Teenager Becomes Church Member
Kyle Barnes Luna made church history on September 24, 2012!!! And more closer to home, he absolutely made me feel like an incredibly blessed pastor. It’s moments like these that make the hardships of ministry, completely worth it.
I have been a pastor at Del Rey Church for about 15 years. There have been a whole lot of lows and highs in this time. In the last 3 years I have certainly been feeling a great deal of highs as our church has grown in hunger for God’s word and in passion for His gospel.
As far as highs in ministry go, this past month I had a definite ministry high watching Kyle become an official member of Del Rey Church. This was historic because Kyle is a high school student and we have never seen such a young man pursue church membership as he did. He attended our 10 week membership class, taking notes and completing all of his assignments, including reading the books for class and the entire New Testament. After this, he completed his membership application and was approved by the elders of the church. It was amazing to watch this young man be the very first teenager become a member at Del Rey Church. He truly blessed me.
I have been teaching an annual membership class at Del Rey Church for over a decade and it is—to be candid—very discouraging to see many people either not come to the class or come and not finish the work. We have many who call Del Rey Church their home and yet they don’t carve out the time to formally join. Some say they don’t have time. Others say it is too much work. A few will try to make some lame case that church membership is not biblical, covering up deeper issues. A few will postpone becoming members until the time comes when they want to vote on something and all of it is quite sad. All of this to say, the next time someone gives me an excuse on membership or have poor motives in membership, I will just point them to Kyle and encourage them to follow the lead of this outstanding teenager. He is the first in his whole family to become a member at Del Rey Church and I pray he will not only be a catalyst in his family but also in the church for people to join officially in this great family God is building.
Knowing Kyle and his family makes his membership all the more a tremendous blessing. I met his mom and their family a long time ago through my wife, whose family is connected to theirs in the infamous web of Venice culture and through many really cool stories and personalities. I love the Barnes family deeply and Kyle has a special place in our hearts. He was born in 1995 to our dear sister Katy Barnes, who is an amazing mother. In 1994 when Katy found out that she was pregnant with Kyle, she did not know the Lord. She was a teenager herself, in fact, 17 years old (the same age Kyle was when he became a member of the church!). Katy became a Christian in 1995 when Kyle was 6 weeks old. In an email, Katy shared with me about the moment of her coming to Christ:
- “I’ll never forget walking up to that altar with this tiny baby and feeling this overwhelming sense of grace and promise. I always wanted to be a mom, I just had a really hard time being a single mom. I had a lot of guilt for bringing Kyle into a broken home, but I came to realize the hope and forgiveness given to us at the cross.”
Reading Katy’s email and knowing her story breaks me down when I think of it. I am so moved by her motherly care and Christian commitment to raise her son in Christ. She sacrificed to homeschool Kyle and sent him to private Christian schools, where she was personally involved in the campus life as though she was still homeschooling him. Katy is truly an amazing mom.
While this blog post is about Kyle, I cannot help but to make personal reflections as I think of his life. I was personally abandoned by my mother and raised by my father, so as I consider Katy’s strength and care to watch over her son I am profoundly moved. I can’t help but to think of what my life would have been like if I had a mom like Katy and how blessed Kyle is to have her. Thankfully, I did have a Christian father who raised me and sacrificed a great deal and later I had a Christian step mother who loved me through my rebellious teenage years working through my own brokenness and rebellion against God. I know what it is like to have the single parent experience and the feelings of abandonment, not to mention the disconnection of having a parent who does not follow Christ. Because of this similar experience and from personally watching his family, I am all the more moved by Kyle’s life and fortitude. If anyone might have an excuse to be angry, to be lazy or uninterested in God, let alone church membership, it would be the teenage boy raised by a Christian home-schooling mom. Of course, we know that it’s all by God’s grace and so the credit belongs not to Kyle but to the God Kyle and Katy worship. It truly makes me sit back and look at Kyle and think about how amazing God is in taking this young man and giving salvation, new life, and a hunger for His church.
Kyle began attending Del Rey Church a few years ago, when his mom and his extended family began coming. His mom and grandparents are active attenders in the church, not to mention his two uncles, three aunts and a handful of younger cousins. The whole family is truly such a blessing to Del Rey Church. When it comes to our community, Kyle is an active presence in the church. He takes copious notes during sermons and attends our Youth Group. Kyle loves teaching the kids in children’s church (and they love sitting still for and listening to him). Unlike the many grown men who don’t come to Men’s Group, Kyle wakes up and comes to our 6am Bible studies (when his school schedule permits and he can get rides) and he eagerly participates in discipleship opportunities at church. As a young man, Kyle loves basketball, running, and reading. He attends Pacifica High School and hopes to attend a solid Christian college after graduation (so if any wealthy people are reading this, please feel free to set up a Kyle Barnes scholarship to Biola University or Master’s College [my personal votes] or some other awesome school).
What can I say?! Kyle made my year. Watching him grow and seeing him become a member at Del Rey Church was such a delight. His mom told me in an email: “It’s hard to see him grow-up, because really we’ve kind of done that together, but I am so proud of the man he is becoming. I love seeing him pray and study the Bible. I am so excited for the husband his future wife, and the father his future kids will be getting.” By God’s grace all of this will come to pass and so much more. If the Lord tarries in His return, I fully expect to see God’s sanctifying power continue in Kyle’s life, sustaining him through the challenges ahead he will face as he stands for God in his generation. Youth culture is becoming progressively more anti-God and spiritually confused. Young men are particularly plagued by a peter-pan syndrome of not wanting to grow up and take responsibility to belong in community, reject passivity, work hard, read, and stand up for what is right. There is no doubt Kyle will experience persecution and hardship for his desire to follow Christ, but he will certainly not be alone as we stand together as a church family around him and his sweet mother to see the will of our Father flourish for the namesake of Christ and for the glory of His gospel. Blessings upon you Kyle Barnes Luna.
AND HERE IS A CLASSIC PICTURE of our youngest member and our longest standing member of many decades, Mr. Clarence Larsen: