The spiritual condition of America, politics, culture, and current events, analyzed through the lens of Scripture. Welcome to the Alex McFarland Show. The spiritual condition of young people.
What do America's young people believe nowadays? Hi, Alex McFarland here. So glad you're listening to the program. You know, we talk about a lot of things, culture, we talk about the country, but if there's one thing that is on the heart of my guest today, and certainly on my heart as well, it's the heart of young people, the souls of young people.
And I'm at ground zero. This is one of the nation's most innovative outreach ministries to young people. It's a Christian ministry located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I've been a friend of this ministry, and they've certainly been a friend to me for well more than a decade. The leader is here with me, Scott Pacer, and a beloved colleague and friend. And Scott, first of all, I want to say thanks for being on the program with us, but most of all, thanks for what you're doing in the lives of countless young people, furthering the kingdom of God and reaching souls. Thanks for your vision, your hard work, and for spending a few minutes with us today on the Alex McFarland show. Yeah, great. Thanks for having me. It's kind of cool.
We've talked about it and never had a chance to do it yet. And here we are. Folks, I wish you could see this, because this building in the heart of Myrtle Beach, it's a historic theater. You know, I came to a movie here. I saw, I'm going to show my age here, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Dick Van Dyke Disney movie. I was probably about six when this was a movie theater. This was probably like ten years before you were even born. But I came to the movies here with my sister when I was a little boy.
But now, tell people what this historic theater is all about. Yeah, I mean, it's neat to see how God's kind of changed some of our initial vision. Vision's always been teenagers, and at first we thought it was going to be more of an entertainment venue where we're able to do events for youth pastors, trainings, and then Christian concerts and speakers, which is where we initially met you a number of years ago. But in addition to that, we've been able to begin reaching out to a lot of these kids that are downtown Myrtle Beach that don't go to church.
They're not involved in a youth group. And that's a big part of what our heart is, is trying to reach those students. And so since we've gotten the building in 2011, God's added to our ministry.
We really haven't morphed into something different. It's just that God's added in addition to the events and concerts and stuff, we're able to really reach out to a lot of these kids that weren't coming to anything that we did through youth groups. I know you and I have done several events together over the years, and we had concerts and the Newsboys and Sean McDowell. And then, of course, our conference just a few months ago, Truth for a New Generation was here with Frank Turek and different ones. But let's talk for a little bit about your background, and how did you come to know the Lord, and how did God call you into the ministries that you do, Scott?
Well, for me, I don't have this big testimony that I ran away from God and got involved in things that just were opposite of what his will for my life was. I literally grew up across the road from the church in the country out in North Carolina, and was very involved in my church. My family lived beside my great-grandmother and my grandmother, and my other grandmother lived up the street. So all of us, our family was right there together. All of us were involved in church. I was very involved with our youth group.
When I was in middle school, I'm not going to give the year. When I was in middle school, I went with my youth pastor, who had just come to a youth conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. That was the first time that I had heard a speaker that was very specific and gifted in reaching teenagers. That's the first contemporary Christian music I'd heard. Now, it's totally old-school contemporary Christian, but I was just amazed. I made a decision for Christ that night. I'd already done that, but it's not a decision to give my life to Christ, but a decision to not only be a Christian, but to give to Christ who I am. I want to serve you, and I want to reach and tell other teenagers about you. So I remember coming back and told my mom, this is what God's done, and this is the vision that he's given me.
Although that was that many years ago, if I were to have videoed that conversation with my mom in our kitchen, and you could play it out right now and look at what we're doing, it's identical. I don't say that because of me. I say that because of God, because there's no way Scott's smart enough to have orchestrated that over the number of years that was between those two points. But it's really cool to see how God gave me that vision and that passion, and how he's opened the doors for that to come to pass, at least to this point. Of course, it's not over with yet, but it's really cool. Let me say, I believe God has a plan for every life, and just like you have faithfully and you have and you are fulfilling your assignments, God has a thrilling adventure assignment for all believers, really, doesn't he?
