Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us! In today’s program, Tom launches a two-part series with guest Carl Kerby as they address the question, “Are Your Kids Hungry for the Truth?” Here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. My guest for today and next week’s program is my good friend Carl Kerby. Prior to his ministry Reasons for Hope, Carl was a founding board member and international speaker for Answers in Genesis. Carl’s my buddy, but, seriously, folks, he’s one of the best communicators I know dealing with issues related to biblical creation. But his passion is to proclaim the authority and accuracy of the Bible and to engage the minds and hearts of believers and unbelievers in biblical truth, especially young people. Carl, welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Carl: Thanks, Tom. It’s always a blessing to be with you guys.
Tom: Now, Carl, that last comment I made is what I want to talk about mostly. Young people. You know, as we’ve ministered together in England at Truth 4 Youth, and having your son, Carl, Jr., at our TBC conference speaking about issues related to young people, you know that I have a burden for young people, especially this upcoming generation. So that’s what I want to talk about. But let’s begin with you telling our audience what doors the Lord has opened for you recently regarding young people.
Carl: Wow. It’s been an amazing ride. I’ve actually done a couple of camps. I did a youth conference - one in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and one in Pigeon Forge called Teen Revolution. And that’s kind of exciting because after doing those two conferences, they’ve now asked me…the pastor who has started those up – he’s in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and he’s got a college down there in a school, and he’s asked me to come down to Hot Springs and teach for a week in the college and in the school. So that’s opening doors for me to get in and do that sort of thing as well, but a lot of caps this last summer. It’s been a real blessing.
Tom: So you’ve been hanging out with kids. Is that great fun or what?
Carl: I’ll tell you what – they keep you on your toes! Because…
Tom (laughing): That’s right!
Carl: …when you go in and speak to adults, they want to do a Q&A time. Boring. I mean, adults are boring. They’re going to ask the same questions. But when you get in with the younger generation, especially Junior High and under, brother! They’re coming at you from all kinds of angles, and they’re hungry. They’re legitimately hungry.
Tom: Yeah. And that’s my next question for you, Carl. With your experience – not just Hawaii or the US but England, internationally, what’s your take? What’s the lay of the land with regard to young people. In other words, where are they, in general? What’s your take?
Carl: You know, what I see is a generation that is absolutely looking for answers and they’ve been marketed to. This generation today is like the first one that’s been marketed to from birth, and so they can basically see a fake and a fraud from a block away, and I’m finding that the straighter you speak, and if your heart is legitimately really concerning because you see what’s going on: the devastation of broken lives, of…when I get these emails from kids who are going off to college who were raised in the churches, and they’re spending six months at a university, and the next thing you know, they’re about to chuck everything, and their parents are like, “I don’t… what did…we raised them in the church! We took them to church every week!” And then you just see what’s going on there.
When they see that your heart is legitimately caring about them, and you’re going to love them enough to shoot ‘em straight: “I won’t play games with you: I’m going to just tell you straight down the line, you’re going to come under attack. This is where they’re going to come after you. And here’s how you can deal with it” – I find them absolutely starving for truth!
Tom: Yeah. Well, I would ask you this, just straight up. What gives you…in that context, what gives you the most success in getting their attention and getting some of the things that you say [regarding] sticking with it? Sticking that information. They think about it. They really go with it.
Carl: Yeah. I tell you, I think part of it is I’m weird. And I am not ashamed of it. I am weird. I know that. My background is weird, and the way that I think is weird.
Carl: And I use it! I mean, this last…I tell you, the one camp that I just did a couple of months ago, I walk in – these are kids who are the best of the best. They’ve memorized scripture for a year to go to those camps, so it’s an AWANA merit camp. They had to memorize scripture for a year to get there. So, these aren’t just kids that are going out and dragging into some camp. These kids had to work for it. Day one (this is the second year that I’ve been there in a row), so day one I walk in with these guys, and I say, “This is great! You’re the best of the best. You’ve memorized scripture for a year to get here! And guess what? Fifty percent of you don’t know the Lord. I guarantee it!”
I say, “Fifty percent of you – I know this – are sitting in here because mom and daddy made you do the work to get here, or you’re doing it because this is all that you know, and then by the time that you get done with this, and you’re 18, half of you are going to be gone. That’s just the way that it is.”
