Last year I had the funeral of a lifelong friend. I met him when I was 12. He invited me into his group and we spent time together. We worked together, played together, laughed together and we prayed together. He was an example of a godly man in my life who put his hand on my shoulder and gave me the confidence I needed to be a man of God. I considered him my second dad and later my children were his grandchildren. He loved me and valued me for who and what I was. I needed Jim to mentor me in the kingdom of God. He was willing, he took the time, and he made a difference in my life. He discovered what I was interested in and built a relationship with me around those things. He listened to what I had to say and in time I listened to what he had to say. I wasn’t his son…. but I was his son! II Timothy 2:2

I met a young man 7 years ago; he was about 12 years old. I invited him to be a part of our group. We set out on an adventure together. We worked together in serving our community and church. We hauled people’s trash, helped families move and even delivered firewood in the winter to those in need. It wasn’t all work! We sat around campfires, drank coffee together, worshipped, wept, studied the Scriptures, prayed together, and laughed at one another. We went on fishing, canoeing and camping trips. We hiked and biked, and sometimes were just hanging out. We had quite an adventure together. He is off now serving his country in the coast guard, he hasn’t been around for a while, but he texted me on Father’s Day and said, “Happy Father’s Day”. Someday maybe he’ll be at my funeral. He isn’t my son…. but he is my son!

The experiences that I shared are real-life discipleship. They were not a program or out of a manual. They were authentic relationships that have impacted lives for eternity. These types of discipleship relationships are happening all over Oregon. Discipleship isn’t a program it’s life together. 38 years ago Jim called his group Royal Rangers. Today, Royal Rangers is an opportunity to spend quality time together in a fun, highly relational, and safe environment that is built for discipleship for the next generation.

2,000 years ago, Jesus called some young men into a group. (I consider Jesus to be the first Royal Ranger leader) This timeless method is what God has called us to do. Matthew 28:19-20. Royal Rangers has gone through some amazing changes in the last few years. This isn’t the Royal Rangers that you grew up with. It is now easy to use, affordable, and adaptable to your church. It can be flexible to work how you need it but most of all it’s effective in making disciples. The method of discipleship hasn’t changed but Royal Rangers has and is now relevant to this generation.

Now probably more than ever we recognize the importance of discipleship for the next generation of Christ-like servant leaders. Could I ask you to rethink and reconsider Royal Rangers as a ministry of discipleship in your Church? There are boys who are like I was, waiting for someone like Jim to invite them into the group!