This week, we continue our conversation with Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. FCA is so much more than once-a-week meetings for Christian high schoolers. Matt is encouraging peer-to-peer mentorship and seeing amazing results.
Matt Clinton, Fellowship of Christian Athletes: The victory in what we do are the life change stories. For whatever reason, God has allowed us to be a part of these incredible people’s stories. It’s obvious we’re not the ones doing it – it’s all God’s work – but we get to be a part of it.
I think that a lot of the kids used to feel like they walk around with a giant bullseye on their back because they claim to follow Jesus. Therefore, there are a whole lot of people just sitting there, watching and waiting for them to do something wrong. Then, they could just fire right into that bullseye and say, “See! You’re just like us!”
And, these amazing Christian students are learning, “Yep. I am just like you. BUT, here’s why I’m different…”
And they’re learning how to share how the hope, security, and identity that they have in Jesus sets them apart.
For me… when I was in high school, I would have been totally defeated by that, and I wouldn’t have known how to share the truth about Jesus Christ. But these kids are bold and unashamed. They are unabashedly living out Romans 1:16,
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.
They are just going for it! And, it’s fun to be a part of it. In them, I see a boldness that I wish that I had when I was younger.
Leslie Salazar Carrillo, Im Waiting: But you have it now. And what you have, you are pouring into them.
Now, where we are as a nation today, we can draw a safe little circle around ourselves, or we can start a revival. And, to start a revival, all we need to do is connect with one kid and it will spread. It’s not a numbers game. It’s simply being obedient to what God has called us to do, and invest our time and energy in the kid or kids that God brings to us.
Of course, it’s easy to look at my regretful decisions and be paralyzed by them… or I can move forward and be obedient today. And that’s what these kids need to hear, too!
Sure, they may have made mistakes – even as recent as this morning. They may have been a huge partier, or drug dealer, or maybe they have slept around. But that’s not who they are identified as in God’s eyes.
That guilt and shame will chew us up and spit us out every time.
Who you were isn’t who you are in Christ.
Matt: You know, there’s an aspect of guilt and shame culture in my family that I wasn’t even aware of. So, as I’ve grown older and now that I’ve become a parent, myself, a lot of things have come up that I didn’t even know were in there.
So, with this newfound wisdom, I’m able to see more clearly just how littered these teenagers are with that same type of guilt and shame baggage.
So, the question I ask them is, “How can we get past this stuff? Because there’s nowhere that you’ll find this in the Bible. Jesus didn’t guilt or shame anyone.”
Leslie: How people see you does not define you. That’s something that kids deal with every day. It’s so important to let kids know that whatever decisions they made last year do not need to define who they are today. I tell kids all the time, “You can reinvent yourself… and you inevitably will!”
Matt: I see that, in particular, with a lot of the guys who I have walked alongside and have since graduated high school and have moved on to adulthood. So, now, I’m talking about marriage with some of these guys. Now, these are guys who know the right answers – they know what the Bible says about how we ought to live.
Probably the biggest obstacle they face is the big question, “Why wait for sex?”
To get to talk through “why” with young men who are really trying o follow Jesus is fun!
It’s so much better than what I was told, which was… “Just DON’T. You can have sex when you’re married. Until then… JUST DON’T.”
But, with these guys, as well as the high schoolers who we mentor, I’m seeing a group of people who get the “why’s” of God’s plans for our lives. They understand more and more that life isn’t just a bunch of do’s and don’ts, but that life has a purpose and to fulfill that purpose, there are healthy boundaries and blessings within those boundaries.
And, I think that as these kids continue to grow in their understanding and in their boldness, we will see a real change in our culture!
One example is that so many homes that we work with are “mom-driven” households. When moms lead the family, it’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but it’s not God’s plan – God wants men to lead.
So, for the guys that I’m mentoring, I’m able to tell them, “This is coming. Whether you think you’ve signed up for this or not, it’s coming down the line, right at you. God is calling you to be leaders… so what does that look like? And, what does it look like as teenagers to prepare for this calling?
And, we’re actually seeing tons of victories in this very area: guys ready to lead.