I mean, what a great way to start, right? These kids are going to rebel on you. No! Because from there, it’s like, “Here is why I’m saying this to you. This is what I’m seeing, and this is just what I’m looking at right here that’s going on right now, looking at you guys in the eyes. And we’re going to deal with this. I do not want you to walk out of here this week and not have an answer for the reason for the hope that lies within you. If there’s something that’s going on; if there’s a question that’s going on, bring it. Let’s deal with it!” Man, they respond!
Tom: Yeah. And you’re honest with them. We don’t have all the answers. I mean, there are some things that in our finite beings – even fallen, finite beings – that are incomprehensible to us. But we know what the Word of God says. And we go with that! So, in terms of it sticking, one of the ways that I love to approach – and it’s not just young people, but everybody – is ask them questions. And then you wait for them to come back and ask you a question.
Carl: And, you know, Tom, one of the other pieces that I love to throw in there is we have got such a generation that thinks that Christianity is what they’ve seen on Family Guy, Simpsons, Desperate Housewives, and Law and Order, that all Christians are just a bunch of closed-minded, intolerant, bigoted, opinionated hicks. I want to break that stereotype. So when they bring a question that maybe I can’t answer, I’m not going to be on the defensive. I’m going to admit right up front: “Good question. I don’t know that. Let’s go do some digging. Let’s see what we can find.” But, by the way, in the very next breath, I’m going to now come back and question you: “Just because I can’t answer that question, does that mean that what I believe is not true? Well, then, let me ask you this question: Where did this happen? How does this happen? Etc., etc…” And you rattle some stuff back at them – there’s questions that they can’t answer either, so does that mean that their position isn’t true? We have to get to the bottom line, where – What is truth? What we see in the world, is it consistent with what we read in the Word of God? Or is it consistent with what we see in the world around us? And, man, I’m happy to throw in with the Lord on that one, because everything we see screams that God did what He said that He did the way that He said that He did it.
Tom: Yeah. Carl, one of the reasons I really love ministering with you is…you are a weirdo!
Carl: I am! (laughing)
Tom: But wait a minute! Wait a minute! Yeah, your dad was a professional wrestler, okay? But my dad was a psychiatrist, okay? And I tell people, “I grew up in a mental institution,” and [they say], “What’s that all about?”
No, my dad was a psychiatrist in a large mental institution, and we lived on the grounds. But still, I can tell when the inmates are running the asylum out here. But that’s what I love about dealing with young people. And in my experience, I taught Bible in Christian school for a couple of years. You want to talk scary? I’ve had the toughest questions being asked of me, and I know more than once, I was saved by the bell. “Oops, next class, guys! We’ll come back; we’ll figure this out.” And then I go home, sweating and trying to get to the answer! But that’s what they want.
Tom: If we came off like we had every answer…[but] we do have the truth.
Tom: You underscored that. We have God’s Word. And, you know, my best apologetic to support that is prophecy. But I would think on your side, not only prophecy but evidence.
Tom: Evidence, evidence. Right?
Carl: Yeah, I mean, that’s where I’ve taken my journey is…Let’s take a look at the world around us and let’s look at it through the lens of God’s Word, because if the Bible is what it claims to be, which is a history book, starting from Genesis: Genesis is written as historical narrative, if it truly is written as historical narrative, and those things happened, and Adam and Eve were real people, and there was real sin that had real consequences, there should be evidence for it.
And I think that we see that very clearly in the world around us. And that’s why I love taking people out to go dig dinosaur bones. That’s one of the trips that we did this year. Next year, we’re going to go down the Grand Canyon, and we’re going to do another dinosaur dig – because when you take the Word of God as it is written, and then you go to the world that you live in, and you allow the Word of God to be like that set of glasses that you put on, and I mean, I’m 55 now, and I need glasses to read anymore, that’s what I see the Word of God as. I look at a piece of paper, and I can’t see it anymore. I put the glasses on; now I can read it. Well, that’s the Word of God. What we live in today is so distorted and destroyed, it makes no sense if you don’t have that filter from which to understand how it got to where we are today.
And so, of course the Word of God is our authority and our standard, but, boy, the evidence is there to support that what it says is true.
Tom: And it’s a battle. It’s a battle. And the thing that I think probably upsets you, upsets me as well, we love the body of Christ. But, I’m telling you, there’s some problems, you know, with those…I’m not just talking about those professing Christians. I’m talking about true believers.
So, I’ve got a question for you about when you’re invited to speak, all right? Let’s say at a secular school. And then you’re invited to speak at a Christian school. Now, is there a consistent reception difference? Or does it depend on the schools?
