Alive and Learning: Isn’t Everyone Here a Christian?
This summer, our Student Ministry program made the trek to Canal Fulton, Ohio for Alive 2009. Alive is a 4-day “Christian Music” Festival that involves popular CCM musicians and bands, speakers, workshops, seminars, camping, swimming and the opportunity to purchase nearly any popular “Christian Media” you could desire. This post is part of a series aimed at sharing my experiences during the week and what I learned through the process so that you might learn from our successes and failures.
One of the things that I found myself repeating over and over this year at Alive was the mantra “They’re not all Christians. They’re not all Christians.” And perhaps you will find yourself repeating the same mantra on your trip to a music festival in the future.
Music festivals can be a great atmosphere to introduce teens to Christ because it is so easy. Virtually every musician, speaker or entertainer will offer up a basic Gospel presentation, and a lot of them will present altar calls (whomever was the evening speaker on the main stage at Alive offered a call each night). There is virtually no work there for you to do other than sit back and observe. Or is there? A lot of people bring students (or adults) to music festivals in the hopes that they will encounter Christ. Last year one of our teens was not in a relationship with Christ, but by the end of the week he responded to an altar call and entered into a relationship with Jesus.
Now, on a tangent, pleasepleaseplease do not take teens and expect someone else to do the work of introducing teens to Christ for you. The teen who responded last year did so largely because our group had loved him and welcomed him in for several months before the trip. Had we not, he would not have been on the trip. So please, don’t view festivals as a time for you to relax and do no work at introducing your teens to Christ. Okay, I’m done on the soapbox.
Most of my frustrations came from behavioral issues. People having loud discussions during prayer times, being disrespectful to each other during times when a speaker was making a phenomenal point, dropping a… “colorful metaphor” simply because they stepped into a puddle in front of our campsite. These types of things. (Seriously, if you’re going to swear in public, at least let it be something that could even remotely warrant it. As wet as the week was, it could not have been that unexpected!) So remember that not everyone coming is a professing Christian.
But by the same token, even those who are there that are Christians are not all on the same level. Our faith is a journey, and some of us are further along than others. Perhaps those who are being rude or disrespectful of the people around them are merely infants when it comes to Christianity. Or perhaps they simply don’t grasp that there are times for carousing and times for silence. Maybe they come from a program that is only fun stuff with no time for reflection, so the concept is alien to them. Perhaps they are not so worried about their language as they are about other areas of their faith.
So let the small stuff slide. Seriously, pick your battles with the people around you. I can’t remember once where I told anyone off this week about their behavior (that was not from our group, and even that was limited). Remember (even when you get back home) that we are not all at the same level and that we need to model grace and love in all areas of our life. But on the other side of the coin, don’t be afraid to teach. Just because they are not at the same spot in their journey does not mean that you should leave them there…
Other Posts in This Series:
Alive & Learning: Going With the Flow
Alive & Learning: Connecting With Parents
Alive & Learning: Connecting With Students
Alive & Learning: Schedules & Discipline
Alive & Learning: Touching Base With Your Group
Alive & Learning: If You’re Not Offended Yet…
Alive & Learning: Bringing It All Home