Oh yeah, and we were just talking about that. We're in a planning time right now with our staff, and we were talking about student leadership, student interns, and what that looks like. And that's really a big passion of mine, is helping teenagers realize, man, God wants to use you now. Not when you get out of college and go get a job and become some kind of leader in your church. Not only will God use you then, God wants you to use you now as a teenager, and we need you as a teenager right now. So for me, I was in middle school when I actively got involved in ministry, and God used that in ways that I can't minister to teenagers now. And so for me, I love the excitement of seeing teenagers not only get connected to Christ, but living for him.
And sometimes that means making tough decisions, but sometimes to go against things that aren't bad, but to step it up a notch. I remember I played football all the way from middle school all the way through high school, and worked hard to earn those starting positions. In my 12th grade year, my coach came, and we had a brand new coach came my senior year, and he changed a lot of stuff up, and he extended our practice one hour on Wednesday nights. It cut into youth group time. I'd made a commitment to serve as a leader in my youth group. So I went to my coach and said, Coach, listen, my youth group's here. Can I leave an hour early on Wednesdays to make sure that I get to youth group on time?
And he looked at me and he said, sure. He said, that's no problem, but you're going to give up your starting position because of that one hour. And I made the decision my senior year to give up my starting position. And so for me, I don't regret that, but I think that there's so many things that teenagers are faced with now that's not becoming necessarily Bible scholars. It's just what are you doing to activate your faith, and what stances are you taking? What are you willing to give up to serve Him?
You know, we've got to take a brief break, Scott, if you're just tuning in. I want you to go to the website because, folks, it is imperative. It doesn't matter where you live in North America, rural, urban, big city, small town. You might think that you don't have the means or the budget to reach young people, but you do. We're going to tell you about that. We're going to challenge you and we're going to give you some realistic, measurable ways to begin to reach and disciple young people. First, before this brief break, Scott, what is the website for Ground Zero? It's just simply mymygroundzero.com.
Everything's spelled out. Mygroundzero.com, one of the greatest youth ministries really anywhere, and we're talking about how you can be involved in fulfilling Christ's great commission in the lives of young people. Stay tuned. We're back after this. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert.
Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. Are you tired of liberal agendas ruining our country, but you don't know what to do about it? That's why Truth and Liberty Coalition was founded. We want to equip you to take back our country and impact the world.
As Christians, we are called to make disciples of nations. Together, we can change the course of our country for good. Join Truth and Liberty to connect with believers and organizations who not only want to see a change in our nation, but a community that is actually doing something about it. In the mid-1980s, Jerry Cox was a public school history teacher in Arkansas with no political aspirations. That changed when he realized those who held a Christian worldview had no representation in the Arkansas State Capitol. Jerry founded Arkansas Family Council, and for more than three decades, AFC has been the voice of biblical values in Arkansas.
More Than Words is an inspirational story, one you should read and encourage others to read as well. Visit afa.net slash the stand. He's been called trusted, truthful and timely. Welcome back to the Alex McFarland show. Welcome back to the Alex McFarland show. So glad to be here at Ground Zero in Myrtle Beach talking with Scott Pacer, friend and colleague. Scott, again, give your website. We're just coming back. Mygroundzero.com.
Everything's spelled out. I was just curious, do you have people that vacation in Myrtle Beach? I was just reading on a website that Myrtle Beach is one of the top three vacation destinations in the USA, the number one retirement destination. Do you ever have people who come to your programs and they say, you know, oh, we're from, you know, wherever, some many states away, but they have found you online and they want to pay a visit to Ground Zero when they're at Myrtle Beach? Oh, yeah. I mean, we'll have some people that will do that. I mean, we're not open every afternoon like a Boys and Girls Club or YMCA.
We're a different model than those. But yeah, we'll have people call and say, hey, what's your schedule this week? Or we saw that you're open every Wednesday night.
