Browsing Tag

Lads to Leaders

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer on Lads to Leaders–Caleb Colley

Last weekend, about 20,000 people were encouraged, strengthened and blessed by a program that’s dear to the Colley house. The following, penned by Caleb a few years back, is a reflective look at the benefits of participation. 2019 marked our family’s 26th year of participation as a family and our third generation of participants had a great and chaotic time in this blessed little spiritual boot camp. We are tired. We have had enough Stax burgers and Paisano pizza to last us till next year for sure. Our cars did not leave their parking spaces for 72 hours. We walked about 3984357 miles in the hotel. We rode the elevator 238974 times with two strollers. We helped host a dinner for the very first Nashville recipient of the prestigious RED COAT AWARD. (I love that guy. He worked very hard!) We attended a reception for a board member that I live who’s been working in the program for all of its fifty years. (I love that guy, too!) Our faith in the great I AM and His wondrous mercy for the third and fourth generations reached new levels. We are thankful to Him.

Here are Caleb’s thoughts. (I know he’s looking to the future of Lads with even greater anticipation now, since this year was his first “stroller year” at convention. Maggie did a lot of “speech” this year at the Orlando convention, but her mom said the content was mostly  “Bye-bye-bye-bye. Here she is with her great aunt Lois Duncan Lyon at the Orlando convention.)

A congregation that is close to my heart will be initiating its participation in Lads to Leaders in the coming days, and this event calls to mind how much Lads has done for me. As I enter my 21st year of participation, I would like to briefly describe the program and say why more congregations nationwide should consider participating.

Society has built-in mechanisms to assist and motivate young people in athletic, academic, and entrepreneurial achievement, but too often the church has slight and ineffective means to encourage Bible knowledge and spiritual achievement among children. Every congregation of the church should have a mechanism whereby it assists parents in promoting children’s spiritual development. In my opinion, the best such expedient is Lads to Leaders, a program that affords structure, content, and motivation, and can be tailored to the specific needs of each congregation as specified and directed by its eldership.


In Lads to Leaders, there are 37 categories of participation, through which children and adults learn what the Bible says and how to apply it in daily life and in the work and worship of the home and church. The events culminate at an annual convention in six cities (Atlanta, Dallas, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, and Orlando) where the participants’ efforts are celebrated and encouraged by thousands of brethren. Most (26) of the events are non-competitive, i.e., participants are evaluated, but not in comparison with others. Some (11) events are competitive. In my experience Lads competition has been friendly, mild, and profitable—always edifying and never discouraging. Consider in turn some of the benefits Lads offers:

Structure. Sometimes, although we want our children to learn God’s word and become spiritual leaders, we’re unsure how to start and to keep going over time. Lads event rules have been carefully designed for maximum long-term benefit, by church leaders who have experience in working with young people and parents. Consider the event called “Debate.” Here, students study an important proposition, such as “The use of mechanical instruments of music to accompany the worship of God by His church is not authorized by His Word,” in preparation for organized, formal (mock) debates. And, in the event called “Good Samaritan,” students habituate service by systematically learning what they can do for others and then scheduling it. Lads systematically connects adults who have expertise in a particular activity with students who are interested in that area. For example, song leaders train the participants in the event called “Song Leading,” and public speakers train the participants in “Speech.”

Content. Lads has a strong focus on quality, biblical curriculum that serves as the foundation for several events. For example, in the event called “Headed to the Office,” students read a book by Glenn Colley on how to prepare to fulfill the biblical qualifications for eldership, and complete projects that help them develop the requisite characteristics. A new event called “Keepers” helps girls to develop the attributes of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, including homemaking skills. Other events (e.g., “Centurion of Scripture,” “Bible Bowl”) challenge participants—including adults—to memorize Scripture.

Motivation. Part of Lads’ structure is a system of competition and recognition that keeps children working. As a young Lads participant, I would not yet be all the way home from the Lads convention before I starting working on my speech for the next year’s convention, because I wanted to win the trophy. Before long, I stopped caring so much about the material reward and cared more about the intrinsic rewards of writing and delivering my best possible speech. Nonetheless, competition was a critical stimulus in the early stages. Just as children are motivated by getting a star sticker on a chart for attendance or good behavior, a trophy in a contest goes a long way toward showing a child that a difficult task is worthwhile.

Individualization. Autonomous congregational leadership is fully in control of how its membership utilizes Lads. The events and all material supplied by Lads are, like Sunday school curriculum, tools at the disposal of congregations and families. Folks can participate in as few or as many events as they like, and can choose whether to attend the convention.

