Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the agony that is set before us. ~Hebrews 12:1
This Friday, I will defend my thesis as I near the completion of my doctorate in Christian Leadership from Gordon-Conwell. Ironically (providentially), yesterday at Waypoint we were surprised by 25+ youth from St. Simons Island because some of their youth leaders are part of F3. It seemed providential that these streams would converge this week, because 20 years ago, I went to my first Christian summer camp through F.C.A. on St. Simons Island at Epworth by the Sea. This camp happened to be a Christian Leadership camp.
Truth be told, I had an option that summer. My coach had sent home a brochure with the FCA Summer Camps listed. In the middle of July, I could go to the all-boys football camp in a town called Boiling Springs OR I could go to the Christian Leadership camp and stay at the retreat center by the sea…oh and did I mention that the St. Simon’s Island camp was co-ed? (The Holy Spirit moves in mysterious and not so mysterious ways.)
That experience captivated my mind and my heart for ministry, especially ministry that connects leadership, sports and Christianity. It helped to make my burgeoning faith in Christ stick.
Recently, I have been thinking about Kara Powell’s work on Sticky Faith as it relates to youth. She makes the point that youth groups need to reconsider their models of youth ministry and leadership, because it is producing good youth groupers but poor people of faith.
Rather than trying to hire the young, compassionate, hilarious, guitar playing guy who can model for the teenagers that it is cool not to drink, do drugs or have sex–who really teaches them morality more than Gospel-Centered Christianity–parents should try to place five adults into the lives of their children that speak the same truths as their parents.
Her point: In order for our faith to stick, we need five people to surround us. I believe this to be true for all of us as our faith develops. We need to develop relationships with five different types of roles.
We need a parent who provides stability, nurture, care and concern. This person provides the strong foundation based on love that allows us to feel secure as we venture out on our own.
We need a grandparent who provides wisdom and perspective. This figure’s stories help us to appreciate the past and the history that has brought us to this point.
We need a coach who is able to encourage us and see something within us. The coach demands that we push ourselves in order to discover areas of our lives that we have not harnessed. They equip us for our future tasks and responsibilities.
We need a mentor who initiates our life’s calling helping us to discover what we are passionate about. Mentors guide us through difficulties in order that we may reemerge stronger.
We need an uncle who helps to loosen us up. The uncle teaches us not to take ourselves so seriously and to enjoy the moment without anxiety over the future or shame over the past.
So, who is surrounding you?
By the way, Daniel Levinson argues that by age 40, we no longer need these roles in our lives, but should start to play them in the lives of others. So, who are you investing in?