Alive Update: An Open Letter to Parents
I’d like to start out with a disclaimer of sorts, I need to pour out my heart a bit and bring you into something I’ve been hearing from the teens lately. This has affected how I’m thinking about all we are planning for the summer and my hope would be that it leads to some fruitful discussions with your family as well.
Secondly, thank you for letting me spend time and invest in your family and in this church in such a practical way, I love getting time with our students and seeing how God is at work in them!
As I’ve been interacting with a number of the teens and talking to them about plans for the summer one question I’ve been asking is this: “What do you think God’s priority is for your summer?” Here’s the part that’s been troubling to me, over and over again their answer has been: “I haven’t even thought about that.” Or, “I’ve just been going with the opportunities as they come up…” I’m assuming this would trouble you as well, which is why I’m writing.
Malcom Gladwell says “it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.” (crazy when you think about it, that’s 5 years at a 40 hour per week pace). In a given week we’re each only given 168 hours, no matter what you do or who you are, President of the United States or a homeless man on the street.
There are many opportunities before all of us as a part of any given week – from clubs to sports, ways to prepare for the next stage of life to simple recreation and entertainment. All of these can be good things of course … but the question is: Are they the opportunities God wants us to be taking advantage of? We are also aware that they are all so temporary and will only affect a fraction of our 168 hours as we enter into careers, new seasons of life, etc. God’s Word shows us that He makes a claim on all 168 hours for followers of Christ (from the ways we relate to work or rest) and that’s the connection we seek to make any time we prepare activities for Alive. We want everything we do together to be an investment in eternity!
Please don’t misunderstand. This isn’t some round-about way to make sure we’ve got the numbers that we need for Alive camp or the activities that we have planned for the summer. This is, however, an appeal that we reconsider our priorities as families and that we walk our teens through the same.
No matter the season, no matter the career, no matter the ‘opportunity’, we’re called to submit 100% of our time to God. We are, and we desire to teach our youth to be, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ – not of the world even though they are in it.
We are working on summer plans for Alive and I’ve included a calendar for your family to help you all stay informed of what’s coming up. Our hope is to give opportunities for fellowship while schedules are a bit more flexible with school being out for the summer, to create environments where we seek to be more identified as ‘in Christ’ than we do by our school, sport, academic or artistic endeavors. We’re seeking to do all of this with families in mind. We are very aware that there is a very real cost for participating in Alive Camp both financially and with time as well, so we’re trying hard to be budget friendly in every way we can.
Why? So we grow as followers of Christ, better friends and better witnesses to the power of our living God! We’re not interested in simply entertaining or creating fun camps for your teens (although we certainly hope that it will be a lifetime memory for each one and lots of fun). We’re most interested, however, in an encounter with the living God, after which our thinking, our actions, our deeds will never be the same. We are praying for revival! We so desire to see our students have a personal, powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit!
I grew up with Danny saying the following about times away together like Alive Camp – “Unless you’re providentially hindered, please make this a priority in your schedule.” That’s what I’d like to ask you to do as well. I think it’s easy to come up with reasons not to do this in light of already full schedules, already drained finances and an all too fast moving way of life. At least, it is in my house. I’m in the same boat you are! It’s actually easier to say “no” to something and to feel like we’re gaining control of one aspect of our lives. All the while, we may be missing ways that the Lord wants to show Himself faithful to us, how He wants to meet us in our time of need or prepare us for what He has planned for the days ahead.
If there are financial difficulties, please let us know so we can work with you on that, we want to come along side your family and help all who want to come to the camp. If this is something you’ve not considered as a family, can I ask you to take the time to talk about this and pray about your summer? It’s a wonderful opportunity to teach your children how to make decisions like this! Let’s invest together in something that has lasting value for our lives and will impact our church for years to come!
Thank you for taking the time to read this, for prayerfully considering what I’ve spilled out on to this paper and more than that, for making the Alive youth ministry a part of your family in the ways that you have!