Whatever service I am able to render in the kingdom is largely the result of the training provided to me by my parents and other mentors in the context of Lads to Leaders. I am honored to continue the tradition by mentoring students in the program. Begin to use Lads to Leaders at your congregation today. Contact me if I can help get you started or check out the website where all information can be found:

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Keepers!…Sew Much Fun!…Excitement is Cooking!…These Girls Are Keepers!…

(Don’t miss the video at the end!)

You get the point. While the puns are pretty plentiful, this program in the Lads to Leaders organization for mentoring youth in churches is my favorite of all the Lads events. I  believe, for our girls, it is the most practical thing I’ve seen, other than direct mother-daughter mentoring, for helping our girls do what Titus 2 commands in that list of imperatives–things that older women in our congregations are to teach younger women. Today, I’m just going to give the definition of the Greek word oikouros, translated keepers at home or workers at home in Titus 2:5.

Ouikouros means:

caring for the house, working at home, the (watch or) keeper of the house, keeping at home and taking care of household affairs, a domestic

It’s an exciting concept in 2019, that God’s women are the keepers, the watches, the sentinels of this basic God-formed structure of society; that we get to take care of the “factory” if you will, for the future proclaimers of the Word,  and for the future elders and their wives for the eternal kingdom. It’s a privilege, the significance of which we dare not lose on our daughters.

Thus, the inception a few years ago of a program that helped complete an already thriving training ground for the youth of our churches. I hope you can take the time to watch a short video about this program. Special thanks to some of the girls at the West Huntsville church in Huntsville, Alabama and also some from the Centerville Road church in Garland, Texas.

You can see them here:

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer Benjamin Anderson: Lads to Leaders

(I invited Benjamin Anderson to share a few reflections of our recent Lads to Leaders year-round work and our travel to the convention in Nashville, one of six national convention locations.  Here, Benjamin has skimmed the surface of what’s life enriching–even life changing, I would say–for lots of kids at West Huntsville. We took a while on a Sunday night after services recently to try and recognize these kids who participated and were honored at the convention. We had so many, however, that time did not allow us to even verbally list the names of all of those who walked across that stage in Nashville. Following Benjamin’s article, I’ve included that list of winners. Everyone who is diligently trying to use talents for His glory is winning. Every day toward heaven is a win!)


Benjamin Anderson…on Lads


What do we do in the Lads program? Lads to Leaders has events, like an event called Bible Bowl, where we study a certain book of the Bible and answer questions about it. Another event uses puppets to get a certain message across in a fun way. My favorite event is puppets, because I like to see fun ways to produce a Biblical message. You can do almost anything in Lads, so keep looking for your place.

Each year there is a convention which takes place in Nashville, Tennessee at the Opryland Hotel. The hotel is very lavish and humongous and sometimes it is hard to tell where you are going. 

One of the best parts of lads is awards! I’m not saying it’s about the awards, but it’s cool to see a kid’s face light up when he wins. Sometimes, people might take the awards extremely seriously, but really, the awards are the second priority. First? Serving God to become better leaders…as in “Lads to Leaders.” 

Lads helps us to become better at leading worship for God. It is a great program that churches use all over the country. It’s a great tool that families can use to train children into adult leaders.  

Here are the West Huntsville kids who were honored at the convention. Congratulations to all who worked toward true success this year. They know its definition…