So we'll have that occasion. We have missions teams that come from around the country that we house here. That's a part of our weekly outreaches, but they also go out and do, you know, some community service and help some repair some homes. And then we'll have some youth pastors that will call from time to time and say, hey, we're bringing our group down. How can we be involved with what you're doing for the time period that we're down there?
So being in Myrtle Beach definitely adds some unique elements to doing this and being able to partner with some people from other places. So here's a quote I want to throw out. I've often heard when I travel and speak that adult leaders will tell the middle schoolers, you've made a decision for Christ. You will be the body of Christ.
And I'll say, no, you are the body of Christ. And I like how you said, you know, from your teenage years, you were involved in ministry projects. How important is it to help young people understand you are the body of Christ now, you're a born again believer and you can serve and God can use you now, even in middle school, high school.
You might be young, but God can use you. How important is it to convey that to young believers? Oh, I mean, I think it's very important. I mean, that was crucial in my life. You know, service. I remember going as an elementary school kid to Haiti with my dad. And my allies were opened to that.
We were down there for two weeks. And the things that I saw, the things that I was exposed to, I got to serve. I got to build a parsonage that was in my grandfather's name.
He had passed away recently. And so for me, that was an instrumental step in my faith. And so I think when we were able to get students to realize, go do something now, you've got the ability as students, particularly in the youth culture, you've got the ability to impact the youth culture greater than I do. And so helping students realize that even looking at scripture and just looking at all the teenagers that were instrumental in carrying out God's plan. So I've got an article here from USA Today, and I want to quote that and ask you about the young people that you minister to. Scott, I know Myrtle Beach is a very famous resort town, but you're ministering. People, they don't know this is a town. People live here.
And you're reaching a lot of kids that live here year round. USA Today recently ran an article about the spiritual beliefs of young people, and they said that, quote, there's a spiritual style change, a personalized spirituality, emphasis on autonomy, freedom of choice, fulfillment in the here and now. In other words, like our parents might have thought, well, I'm going to, I'll live for the Lord because someday I'll die and go to heaven. But this fulfillment in the here and now, and this personalization, in other words, God is how I envision God to be. Is that what you see in young people, that the idea that God is who the Bible says he is, or God is who the pastor says he is, but young people today know God is how I feel about him. Is that kind of what you see, and you have to sort of take the building blocks of a Christian faith and help young people understand that God is not who we imagine him to be.
God is who he has revealed himself to be. Well, we see that not only in the teenagers, but I mean, we deal that sometimes with volunteers. And just even seeing the adults to where there may be a conversation, and this happened not too long ago, we're in the midst of a conversation with our volunteer. It came out that they're like, well, the Bible is good, but it was, it's old. So it doesn't apply to us today, but it's something good to pull from. So people wanting to do, and I think it's just our selfish desires, people want to do what they want to do, and if it doesn't line up with God, then all of a sudden that's wrong, or you're condemning me, or you don't love me. And so that's what makes youth ministry tricky, because we live in a culture to where we don't want to hurt people's feelings, or we want to be inclusive. And I think there's a difference between loving everybody and agreeing with everybody. And God's called us to love everybody, and there's no teenager, regardless of what they believe, that can't come in here on a Wednesday night and not be accepted and loved, regardless of what they think, even if they think Jesus is the dumbest thing that they've ever heard.
We're going to love them. But at the same time, we don't, we're not going to go out and be an advocate for whatever difference they see different than Scripture. And I'm seeing that a lot, even in our parents, and teenagers. Well, we love everybody, but loving means that we become an advocate for everybody's cause, even if it doesn't line up with Christianity.
I don't know, and Alex, you can check me on this, but I don't see Christ becoming an advocate for anything that contradicted his word. Amen, brother. You're so right.
And I love what you're doing. And again, folks, give the website for those that may just now be tuning in. This is Ground Zero in Myrtle Beach. What's the website? mygroundzero.com.
