I am writing this article in the middle of the first week of the 2017 Falls Creek Youth Camps. It is my privilege to preach this first youth week of the 100th year of Falls Creek. Without question, this experience is an extraordinary honor.
Preaching a youth week at Falls Creek at the age of 68 challenges you like no other. While this is my fourth time to preach a youth week, it is my first time as a senior adult preacher. I took several months before I felt absolute assurance from the Lord that I should undertake such a task. In the end, I am so glad I surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s leadership and was obedient to His call.
I want to share some observations from this week with you.
One of the great joys of preaching at Falls Creek is the opportunity to interact with many young people on a personal basis. Whether making the rounds of activities on my golf cart or standing around in the Centennial Plaza after services, I found that the young people are incredibly friendly and open.
In my first sermon on Monday evening, I challenged them to share their stories of how they came to Christ with others. I had the joy of hearing many of them tell me about those incredible moments in their lives when they came to know Christ as Savior and Lord. What stories!
I also found the young people very vulnerable and willing to share their struggles and fears. My conclusion after listening to many of them is simple—the youth of today would have 10 times fewer problems if the adults in their lives just acted like adults.
The greatest need among teens is for parents to have their lives transformed by Christ. So many of these young people face unbelievable home situations that leave them hurt, confused, struggling and like ships without rudders.
I was struck by the honesty and openness of these teens; they don’t sugarcoat anything. They long for truth and want to make their lives count. They want adults in their lives who love them, show them respect and will show them the way to walk with Jesus.
This age group is willing to take on the most difficult challenges when shown the way. In short, they want to have more mature believers disciple them.
Teens are open to the Gospel. I have done nothing more than stand and open the Word of God. While I have sought to illustrate my messages in ways that relate to these young people, my messages have been expositional and straightforward. These kids just want someone to love them enough to tell them the truth. They don’t want or need the truth sugarcoated. They will respond to the truth. They respond to the invitation to surrender all to Christ. No cheap grace or emotional appeals, just straight-up repent, believe and follow Jesus.
But it is not just the young people who impress me. I have met so many adult sponsors and cooks. Wow! What awesome people. Bi-vocational pastors and staff, sponsors and cooks take vacation time to sleep in crowded dorms with kids who don’t want to sleep!
Take a minute and visit with these awesome people and you walk away humbled, amazed, and blessed. These folks love young people. They have made many sacrifices to spend a week with the teenagers from their churches. The passion to see their kids come to faith in Christ and walk as fully devoted followers of Christ is unmistakable.
Falls Creek is such an amazing place because we have an amazing staff. This past Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching to the Falls Creek staff and have had the joy of engaging with them throughout the week. These are our finest college students, and they are on mission for Christ.
Serving at Falls Creek is not just a summer job. Each member of the summer staff views Falls Creek as a mission field where through service and witness they get to be a part of seeing thousands of lives transformed by the Gospel.
These staff members will encounter 52,000-53,000 people this summer. Each staff member takes the job seriously and serves with excellence, but each one takes the mission of being a faithful witness for Christ even more seriously.
Anyone who knows me knows my love for Falls Creek. After a week as camp pastor, I am more impressed than ever. If I had a thousand lifetimes to give I would give it again to be a part of the revival and building of a new Falls Creek. There is no place on earth like Falls Creek!