Every head bowed. The spacious room now has the illusion of shrinking walls. Every eye closed. The house lights feel as if they’re burning a little hotter. No one looking around. A blade could cut the tension in the air.
This tension is why so many teenagers in the room have a difficult time following the speaker’s instructions. They want to see how this plays out. Who will go forward? Who will raise their hand?
The students aren’t alone in their suspense. As the speaker offers his final plea, leaders survey the grounds and get into place. It’s the last night of camp. An invitation is being given. This is what they’ve all waited and prayed for—a moment they hope will change their students forever.
THE COST OF ‘CAMP MOMENTS’
Most of us have witnessed God using these “last night of camp” moments in a positive way to draw students to himself. These moments tend to be effective because they involve kids at an age ripe for evangelism and conversion. The teenage years are some of our most formative, especially at a spiritual level. This is why many churches invest in youth camps and retreats.
But there’s more than this at play, and here’s why: Twenty-four hours from now, the auditorium will stand quiet and empty, and all the campers will return from wherever they came. Will it be worth everything it cost us pastors if we go home without something to report? Can (nonprofit!) conferences and organizations afford to watch these precious few minutes go to waste?
Buried underneath our “last night of camp” moments is a more sinister invitation for the adults in the room: Come and see how significant your offering has been.
These factors inform the “invitation” environment we now find ourselves in. Could it be that under such pressure we are sacrificing efficacy at the altar of efficiency? Have we embraced winning decisions over making disciples?
If so, what is it doing to these students? What is it doing to us?