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Tuning out TV, tuning in to life
A challenge by the youth pastor at The Rock Church taught three students to take a stand
The Rev. Marty Darracott holds up a golden remote, which he awarded to Bradley McKee, left, Ty Smith, center, and Joe Leaphart for going one year without watching TV. - photo by Tom Reed

FLOWERY BRANCH — On April 29, four members of The Rock Church celebrated by grabbing the remote and turning on the TV.

The group had spent an entire year without watching any television.

That’s a full year without football, American Idol, nightly news and CSI. But, they added time with family, more Bible study and inner reflection.

"The generation that we live in and the youth culture is just in a crisis, and I just talked to them about taking a stand for their generation and for themselves and their families," said the Rev. Marty Darracott, youth pastor at The Rock Church in Flowery Branch. "I challenged them to do without TV and I told them that I was going to go one year with no TV.

"I was going to take back those hours and devote it to my family and getting closer to God."

Darracott said he chose taking a stand against television for several reasons.

"It allowed the teenagers to understand that some things in life are worth fighting for and as hard as it is sometimes they were able to do it," Darracott said. "Just being different from what the world system is teaching us, and we just refuse to let Hollywood raise us and we are going to let our parents and our morals be strong no matter what society is doing."

But it wasn’t necessarily the programming, he said. Instead, it was taking a stand.

"It wasn’t because TV is bad or anything, its just some of the stuff that is on there we are saying we are not going to watch."

So three young men joined Darracott and completed the challenge.

"It was very tough ... but we managed to do it," Darracott said.

Ty Smith, 16, gave up favorite programming like baseball and other sports for his one year commitment.

"The first three months were probably the hardest, with championships coming up," the North Hall High student said. "I would go to friends’ houses but didn’t watch TV; I would go in another room, play PlayStation or pool."

Smith said he gained more family time and "at least 30 more minutes of reading the word and getting in the word."

Bradley McKee, a Flowery Branch sophomore, said cutting out television showed him how much time he really had.

"I realized that I had a lot of time on my hands," he said. "For me personally it gave me a lot of extra time to think about where I was in my life. I started a Bible study with the extra time that I had."

Youth pastor in training Joe Leaphart said he spent his extra time learning, but he did miss watching University of Georgia football games.

"Actually, I did a lot of Bible study and scripture memorization," he said. "Also I learned how to make and edit videos in that time as well for pastor Marty."

After completing the challenge, Darracott treated the three young men with a night out in Atlanta.

"I celebrated by taking them to the Hawks playoff game," he said. "We had a great night that night. The Hawks won, so it was pretty awesome.

"I also gave them a golden remote control as a reward."

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