years.

When I preached my first sermon at the age of 11, it was an appendix to the youth choir’s musical. Reginald was the president of the choir. I think this is tell. Reggie was the leader of the choir, even though he couldn’t sing a lick. But he was clearly a leader to the young people of our church. A few years later, Reggie began preaching. I remember the night in Dallas when he shared with me that he had been called to preach. We sat up talking all night long talking about preaching. Shortly after Reggie started preaching, a few other young men began preaching, as well. Soon my dad had a small army of “boy preachers,” who were vying for any and every opportunity to minister. So my dad turned the youth department over to us, with advisors, of course, who carefully monitored our every move. We was in charge of the second Sunday services, which my dad would let us preach. And we have a lot of other activities that gave us opportunities to minister. And one of our bright ideas was a youth banquet (I know it took be a long time to get back here, but I finally made it back to my original thought).

As I sat with Reginald last night, I thought about all the silly ideas we came up with for our youth banquets. Now, here we are, racing toward middle-age, pastoring churches where our young people are coming together. It’s kind of surreal to me. I look back and cannot help but to praise God for bringing us such a mighty long way. In fact, some of the very young people we served with were at the banquet last night, still members of our respective congregations. But, now, they are there to oversee their own children! You can’t begin to imagine how weird it is to pastor people that you grew up getting in trouble with. And to lead people who disciplined you when you got into trouble. But I thank God that I was a part of a congregation that nurtured my faith in Christ as a boy. And I pray that MSMBC will increasingly be a congregation that strategically invests in the spiritual development of its young people to the glory of God.