In January 1997 I attended my first Youth Quake. Since then, I have lost count of how many youth events I have attended. I’ve been to different venues and different states. I’ve attended in various roles and capacities. I’ve learned that each organization that puts these events together uses different models. But there is something common to these events. That is the “mountain top” feeling that comes from attending.
It’s a time away (usually a weekend) where you are surrounded by hundreds (or in the case of a national trip, thousands) of youth that are all gathered in the same place to have some sort of encounter with God and to grow in faith.
Today, I write this following Road trip, our Synod’s High School event in Ocean City. There were a few hundred youth gathered together to sing, dance, learn, pray and grow together. This year, it was even more special to see one of our own, Carla Heyser, on stage with the Lutheran Youth Organization leading the music for the weekend! True to form, this morning, following the event, I woke up singing the songs we heard!
To be honest, I don’t always remember the themes of the events, or everything the speakers say, but I remember the feeling. The feeling of spiritual rejuvenation, of exhaustion mixed with excitement, of having come from a place where I could be myself, dance like no one was watching and embrace my faith in a way that wasn’t as easy at school and most importantly, being happy.
As time has passed on, and I’ve attended so many events, its been really neat to watch as people who attended as youth (some of them when I was their youth leader) have taken on leadership roles in their young adult lives. In the case of Road trip, some of my colleagues who are instrumental in putting the event together are people I remember attending the event with when we were all High School students!
Sometimes we may ask, why do we do this? My answer to that question is this:
I loved these trips when I was a youth. They were instrumental in helping me discern a call to ministry. Because of that, I want to give others the opportunity to have that experience.
Even if all that is remembered is a feeling of closeness with God, there were seeds planted within the participants. We never know what those seeds will grow into, but they are important! Yes, involvement in the local congregation is also important in this “seed planting,” but God speaks to us each in different ways, so to offer different experiences increases the opportunity for God to speak in various ways!
Here at St. Paul’s we are truly blessed with a wonderful group of youth! When we go on these trips, I am reminded of just how wonderful our group is and how blessed we are here!
Our congregation is very generous in your support of the youth program, and we are thankful for that support! Please continue to embrace the excitement our young people have for going to events which are great opportunities for group building and faith formation!