Carl: You know, it’s really interesting. The last two public schools I went in – you talk about a contrast. One of them, they wanted me to come in and talk about racial reconciliation, and I was supposed to do the talk on “Where did Cain get his wife?” And when we pulled up, they didn’t tell me that it was a public school (the guy that brought me in). We pulled up, and it was a public school, and I said, “Okay, this is a public school.”
“Do they know that I’m going to talk about this?”
“Do they know that I’m going to use the Bible?”
“Yeah, but just don’t preach.”
I said, “Man, there is no way that I can talk about racial reconciliation without preaching because there’s only one answer to that in that fact that we’re all created in the image of God; we’re all fearfully and wonderfully made, and we all go back to one man and one woman.”
So, I changed the talk so that I could just deal with evidence in this public school. And I dealt with fossils. And all I did was take the phylogenetic charts. I was supposed to have thirty minutes in this school. Ten minutes into it, they pulled the fire alarm to get me out of there. I didn’t use “God”; I didn’t use the Bible; I didn’t talk about Jesus. I just went through the phylogenetic charts. “This is what the phylogenetic charts show. This what evolution teaches. Why do we have all these question marks and dashed lines? Maybe there’s another way.” Then I went on to the next chart. Fire alarm!
Now, fast-forward six months. I went to another public school. There was a young lady who had heard me speak at a camp, and she went for a year [trying] to finally get me into her public school. They only approved for me to come in after hours on a Friday night competing against a home basketball game. This young lady got that gym filled. There were 150 -200 young folks in there (sorry, in the auditorium, not the gym. The gym was next door.) So, we’re in this auditorium, and I walked in, and Molly was her name – I was like, “Molly, this is amazing! What do you want me to talk about tonight?”
She looked at me like I’m stupid, and she goes, “Well, I want you to preach the gospel.”
I said, “Molly! Six months ago, I’m in a public school and I just talk about fossils and they pull the fire alarm to get me out after ten minutes. Does your principal know I’m going to preach the gospel?”
“Yeah. I told him. And,” she goes, “I want you to give an altar call.”
“An altar call?”
So I got up. Well, I talked to her pastor, who just happened to be there, and I said, “Pastor Scott. I’m a butterfly. I’m in and I’m out. They don’t need a butterfly. They need somebody who’s in this community that they’re going to see. Would you do the altar call?”
And he said, “Yes.”
And I said, “Well, would you do me a favor? Would you do my altar call? I’m weird. We’ve already established that. I don’t like the begging and the music and we’re playing and manipulating and… All right, ten minutes later: ‘Somebody’s finally gotta come forward or else I’m gonna keep doing this thing.’ Or, ‘Let’s bow your head and slip your hand up.’ I don’t do that! Pastor Scott, here’s my altar call: ‘You know if the Holy Spirit is dealing with you, so get up here. Deal with it! That’s it. Because if you won’t walk forward in this place where people are going to love you and encourage you and embrace you, you’re not going to walk outside this place and go out into a world that’s going to come after you. So, if the Holy Spirit’s dealing with you, get up here and deal with it.’”
We had at least fifty young people that came forward and made a commitment. These are the public school kids. So, I go to Christian schools, I go to public schools, I see hunger. When they pulled that fire alarm in that other school, one young man yelled out, “Are you KIDDING? Finally something that was interesting?!”
Tom: They didn’t trace that back to the Biology teacher, did they? Pulling the alarm?
Carl: Oh, yeah. No, no, what happened was, see, this was when I had my son with me in ministry, and as we were walking out, I was, like, dumbfounded! I was, like, wouldn’t they have scheduled a fire alarm for some day when there wasn’t a…
My son walks up to me, and he says, “Dad, you’d better grab your computer.”
He said, “The whole time you were talking, the Biology teacher was out there screaming at the principal, ‘This is illegal! I’m going to call…’”
And that’s why they pulled the fire alarm.
Tom: Oh boy! Well, the thing I love about being a believer, trusting the Lord, this Scripture is really true: “All things do work together for good.”
Tom: So, just that reaction by this… “Wait, we just got to something interesting!” We’ll take that. We’ll take that!
Tom: We don’t know how the Holy Spirit’s planting seeds and…anyway… that’s great, Carl!
Carl: Well, you know, I told that principal afterwards, I said, “Ma’am, you have these young folks 930 hours a year. Nine hundred thirty hours a year. So think about it like this. You had me come in and do a 30-minute talk. Now, I only had 20 minutes by the time I got up there. If I can undo in 20 minutes what you have 929 hours and 40 minutes to do, how weak is your position? You gave me 20 minutes! You see, if I was on the flip side, I’d give you 20 minutes and then I’d just beat you to death for the next 929 hours and 40 minutes just to show how bad your position was.
