I think we measure our life in moments. Although the sum of our lives equates to more than a series of impacting experiences, I think our minds quantify it that way. We remember the big ones. That day, that weekend, that period of time when certain people, places, and experiences left their mark. That week happened this week for a group of
young people in Vancouver, WA. Eighty-two of them were signed up as “students,” seventeen others were present as “leaders,” but that distinction was a mere formality
when weighed against the gravity of God’s work in the collective community.
The cynic will be quick to point out that the “camp experience” usually has a shelf life of about 4 weeks. That is just long enough for the second week of school, peer pressure, and the stress of September to sap the enthusiasm that peeks in the late-summer classic we call camp-time. But what the cynic fails to realize about this time, this camp, this group of young people, is that they don’t have to settle into that familiar prison of stereo-types. Why? Because what happened in them happened in them. What happened this week was not a group of disconnected individuals running after a personal experience that they could bottle up and take home like a door-prize. Even if they did arrive with that perspective, they certainly didn’t leave with it. What happened this week was a group of individual “leaders” and “students” who became a community being transformed by Jesus Christ to the glory of God.
Were there individual experiences? Yeah…99 of them. But as they roll up the sleeping bags and review their notes this morning, some relieved to sleep in their own beds tonight, others secretly dreading the return to the sanction of daily bathing that their parents impose; they’re not walking away as 99…but as ONE.
ONE community being transformed by Jesus Christ to the glory of God.
ONE mission to impact first their home, then their church, then their school, then their city.
ONE vision to change the youth culture of a region.
But within this ONE, there are many other relevant numbers.
40: The number of verses from Proverbs that were downloaded into their hearts and minds through 4 sermons in 4 nights.
93: The number of hours they spent together day and night–building community through throwing an octopus through the air, eating meals, tossing bean bags, singing worship songs, taking notes, diving into the lake, and learning to live in redemptive community with other image-bearers.
75: The number of young people who rushed to the front of the room and fell on their knees in response to the call for renewal and commitment to salvation through Jesus on Thursday night.
1+: The number of hours they stayed on their faces/knees worshipping in that moment.
All of these are great numbers…and they’re only a few that quantify the weekend. But I think the best number is 24. What does that number represent?
24: The number of young people being baptized tomorrow morning at LifePoint Church.
How long will this camp experience last?
How? Through a community that remains committed to growing in and as a community being transformed by Jesus Christ to the glory of God. The experience won’t evaporate because the community will remain intact. And it will grow. It will grow with leaders who catch the vision of impacting a young person’s life for eternity. It will grow with young people, who find authenticity, safety, trust, and redemptive relationships in it’s context. It will grow through families, families who participate, pray, give, and serve, not a program or a fad, but a movement of God and His mission being accomplished through a local church.
I ended last night with this charge to the young people who call themselves “REV.” I repeat this charge for you: This community will grow around you or through you. It will continue to grow and transform. But you, yes you Christian, can be a bystander or an agent. It will grow around and in spite of you, or it will grow through you and with you. Step into the mission. Throw your lot in with us. Embrace transformation in your life, lead it in your family, exemplify it in your church, and take it the streets.