Anticipation Over Production

sat-feb-18-2017-19-48-59-gmt-0500Earlier 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.

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10,000 Reasons & Psalm 103

10,000 Reasons is a pretty well-known worship song and has been used in a variety of venues.  Just this summer I’ve sung it with our congregation, with about 900 high school students at a CIY MOVE Conference and with about 100 junior students at our week of summer camp.  We used it as part of our song set yesterday in our morning service and it seems to really connect with groups of all ages.

Before we sang it yesterday, we played about the first two minutes of this video where Matt Redman (who helped write the song) talks about the story behind the song.  Since I’m not a song writer, I find it interesting to hear about the process writers go through.  I like what he shares as it gives the back-story to the song we love to sing and points to Psalm 103 and what it says about worship.

Redman also gives a good reminder that God is always giving us reasons to worship Him.  Whether we are young or old, on the mountaintop or in a valley, loving life or struggling to get through the week, God provides numerous reasons to worship him.  A good reminder not only for our Sunday worship sets, but for how we live Monday through Friday.

Summer Conference Memories

CIYI just got home from a week of Christ In Youth Summer Conference. The event is called MOVE and it is a great environment for students to learn, engage in worship, participate in discussions and be challenged to be involved in God’s kingdom once the event is concluded.

Our group had a good week and came away with some specific steps for individuals to take now that we’ve come home. CIY consistently presents a great week of conference.

It had been a few years since we attended MOVE and I was looking forward to our group experiencing it. What I wasn’t prepared for was the flood of memories that came back my first day at Conference. I had the opportunity to attend Conference while I was in high school and have taken groups of students multiple times.

As the week began I thought back to the conferences I experienced. Memories came of the places I had been: Adrian College, Hope College, Anderson University, Milligan College, Southern Illinois State.

I recalled Encounter times sitting on the grass and reflecting on the theme for the day and what God’s Word had to say.

Past groups and individuals came to mind. I thought of decisions that were made and conversations that were held. During the week I received a text from a former student who knew we were at conference. It brought to mind the relationships that were built at Conference and how they continue to this day.

Summer Conference has remained a strong program throughout the past few decades, yet has grown and changed. While certain elements stay the same, variations to the program have occurred which have added to its growth.

I’m grateful for the ministry of CIY, the impact it has had in my life and the countless students who have benefited from the programs offered.

BELIEVE 2013

the presenceLast weekend we took 19 of our Junior High students and 5 brave adults to the Christ In Youth BELIEVE Conference held at Northern Kentucky University. I say “brave adults” because we joined with 6,00 other people . . . and the vast majority were sixth, seventh and eighth graders. There was a lot of junior high energy in the room.

We’ve attended this event for the last several years. The program is always top-notch and this year’s followed suit. The theme for the weekend was “The Presence.” The focus was on the Holy Spirit. When I first heard that theme, I wondered how they were going to take a sometimes confusing topic for adults and present it in a way that young teens would understand. They did an excellent job.

Weaving together the music sets, clear teaching and well-done video stories, three clear messages about The Presence came through the weekend:

The Presence gives life where there was no life.
The Presence creates community where there was no community.
The Presence gives courage where there was no courage.

Through the events of the weekend, we were challenged to accept the life the Spirit gives, engage in community and rely of the courage The Presence gives to live for God.

The program was great and we had a lot of fun through the weekend.  We enjoyed participating in BELIEVE, eating sardines in the hallway of the hotel, cruising around Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in a church van and bus and killing some time at the mall.

Here are a few pics from the weekend:

Music & energy

stage 2

Sardines!

sardines

Sweet stage and lights!

stage shot

Back From BELIEVE

We had a good weekend at BELIEVE last weekend.  We were with a HUGE crowd…close to 5,000 junior high students and adults.  The last few years I have come away with how well the program is put together.  Not so much in the entertainment aspect, although it really engages junior high students.  The way they are able to weave all the different elements together to reinforce the theme for the weekend is very well done.  The team incorporates music, teaching, art, videos, humor, discussion questions and hands-on opportunities that keep pointing back to the focus of the weekend.

This year, we looked at the life of Esther and how God used her in her unique circumstances to speak for Him.  The challenge to the students (and adults) was to identify our NOW moment.  Esther’s moment was to stand before King Xerxes and plead for the lives of the Israelites.  We were left to think about what our NOW moment might be.  It was cool to hear our students talk about what God may be showing them is their NOW moment. Those are great conversations to have with students.

Pictures from the weekend will be up soon.  You can view them at the church website.

The weekend also made the news in Kentucky.  Check out this brief article from a Kentucky paper.