School Days, School Days…. #TraditionallySouthside

Ahhhh, school days! It is the first day of school in the city of Decatur, and students and teachers alike are both excited and terrified. Some are happy and some are sad. I can still remember the smells from the first day of school. I’m not sure what it was, but I loved that smell and I still do. Of course, for the most part, I loved going to school. In fact, my wife often tells people that I could have been a professional student. The truth is that I just received an e-mail from my alma mater, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, advertising the fact that they are involved in a pilot program where they are offering a completely online Ph.D. program. Hmmmmmmm! Well, probably not, but who knows!

Anyway, I digress. I was very excited on Sunday evening as our church participated in First Priority’s Campus prayer gatherings. We cancelled our evening service and encouraged our people to go to the school closest to their homes and join in the prayer time. We had many of our folks to participate – even 7 of our children went. Our Children’s Minister broke my heart when she told me that several of our children prayed a very similar prayer: God, please don’t let our teachers get shot. It demonstrates what is on the hearts of these children, and it breaks my heart to think that this is what they are focused on. Please join me in praying as often as God brings to your mind for a safe school year and a learning environment that is conducive to growing our children into the men and women God would have them to be.

Again, I digress. This is why I keep a manuscript in front of me every time I preach so that when I get carried away I know where to come back to. So, I was excited to find out that over 1,300 people joined in our campus prayer gatherings with an untold number of people who prayed from their homes. I am even more excited to get involved with First Priority of Greater Decatur. Starting after Labor Day, teams of adults will join together to empower students to influence their schools with the gospel of Jesus Christ on over 53 campuses in Morgan and Limestone counties. All of our superintendents over both city schools and county schools have given permission to hold these clubs, and the opportunities are tremendous. Consider this: according to Larry Franks, the director of First Priority, 70% of our students have little to no exposure to God’s Word. 87% of these students never go to church. But get this — in the past 6 years, over 3,900 children have made professions of faith because of the ministry of First Priority of Greater Decatur.

I am proud and excited to say that 6 of us from Southside Baptist Church have gone to the training and will be joining a team this school year. We have the opportunity to impact hundreds of children at a time when they need to have a reason to hope for the future. And if you would like to be a part of this great ministry, there is still time. All you need to do is to go to one of the additional training events that are planned and go through a background check. There is no cost to you to do this unless you want to cover the cost of the background check and your FP t-shirt. For more information, go to You will be glad you did. I didn’t mean for this blog post to turn into an advertisement, but here is the deal: the more team members we have, the more schools we can get into, and the more schools we can get into, the more students we can impact. And the more students we can impact, the more families will be changed. And the more families that are changed, the more our city will change. Do you get the picture? In a time when there seems to be nothing to build our hopes on, we can be the salt and the light these children need, and maybe they will encounter the true Hope of the world.

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