Hands raised. Feet moving. Minds engaged.
Over 200 youthful 6th-12th grade voices lift up songs to God along with the Ward 9 band led by CVC Youth Pastor, Joe Valenti. The youth gather close together at the front of the stage in a passionate mass of praise. It’s as though singing from one’s seat is unthinkable. “We have to get close… to each other and to the Lord.”
Joe Valenti does more than lead songs. He leads the youth into the presence of God. He talks about how amazing it is that children of God are able to come close to the Great I Am.
I find out that this 10th Frontlines Camp is the last year that Ward 9 will lead since band members are moving on and moving away. It’s a bit bittersweet because these band members really know how to mesh as a seamless team with one another. More importantly, it’s obvious they truly enjoy connecting with kids.
After Late Night Worship
Joe sends the kids to their seats and introduces the theme for the camp. Joe and CVC’s other Youth Pastor, Rick Eimers, have been gathering kids for this camp through CVCYouth Impact and Collide Ministries for the last 10 years. Now, is the time for sending. So, Rick and Joe have chosen sections from the book of Acts to teach our youth that the true measure of a ministry is not its seating capacity but its sending capacity.
I have been given a lavaliere mic to use for preaching. It doesn’t work. No matter. I grab the handheld. I’ve been asked to teach about the Holy Spirit from Acts 2.
I quote Francis Chan, “From my perspective, the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten. While no evangelical would deny His existence, I’m willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can” (Francis Chan, Forgotten God, p. 15).
I say that the kind of Christianity they have probably been seeing in their lives and in the lives of their parents is likely more boring than exciting. I teach that God wants them to have a life of excitement and adventure as they live for the Lord. I point out that the Holy Spirit came to the first followers of Jesus as wind and fire. I teach that what we really need today is fresh wind and fresh fire. I make the point that a special enabling by the Spirit is not just something for people over 20 or 30. Even the youth, says the Bible, will have visions and lead out with prophesy.
I read a quote about how the great Welsh revival in the early 20th Century was led by people just like them – by youth. “An unbiased observer would conclude that the youthful members vastly outnumbered the older fold in this marvelous movement of the Holy Spirit. They flung boundless energy into the work, holding nothing back. “Their youthful minds… were enabled to express their thoughts intelligently and scripturally in prayer or testimony as they were led or impelled by the Spirit of God. Even the very young, between nine and twelve years of age, prayed with wisdom and a fluency that sounded uncanny… Buoyant youth was expressing itself in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs… The Holy Spirit was tapping unlimited resources by captivating these young hearts” (David Matthews, I Saw the Welsh Revival, pp. 60-61).
I say, “For you to be used by God for a present-day revival, you must not quench the Spirit. You must not grieve the Spirit. You must be filled with the Spirit. You must be led by the Spirit.”
Not Youth Friendly
It’s not particularly a youth-friendly message. And it’s not a seeker-sensitive message. It’s a message that challenges our youth to be more passionate, more zealous, more bold, more sober. And living this way is how they will find the joy and adventure that we all long to have.
I’m greatly encouraged, The youth have fun and games at camp. And a lot of it! But when it’s time for some serious spiritual input, they lock in. Even to a guy who is 45+ years older than they are.
CVCers, you can be confident and proud of your CVCYouth staff and volunteers. And you can confident that one day, our church will be led by people who are passionate about Christ and His kingdom.
Our staff and our leaders love Christ. They love our teens. They are effective. They are gifted. They are bearing fruit for Jesus. And they want to see our teens be used by God to make history by ushering in a new great awakening.
Will you pray toward this end?