I’m speaking at Hume Lake this week. Â There are about 1100 high school students here. Â It’s a ton of fun. Â I’ve been to A LOT of camps around the country and, if I’m honest, I’ve never seen camp done as well as it is at Hume. Â Fantastic place.
Last night was ‘commitment night’ and there are always things I keep in mind for these evenings:
1. The message I give is not the end. Â I used to feel a lot of pressure during these nights, feeling as though everything depended upon my talk or my invitation. Â I don’t anymore. Â I realize the power really is in the gospel message and the fact is my time of speaking is simply a catalyst for counselors to have great conversations that are based in relationship.
2. My goal is to communicate clearly. Â My measure of success is simply in whether or not I articulated the gospel clearly and concisely in a way students can understand. Â I used to measure these nights on how many students stayed behind, or how many counselors talked to me the next morning, detailing the conversations they had after the talk in their cabin. Â Not anymore. Â In fact, to protect my heart in this, after I’m done speaking I simply go backstage. Â This way my measurement is accurate, solely vertical, and I’m not affected by how many or how few kids stay behind. Â This also protects the kids who come to the speaker and confess things they’ve never told anyone. Â This makes them feel like they released a pressure valve, when in fact they haven’t.
3. The power is in the gospel message, not the pain Christ endured. Â Too often these nights are packed with details of how painful or brutal crucifixion was. Â Although there is truth in all this, to me, this is emotionally driven and a dangerous way of communicating to kids – especially who get tired and the more tired they are the more emotional they get. Â I want to protect from pure emotional decisions being made in these nights (knowing God can use emotion, of course), and rely upon the Holy Spirit to use the truth to bring people to repentance.
4. Kids adapt who they are for where they are. Â This is a practical thing I always keep in mind and drives me to protecting the hearts of kids. Â Mid-adolescents lack a sense of self awareness that allows them to separate themselves from the environment they find themselves in. Â Consequently, whatever an environment requires and demands of them in order to be a core part of what’s going on is often what they adjust to. Â That said, I’m cautious (NOT condemning) of the ‘altar call.’ Â At camp environments this type of decision is celebrated, as it ought to be, but it can also be a means for kids to simply adapt who they actually are for where they are in the moment. Â They want to function as a core part of these environments, and sometimes ‘coming forward’ is a way they can do that. Â It can be the ‘thing’ to do in this environment. Â Not always, of course, but I just keep this in mind and pray for it ahead of time.