The Rev. Dr. Derek Grier, founding pastor of Grace Church in Dumfries, Va., teaches his sons to make their own paths in life and not necessarily follow in his footsteps. However, because of his religious stature, not all agree with his tactics.

“I just got a text from a pastor friend in Maryland on Friday,” Grier, 51, told the AFRO. “He seemed a little mad at me at first. He told me, ‘You know our boys are similar ages and they just threw your name up in conversation saying you let your boys wear earrings.’

Rev, Grier with his sons Derek Jr. and David and his wife Yeromitou Grier. (Courtesy photo)

“I told him that I give my kids room to be kids. I have learned to pick my battles carefully and only press them where it matters most, especially as they get older. I am really not so concerned about what is hanging from their ears, as much as what is in their hearts.”

Grier’s oldest son Derek Jr. is a 19-year-old college student at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. and his youngest, David, 17, recently graduated from high school will be attending Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.

“Both my boys love the Lord and are making good decisions in their lives,” Grier said. “I make sure that I spend enough time with them to have a solid family.”

In many ways Grier’s attitude toward his sons is one of the reason 51 percent of his 5,000 members are between the ages of 18-39. Atypical of the more traditional style of Mega-church preaching, Grier, who speaks in soft tones, delivers candid sermons on issues that young adults can relate to, like relationship and dating advice. His services also incorporate a strong musical ministry that includes musical styles similar to Hip Hop.

“Millennials are attracted to authenticity and desire significance,” he said.

Grace Church is a diverse congregation with several teenagers and young adult attending. On Sundays, most people have to park in satellite lots and take a shuttle to the sanctuary.

Grier also spreads God’s word through radio and television programs across several networks including BET, The Word Network and WAVA-FM that reach more than 2 billion homes across the globe, and more than 60 million homes in the United States.

“People matter and we have to go where they are, we need to be our neighbor’s keeper,” Grier said. “We are all in need of love, we are all in need of mercy.”

Grier, who was born in Long Island, N.Y., went Howard University from 1983-1988, where he was a campus minister. He left Howard and went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in business administration and a master of education degree from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. He also holds a doctorate in practical ministry from Wagner Leadership Institute in Pasadena Calif. In 2008, Grier was ordained Bishop by the Rev. Dr. Miles Monroe, an internationally renowned preacher from the Bahamas. Grier is currently a Doctoral candidate at Virginia Bible College, according to his website.

Grier is expecting to release his new book, The Man Who Stopped God, in the fall. The book tells his personal story of transitioning from being an introvert to leading more than 5,000 parishioners.