An Interview between Craig Morrison and Jay Griffith of Synder Memorial Baptist Church
Have you heard the saying, “Faith is caught, not taught?”
Catching faith is not like catching a fish or catching a baseball; it’s more like trying to catch rain. Nobody has a perfect family and no one person can fully express the love of God, so it truly does take a village to raise a child.
I would like to introduce you to Jay Griffith. Jay is a retired Army officer who now works for a defense firm. He is a regular guy who loves God. He wants to help young boys grow into Christian men by the time they graduate high school. Jay has been involved with our Lifegroup ministry for six years and has worked with sophomores, juniors and seniors. Over the years, Jay has learned some key approaches to help students “catch” the faith and grow in their understanding of what it means to become a Christian man.
CRAIG: Jay, can you share several of the challenges young men face and how we can help them grow in their faith?
JAY: The challenges are the same for all youth. The difficulties the world puts in front of them (like sex, alcohol, drugs and pornography, etc.) mixed with their emerging and evolving faith maturity can cause them to confront their commitment to the Lord at almost every turn of their day.
CRAIG: How have you helped these young men address and overcome these challenges?
JAY: I focus on their desire to be a Christian man and help them get from where they are today to reaching their goal. For some, it is a very small adjustment. For others, more adjustments are necessary.
An example of some successful progress is someone I’ll call Steve (not his real name). Steve had a secret addiction to pornography. Almost every day he used his phone to look at porn. In one of our sessions, we spoke about the impacts that this addiction has on an individual and how it separates the individual from the relationship we all desire with the Lord. We also discussed the impacts of relationships with young women.
At first, Steve smirked and had an “everyone does this” kind of a response. But soon after our session, he had two things happen: he met someone he thought was very special (we’ll call her Cathy) and his little sister began dating.
Cathy was an awesome young woman. She was a dedicated student and faithful to the Lord and really liked Steve. When Cathy found out about Steve’s secret, she said she was not going to be around someone with this addiction. Then, Steve found out the guy his sister was dating had a similar secret addiction to porn. Knowing the impacts of this addiction, Steve was incensed that his sister was dating a guy who was viewing pornography and then spending time with her with these images in his head.
Since we had taken this issue on in Lifegroup, Steve knew he had a safe place to talk. Working with the Snyder Youth Ministry Team, we helped Steve find the resources he needed to get after his addiction. We followed up with Steve on a regular basis. This was truly a team effort between the Youth Ministry team, the Lifegroup leader and the individual. Today Steve would tell you that the Lord, through Cathy and his little sister, was responsible in helping him see that he had a problem and that he also needed to address it.
CRAIG: What advice would you give to another church or ministry that is seeking to implement a Lifegroup ministry for their young men?
JAY: The need is absolutely there. Do not be discouraged if it is not the hottest thing on day one. As you get started, here are few pointers I would keep in mind.
•Don’t try to change everything in one session—it won’t work. Take your time. Spend some time getting to know your students and building trust and then create a flexible plan.
•Include food. We start every Lifegroup with a meal donated by one of the parents. There is something about breaking bread together that also breaks down barriers.
•Include fellowship time with their peers. This means you’ll usually need more than one hour. Each Sunday, we meet from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
•Make the meetings real. Talk about real subjects. Ask students what they are challenged by in their lives. Addressing common challenges allows the group to bond. It is okay to let students ramble, but always help them dig deeper. Don’t settle for an easy answer.
•Respect confidentiality. This is critical to success. If there is a safety issue, alert them to instances when confidentiality may be violated.
•Don’t try to be their parent. Do encourage greater communication, if needed, with their own parents.
•Remind them they are heading into a time of being on their own. They are already thinking about this, and most are asking if they are ready for the challenging next chapter.
•Do not judge. Do tell them that you do not approve of their bad decisions, but you are not there to judge. Challenge them to make steps in the right direction of their faith walk. A challenge can be accepted, changed or denied. It is up to the student to own their faith. This is one of the hallmarks for a Christian man: to take responsibility for their faith and own it.
Can you become a role model in someone’s life today? Together we can encourage the
next generation of Christian men to stand-up, love Jesus and make the hard choices to follow him in every area of their lives.