Striving for Perfection

LIFE COACH FOR KIDS Larry Boldin shares his thoughts on today’s youth. Photo by Scott Holstein
Striving for PerfectionLocal pastor challenges Fort Walton Beach youth to make a difference in community By Cassie Blei

Larry Boldin, who after 28 years of service retired from the U.S. Air Force at the rank of chief master sergeant, co-founded Striving for Perfection Church in Fort Walton Beach. His focus was on creating a church and a youth program dedicated to making a positive difference in the surrounding community.

Boldin grew up in Montgomery, Ala., where he graduated from high school. From there, he enlisted in the Air Force. Fort Walton Beach became his home in 1993 when he was stationed at Hurlburt Field. It wasn’t until September 1996 when he and two other co-founders started the Striving for Perfection ministries.

Boldin recently spoke with Emerald Coast Magazine writer Cassie Blei about the church’s youth program and its dedication to community involvement.

What do you see going on with teenagers today? What kinds of trials are they facing? The worst thing is the influence and impact the music is having on them. Being able to download music without having to buy it, they are getting access to all types of music, and it’s not all good. Violence, sex and vulgarity is a lot of what they are listening to. I’m trying to share with them the hidden messages and the impact it is having on them.

That, along with cell phones and all of the things that cell phones can do. I think they were tools created to be good, but we know that anything that was created to be good can turn evil. And it’s hard for the parents to keep up. Kids are a lot smarter than the average parent, so by the time the parent figures out what is going on, the kid is already on to the next thing.

What does your youth group do to attract kids, getting them to come out and participate? We try to present relevant topics to them. We try to meet them where they are instead of just telling them things are all bad. We meet them in the middle. Our intent is to try to wean them off of some of the things they are doing. We try to shift the message to be more beneficial.

What are they doing to make a positive difference in the community? We try to get them involved in any activity that the church does. When we help the homeless, they come and hand out groceries and help to direct traffic. In our Good Samaritan program, which assists senior citizens in the county, we have the Senior Olympics, in which we visit nursing homes and organize games for the event. Also, a group we formed called the Academic Excellence Society, or AES, partners with the school board to try to close the gap between minority students and honors and advanced placement classes in their schools. Anything that our church does, we try to get them involved in.

What do the people in the community say about your efforts? Overall, the community is reacting extremely well. I do believe that because of the work of so many faithful members, we have a good name here.

The success that we enjoy in the ministry is a result of the support from my wife, Jeanette, and the outstanding staff that we have here at the church — Jerry Jones, Lin Mack, the administrative staff and, of course, all the faithful members of the church. The only way we can do everything we do is because it is part of our mission statement to make an impact in the community. The members know when they join that a lot of work is involved to create something like this.