Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 at 12:51 PM

Vision Summer School Thoughts (3) - Revival (1)

All the posts in this series are done. Read them here


Vision Summer School – Revival

So at VSS in Alaska this year, nearing the end of the month, the program traditionally puts on a revival (or youth rally). The next few posts will detail my reasons for requesting to be excused from the preparation (all the teachers were expected to help out and be part of it) and participation.

The big reason why I asked to be excused was because of the theme.

The theme this year was “All In” or in simpler terms, making a commitment. The leaders wanted a theme that could speak to the Alaska youth, because many of them had grown up in the church and knew Christ, but didn’t live it out. Thus they wanted a theme that would challenge the kids to make that commitment.

Now, I’m all for people living out their lives for Christ, but the big issue I had with this was as such: From my interactions with the 10th graders, and Wesley’s interactions with the 9th graders, plus passing interactions with other students there, they were right. The kids there were very churched. If you put the questions to them in the right phrasing, you got the right answer. But if you ask the question in a different form, or rephrase the question to approach it from a different angle, the kids didn’t know what to say. One very clear example of this is that both Wesley and me asked our kids “If you died and were standing before God before the gates of Heaven, what would you tell Him if you wanted to get in?” Almost all the answers were along the lines of “I’d tell him I was a good person and did good things and was a good Christian.”

This terrified me. Yes, these kids weren’t showing the fruits of faith, but the problem wasn’t that they weren’t being challenged, but it was that their faith was dead. (James 2) They didn’t need to be challenged, they needed to be reborn! They had no knowledge of justification by faith alone. They had a very limited knowledge of who God is. (One of the kids in my class asked who would win in a fight, Jesus or God. It took 5 minutes of them debating before one very quiet student raised her hand and was like “Jesus is God”)

I felt like to go up there and to put on skits, body worship, and testimonies (more on the structure of the revival in my next post) about going all in were merely justification by works. These kids didn’t need to be told to work harder and to live better; they needed to be told to repent.

Plus there’s the whole issue of a lack of a Gospel throughout. I brought this up, and the leadership’s response was to put a short pantomime in front that was supposed to demonstrate salvation. The rest of the evening was geared towards making that push for “all in.” To me, this served only to emphasize the problem. They were reversing the order. Throughout the Bible it is always Law and then Gospel. God commands us to live a life glorifying to Him. God provided His Son to do it because we can’t do it ourselves. To reverse the order and make the Gospel first (and I questioned whether it was even possible to make a clear Gospel presentation through a pantomime) and make the rest of the night about going “all-in” sounds eerily like what Paul rebukes in Galatians 3. They were pushing that the kids would live by the Law! But the Law brings death, and there is no salvation in the Law. One can try as hard as he wants to obey the law, but in the end, it leads to death and condemnation.

Now, I did have a lot of discussions with the leadership after my request to be excused. One of the points they brought up was that maybe I just didn’t see eye to eye with them on where the students were at, after all, they were the ones who had grown up in that area. They were the ones who taught the kids, one of them had been their youth director for years.

They thought the kids just needed to be encouraged and challenged. I thought the kids were spiritually dead. Now, I’m not going to defend my views on that, but suffice to say that I feel that James 2 makes my point fairly clear, especially in light of their responses to our questions on the status of justification.

Even then though, the second issue I brought up was never addressed and completely ignored. What about the fact that they were moving away from the Biblical structure of Law and then Gospel? The only response was that the kids were sick of it and wouldn’t learn anything from it.

(To be continued)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you that this youth gathering sounds like a "lost" cause. Perhaps the problem is with this venue that emphasizes YOUTH themselves. The God of the Bible sets people in families, not alienating and relegating them to peer dependent youth groups. Our church in Kansas has whole family worship and doesn't even have separate youth groups, though we have youth orchestra and choirs from time to time. We have great family fellowship times where children, young people, and adults alike love and fellowship together. Keep letting the Word of God be your standard for righteousness and decisiveness.  


Blogger mxu said...


I wouldn't call it a "lost" cause. I did sincerely believe it that God would use it for His ultimate glory (as He has, and does, with everything). That said, my posts were more to show the objections I myself had with the revival itself.

While I desperately wish that churches would move towards a covenantal worship style where families could worship together and serve together, I would still have the same objections to the night itself if it were open for all people (and meant for all people).

Thanks for your comment!  


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