Earlier in February we took our junior high students to the CIY BELIEVE event near Cincinnati. It is an annual trip we take because the programming is excellent, our students love it and it’s a great 30 hours to spend with our junior high students.
One of the main elements at BELIEVE is the singing. There is always a top-notch worship band that does a great job engaging the students and inviting them to sing. At one point during the weekend, nearly all the people in the arena (approx. 3,500) were lifting their hands as we sang Great Are You Lord. It was a cool moment and felt very genuine.
It turned out, without really planning it, a week later we sang the same song in our church service. I referenced our experience at BELIEVE and even showed the picture at the top of this post after we sang the exact same words, Great are You Lord.
A couple of people made a similar comment that went something like this: isn’t it hard to sing here (meaning church) after you have been there (meaning BELIEVE)?
That’s a question that usually surfaces after coming back from a great event. How do you generate that same energy and engagement back at home once you’ve experienced it a camp, conference or convention?
As I mulled that thought over in mind, two words came to mind.
The first is Production. BELIEVE is a production. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. In fact, it is one reason we continue to attend and BELIEVE continues to grow. It is an excellent program.
But, it is a production. A team works for a number of months to put together a quality event that they duplicate in venues all over the country. They gather the best speakers, the best worship bands, great light rigs and sound systems, cool graphics and videos, along with quality entertainers (artists, comedians) that all work together to engage the hearts and minds of junior high students. While it is genuine and has the purpose of pointing teens to be followers of Jesus, it is a production. And it is done very well.
One reason I love taking students to BELIEVE is that they can do what I cannot do.
There is another word that came to mind as I considered the weekend. That word is Anticipation.
One reason I think students engage so strongly in BELIEVE is that they are excited to be there. For students who have attended in the past, they can’t wait to go back. 6th graders are excited to experience for the first time. When they become 8th graders, they are sad they cannot go to BELIEVE anymore.
There is a strong sense of Anticipation. Students want to be there. They pay to be there (well…their parents pay for them to be there). Youth leaders promote the weekend and there is a strong sense of anticipation.
So, imagine if we had that same anticipation when we arrived on a Sunday morning?
Take away the light show (we don’t have that). Remove the awesome worship band (honestly, we just aren’t as good as what we see on stage). Don’t count on the cool graphics and videos that serve as a backdrop to the sessions.
Do we still have the anticipation of raising our voices (or even our hands) to sing Great are You Lord?
Now, our worship teams are good. And they work hard to lead our church family in singing and worship each week. And we have some pretty talented people. But the more I think about it, Anticipation can be as powerful as Production.
As those who lead, we want to do the best we can to engage people to respond to God (Production).
For those who are coming each week, perhaps we should consider our level of excitement and engagement as we participate on a Sunday (Anticipation).
Anticipation over Production. Something to think about as we look to next Sunday.