Hi, I’m Leslie Salazar Carrillo, Director of the I’m Waiting program.
I had a chance recently to sit down with Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the Oceanside, Carlsbad, and Vista areas. But, before the interview started, Matt and I got a chance to catch up and we are just bouncing ideas off of each other. And thankfully, it got recorded!
It’s a little bit of a prelude into the depth of the conversation that Matt and I were able to have about the realities of teen lives right now. So, sit back and enjoy!
Matt Clinton, Fellowship of Christian Athletes: These two boys I started discipling this year are really good kids. But, while they are interested in following Jesus, they really don’t know how. So, this isn’t as much of a discipleship group, but it’s really more like a beginner Bible study – which is different from what I usually spend my time on when I actually pull kids out of all the masses of kids we have. And they’ve gone to FCA camp. They’ve been around FCA huddle. So they have heard. But, they didn’t really ever own it for themselves.
And they shared with me that they both had had sex. And they were open to discussing the pressure of having to have sex. In fact, one felt pressure from his girlfriend. The other guy said, “I don’t even know why we had sex… we just did.”
And they still struggle with that. But, no one had ever talked to them about it. All they every heard was “NO!” It was like, “See this giant big red button? Don’t press it!”
That doesn’t help! Not with anything.
So, it’s been interesting – talking with them them and trying to get through to them what the Bible says is God’s plan for our sex lives. The one boy is still dating his girlfriend and they still have sex periodically. But, how do we overcome guilt and shame?
I don’t want him to feel shamed, because they truly didn’t know that sex outside of marriage was against God’s plan. You’d think they should probably know, because they’ve been around God’s people for most of their lives. They’ve heard God’s word.
We just can’t assume that people are educated about what the Bible has to say.
Leslie Salazar Carrillo, I’m Waiting: They’re hearing, but they’re not listening. And it takes a while to penetrate that sin nature.
Matt: I was shocked. I started out by saying, “We’re going to read one of the four Gospels”, assuming they knew what the Gospels are. But now, I don’t assume anything. I had to explain to them, “These are the chronicles of Jesus’ life and perspectives. Which one do you want to start with?” They answered, “I dunno… Matthew?”
“Okay. Cool. We’ll take a chapter a week. Before too long, we got to the Beatitudes. I had to tell them, “These are heavy. There’s a lot going on in Jesus’ words here, but we will try to work through it.” They both come from divorced families. I come from a divorced home. And right there in the passage, Jesus talks about divorce.
That’s really hard to study about.
And then, one of the boys asked me, “So, why is it written in red?”
Remember, these are kids that I thought were understanding or hearing more than they actually were. I had to tell them how everything printed in red is Jesus speaking.
I think so often, we’ve educated people without making sure they’ve understood what God’s word really is or what it says. It’s not discouraging, but just a reminder not to assume.
Leslie: Yeah! We can’t assume anything. I’ve been teaching a women’s Bible study for the past six years, and sometimes they’ll ask questions that I thought they already knew the answers to… seemingly basic questions about Biblical truth. Yet, it’s the same way with any of us! Many times, you and I read the Bible and we are suddenly like, “Hey! I never saw that before!!” Because it wasn’t applicable to where God had us at that moment.
Matt: Yeah. We’ve done studies where we read the same passage for seven straight days and on day six or seven, I’m suddenly thinking, “That’s in there?!” I mean, we had read it all week. But it wasn’t until then that I understood it.
I heard somebody once say that if you can’t properly explain something to a four or five-year-old, then how well do you really know what you’re trying to explain?
And, I feel that way sometimes with some of these kids that I’m working with. I think, “Man… I’ve got a reboot here.” It’s not just, “Oh, they already know the basics of the Bible. We get to talk about what it looks like to go deeper into Scriptural truths.’”
Many of the kids I work with know that they have said, “Yes” to Jesus, but have no idea what to do next with their lives.
Leslie: Yeah. How do we live out Christian lives in the practical?
Matt: Right. And most of the kids that I work with are high-level athletes. Many of them are Division 1 recruits in their respective sports, so they are almost always at practice or at tournaments. When are they supposed to go to church or youth group? Assuming they want to, their schedules don’t have much room on Sunday mornings. So, for a least this one year – their Senior year of high school – we get to be church for them, meeting on their high school campuses, discipling and educating them in the midst of their busy schedules. Hopefully, they will learn and grow enough that they will truly own an understanding of who Jesus is and what God wants for their lives. Because, hearing about God is one thing. Owning Godly truth and living it out is something entirely different.
Leslie: And you know – full disclosure – I sometimes have problems with “The Church” because we have too often forgotten how to do church in the practical – how to be Jesus in the practical. So, because I’ve been reading and teaching in the book of Acts, the early Church didn’t have a church building. They met where they could. And guess what? That was church.
So, you’re bringing “church” to these athletes where and how they can be ministered to!
Sometimes we’re not in a position to go to church, for whatever reason, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t show up. We have to seek Him out and seek other believers and that’s when we have church. Now, we should never forsake the gathering of believers (Hebrews 10:25), but sometimes you have to adapt how that looks.
Sometimes, Jesus went to them – it wasn’t always people coming to Jesus.
The woman at the well – she was having church right there! The Gospel was presented. There was repentance of sin. There ya go!
I think sometimes we forgot to show Jesus and the practical – in the everyday. Because, especially for these kids you work with – those who have grown up in church – they need to be taught this aspect of Christianity more than ever!
They are longing to understand how reading and knowing what the Bible says practically relates to their relationship with God. In other words, “I got my Christian life and then I’ve got my ‘life’ life. How do they intermingle? What does God say? Why does He say it? How does that apply to you on a daily basis? What does the Scripture say about this and why does God say it?
It’s always “the why”. There’s a reason why!
Matt: I’ve been going through Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage with a couple of college kids that I meet with. These guys are not even in serious relationships. They just want to prep more for when that day comes.
And I’m reading it, and I’m nine years into marriage. So, there are so much in those pages now that I go, “YEP! I get that!”
But these guys, it’s great prep for them to think about some of these topics.
It may not make total sense until they have their spouses and see how they work together. But, just to conceptually think about “love language stuff” and all that is amazing for them!
For years, I was trying to treat my wife the way I wanted to be treated. While she appreciated it, it wasn’t working for her as well. There are things like that throughout the Christian life that come with plenty of complications – even with the best intentions!
The road of my whole life is paved with the best of intentions and I would love to give this whole interview in one recording. But you’ll have to tune in next week, as we dive in and look at what life is like for the teams that Matt is mentoring; and the amazing work he is doing with them.
We hope you enjoyed this conversation and we know you’re going to really enjoy the next episode!