Let's Keep Summer Going!
Another awesome summer in student ministry has come and is almost gone. Some awesome camps, trips, events, and fun has been had all over the nation by students everywhere. Life change happened. The question every student wrestles with is, "how do I keep it going?" We talk about things like "camp high" and "mountains and valleys" but I don't think that's the answer as much as we once thought. As we wrapped up one of our camps this summer, we were having the "what's next" conversation where we were discussing how to stay at this place spiritually. I then guided them through a discussion and what made camp the experience it is and how to do that back home. Here's what you need to do:
1) Read Scripture - When you're at camp your engulfed and surrounded by scripture. Just about everything you do is tied to scripture somehow. Quite time in the morning, games using scripture during recreation times, worship services, and church group time at night. You HAVE TO keep spending daily time in the word of God. Make time to do so.
2) Keep Praying - Even if you didn't spend a lot of time in personal prayer, which you probably did, prayer was happening all around you. You prayed with your group, you prayed in quiet time, you prayed in worship services and beyond that there were people praying for you. Prayer is such a huge part of the life of a Christ follower. Keep praying! If you're unsure how to pray, that's okay, the disciples had to ask Jesus to teach them. (Luke 11) Ask someone to help you but more than that, I encourage you to just talk with God. He want to hear from you and wants to hear from you, the real you so just have honest talk with God.
3) Eliminate Distractions - I believe this is probably the biggest one. One of the biggest reasons camps and retreat are so successful is because they take students and adults out of their "normal" environments and eliminate many distractions of daily life. Distraction is what will keep you from prayer and reading your bible. Even though you can't always completely disconnect, turn everything off, and tune out you need to stop every now and then and do just that. It may be a fast of some type where you turn off your phone, your tv, video game, etc. It may be setting boundaries on yourself like you can't use your phone until after you've had your quiet time. These are just some ideas, you need to figure out what will work for you. I think we can all agree though, you have to eliminate distractions.
4) Remain in Community - For the most part, your camp experience was done in a group setting. You traveled, ate, played, sung, cried and the like all in packs. You were there to support and pray with others and they were there for you. The more you remain in relationship with the same group of people, the deeper those relationships can be. You get to a place of depth and honesty you didn't have before. You begin to have accountability, which I define as having each others back and then offering grace when the mistakes happen. You can love on one another and stand beside and for one another. After all, "...a cord of three strands is not easily broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:12) As badly as some people don't want to admit it, we need each other, we need community. We're wired for it!
5) Press On - Pressing on is not something you had to do at camp, or at least hopefully not in this context. You're not always going to "feel" God like you did at camp. It's not always going to be emotional. Sometimes you have to make a conscious effort to press on with the things above, even if you don't see immediate results. I assure you that God is still there with you, keep pressing into him and who he is.
This isn't some magical formula that makes you a super Christian, there isn't one. These are just simply things that you did while you were at camp, on that "mountain top" experience so why not try to do them now that you're home. Why wouldn't the same work where you are?