Parade of Leaders
  • Michael Benavides
  • Marlie Thompson
Mass Media
  • Jacob Dozier – Article/Editorial – 3rd Place
  • Abigail Owen – Article/Editorial – 2nd Place
  • Morgan Perry – Article/Editorial – 3rd Place
  • Jacob Dozier – Audio Presentation – 3rd Place
  • Wesley Dozier – Audio Presentation – 1st Place
  • Caleb Owen – Audio Presentation – 1st Place
  • Hart Holt – Audio Presentation – 3rd Places
Year Round Bible Reading/Study
  • Marlie Thompson – Silver
Scholarship Presentations
  • Michael Benavides
  • Titus Thompson
Year Round Songs of Praise
  • Bronze – Jill Davidson
  • Silver – Morgan Wells, Abigail Wright, Natalie Wright
  • Gold – Marlie Thompson
Year Round Song Leading
  • Bronze – Jacob Dozier, Wesley Dozier
  • Silver – David Moseley
  • Gold – Michael Benavides, Caleb Owen, Douglas Smith, Titus Thompson
Year Round Speech
  • Bronze – Marlie Thompson
  • Silver – Michael Benavides
Pearls Written Test Top Ten Scores
  • Benjamin Anderson, Noah Anderson, Wesley Dozer, Jacob Dozier, Jill Davidson, Titus Thompson, Michael Benavides
  • Jill Davidson, Marlie Thompson, Morgan Wells, Abigail Owen, Hannah Perry, Emma Green, Lydia Rubelsky, Loretta Soli
  • Jacob Dozier, Wesley Dozier, David Moseley, Luke Rubelsky, Malachi Soli, Jake Rubelsky, Brondon Todd
Second Language
  • Bronze – Michael Benavides, Darcie Smith, Harrison Smith, Holly Smith, Derrick Smith, Marlie Thompson
  • Julie Canter, Rebecca Johnson, Addison Wells, Morgan Wells, Natalie Wright
  • Brady Wells, Malachi Soli
Read the Word
  • Rebecca Johnson, Margie Thompson, Jill Davidson, Sean Johnson
Good Samaritan
  • Michael Benavides, Jill Davidson, Jacob Dozier, Wesley Dozier, Braxton Moseley, David Moseley, Abigail Owen, Caleb Owen, Kinsley Payne, Darcie Smith, Harrison Smith, Malachi Soli, Marlie Thompson
Art Says It
  • Marlie Thompson – 1st Place Sketch
  • Julie Canter – 1st place sketch
  • Abigail Owen – 2nd place sketch
Songs of Praise
  • 3rd Grade – Addi Wells 2nd Place
  • 4th Grade – Abigail Wright, Kathryn Perry – Finalists
  • 8th Grade – Marlie Thompson – 2nd Place
  • 10th Grade – Grace Turner – 2nd Place
  • 11th Grade – Marlie Fisher – 1st Place
Song Leading
  • 5th Grade – Brody Clarke, Ben Rubelsky – Finalists
  • 6th Grade – Benjamin Anderson – 2nd Place
  • 8th Grade – Brandon Todd – 3rd Pace, Malachi Soli, Jake Rubelsky – Finalists
  • 11th Grade – Michael D’Herde – 3rd Place, Michael Todd – 1st Place
Winner’s Circle Songs of Praise
  • 4-6 Grade – Natalie Wright – 2nd Place
Winner’s Circle Song Leading
  • 4-6 Grade – Noah Anderson – 2nd Place
  • 10-12 Grade – Michael Benavides – 1st Place
  • Boys – Michael Benavides/Michael Todd – 1st Place, Titus Thompson/Brandon Todd – 2nd Place
    • Individuals – Titus Thompson – 3rd Place, Michael Todd – 2nd Place, Michael Benavides – 1st Place
Winner’s Circle Speech
  • Boys 7-9 Grade – Malachi Soli – 1st Place
  • 3rd Grade Girls – Addie Wells, Finalist
  • 4th Grade Girls – Abigail Wright – 1st Place
  • 4th Grade Boys – Gideon Soli – 1st Place
  • 5th Grade Girls – Natalie Wright – 1st Place
  • 5th Grade Boys – Brody Clarke – 2nd Place, Ian Collier, Ben Rubelsky, Brady Wells – Finalists
  • 7th Grade Girls – Morgan Perry – Finalist
  • 7th Grade Boys – Wesley Dozier – 1st Place
  • 8th Grade Girls – Marlie Thompson – 3rd Place
  • 8th Grade Boys – Brandon Todd – Finalist
  • 10th Grade Girls – Grace Turner – 3rd Place
  • 11th Grade Boys – Caleb Owen – 3rd Place
  • 12th Grade Boys – Titus Thompson – 2nd Place
Bible Bowl Test High Scorer
  • K-2 – Allii Barber, Weston Cantor, Sean Johnson, Jonathan Wright
  • 3-4 – Abigail Wright,
  • 5-6 – Natalie Wright, Noah Anderson, Allison Botello, Benjamin Anderson, Julie Cantor, Jeffrey Davidson
  • 11-12 – Michael Benavides, Titus Thompson
Bible Bowl Team
  • 5-6
    • West Huntsville Team A – Finalist
      • Natalie Wright, Allison Botello, Jonathan Wright
    • West Huntsville Team B – 3rd Place
      • Jeffrey Davidson, Adrianna Botello, Weston Cantor, Rebecca Johnson
    • West Huntsville Team C – Finalist
      • Abigail Wright, Brody Clarke, Addison Wells, Ian Collier
    • West Huntsville Team D – Finalist
      • Julie Canter, Brady Wells, Alii Barber, Gideon Soli
  • 7-8 – Finalist
    • Noah Anderson, Benjamin Anderson, Malachi Soli, Marlie Thompson
  • 11-12 – Finalist
    • Titus Thompson, Michael Benavides, Jill Davidson, Brandon Todd
  • 3rd Grade – West Huntsville – 1st Place
  • 6th Grade – West Huntsville – 1st Place
  • 9th Grade – West Huntsville – 2nd Place
  • 12th Grade – West Huntsville – 2nd Place


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Remembering with Garrett

This is the best. Just when you think kids aren’t looking. Just when you think kids now-a-days are self-absorbed and disrespectful. Just when.

