On days that I’m tired and uninspired to write anything noteworthy, I shall succumb to previously-written articles. Somehow I look forward to the break at retreat. For that week away. I’m deciding between live updates or pre-scheduled posts. But for now, in the light of the coming youth camp, here’s an article I wrote after the Inside-Out youth camp in 2004, at Fairfield Methodist Secondary School, where I was camp Dean. I’ll reprise that role in the coming Retreat and I do look forward to it. Enjoy the read.
If a Chinese man decides to become an Indian man one day, speaking in Tamil alone will not change his race; his anatomy and his shade of melanin must be altered to achieve this biological change.
An overweight man cannot look slim just by putting on tight-fitting clothes; a change of clothes will not change his physique, he needs to be altered physically.
A timid teenager lacking in self-esteem cannot find his self-worth and security by hanging out with confident and assured peers; he does not become who he socialises with; his alteration must be mental.
Even a sex change will not make a man feel any more like a woman; unless he is altered psychologically, he will innately know he is still a man.
One cannot modify the external to change the internal. The change must take place from within.
So similarly, a mere believer of Christ cannot become a true disciple of Christ unless he is transformed from the inside out. In Romans 12:2, Paul urges us to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Now, that is the theme of the annual R-AGE camp. This camp is aptly named “Inside-Out” and it is a fitting conclusion to a year embarked on discipleship.
In the short duration of four days and three nights, the youths participated in a host of activities that perpetuate the lessons of discipleship. They are put through unforgettable structured experiences; attend knowledge-enriching workshops and life-changing sermons; play large-scale and small-scale games that foster relationship-building; and not to mention living together with everyone else and learning from one another.
Along with the usual works of a youth camp, the committee aspires to impart a lifestyle of discipleship into the campers – the call, the cost and the commitment. Doors will be opened for mentorship to take place.
As the camp dean, my primary job is to look after the well-being of the campers, especially their spiritual condition. I believe it is crucial that the young people are changed from within if they are to live out their fullest potential. There is little significance in attempting to correct the facade if nothing is done to correct their attitudes and their cognition process.
Our church is blessed with intelligent teenagers who are acutely aware of the happenings of the world as they are well-educated and also because most of them come from affluent families. Teenagers are no strangers to the temptations that this world offers and are greatly exposed to the lures of the world.
Their scrutinising nature fuels their continual thirst for knowledge and the truth. And this either leaves them fulfilled by the Word of God or deceived by the lies of the devil.
Therefore, there is a great need to guard their vulnerable minds and correct all the wrong teachings they have received. This is made possible with tender care, proper guidance and assiduous re-education. Hopefully, by the conclusion of Inside-Out, our youths will learn to fix their eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of their faith; this conviction will empower them to worship God in spirit and in truth, befitting the theme of worship for 2005.
Everything around us is constantly changing – even you and I. But Hebrews 13:8 assures us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! Who better then, shall we place our trust in?
The iJourney team came together for a final coordination meeting on Sunday evening. Most of them were worried about whether they were able to connect with teenagers so much younger than they were. So I found the opportunity to share with them some really simple tips and insights on what I think would help them to engage young people.
However, I didn’t share this prelude with them so I’ll share it here instead. I believe that there are several important rules you must observe before you attempt to engage youths. Firstly, you need to be patient and to manage your expectations. They must be convinced that you are willing to have fun with them and that you are not here to judge them. I remember RY telling me how I have to first play with them, before they will pray with me. Before they listen to you, they must first be convinced of your sincerity.
Next, you must be willing to be genuinely interested to speak their language (or their lingo), or at least make an effort to understand what they are interested in. Failure to do so usually results in a talk-down instead of the desired talk-to. I also believe that young people whom you are meeting for the first time are usually more afraid to speak to you than you are of them; the one who makes the first move to converse usually succeeds. (On that note, I think RY has an uncanny ability to connect with youths.)
With these basic ground rules established, there are just three steps to remember in the progression of a conversation with a young person.
- Firstly, learn to exchange information – “How do you find this?”
- Next, learn to exchange opinions – “What do you think about this?”
- Lastly, learn to exchange emotions – “How do you feel about this?”
Why don’t you try it and tell me if it works? The six iJourney facilitators and I will be testing this method as you read this post. Remember to keep us in prayer – may we find connect with the students and plant seeds into their lives!