GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)–Find Ed Young Jr. on a break and you’ll probably find him fly-fishing — salt water fly-fishing. He loves the cool ocean mist on his face, the salty air, the challenge of casting his fly rod just so and hooking the catch.
He’s had a passion for fishing since he was a kid, spending hours with his dad in the lake across from their house in South Carolina.
But there’s another passion Ed Young Sr., pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston, passed on to his son that means even more.
“He taught me how to fish for men,” said Young, 42, founder and pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas.
More than 18,000 people attend weekend services at Young’s church, known for its creative and innovative methods. Their small groups number in the hundreds and their children’s ministry in the thousands. But Young will be the first to say that numbers are just a measurement of what God is doing in the lives of people. And it’s this business of spiritual transformation that brought Fellowship Church and LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention together.
PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM
Creativity is as important to Young as the air he breathes. Young believes that while the theology and Gospel message should never change, the methods should. That’s where creativity comes in.
“Creativity is a product of living the Christian life,” Young said. “I think the church should be the most creative entity in the universe. Churches should ask, ‘What’s keeping me from unleashing the creativity?’ not ‘How do I become creative?’ Creativity should transcend everything in the church.”
His creative methods are carried out in his messages. He’s stood on top of a full-sized armored tank to preach on spiritual warfare; he’s used a fish aquarium to describe life; and he’s filmed a house demolition to illustrate an Easter message.
The shared vision of finding new ways to reach people has led Young and Fellowship Church to partner with LifeWay in multiple projects.
“LifeWay is really Kingdom-minded,” Young said. “They have a desire to reach people with the message of Jesus Christ. As a church, we want to multiply what God’s doing here. LifeWay has a strong commitment to bring resources and creative ideas to the masses, so we were excited about joining together to multiply lives for the Kingdom.”
One of those new resources is “A 40 Day Experience: Know Fear,” a small-group curriculum. Know Fear is based on Young’s book by the same title, published by Broadman & Holman, LifeWay’s publishing division. The study walks a group through seven weeks of six common phobias: fear of the future, fear of commitment, fear of failure, fear of loneliness, fear of death and fear of God.
The “Know Fear Leader Kit” features a copy of the Know Fear hardback, the Know Fear handbook, a DVD with a segment to support each of the seven small-group sessions and a CD-ROM that includes an administrative plan and six full sermon manuscripts by Young.
“I’m thrilled about the 40 Day series,” Young said. “People are so busy and their time is important. To think about something that’s 40 days breaks it into bite-size chunks. I’m blown away at how many people deal with fear and stress about so many things. [With the Know Fear study] you can have victory over those fears in 40 days.”
FOUNDATIONS FOR THE FUTURE
Keeping church relevant doesn’t just apply to adults –- it’s critical to children as well.
Mike Johnson, Fellowship’s children’s pastor, created “G-Force,” a new children’s curriculum line that combines Bible study, worship and personal application through the use of music, interactive games and large- and small-group activities. It also features take-home study cards, a weekly parent newsletter and a CD for families containing songs from the class and computer games that reinforce weekly lessons.
Young is excited that other churches are picking up the program.
“Obviously, the future is the kids,” Young said. “We’ve put a lot of time, energy and effort into our children’s ministry. LifeWay has a real burden to reach young people and we’ve been really happy to partner with them to get [G-Force] out to others. It’s cutting-edge stuff.
“So often kids are bored in church,” Young said. “Church should never be boring. If it’s boring, most people think God is boring.”
Young said he and his church haven’t “cracked the code on creativity” but consider themselves “fellow learners.”
“The thing about creativity is it’s a constant learning and tweaking process,” Young said. “You never arrive –- otherwise, you stagnate.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: CREATIVE FOR CHRIST, CREATIVE CONVICTIONS and THE END RESULT.