Helping young people thrive in reality after the blessings of summer festivals and camps

Psalm 100:4-5

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations

TASK 1: CELEBRATE

It’s important to give thanks regularly for all God has done, in particular the encounters and experiences during summer festivals and camps. In giving thanks we realise that God is present, has been and will continue to be. The summer experiences are not just memories but evidence of God’s faithfulness to us. Revisit these moments, don’t idolise them or put a festival ‘on a pedestal’, but realise God is active and loves to meet with us. 

Write down stories in a book, in permanent marker on a board, on an old door, display it in your youth area. Let it be a reminder of God’s faithfulness to you. Add photos of each event so that it prompts the memories of when God moved.

TASK 2: CONTINUE TO MEET

This may sound obvious but Psalm 100 is also an invitation, an invitation to ‘enter’ and meet with God. Create special times for this to happen so that your group can see God’s faithfulness in the big festivals and also where ‘two or three are gathered’. 

We’re aware that most of our churches won’t be able to recreate a summer festival environment, and that’s ok. You need to be ok with that and so do your young people. What advantage you have though is you know your group by name, you know part of their story, you know how to journey with them.

Continuing to meet is vital for young people to know the reason for your relationship. As great as the summer encounters are, you will be there for them throughout the year – to continue to celebrate when God grows them more and more. But also you will be there for them when life is a challenge, when God seems quiet or distant, when the summer festival seems to far away. God’s faithfulness will be evident in your faithfulness to your group. By you investing in them they will see a God who is more than a one-off encounter, they will see that God is real and that He remains no matter how we might feel of what mood we might be in.

TASK 3: PREPARE

We are witnesses, we are carriers of God’s goodness. We need to prepare our young people to ‘do something’ with what God has done in them. ‘James 2:18 But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.’

How are your young people going to stretch and flex their faith? You can create a ‘safe’ environment for them to explore the depths of their faith and consider what this might mean for their lives, their behaviour, their interactions with friends, their choices.

This ‘preparation’ is discipleship in its rawest form. It is creating a culture of accountability, of prayer, of studying Gods word and of seeking opportunities to share your faith with others.

God’s faithfulness ‘continues through all generations’ because we have been called to ‘tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done’ (Psalm 78:4)

If anything at all happened to one of your young people during the summer you have to ask yourself – “how am I going to help them grow in their faith this year?”

The joy of an encounter at a festival or camp is that it plants a marker in our journey of faith, they enable us to look back and remember what God has done. They are landmarks and re-orientation points to guide us when we lose our way, they can show us the path to walk and how to ensure we do not stumble.

TASK 4: WORSHIP

Praise His Name! As great as our leaders are and as thankful as we are for them, let us remember who’s name we must praise. Creating places to sing, pray, give thanks and receive ministry must be part of our weekly journey with our young people. If God’s name was easily praised in a giant tent alongside 6000 others doing the same, I can guarantee you it is a lot harder in a cold church hall with 5 friends – BUT God is faithful, God is present and we must still praise His name. Is God any different on a glooming November evening that He was on a glorious August afternoon?

Psalm 100 is a wonderful invitation to spend time with God and we must ensure that this invitation is offered regularly and we must put effort into creating spaces and times where this invitation can be responded to. 

It would be a sad thing if a summer encounter was the only time our young people felt God at work in their lives. In the same way that 100’s of people have put effort and energy into making festivals and camps an amazing place to explore our faith, so we must put effort and energy into the every day, the every week times with our young people. By doing so we will create a habit, a culture of seeing God faithfulness at work which will not only sustain our young people through hard times but it will also grow them and give them a robust, secure, exciting and attractive faith.