Monday, August 17, 2009

Growing in Christ AFTER a Conference or Big Event

Every summer our church has a week-long event we call Youth Explosion. We get together every night for a week and play games, eat tons of food, have skits and listen to a challenge from the Bible designed specifically to relate to the problems teens face. When I was younger, we called it a youth revival, so you might be more familiar with that term. This past summer a total of 96 teens took part in our annual Youth Explosion week. Most of them were from our own church in Central Vermont, but we also had some from our partner church in Anderson, South Carolina and a small number from nearby churches.

This year our guest speaker was Adrian Despres who serves as the chaplain for the University of South Carolina football team. During this year’s Youth Explosion, at least twelve young people gave their lives to Christ. Dozens of teens also made other types of commitments about the need to repent of various sins and to make Christ the priority of their lives.

Events like this are always highly emotional and give those who participate a burst of energy regarding spiritual things. But often as time goes by, the excitement wanes and most of the participants tend to slip back to their old ways. In order to address this tendency, on the last night of the event, Adrian gave the group four things to do if they wanted to continue to grow in Christ after the conference was over. Adrian’s ideas are outlined below:

1. Use the Bible the way God wants you to.
-Realize it is a love letter from God to you.
-When you read the Bible, try to imagine it happening by using all five of your senses
-Underline verses that mean a lot to you and put a question mark by verses you want to ask your pastor to explain to you.
-Quote a verse when you feel tempted to sin.
-Listen to the Bible on CD.
-If you have never read the Bible before, start with Matthew and read up to Revelation, but don’t actually read Revelation yet. Instead go back to Matthew and start over again and then read Revelation on your second time through.
-Take your Bible to school, read a verse or two at lunch or in the hallway so people can see you reading it and engage you in a conversation about it.

2. Use praise the way God wants you to.
-Carry a small rock in your backpack or in your pocket or your car. Every time you see the rock, say one thing to praise the Lord.
-Get 10 index cards and write “7X” on them. Put them in key places around the house or in your locker at school. Every time you see one of the cards, say one thing to praise the Lord. Try to praise God at least 7 times each day.

3. Use prayer the way God wants you to.
-Learn to pray short quick prayers frequently throughout the day.
-Get some plastic cups and write people’s names on them. Every time you use the cup, pray for that person.
-Every time you hear someone’s watch beep, say a prayer for that person.
-Every time you hear a bell ring, stop and pray for someone.
-Every time you hear a police or ambulance siren, stop and pray for whatever the crisis is that they are responding to.

4. Extra things for those who REALLY want to grow.
-If you have not yet been baptized AFTER you trusted Christ as your Savior, you should be baptized!
-Tell your friends one thing the Lord has taught you each week.
-Look for one chore you can do around your house WITHOUT being asked, as a witness to your parents of your growing faith in Christ.
-Keep yourself sexually pure until marriage.
The items above were given to our group by Adrian as things we can do as individuals to keep ourselves growing in Christ and excited about our faith. I have taken the liberty of adding the things below as things we can do to grow as a GROUP in our faith in Christ and in our excitement for His Kingdom. Think about how you can take part in the following things as a GROUP.
1. We must BE together in times of worship and Bible study and focus TOGETHER on Christ.
-Try to actually worship as a group during the music at church. Sing, lift your hands, clap, and try to feel the words in your heart. It’s not a time to text, talk or cut up. It is a time to focus on the Lord.
-Try to actually pay attention to the sermon or Bible lesson. Follow along with your Bible and encourage your friends to do the same thing. Take notes from the sermon and compare them with your friend’s notes after church. Post one thought that you learned from the sermon on your Facebook or MySpace page so that the group can comment on it and learn from it together.
-The more we worship and study the Bible together, the stronger we will be as a group.
2. Invite a friend to come with you to church to meet your Christian friends.
-We tend to take church more seriously when we invite a friend to come with us.
-It becomes much easier to talk to our friends about faith once they have visited our church and seen us worship.
-When our friends see what a large youth group we have, they will want to be a part of the larger group and the group will keep growing both numerically and spiritually.
3. Participate in the activities of the church OUTSIDE the worship service.
-Adults are energized for Christ when they see young people in love with Jesus. This means YOU can actually help the adults in our church become stronger believers. This is especially true when the teens function as a group.
-Gather a group of teens together and go on a mission trip.
-Gather a group of teens together to attend a men’s conference or ladies conference with the adults.
-If the church is having a work day, gather your friends and show up to volunteer to do something.
4. Encourage all your Christian friends to wear a Christian t-shirt to school every Wednesday. If the entire youth group does it, it will be a powerful witness for Christ.

5. Encourage your Christians friends to pray together before you eat your lunch at school. If the entire youth group does it, just imagine the number of people praying in school. So much for the ban on school prayer!

There are probably other ideas as well. But think about these and consider if they might help our group to grow together in our faith in Christ.

3 comments:

  1. Awesome note! Very true!

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  2. Looking for practical ways to put some of the principles in this blog post into action? Purchase my book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church. The first part of the book explains why bivocational ministry is biblical, normal and missional. The second part of the book explains how to mobilize the laity to do high level ministry in a team setting with the pastor so that the church can be effective in reaching its community for Christ.
    The book is published by Crossbooks and you can buy the book directly from them at:

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    If you live in Central Vermont, you can purchase a copy at the Faith Community Church in Barre, VT.

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