Turtles and the Next Generation

By Michael Agnew
By Zabdi Piña
By Kristie Davis
By AJ Jerkins
By John Hames
By Makenzie Romero
By Caroline Khameneh
By Victoria Renken
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Paul Leadabrand
By Dawn Johnson
By DJ Newman
By Mary Weyand
By Rob Nickell
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Nila Odom
By Sherene Joseph Rajadurai
By Kristi Sheffy
By Sharon Arrington
By Sarah Crawford
By Betsy Paul
By Angel Piña
By Elizabeth Piña
By Justus George
By Lori Kuykendall
By Chris Kuykendall
By Matt Holland
By Courtney Grimes
By Jessie Yearwood
By Jeff Black
By Brian Severski
By Brian Arrington
By Sandhya Curran
By Will Meier
By Clint Calhoun
By Jen Mayes
By Alf Laukoter
By Neil Wiersum
By Jim Henry
By Erick Rodriguez
By Jenn Wright
By Kevin Harwood
By Nandi Roszhart
By Leah Vanhorn
By Janett Miller
By Isaac Harris
By Charlyn Valencia
By Chad Golden
By Jonathan Cortina
By Kuruvilla (K.O.) Oommen
By John Dyer
By Abe Paul
By Lauren Geppert
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Jill Asibelua
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Norm Headlam
By Kristi Herring
By Albán Snider
By Sissy Mathew
By Shannon Pugh
By Melanie Mechsner
By Kyla Mikusek
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Tiffany Stein
By Barry Jones
By Bryan Eck
By Tricia Kinsman
By Jason Stein
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Sunitha John
By Tarrin Henry
By RozeLee Rugh
By Beverly Hogan
By Kendra Cordero
By Lisa Gajewski
By Bonnie Goree
By Young-Sam Won
By Chris Beach
By Tom Rugh
By Nick Vuicich
By Andy Franks
By Lead Team
By Jason Roszhart
By Harvard Medical School
By Justin K. Hughes, MA, LPC
By Sherene Joseph
By Earl Davidson
By Rebecca Perry
By Joe Padilla
By Christian Melendez
By Bruce Riley
By Isaac Harris
By Amy Leadabrand
By Ben Haile
By Shaun Robinson
By Natalie Franks
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith

I’m a lot of things. I’m a Texan. I’m tall. I’m a good test-taker. I’m allergic to conflict and spreadsheets. I’m an avid supporter of all the Dallas-area sports teams even though they hurt my feelings. I’m not handsome, but I’m handsome-adjacent.

In regard to things that actually matter, I’m a husband and father. I’m a follower of Jesus and a pastor. But I only recently realized I’m also a turtle on a fence post.

This expression — a turtle on a fence post — is attributed to one of those mythical Texas ranchers who speaks in the form of Southern-fried proverbs. "If you're going down the road and you see a turtle on a fence post," the rancher observes, "you know it didn't get there on its own."

He’s right. Even I, a citified millennial raised on turtles of the Teenage Mutant Ninja variety, knows that turtles can't climb posts. So if you see one up on a fence looking wrinkly, confused, and perhaps a little impressed, it's safe to assume he had a hand getting up there. Someone reached down and set him higher than he ever could've climbed on his own.

And that’s why I identify with the turtle on the fence post.

As we've moved through this Next Up initiative, I've been thinking about our commitment to love and serve the next generation. That’s what churches are called to do, and that’s who we are. When I reflect on that truth, I can't help but think about my own life. I’ve come to realize that I'm a follower of Jesus today because my childhood was marked by dozens of adults who were willing to share God's grace with me.

They reached down and set me higher than I ever could’ve climbed on my own.

Some of their names and faces are lost to my memory, especially those who first taught me about God when I was in preschool, but there are others I’ll never forget. When we talk about serving the next generation here at IBC I can’t help but remember what Brad, Dan, Cheryl, Mark, Brittany, Sharene, Rob, Bobby, April, Benji, Derrick, Bryan, Mike, Cindy, Linda, Ryan, Deborah, and so many others did for me.

I’m here because they were there.

I’m here because they had the courage and compassion to live out something I heard a pastor say at a conference last summer. He said at healthy churches, children are cherished. At healthy churches, adults love and care for children. We don’t stand above them, but rather we crouch down so that we can see their eyes and they can see ours.

Crouching in the presence of children is one posture of a healthy church.

Having been awakened to the effect of this in my own life, and my status as a turtle on a fence post, I’m better able to see this at work at IBC. I see it in the passion and perseverance of my colleagues and teammates with whom I have the honor of serving on staff. And of course I see it in the bright eyes and warm smiles of the volunteers who show up every week to point my kids (and your kids, and everyone else’s kids) toward Jesus.

Every week you’ll find dozens of men, women, and students like Roy, Betsy, and Lizzy crouching down, reaching down, and setting kids higher than they ever could’ve climbed on their own. You’ll see them this Sunday in their “Transformed Kids, Transformed City” shirts, reminding us all that we’re here because someone else was there, reminding us all that God has entrusted the next generation to our care. May God give us the courage and compassion to serve our kids well — he knows we never get where we need to be on our own.

The Next Up sermon series ends this Sunday, and the initiative will end once we raise the money we need for our new children’s ministry building, but God’s invitation to in young hearts and minds has no expiration date. Now and in the years to come, let’s do what we can to serve, support, encourage, and create space for the next generation. 

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