M-Y, mygroundzero.com. Folks, you're going to be inspired. I think you're going to get some ideas.
And hey, if you're in Myrtle Beach, you need to seek out Scott and come by and check on their schedule. But you're right. We're not called to validate each and everything.
And I think you're right. We can love people, come alongside people. They know that we care about them, but that doesn't mean we're agreeing with everything they say or do, because all of us, no matter who we are, our beliefs, our behavior needs to line up with the Word of God, doesn't it? Oh, for sure. I mean, for me, I'm just a simple-minded guy from the country in North Carolina, and it's just my personal conviction that our source is God's Word. And you don't veer away from that at all.
And when we stay true to that, then I believe that's when God gives us the position to really be a vessel to be able to take His love to those not agreeing with everybody, but disagreeing in love and help him point them to Him. We got to take a brief break. Stay tuned. Alex McFarland here. We're going to come back with some ways that you and your church can make an impact eternally in the lives of young people. Don't go away. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert.
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He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to the Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the Alex McFarland Show, talking with Scott Pacer of Ground Zero. But before we return to our conversation with Scott, I want to remind everybody, the Billy Graham Training Center, the COVE, in western North Carolina—I'll be there July 8-10, 2022. I'll be there in 2023 as well. But this summer, I'm doing 1 Peter, the love of Jesus Christ eternally forever. And a big part of this seminar is apologetics.
That is biblical worldview and how to defend the Christian faith. Now, they can accommodate like 300 people. I just talked to the COVE. We've got about 30 seats left. So it'll be sold out. But you've got time to register.
People come from North America. The Billy Graham Center is just amazing. July 8-10, I'll be there. Angie will be there.
You can go to theCOVE.org. Will Graham, son of Franklin Graham, one of my best friends in ministry, he'll be there. Very likely, Gigi Graham, Billy Graham's daughter, she's usually there.
She's amazing. It's so inspiring. But the best part of all, we will gather around the Word of God, and we'll drill down deeply into the Scriptures, July 8-10.
Then finally, I want to ask everybody to please pray for this. July 17-22, our summer camp. Here's the theme for our summer camp.
Unashamed. Building Your Biblical Worldview. It's for middle schoolers, high schoolers. We're going to be about an hour east of Raleigh, North Carolina. We've got students coming in. Scott, you'll appreciate this.
I just heard we have 30 teenagers flying in from Indiana to come to our youth camp. Praise God. So keep that in prayer.
You can go to my website, which is alexmcfarland.com. But we're talking with Scott Pacer of Ground Zero. So listen to this, and then I want to get your opinion on something I read on theatlantic.com. I was just a couple of days ago in mid-Texas, San Angelo, Texas, out there speaking in several churches, and they said, we have an inner-city youth ministry. It's called Faith House. And I was like, great, I'd love to see it. And they said, well, we do backyard Bible clubs all year round.
And in West Texas, I suppose the weather is that you could do that year round. But they have, and it's not quite like your facility here, they said, we have this venue downtown, we have concerts, we have events, we have Wednesday night, and it's called Faith House. And I was like, yay, it's wonderful. They said, have you ever seen anything like this? And I said, actually, yeah. Kind of different, but kind of similar.
So the vision you've got here and the way that God is using you, Scott, other people are catching this vision. And here's the question. What you're doing here, could it be replicated almost anywhere? Oh, yeah, I think so.
I mean, I think you could scale it just about like anything else. If it's a smaller community, you might not be able to do some of the bigger events because of budget. But that's really been part of my heart from day one, is how do you create a reproducible model so that we can reach more students? We used to have a sign, we actually started in Tennessee, and we moved down here in 2006. We started the ministry in June of 1998 in Northeast Tennessee, moved down here in 2006, and ran both offices until 2009, and then we closed down the Tennessee office and focused all of our attention down here. But in Tennessee, we had a sign beside our office door that said, National Offices. And it was just a simple reminder to us that our vision was bigger than what we were doing there in the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee.
