Editorial: Summertime, and the kids are busy

Students from First Baptist Church in Plano work on a Bounce Student Disaster Recovery project. (Photo / Eric Black)

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Much is wrong in the world these days. Our news and opinion have been full of difficult stories and challenging views related to these wrongs, and we anticipate more.

This editorial is going to be a bit of a break from that by looking at something right. That something right is what many of our kids—children, youth and college-age—are up to this summer. They are going to camps, attending or volunteering at Vacation Bible School and engaging in missions.

It’s summertime, and the kids are busy.



Missions

Summer is traditionally mission trip season. As I see it, missions is one of the most effective ways to disciple our kids—to form them to be like Jesus—while also communicating the gospel—the good news of Jesus—to others.

Of the summer mission trips I participated in, the two that shaped me the most were to Ailigandi, Panama, and to Juarez, Mexico. Ailigandi—an island you can walk around in 15 minutes—is in the San Blas Islands off the northeast coast of Panama. In those two places, I started to learn how affluent we really are and what it means to see people as humans, not as objects.

While collegiate missionaries, my wife and I built on an annual summer mission trip to Juarez by taking college students there once a month throughout the year. Our hope was to develop a culture of missions. Better still, we built great relationships in Juarez.



This summer, 232 Texas Baptist college students were commissioned and sent to serve around the world through Go Now Missions. They will serve most of the summer in places across Texas, the United States and the rest of the world, and they will come back changed.

First Baptist Church in Plano’s second annual Bless Week runs June 12–19. Bless Week engages the entire congregation in local mission efforts designed to bless the surrounding community in the name of Jesus.

Bless Week includes Vacation Bible School, delivering breakfast to the Plano Fire Department, volunteering at the North Texas Food Bank, prayer walking, construction, a blood drive and a number of other activities.


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My family and I are members of First Baptist Plano; so, I have a bias. I think Bless Week is one of the best ideas a church has come up with to engage and care for its community and to communicate the good news of Jesus. One standout is all ages and abilities can be involved.

Bounce is another way Texas Baptist kids will be busy this summer. David Scott, director of Bounce, reports 700 kids will be involved in at least one of six Bounce projects in Texas, Louisiana and Washington.

During a Bounce week, middle school, high school and college students communicate the good news of Jesus in word and deed through construction projects in hard-hit or economically challenged communities.



I took youth from our church—including my son—on a spring break Bounce trip a couple of years ago. It’s hard and dirty work, good for the soul and the character.

Vacation Bible School and camp

Summer is also Vacation Bible School and camp season. VBS, like Bless Week, is one of those events that calls for all hands on deck and provides opportunities for all ages and abilities to be involved.

VBS is an excellent way to connect with and care for your surrounding community. It’s also one of the things many people outside the church still recognize and appreciate about churches.



Churches without the resources to conduct VBS by themselves can receive the benefit and blessing of joining with other local churches to hold VBS. While I was a pastor, we partnered with another church in town, sharing the load and ultimately involving more people.

As I write, I am praying for a church in West Texas whose pastor will talk with children about faith tonight. He asked me to pray the children who understand will turn to Jesus as their Savior. This is what VBS is all about—to point people to Jesus.

Camps are yet another summer opportunity to disciple our kids, both as campers themselves or, for youth and college students, as leaders. They are a summer tradition and rite of passage that should not be overlooked or neglected.

Don’t grow weary doing good

There is a lot going on this summer with mission trips, camps and Vacation Bible School, especially if our kids participate in more than one of the three. These activities are a lot of work, they’ve seen a lot of challenges and change over the years, and they’re some of the best busy there is.

Missions, camps and VBS are a good kind of busy when they grow us, shaping us to be more like Jesus and drawing other people to him. There’s still time this summer to get involved in at least one of the three.

There is a lot of heartache in our world, and far too much of it involves our kids—children, youth and college students. We must grieve this and work to restore their brokenness, owning our part in it.

At the same time, we must celebrate God’s continuing presence and work in our kids. We must not overlook God’s faithfulness but must celebrate it.

And let’s celebrate our kids, let’s celebrate the good they are doing in the world, and let’s work to make sure they can do more of it.

*******

On another note: The summer is busy for me, too. During my absence the next two weeks, Lady Evelyn Ogletree and Pastor Paul Kim are providing guest editorials. Ogletree serves with her husband Pastor John Ogletree at First Metropolitan Church in Houston. Kim serves Forest Community Church in Plano.

I encourage you to read their editorials and to hear their hearts.

Eric Black is the executive director, publisher and editor of the Baptist Standard. He can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed are those solely of the author.


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