1. We believe that the event is solely for the youth.
It’s so easy to slowly gravitate to the back of rooms at events because we are not directly involved in the program. We elect to stand away from our own youth group, talk with our friends, and not pay attention during the meetings. Even though those are the very things we just told our students not to do, we do it because the event is for them. At least that’s how we justify it. The problem with this is that we not only disengage from our students and the program, we send a clear message that we have nothing to gain from the program or retreat. How can we connect with our youth if we are totally disconnected? We must get in there with them. We must attend events with the attitude that we too will be abundantly blessed. When we are dialed in, our youth are too. When are engaged, it makes our discussions vibrant. Sit with your youth. Engage with your kids and the program. You will be blessed beyond measure and will surely have many “moments” with your youth that they will talk about for the rest of their lives. Otherwise you are just a bus driver that seems to be put off by the program.
2. We think that we can do a better job than whoever has planned the event.
We find ourselves criticizing everything from the timing of the event to the fonts they chose for the big screens. We get sour and for some reason feel the need to gain an army of like minded people so we can have a laugh and feel empowered that we are better than them. The reality is that there will be bad programs. There will be times when those preparing the event or program simply haven’t prepared or planned things properly. There will be times when we may get jealous because we didn’t get asked to do something or weren’t given the opportunity to lead or speak. Though these things may happen, we can’t let that shake us from our one and only goal: That all of our youth deepen their faith and become life long followers of Jesus. We must attend with the expectation that God will not only move through the event but in our own lives. When we seek first, we tend not to see the imperfections. Instead we see the opportunities. We see the moments in which the Holy Spirit shakes things up. And those are the moments we want to be with them, cry with them, and pray with them. Hallelujah!
3. We just join the camp security team.
We spend our weekend or day enforcing rules. The youth see us as the rival, whose sole goal is to make sure their experience is suffocating. It’s amazing to me how many events I have attended that I barely engaged in community with the youth in attendance. It’s too easy. We can retreat to the back, tell them to go to bed, do periodic hand checks to make sure the mission is protected, and then go to the leaders hangout and gab the night away. We need to remind ourselves that these events give us an incredible opportunity to engage with our youth. It’s a perfect time to find out what Jesus is doing in their life and what sport they enjoy playing. It’s a perfect time sit on a bench in the middle of a camp and talk life. It’s a perfect time to awkwardly dance alongside them in the hoedown. It’s a perfect time to share your testimony with them. It’s a perfect time for you too to disconnect from all the distractions you have in your life to commune with God. We need these times. We need to take advantage of these times. Before you attend your next event, please remind yourself that this event is your chance to engage with your youth and build a relationship that will last a lifetime. Don’t let it slip away.