Falls Creek operates on a three-year rotation of teaching emphasis. The emphasis in 2009 was spiritual disciplines with “ECHO.” Last year, the emphasis was on evangelism with “SENT.” This year, the emphasis is on the character of God, and our theme is “CONSUMED.”
We will be looking at Psalm 103 and talking about the sufficiency of God. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.” (vs. 1) We want students’ lives to be consumed with Christ, because if all else is stripped away, we want them to know that He is yet sufficient to meet their every need. There are so many other things that vie for our attention and seek to woo our souls, but only Christ is sufficient to satisfy and fill . . . everything else eventually leaves us empty and longing.
We will use various verses in Psalm 103 to communicate some specific things for which God is sufficient. On Tuesdays at camp, we will look at verses 3-4, “Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion.” Students will discover that God is sufficient for our SALVATION. Though our sin has separated us from God, through Jesus, His Son, He has made a way for us to be redeemed from the pit and our sin to be pardoned.
In 2005, Christian Smith, then a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, authored a book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. This book represents the largest, most intensive study ever done on the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers. After this extensive research, Smith concludes that American teenagers have concocted their own faith that looks very little like biblical Christianity. Smith calls this faith, “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” This faith is marked by five tenants, one of which is: Good people go to Heaven when they die. This belief seems to indicate that the acceptable totality of our good deeds is sufficient to earn us eternal life.
We want students to realize that the Bible indicates our salvation is not a matter of the good in our lives outweighing the bad, but a matter of God overcoming the sin in our lives through the person of Jesus Christ. Students need to know that all our “righteousness has become like filthy garments.” (Is. 64:6a) We don’t earn our salvation with good deeds. God has procured salvation for us through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Our salvation is not accessed by a favorable moral balance sheet, but through faith in Christ.
Smith’s work in Soul Searching is more than an eye-opener in regard to what teenagers believe, it is also a wake-up call to youth pastors, Sunday School teachers and parents. He writes, “Interviewing teens, one finds little evidence that the agents of religious socialization in this country are being highly effective and successful with the majority of their young people.”
It seems that students have come to their religious conclusions by default, because we have been less than faithful to teach them as we ought. Our preparation and prayer for this summer at Falls Creek is that students will hear and respond to the Word of God as never before. More than emotion or a spiritual high, we desire for students to submit their lives to Christ in a way that shows they are CONSUMED with Him. We want them to know that He is sufficient for their every need, and that it’s not a matter of how much we have of Him, but how much He has of us.
Andy Harrison is Falls Creek program director and student ministry specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.