And I said to her, “How weak is your position that you can let somebody talk for 20 minutes and I didn’t talk about God or use the Bible?”
Tom: Carl, we’ve been buddies even before you started Reasons for Hope, but just tell people about the ministry, why you decided to get involved on your own – because in the introduction I mentioned that you were one of the founding fathers, as it were, of Answers in Genesis, and that you were one of their main speakers, and so on. So – not to lay anything back on them, but just…what was the calling on your heart by the Lord to start Reasons for Hope?
Carl: You know, I think a catalyst was when my son came home and told me that I was going to be a grandfather. And when he did that, I just remember very clearly, I felt fear. And the fear was Did I pour into my own son enough? Because my son was going to pour into his son, my grandchild. And I had just been speaking and I’m seeing the young people, and I’m seeing the hunger, and I’m seeing the hurt. We live in a really hurting society right now. A lot of people are hurting. And so, I got very concerned, and I was like, Well, you know what? I helped get a book written and got it funded identifying when and why we’re losing a generation. It was a book called Already Gone. And we found there, very clearly, 87-88 percent of the young people were elementary, middle, and high school when they were making the decision to walk away. And so, when they went to college, that’s not the problem. They were already gone by the time they got to college.
And so, it was just one of these things that, look, we now know why they’re walking away; we know when they’re walking away; what are we doing to go after them? God has wired me, for whatever reason – I don’t fully understand it – I would have thought that as straight as I speak to them, that they would have rebelled against me and turned on me: “This guy’s a jerk; he’s mean…” and whatever. But they don’t! And so, I said, “I’ve got to go after them.” And I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the freedom to do what I knew the Lord was calling me to do, which was go after the younger generation and men. I praise God that He gave me the opportunity to step out and to start going after the younger generation, but the real catalyst was just seeing what was going on in the culture with a generation of young people that are seriously looking for something.
Tom: Carl, I had the experience of – it was a good experience – of fishing with the Grizzlies in Alaska. We’re talking about maybe 30 yards from me. You are not a Grizzly! You are a big teddy bear, buddy! (Laughing) I’m serious! How anybody could get upset with you, that’s a whole ’nother thing. So, how long has Reasons for Hope been going, and - here’s my question: I love imitation. If something’s good, and somebody recognizes that, they want to do it as well. Have we had some imitations of Reasons for Hope, or whether it be among homeschoolers, or whether…whatever it might be.
Carl: Yeah. We’re going to be six years old January 8, so we’re a little over 5 ½ years old, and that’s amazing to me, that we’re still here, because I started…man, we didn’t know where we were going to be. You know, it’s been really fun. I’ve had four young people, four young men that I’ve been able to take on the road with me: my son (I’ve had him on staff with me a year and a half); I had another young man that traveled with me for a year; another young man for a month; another for a week. And I’ve got a young man now that’s wanting to travel with me to do some of that type of discipleship. I’ve got a lot of encouraging things with young people that are now doing “clubs” in their church and in their schools. I’ve had two or three that have started clubs in their schools, and they write me and I send them stuff and give them ideas, and so, there’s some duplication going on out there – not to the level that I really want, because right now I’m just so busy being on the road to keep everything running. I’ve got a huge support base, and so we have to be on the road. I’m on the road anywhere from 180-190 days a year. And I’m not complaining. I’m praising God that anybody wants to hear me that much! (Laughing). So, we are having some very encouraging things with this younger generation in that they’re doing something with it. They’re not just listening. They’re doing something. So…
Tom: Well, praise the Lord for that! That’s exciting.
Now, when I picked you up at the airport and we were driving here, you were talking about, really, what the Lord has put on your heart. You speak a lot. You’re here, there, but as you mentioned, it’s kind of like a butterfly thing. You come in, you plant some seeds, you get people excited, and so on, but I feel the same way with regard to The Berean Call. What do we leave them with? So what do you leave them with?
Carl: You know, that’s…man, I would covet your prayers on this one, because January 1, we’re, prayerfully, Lord willing, we’re going to start what I’m calling “Academy of Hope.” And it’s going to be online classes. Now, I can’t compete with the big dogs. I can’t compete with the colleges that have their hour-long lectures, and all of that. And I don’t want to compete with them! That’s not the way the Lord’s wired me. I believe that I’ve been wired to do more of the conversational style application. We’ll have 15-minute video lessons, and then about 30 minutes of course work for them to do. And we want to deal with just application. Real-world application. So my class that I’m working on right now is dealing with fossils and evolution, and I’m going to go through not just a couple of the supposed ancestors, but we’ll flesh out a little more of them.
