Do you know where you’d go if you died tomorrow? Most of us have been asked or have asked this question before, usually by street evangelists. They hope to confront people passing about their eternal reality and destination. But, is that the right question? Every so often it feels like it when someone we know dies all too suddenly, expectantly, and young. None of us know how much longer we have left in this life, but in an effort to take seriously the fragility of life, we may have forgotten that being a follower of Jesus last more than a day or weekend. I heard a Pastor and friend of mine phrase the question differently. He poignantly asked, “What if you live another 40, 50, or 60 years?” Yes, think about it. What does it mean to follow Jesus faithfully for a lifetime? I find myself juggling this issue every week with our youth church. I want to be relevant and draw attendance. I want to cater to the needs of teenagers in a way that they enjoy church, and actually look forward to coming, maybe even want to bring their friends, but I also struggle with whether I have great attendance and still make life long disciples.
As I got older, meaning my mid twenties, I realized how awful my diet was. When I was in high school, I worked for the now extinct Blockbuster (When people had to leave their homes to rent movies). And yes they still rented VHS when I was 17. To my delight the Blockbuster was next to a Taco Bell. You can imagine that I consumed more Baja Gorditas than I am proud of. Likewise, I remember Shaun Tai showing up to our weekly meetings with McDonalds in hand. Whether your poison of choice is a Big Mac or instant noodles is not the point. Given the choice, the average teenagers diet would resort to enough fast-food to cause my grandmother cardiac arrest. And that’s exactly the point. Sometimes our spiritual appetite prefers happy meals, but this kind of diet will result in diabetes, heart disease and premature death.
I grew up in youth group. I went to a dozen retreats. I went to Christian college and even seminary. Many of my friends and peers went through the same experiences. I watched them passionately worship God, their hands raised and tears streaming at the altar. Somewhere along the road their faith was challenged or waivered and today too many of my peers are no longer followers of Jesus. As I prayed about this retreat I dared to ask if we can do things better. I asked whether we were feeding our youth happy meals or main courses. As I prayed I was convinced we can do things better, we can prepare a meal or a retreat that has richer nutrients, that uses some more complex flavors. As the youth leaders of this city began meeting and praying about this retreat, we sought the Lord on how look beyond tomorrow. I can tell you I am excited about what God is doing among our fellowships and about the meal we’ve been working on called One Hope, One Heart. Don’t get me wrong, I love myself an occasional McDonald’s quarter pounder, but you’re not going run a marathon on French fries and milk shakes. Nor would you appreciate a bucket of KFC on Thanksgiving instead of a turkey. Retreat should be a feast and we’ve been working hard on a menu worthy of a God who wants you to encounter him for a lifetime, not just a weekend.
34 Days and Counting….