So for us, yeah, I mean, whether it's us or us helping somebody else do it there, yeah, I mean, it needs to be done, so therefore it's got to be figured out a way to reproduce it. I just read an article on theatlantic.com, which is not a Christian website, but they have some good articles. The question was, why are American teenagers feeling hopelessness? And it was talking about, so many of them, even though they might be in middle school or high school, they follow the economy, different things, the war in the Ukraine and such, but it said, American teenagers, there's a growing hopelessness.
So here's my question as we wrap up. Do you see that, and if so, how can we give to a young person a sense of hope? Well, I do agree with it. I don't think COVID helped at all with that.
But before COVID, it was still there. Our year-end theme for 2021 was the thrill of hope. And I believe that one is that the only true source of hope is going to be Christ. The things you mentioned, we can all find the things that make us seem hopeless. And that's what Satan wants to do is put blinders on us to where we only see the things of destruction. But in the midst of that, there's also God's presence in his working. And if we can begin to focus on the reality that God is here, he's with us, and he brings that true source of hope that can heal, that's our goal. It's not just to tell people, hey, don't worry about those things.
Because we don't, we can't control those things in most situations. But we can help students understand that a daily walk with Christ can give them that hope. And isn't it wonderful? Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. Jesus Christ is the focus of history.
And Jesus Christ is the center of who I am as a person. Because that hope is for all people of all ages. Scott, we've got to pull away. We're going to visit with you again sometime soon, I hope. Any final thought for the people that, we have a lot of young people listening, but a lot of adults, a final charge about the importance of reaching young people? Get involved. You know, I mean, if you're involved in a church or you're a member of a church and you're thinking, oh my gosh, I'm no longer a teenager, those years are long gone, or I messed up when I was a teenager, you might be the perfect person to be serving in youth ministry now, because they need to hear that story. And they need to hear how God worked in maybe a hard situation. And that's maybe in your life. Maybe you're like me where you didn't really have that hard situation, not that I'm perfect and that I haven't had challenges, but I haven't struggled with a lot of things, thank goodness, that a lot of people do that cause destruction. So wherever you are, there's a church that needs you.
Go talk to the pastor, go talk to somebody, and get involved. Age is not to be looked at. So many times we think about, oh, I'm no longer in my 20s anymore, I can't know. They need to hear of individuals who passionately love Christ, and if you're 88 years old and you do that, then you are what those teenagers need to hear. Yeah, I'm 58 years old, I'm like the mayor of dull, and I speak to teenagers every weekend. Folks, a final thought, and I listened to this, I was in Dearborn, Michigan, on the road speaking, and I drove over to where the Ford Motor Company is, cause I'm into cars.
Scott, you'll appreciate this. So I passed this corner, and there's a very small building, and there's like glass on two sides, and in there there's like a Mustang, there's like a Shelby, there's like a Ford T-Bird, the classics. Well, then you go down, and it takes like ten city blocks to drive past the factory where they create the new models. I'm driving around Ford, there's this one little museum where you see the classics, but then, as far as the eye can see, are the factories where they invest the bulk of their strength to create the new models.
Very often in church we've got it 180 degrees inverse. We spend all of our money on the existing believers and very little in creating the new models. I want to submit to you folks, let's put our energy, our finances, our vision, the best we've got in reaching the next generation.
Hey, the classics will sit in the showcase one day up in heaven, but right now down here, it's always be about reaching the next generation. Alex McFarland Ministries are made possible through the prayers and financial support of partners like you. For over 20 years, this ministry has been bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ and has been equipping people to stand strong for truth. Learn more and donate securely online at alexmcfarland.com. You may also reach us at Alex McFarland, P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404, or by calling 1-877-Yes-God and the number 1. That's 1-877-YES-GOD-1. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again on the next edition of the Alex McFarland Show.
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