I know many readers were at various Lads to Leaders conventions around our nation last weekend. If you went to any speech room, you heard children and/or teens speak some pretty introspective words about the Lord’s Supper and about the memorial we honor every Lord’s Day, just like the church of the New Testament most certainly did. If you went to debate, you even heard a lively discussion about why we observe this feast every single Sunday; how we are sure that this is exactly the pattern we have in our New Testament. It’s part of our covenant and it speaks to others about His death till He comes again.

This is not the most polished speech among the ones you have heard. In fact, this is the very rough version (prior to practice) of Garrett Vick’s speech about remembering.  I hope you can take the time to listen, though. When you do, I hope you will remember.  This speech is about remembering. It’s my favorite speech of the weekend. It’s about my father and, most importantly, my older brother. (It was given in the auditorium of the Jacksonville church, just a few feet from my dad’s pew where that hugging happened every Sunday and Wednesday.)

  1. Widow(er) hugging ( )        makes relationships that are invaluable and may impact eternity.
  2. One spiritual project turns into another. I have never seen this principle fail any family. Parents get busy serving with your kids. Then you WILL get busy serving. Providence provides a path.
  3. Elderly Christians, go the distance for the Lord. It is your spiritual service….your living sacrifice. And little eyes are watching.
  4. Start your kids out early on spiritual paths of greatness. There are at least 3 generations of gospel preachers in Garrett’s family. This may be the fourth. (Best of all, this leadership parenting is times four. Four brothers….Just think of the potential!)  But, either way, there’s a path for heaven for many through this little life.
  5. Consider Lads to Leaders ( It’s a great tool for raising kids to be leaders in congregations. We really need “Garretts” around our country. You don’t have to be in Lads to grow up and lead for the Lord. But leadership skills are developed in homes utilizing the best tools available. Our dreams should be less about development of players and more about development of pray-ers. Less about the team captain position and more about the Captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). Less about success in the business world  and more about the business of true success. Less about honor societies and more about personal honor in a broken society. In short, less about personal fulfillment and more about the cross. A reflection of spiritual goals in tools, deadlines, conventions, and schedules chosen by families is an integral and necessary factor in bringing about desired results. All of the above (team captain, great playing ability, business “smarts” and academic prowess) can be used to His glory. It’s the job of parents to keep the “main thing” the main thing while navigating the challenges of childhood.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Lads–25 Years and a New Generation

Taking a moment from the madness that is the Lads to Leaders convention in Nashville to tell you that it is still the best tool of which I am aware for developing leadership skills for the church; the church that our children and grandchildren will love and serve in the decades that will round out the 21st century. Watching our West Huntsville kids prepare has made my heart happy for that particular congregation and for the families that Glenn and I love dearly who work there with us. Those families in the program, along with many others who are working in various areas for  the Lord,  make the elders’ jobs easier and bless the efforts in the pulpit with strength and encouragement. 

This year we are taking 32 song leaders to Nashville. THIRTY-TWO young people who are ready to learn to lead in praise. I watched the youngest group last Sunday afternoon in Huntsville as they, one by one, went to that big podium to lead that large crowd in the songs they had chosen as favorites. My voice caught a little as four-year-old Timothy Johnson, whose mother is just finishing up the last of her three cancer surgeries for this year sang “Tarry with me, blessed Savior…Tarry with me ‘frew de night’”. Sometimes this year I have felt a little of the darkness of night, too. But when I get  to this place, I am strengthened. I am motivated to look to the young…and be better for the Lord. 

it was 25 years ago that we drove up to the Presidential lobby, dressed our son Caleb in his coat and tie, right there in the car, and rushed him in to his very first Lads event. We had no idea we were entering, through that Presidential Lobby, one of the most spiritually influential activities of our lives. We did not know about that year when our two children would be entering a combined total of 26 events. We did not know about the foot blisters, the year Hannah’s “Art Says It” entry would be entered as 11th grade when she was really 11 YEARS OLD, the many visits the Easter Bunny would make to this hotel, and that our family would eventually be participating in five different conventions around the Southeast U.S. We didn’t know about those 8 huge scrapbooks that are upstairs in our guest room, chronicling our kids’ teen years—books with which we could never part. We didn’t know that little Maggie Colley, who will be born next July would have her gender-reveal in Orlando this year with huge pink balloons tied to a chair in the Lakeside section of that big ballroom. We didn’t know yet about all the years we would lose hair bows, pitch pipes, scripts, and competitions, while winning confidence, lifetime friendships, character development and memories. 

