- August 13, 2008
MARSHALL—Building and maintaining relationships with other people through which the gospel can be shared is a messy proposition, Christian leaders say. Learning how to do it is no less messy.
Using often-messy team-building activities this summer, more than 4,000 young people who attended Super Summer camps learned how share their faith naturally through relationships with other people. Each action—no matter how gooey, slimy or gross—provided teaching moments about evangelism.
Leighton Flowers, director of Baptist General Convention of Texas youth evangelism, said young people want to discuss spiritual matters, creating opportunities for Christians to share their faith. Super Summer camps sponsored by the BGCT at East Texas Baptist University, Hardin-Simmons University and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor help students understand how to do that.
“Sometimes it’s simply turning a conversation to relate to spiritual matters and their spiritual needs,” said Flowers, who directs the youth leadership development camps. “Many think of evangelism as awkward and stressful as you pull out the tract and force a conversation. These students are learning this can be done naturally and relationally. This generation is interested in spiritual things. They want to talk about the things of God, but they don’t want to feel like they are being manipulated. They want authenticity and honesty, not a sales pitch.”
Staff members at Super Summer transformed classrooms with vibrant themes. Leaders arrived early on the weekend prior to the start of a weeklong camp on Monday so that they have time to set up their school rooms, get to know their family group partners and prepare for about 800 campers each week.
Super Summer gives students the chance to be in an atmosphere where they learn how to share their Christian faith with others as well as share personal stories without fear of judgment. The experience of the week changes the lives of those attending.
One camper from Crosby, Sasha Savoy, a high school sophomore said, “There was an exercise where some went to hell and some went to heaven. It impacted my life and brought me closer to God and showed me that life won’t always go my way, but that there is something bigger.”
Super Summer gives the students at host universities an opportunity to minister and be servants.
“I love recreation and helping set up. But I love worship time and watching the students lives change throughout the week,” said Lauren Shuman, a senior at ETBU. “It is a lot of work making sure campus is ready but when the time comes for the campers to arrive, it is all worth it!”
In addition to Super Summer in Texas, 189 students – more than double the number of students who participated last year – went to Tokyo for Super Summer Global. During their trip, more than 50 people made professions of faith.
“Super Summer global is really taking off and growing,” Flowers said. “It’s challenging students to think outside their churches and outside their perspectives.”
With additional reporting by John Hall of BGCT Communications