This is the week of Upward Challenge at the Community of the Cross.
We have young people (ages 13 to 22) from Canada, the United States and Great Britain camping out around the land. This is the seventh year that we have offered this youth program.
I am of course excited about all this because my daughter Elizabeth is directing the program. So I am a proud father and willing to stay home and watch our grandson Evan so that she can focus on the program.
As I watch the kids swimming in the Community of the Cross river, sharing in making meals, playing games, moving into worship and prayer ministry, I see the children of many people that I know from PRMI’s Dunamis Project events.
In their late teens and early twenties they are leading small groups, helping with intercession and prayer ministry, helping with discernment of what the Holy Spirit is doing and nurturing the younger kids into the Faith.
They are supported by a team of adults – all members of the Dunamis Fellowship – who are teaching, praying and mentoring the youth. They have all – both youth and adults – grown as disciples of Jesus Christ and are now making disciples! This is amazing and wonderful and makes me as a father, and now grandfather, very hopeful for the church.
Not only are individuals growing, but the whole event is maturing. Students have moved into leadership. More youth leaders are attending. Both of these trends create the potential to continue to grow and expand this youth ministry.
This week we are seeing our children growing as disciples of Jesus Christ. What we are witnessing here is not happening as much as it needs to in our mainline denominations. We can blame it on the culture, which certainly plays a part, but that is not solely to blame. We, the Church must take substantial responsibility.
The reason for this is that often there is incompleteness in our living the Christian Faith because we have left out the experience of one or more person’s of the Trinity. We are to be baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and in that familiar blessing is the key to passing the faith on to our children and grandchildren. The work of each person of the trinity must be taught, lived and experienced, if a young person, or any person, is to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
EXPERIENCING EACH PERSON OF THE TRINITY
Upward Challenge is producing productive disciples, because there is built into the ethos of the event, an experience of each person of the Trinity.
1. God the Father. In the fellowship, the camping outside amid the glories of nature, and in the Biblical teaching, the Father’s love and sovereignty is experienced in both the head and the heart. In the teams, ready to offer prayer ministry for those who are troubled or struggling – the Love of God the Father is not an abstraction but a lived experience.
2. Jesus, the Son His presence pervades the whole camp! He is presented clearly, lovingly and in everything that happens, as The Way, the Truth and the Life and the Only Way to God the Father. This is given not only in the teaching but also in the invitation to follow Him. So the result is that each year there are many youth who make professions of faith and are invited to recommit themselves to following Jesus Christ.
3. The Holy Spirit! In the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the one who connects us to Jesus! He also is the one who moves all this from the head to the heart and gives us the power and the gifts to actually do the work of the Kingdom of God as Jesus’ disciples.
This aspect comes through as there is an openness and welcome of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Healing prayer ministry, casting out demons and manifestations of the Holy Spirit are all part of the Upward Challenge experience.
There are special times of offering good solid biblical teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit – this year they are focusing on the teaching from the PRMI Gateways to Empowered Ministry Dunamis. There are also times of praying for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit to receive the power and equipping for witness. For those who are already growing in being filled with the Holy Spirit, there is the opportunity to move in their spiritual gifts and thus grow in being disciples.
The result of all this is that the youth have a love encounter with God the Father, truth, grace and salvation encounter with Jesus Christ and a power and equipping encounter with the Holy Spirit. The result: our children and grandchildren are not just growing in faith and finding their place in the Kingdom of God (which usually includes local congregations), but are themselves taking part in growing disciples of Jesus Christ.
One does not have to go to the Community of the Cross and spend time in tents, use a port-a-john and endure rain and bugs, for this to take place. It can happen and indeed should happen in every congregation that welcomes the Three-in-One God, to do His Work.