Dove award-winner and nominee Chris Rice is a Christian singer/songwriter who thinks that today is the important day, and everything in his life up until this point has been the preparation.
Although he has a successful recording career, his passion is shaping today’s youth by leading camps and retreats.
We recently caught up with him to talk about what drives him to continue in youth ministry.
BGEA: What drives your passion for youth ministry?
Chris: I was brought up in a family of faith. The thing that most impacted me was not someone giving me a CD or taking me to a seminar. The real impact was people – friends, teachers, youth leaders, etc. – who lived their faith in front if me, day by day.
Once I got out of high school I wanted to keep giving back, because of what impacted me. That led me to continue to be involved with youth groups. I have never been on a church staff or anything. My ministry to youth is based on my own needs from when I was in their shoes.
BGEA: If you could go back and speak wisdom to yourself as a teenager, what would you say?
Chris: I would tell myself to be myself. There are so many self-imposed and man-made “requirements” for being a Christian. Kids are already taught from an early age to not be themselves. They hide their true selves from the world, disguising how God made them. Don’t give up who you are to try to fit the mold. The typical “Christian” mold is not necessarily God’s plan for everyone. There is so much more God could do through us if we didn’t try to be so much like each other.
BGEA: How do you advise kids to choose their friends?
Chris: I’ve heard it said over the years that Christian kids should stay away from peers who do not share their faith. We teach them to fear those who are outside of the “club.” Actually, I don’t think it is biblical to stay away from friends who don’t know Jesus. Besides, Jesus came for them. Let your faith be real.
BGEA: How would you encourage kids to share their faith with their friends?
Chris: There is a perceived definition of what it means to share your faith, as if there is only one way to represent Christ. The more real you can be about your faith, the more people will be drawn to Christ when they see how you handle the hard things in life.
Billy Graham has been a great example of this. He doesn’t try to fix people; he just points them to Christ. Sinners flocked to Jesus; they came to him in droves. Because people have not been trained to share their faith in a real way, we have actually driven some people away from Christ instead of leading them to Him.
Truth is, none of us are good enough. But, we do have the words when we need them.
BGEA: Speaking of Billy Graham, how has he influenced your life and ministry?
Chris: I can remember, as a kid, being very aware of what he was doing. He didn’t just get involved with people like himself. Made it a point to be involved with people that no one else would. I cannot recall him ever pointing a finger of judgment at anyone.
Instead, his message was, “sin is condition of every human. We cannot rescue ourselves from ourselves. Only God can do that through Jesus.” He brings the message in a way that people can understand. His messages have always been amazing, yet very consistent. It is obvious he is big believer in the great commission.