It would pretty hard, or impossible, for me to ever say that God does not exist. Not because I have been told He is real, but rather because I have experienced far too many ‘God Moments.’ I have personally experienced times of forgiveness, love, and acceptance. However, I have also seen incredible answers to prayer and miracles.
Of all the youth and young adults who grew up in the church who still are engaged in their faith, most would make similar claims. They have experienced God at work in their own lives. You can’t make someone have these experiences. However, we can help lead people to them. As parents, leaders, pastors, and churches we can recognize and encourage things that work.
Here is an easy one to see the results. If you asked all of the young adults presently engaged in their faith today in our country, you will discover that over half of them attended a Christian camp of some kind. If you asked those who grew up in the church, but are now atheist / agnostic, you would find out only about 20% of them were a part of camp experiences. Another surprising finding is that of those who are presently studying for full time ministry, the amount of them who have a camp experiences is over 90%.
It is quite obvious that everyone who has attended our camps across our country does not continue in their faith. However, they seem to be having a huge effect on the lives of many, and it is undeniable. God is always waiting for us. Sometimes it takes us stopping everything else we do, getting away from distractions, and putting ourselves in a place to see how real He is.
All of us, including our young people, will face their own questions of faith. By having times when we have our own experiences with God it has a long term affect. We may not know all the answers, but we can always lean on the fact we met God, and we know He is real. Camps and retreats are some of most effective growth times for our youth. It takes a ton of work sometimes to get them there but it is worth it.
If these are not presently built into your discipleship process, it may be something to consider. This does not need to be limited to summer experiences. For example, in my own situation we encourage our youth to go to summer camp, but also have two young adult retreats per year. If you are in a denomination, or have local groups, to work with then find ways to do this together. Find what works for you, your budget, and situation.
Help point those you lead towards their own God moments.