But then, we’ve got four other teachers that I’m excited to have involved, and we’re going to expand that. I want more teachers. But the format, again, is, I want that 15 minutes of teaching that is on a topic that we’re seeing in the world around us. I’ve got guys that I want to bring in that teach video. Guys that come in and talk about Web. Talk about App. Because if you’re going to reach this culture today, boy, that is the hot topic, and those are tools that are definitely being used. And so I want people coming in and teaching those types of classes, so that when I leave, it’s like, “Okay, guys, we got to scratch the surface with you, but now we get to take you and go a little bit deeper and flesh these things out so that you’re equipped to take your faith and do something with it in the real world. And we want to do even museum tours, and the zoo tours, and those types of things. So, that’s the tool that we’re looking at now, is this online education to put application to it.
Tom: Yeah. As you’re talking about that, I do think about homeschooling, but I also think about putting this in the hands of a youth pastor. If there’s anything more difficult of calling, it’s got to be a youth pastor. And the reason being is that what’s expected – “you’ve got to take care of our children, you’ve got to do this, do that….” But if they could start a program based on the information he’s getting, not just…I mean, you guys are organizing it, but he could set it in schedule for his young people.
Carl: That’s right. That’s another component that we’re wanting. And…honestly, Tom, parents. See, I’m wanting to set this up where, “Parent, you take this with your child, okay? You take this with your child, and you guys do this work together. But the youth pastor or the pastor, the youth pastor really – not necessarily the pastor, but I think that pastors could get something from it, but I really think it’s going to be more geared for that youth pastor. Youth pastor, parent, and younger generation. That’s the heart!
Tom: Well, and as you mentioned earlier, we’ve got a generation – maybe more than one – which, they were brought up on entertainment. And that’s why I say that being a youth pastor is so difficult, because you’ve got to keep them in. And if they…of course, the problem has been, you brought them in with the world. And then you’ve got to keep upping the ante. We don’t want to keep up with the world, but if you think that’s the way to go about it, it’s a losing proposition right away.
Carl: Bottom line is we can’t “out-fun” the world. They can always take it one step further than what we can, and so…everybody’s heard that old saying: “What brings them in keeps them in.” And so, I think that there’s a way to…we have to entertain. I’ll be honest. I try to entertain when I’m doing my presentations with humor and with this and that. But…that is not the focus!
Tom: No, no. That’s a byproduct. We call it your personality! (Laughing) But it’s important! It is! We’ve just got about a minute left here, Carl. So we’re going to come back to this, but one of the things that you said, and I think it needs to be underscored, by being straight – you call it “shooting straight”- with these young people…because their perception is unbelievable. I don't care if it’s a four- or five-year-old. They can recognize a phony…
Carl: I agree…
Tom: …from across the football field! It’s just unbelievable. So, just finish us off with that, and we’ll pick up with this next week, but the Word of God – it’s the truth. That’s what you’re teaching and preaching, and when you come on as honestly as you can, there’s going to be some response. Not everybody…
Carl: No, no…
Tom: But at least they’re not going to turn you off for the wrong reasons.
Carl: Right, right. I’ve really found that I preach on things that I personally struggle with, and I think by opening up our hearts and saying, “Look…” I was coming up here from where I was yesterday – I was in Lakeland, Florida, and I spoke to the service. When I spoke at the service there were a lot of young folks in there as well. (Oh, I’ve got to tell you about the 21-year-old that came up afterwards. We’ll do that next time.) But, it’s like I tell them, “Look, I am not an outgoing person. It’s hard to believe, but I am not. When I get on airplanes, I am so embarrassed, but I pray that the person coming on that’s going to sit next to me is coming on in headphones so I don’t have to talk to them.” And that’s just being as real as possible, and I don’t like it about myself, because I’m not outgoing. But you know what? We have to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and doing what the Lord wants us to do.
Tom: Well, my guest has been Carl Kerby, and part 1. Lord willing, next week we’ll pick up with part 2. And we’ve got a lot of territory to cover, and I think, folks, that you’re going to find it interesting.
So, thanks, Carl, for being with us.
Carl: My blessing. Thank you, Tom!
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, Oregon, 97708; call us at 800-937-6638; or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.