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Mission Fuge – Charleston

28 June, 2009

There are a few things that need to be updated from experiences of late, but I’ll save the 116 concert and other stuff for another day. So for now, Charleston’s version of M-Fuge is the issue at hand.

For some reason, maybe because of X-treme conference, Meta, etc., I have been jaded by youth conferences in the past. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. Is it wrong that I expect every youth conference to be like those? Probably so. Nonetheless, that’s what I expected from this one, and it looked like that was what we were going to get the first night.

The problem I have with the youth camps of old is the high emotionalism, high pep, yet shallow, very loosely focused on Scripture, topical nature of the camp. The whole “with every head bowed and every eye closed” is the classic catch phrase of these types of camps. They focus completely on conversions and converts, and have no real understanding of discipleship. That discipleship is not a concern is fully displayed with the “with every head bowed and every eye closed” statement. When someone’s life is surrendered to Christ, it is not something to be embarrassed about, or done in secret. It is a bold life change, and its legitimacy hinges on whether or not the person is willing to take up the hard stuff, like standing up for Christ. If a person can’t make a stand for Christ in a room full of people that want them to, surely they will fall once they step out of the doors.

So, this MFuge camp started out on Monday night with a very hyped up meeting, with vague, shallow worship songs, and a short message with not much Bible. That got me expecting the typical youth camp thing, but I was pleasantly surprised over the next few days. Granted, there was still a lot of hyped up times, but the evening worship time over the next few days included legitimately scriptural and worshipful music, and messages that were exegetical and full of the gospel. At the end of the messages, the students were invited to pray with their leaders, or just come to the alter if they felt so led. There was no emotional conviction of students if they didn’t come, as if somehow they weren’t as spiritual as the ones that did. There was no conditions set on what they should go and pray about, the alter was just opened, and the youth minister’s had the responsibility to follow up with the students.

The pastor didn’t ever promote his books (if he has written any), I don’t even know his name. He was just there to allow the Spirit to speak through him, and convey the message in accordance with the camp’s theme. He didn’t hold any necessary punches, he was even offensive at times, but it was in love for the kids. This is the place of a youth camp speaker. No kid wants to hear what books he has written about apologetics. No kid needs to hear how they can change the world by supporting a kid in Africa, because they can’t! The only way to change the world is to allow the Lord to use them to spread the gospel of Christ in the world. Kids need to know that salvation is available by grace alone through Christ alone, and that one week at camp isn’t Christianity. The pastor at this one (and the youth minister I went with) did a great job of emphasizing that the Bible is the only thing that will sustain the feeling the kids get at camp. The fire of camp burns out the moment your car pulls into your driveway at home. The fire of the gospel has been burning since eternity past in the Word, and it will never burn out.

Another great thing that happened at camp (quite bittersweet for the kids, encouraging for me) was that the youth minister that I went with was going to be leaving the group on the Sunday after we got back from camp. He is going to Brazil with IMB (ISC) for at least 2 years. He gave a little closing speech on Friday night, understanding that it was going to be a wailing room when he got done, but not straying from the truth. He told the group that there were three things they MUST do when he leaves in order for the transition to be smooth. They must:

1. Unify as a group immediately. Do not leave people out, and do not allow a hierarchy to remain. Allow leaders to rise up. He even called out a couple of people that he knew were going to have to step up as leaders.

2. Stay in the word. The group will certainly collapse if they allow the Bible to fall out of their daily life. He encouraged them to become disciples of Christ, instead of just churchgoers.

3. Embrace the guy that comes after him with the same love that they showed him over the years. He knows that change is hard, but if it is embraced in love, then the change will be so much easier.

And then the floodgates opened. I have never seen that many people cry that hard. This guy obviously had an awesome impact on this group, and I am thankful for being able to spend a week with all of them. Their quirks were quirky, but their love was genuine.

Overall, this week and this camp changed my thoughts about youth camps (at least Fuge camps). Any other thoughts about the subject, please comment.

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