DAVIS—Several years ago, Falls Creek struggled to enlist enough pastors, youth pastors and adult sponsors to meet the needs of those responding to God’s call during the evening services. For years, the call for more adults had become stronger and stronger at the conclusion of each service. There were times in which students would literally wait 30 minutes to sit down and talk to someone about the decision they wanted to make. The harvest was plentiful, but the laborers were few.
Actually, there were many eager laborers, but they had not yet been empowered. Students at Falls Creek had been taught in the morning teaching time and in their own cabin devotionals that they were responsible to share their faith with their friends. They had also been given specific tools and methodologies for sharing their faith. What they had not been given, at least at camp, was the opportunity to exercise those skills and put their knowledge and desire to work. So Falls Creek made a move to empower older students with the responsibility to sit down and do the initial counseling with those responding. Currently, students who are 16-20 years of age, serve as the initial point of contact for students responding to the movement of God during our evening tabernacle services. This group, known as “Decision Team Members,” must meet four qualifications. They must be 1) a Christian themselves 2) growing in their faith 3) an active leader in their youth group/church 4) recommended by their youth pastor or lead sponsor.
Over the past several years, students have done a tremendous job serving in this capacity. After a person making a decision meets with the Decision Team Member, they then meet with an adult “Encourager.” The Encourager makes sure everything has been understood and recorded properly and delivers the response card to a Falls Creek staff member. The decision totals are tallied by Falls Creek staff, and the individual decision cards are delivered to church leaders that night before 10:15, so the decisions can be celebrated during cabin devotionals.
Falls Creek has produced a short instructional video which helps prepare students and adults for being a part of the Invitation Team. This video is sent to each church that registers for camp.
Equipping leaders to help with decision time is only a small part of the training which is offered at camp each summer. Falls Creek also has seized the opportunity to train the youth pastors, workers and sponsors at Adult Leadership Investment (ALI). ALI is an hour-long training time for leaders, which takes place during the evening service on Tuesday night, and is repeated Wednesday night. Since it is difficult to engage leaders with training during other parts of the daily schedule, Falls Creek offers this training during a time when all leaders are available. The idea is to have half of your sponsors attend the training on Tuesday night and the other half attend on Wednesday night; so half of your sponsors are always seated with your group during the service. The training begins at 7:30 p.m. and goes one hour or less, depending on when the invitation is given. Leaders attending this training will not miss the invitation at the conclusion of the service. In 2011, leaders will receive training on social media called, “Please Friend Me.” The group will explore the dangers and opportunities of engaging students online.
A new training element also has been added in 2011. Senior pastors who are in attendance at Falls Creek are invited to attend the Pastoral Leadership Dialogue, to be held at the West End Concessions area from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday. This discussion time for pastors will be led by BGCO Leadership Development Specialist Brett Selby.
Andy Harrison is Falls Creek program director and student ministry specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.