Parents, 5 Ways to Keep the Summer Camp Fire Going
Difficult Raising Children in the Lord…
Every day my first prayer request is the same. It’s that my daughters, Andrea and Addie, would come to place their trust in Jesus as their Savior and would follow Him all the days of their lives. Fellow parents—I’m sure your heart is the same. We have no greater responsibility than to raise our children in the Lord and teach them the things of God. Beyond our biblically mandated calling, there is nothing more we should hope for our children.
But carrying out this task is not easy. For one, we can’t snap our fingers and it’s all done. I wish at the reading of our first Bible story when my girls were babies, I had completed the task of leading them to the Lord. But that was the start of a long process. Along with it not being quick, we can’t just sign our children up for an activity and they become a Christian like how we are able to turn them into baseball players and ballerinas. And maybe what is more difficult is that all of the teachings and actions that it takes to carry out this task—flies in the face of our culture. It seems everything in this world is against us raising our children in the Lord.
Positive Steps Have Been Made This Summer…
But for many of you—this week, earlier this summer, or in the weeks to come progression has been made in your child’s life in their Godward direction through a mission trip, youth conference, youth camp, VBS, or other summer church activity. How wonderful! Have you stopped and realized this blessing! Your number one responsibility, your greatest hope for them, and the most difficult task has succeeded in some way! Amen!
But parent—Do not squander this opportunity. Do not let your child step back from this recent spiritual growth. Fan the flame!
The task of raising our children in the Lord is hard as we have said. Spiritual growth and commitment can’t be forced. I’m told that in the day of the Puritans, if you went for pastoral counseling, the pastor would tell you to “put yourself in the way of the Lord.” This meant pray, open your Bible, go to church, worship, serve, talk about your faith, etc., and as you put yourself in the way of God He would show up. And often as a parent all we can do is put our kids in the way of the Lord and hopefully He runs over them. Like leaving them in the middle of the road hoping the God-dump-trucks runs them down.
This summer you allowed your child to be in the way of the Lord by sending them on this activity and He ran over them. Your prayers have been answered, please don’t take it lightly. Here are some ways to keep the fire from summer youth camp up.
Prayer is not the last resort in our Christian life, it’s our number one weapon. God can do more in the second He shows up than a lifetime of us busting our butts. Never cease praying for child’s salvation and commitment to Jesus. When you hear a spiritual growth catalyst event for your child announced at your church—start praying for God to move in their life. When you sign them up—pray for God to work in a mighty way. When you sacrificial pay that registration fee—pray that the investment pays off. When they are gone pray your guts out that God will work in them. And when they return keep praying that they would keep the progress they have made.
- Expect God Has Worked in Them
If you pray, God answers! If you prayed for Him to work in your child’s life at that event—He did. Expect God has worked. Maybe you are just reading this and you haven’t prayed for your child’s summer church activity, don’t worry. Still expect God has worked. Even if you have that stoic teenage boy that only grunts and farts, there is no way that God did not penetrate his heart in some way. Approach the days following the trip as if God has worked in the life of your child.
- Celebrate the Work God Has Done
I have girls who never shut-up so I’m sure getting them to talk will not be a problem, but I know not all kids are talkers, especially, regarding spiritual things. Still ask them about the trip. Hear the physical details, but push for the spiritual details. Our decisions in Christ are not personal, they are so important they should be what we share. This may be new for your family, but take the step to talk about what God has done.
Your child may not even be able to put into words what happened and that is ok, but whatever happened spiritually in their life—celebrate it. Make that the lead when you retell what happened in your kid’s life at camp. Let that be your Facebook post or Tweet. If your child was saved find some way to mark this event as special. Have a special dinner. Do a special activity. Get a commemorative gift. Just dance around the house in excitement.
If your child has rededicated their life or made another commitment—celebrate. Make the celebration bigger than that Science Award or the District Basketball Championship.
- Don’t Quench Their Fire
God has worked in your child’s life, and just them leaving the mountaintop experience of camp or the mission trip will be discouraging. Everything is stacked against them to keep that spiritual fire, so please do not add anything to quench it. Don’t immediately jump into another activity, you need to savor this spiritual event. Even if there is no getting around the next activity, don’t stop talking about this camp or conference experience. If you are going on a family vacation immediately following the event, still go to church and encourage your child to keep up Quiet Time devotionals. If they have to jump to a ball game or some other activity, consider taking the weekend tournament off and savor this spiritual growth.
Even if you do not understand all that your child experienced or do not believe its “real” be careful what you say. Your child also may have made a commitment to leave certain sins. They probably are not going to be straightforward with that information, but if they try to avoid things—let them. They may not go out Saturday night with their old friends—it’s for a reason, don’t encourage them to do so. They may make a change in music or tv—support it.
- Go to Church the Next Sunday
This sounds stupid, but as a youth pastor and later a senior pastor I repeatedly saw this. A student would go to camp and trust Jesus as their Savior, but their family would be so busy with activities when they got home that they would not be able to schedule a baptism for months. Or a student would rededicate their life and be on fire, but they wouldn’t even show up to church the next Sunday or next youth night. Do not let time go by between a commitment and follow-up.
The Effort is Worth It…
I hope your child had a mountaintop spiritual experience this summer! What a blessing! Parents, lets help keep them in the way of the Lord.