Tag Archives: home school

I have a special fondness for family bluegrass bands, I suppose because it combines two of my passions — family ministry and bluegrass music. I work with families at my church and do my best to help parents stay connected to their kids so that they can pass on their faith and values, which is what I call the “First Commission” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) of the Bible. The “Great Commission” came later (Matthew 28) when Jesus told his disciples to take the Gospel to the whole world. Our first priority is to tell our kids.

Being so involved with bluegrass music as I am, I constantly hear about families like the Harris Family (The Trinity River Band) of Callahan, Florida, who play and sing together so well, and while I don’t know their whole story, they also seem to have a strong faith connection with their kids as well. They perform a lot in churches and have recorded some wonderful gospel songs. I got their new CD just this week and will be playing their new single on my radio show this week. They have a very impressive sound.

Here’s a video from a recent TV appearance.

Obviously there’s a lot of musical talent which the Harris parents have been able to encourage in their kids. I know we can’t just issue every family a bunch of musical instruments and tell them to start practicing but I do think there are some principles here that we can take away. One is that when parents are passionate about something, kids are very likely to pick up on that and want it for themselves. Most kids see their parents as role models. Another principle is that parents must be very intentional about passing their passions on to their kids. They won’t be passed on simply because you all live in the same house. The Harris parents taught their kids to play, got them the instruments they needed, and were very intentional about achieving their family goals. They are well on their way to realizing them, I think. Trinity River Band, you have a fan in San Diego!


Category: Bluegrass, Parenting

I wish I could say that I spent the first full day of the new year doing something constructive or creative but I watched football all day. Three games. Actually I think I watched six or seven football games this week. How many bowl games are there now? I can remember when all of them (Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Orange) all happened on one day, bringing the college football season to a merciful end. But now it goes on and on … which I guess is OK with me since I love the game and enjoy watching if I have the time.

ephesians-tim-tebow-bible-eye-blackLast night in the Sugar Bowl, the University of Florida’s well-known quarterback Tim Tebow played in his last college football game as he led his Gators team to an easy victory over the Cincinnatti Bearcats.

I’ve not followed Tebow’s career closely, but by all accounts, he’s not only a tremendous quarterback but a dedicated Christ-follower who seems almost too good to be true. Nobody has a bad thing to say about him and he’s unabashedly outspoken about his faith.

It’s not surprising to me that Tebow grew up in a Christian home (his parents were missionaries) and was home schooled even while he played high school football. While not all home-school kids turn out like Tim Tebow, I’ve become increasingly persuaded that parents who home-school their kids are not as over-protective or paranoid as we thought they were. They may instead just be taking more seriously than the rest of us the Biblical imperative to train up their children in the way they should go. Sadly, too many Christian parents are content these days to outsource the upbringing of their children to the government, the popular media, even the church.

As I listened to the young quarterback (who will be headed for the NFL this year) give glory to Christ for his win last night, I couldn’t help but wonder if he will continue to do so as a pro. The TV commentators last night described how his Florida teammates protected him from people and activities that might compromise his reputation. I hope he continues to have those kind of people around him. At least I know he has those kind of parents.


Category: Ministry, Personal

OK, I know bluegrass isn’t going to replace hip hop anytime soon as the music of choice for teenagers, but I’m no longer surprised by groups like the The Doerfels who suddenly appear out of nowhere.  I don’t know too much about this family band except they are from Florida and just released a new CD featuring some of their original songs.  The senior member (T.J. on banjo) is only 20 years old, joined by his sister Kimberly (19 on fiddle), and brothers Eddy (16 on mandolin), Joe (14 on bass) and Ben (13 on guitar).  Check out this video:

I sometimes point to groups like this when I hear some of my colleagues express pessimism about the extent to which parents and other adults can influence teenagers in today’s media-saturated world.  Let’s be honest here, teenagers who embrace and perform bluegrass music are not the norm.  These are kids who have grown up in an environment, usually provided by their parents, where they have had constant exposure to the music and lots of encouragement from a community of bluegrass music fans.

I’ve spent time with many of these young musicians, like Nickel Creek (Chris Thile, Sean and Sara Watkins) who grew up here in the San Diego area.  Also the Cherryholmes family, who also came from Southern California and have become one of bluegrass music’s biggest success stories.  There are many more just like them.  The Wright Kids, who were finalists on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” show and The Clark Brothers, who won Fox TV’s “The Next Great American Band” competition a couple of years ago.   I’m always impressed not only by the talent and skill of these kids on their musical instruments, but with how well-adjusted they are and how articulate and comfortable they are around adults.

So how did these kids become such accomplished bluegrass musicians?  Did they find the sound of the banjo and fiddle too cool to resist?

To understand these kids, you have to meet their parents.  I’ve met some of them and it’s clear that they made a choice when their kids were little to create a family culture that was centered around bluegrass music.  In almost every case, these kids were home schooled and taught music as part of their curriculum.  They made field trips to bluegrass festivals where they learned to play (jam) with adult musicians who were more than happy to  show them how to improve their playing.  I also have a hunch their parents turned off the TV and spent a lot of time playing and singing with their kids.

I know most people would shudder at their thought of their kids forming a bluegrass band, but I do think there’s something we can learn from these families about how to raise children up in the Christian faith.


Category: Bluegrass, Ministry