After two amazing weeks at camp with Middle and High School students I am glad to be home. It was great to be back for an amazing Sunday at Grace Community and see the connection our teens have between their camp experience and the Sunday morning experience. Honestly that connection is our greatest strength as a church. Our church experience/mission/direction matches the experience our student have when we take them to camp or go on a retreat or hold a weekly service. Sure the lights may be a little more crazy and sound a little louder but all in all camp and home connect. For years my heart broke as I brought students back to Sunday morning experiences that left teens and leaders wondering why camp was so different than church. The adults eventually drove themselves to believe that what happened at camp was just a “teen” thing. One of the driving reasons we launched our church here in Clarksville was that we believed that there might be a link between the passion we have pushing people toward Christ at camp and what is needed every week in the life of a student or adult. We took a risk and started this thing 5 years ago and guess what…bringing the “camp experience” to every environment has actually made a difference. What we used to could only get away with in the youth service or at camp is a normal experience for us each week!
I am thankful for our teens that there is a synergy between what happens in the youth ministry and every week in the Sunday gathering and community group process. I honestly believe that the best way to reach multiple generations (and we do!) is to listen and consider the heart of a teen or college student when planning our worship gatherings. If you are in a church where the student ministry and the morning worship experience are divided in strategy and direction then process how you can close the gap. If nothing else please find ways to connect the heart of your senior pastor to the lives of your teens. Help your senior leadership connect with the risk needed to engage teens. it might just inspire them to take more risks as they lead and plan.