As I finish this post, I’ve returned home from the convention. This year, our Lads experience took on a whole new dimension. Our first participant in a new generation of Colleys led his very first song in Governor’s Ballroom A at 4:30 last Saturday afternoon. I did not know, when that gentleman called out “Number nine”, that my heart was just going to walk right up there and sing “When we walk with the Lord…In the light of His Word.” I basked in every syllable and especially in that truth  that 3-year-old Ezra can sing with all of his might, but cannot yet fully comprehend: “There is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” I hope he will know, for all of his lifetime, the happiness that comes from that trusting obedience. What a glory He sheds on our way!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Amelia Rogers–One Last L2L Post


“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” -Hebrews 10:23-24

IMG_0978I feel like myself again.

We just got back from what is maybe my favorite weekend of the entire year—Lads to Leaders. All of the emotional and physical exhaustion that follows has set in hard, but I am so happy. This weekend was the last time I will ever be a participant in Lads, and I want to share everything that this program has meant to me.

For the last ten years, I have spent each Easter weekend at L2L convention, participating in Bible Bowl, speech, songs of praise, puppets, and celebrating the year-round work of my youth group and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I have made friends with the girls in my grade level as we have grown up competing together, not seeing each other as opponents but as sisters. I have made memories of nights with my favorite people, doing each other’s hair and makeup and cheering each other on. I have experienced God’s love through the smiling faces of moms who have encouraged and supported me just as much as they do their own daughters, and through the judges who have not been harsh, but rather kind.

The first time I went to Lads was in 3rd grade. I had no idea what I was in for, but it turned out to be one of the best times I’d ever had. All I knew then was that I loved to be with my friends and win trophies. What I didn’t know was how much God was working through Lads to make me grow.

DSCN0992My parents made shy little third grade me give a speech. I was mostly terrified, but I did it. A few years later, I led a song in girls songs of praise for the first time—something I thought I would never do. I kept doing speeches, and I kept leading songs, and though the nervousness was still there, I became more and more comfortable with getting up in front of people. And all of sudden, I realized that I enjoyed public speaking. Not only that, but I loved to speak about God. The last few years, I have been blessed with opportunities to speak at ladies classes and lead girls devotionals, and I love L2L because I never would have been able to speak in front of people without the practice and the encouragement that I received there. 

Bible Bowl with its endless multiple choice seemed a little too much like school when I first started. But looking back, I am so grateful for how much this event has gotten me into God’s Word, with incredible teachers and persistent reason to dig into and learn from books of the Bible that were chosen each year.

IMG_0375At L2l, you will often hear the phrase, “Everyone is a winner.” This year, I was up on stage with people that I’ve grown close to just because of participating in Lads together, and we were all happy for and cheering for each other no matter what we placed. In my speech room, all eight of us girls took a group trip to the bathroom halfway through, all nerves and excitement, but together, connected in sisterhood rather than divided as competitors. My friends Rachel and Melanie are from Missouri and we see each other only once a year at Lads, but our friendship will last a lifetime. That is why Lads to Leaders matters. That is how everyone is a winner.

I wore a bracelet all last weekend that simply reads, “Blessed.” Each time I looked down at my wrist, I couldn’t think of a better way to sum up how much my heart was overflowing with the goodness and joy that God has given me through Lads to Leaders.

I will always treasure my years as a participant in the Lads to Leaders program. But now, being on the other side for the first time, I have started to see the ways Lads will continue to be a part of my life. I will come back to support the younger girls in my youth group who are still participating. I will be a judge and have the opportunity to share God’s love by encouraging young participants with kindness. And maybe someday, I will bring my own children to Lads to Leaders, and watch God work in them as they grow and experience the same joy from Lads as I did.

If you’ve never heard of Lads to Leaders, please learn about it. If you’ve never been, please go. It will change your life. Or rather, God will change your life through the opportunities and the people and the growth that make L2L so special.

Thank you, God, for blessing me with Lads to Leaders.

“O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.” -Psalm 71:17