I’m looking at a promotional flyer for a typical American youth ministry ski retreat. I used to get these all the time when I was in the youth ministry biz at large Southern Baptist Churches. I don’t get this much anymore, which probably counts for how I started looking at this one with a different perspective.
It looks cool. Snowboards. Happy kids. Fireplaces. Fun. Food. Worship. Speakers.
Someone is going to pay about $300 a person for their young people to go for a skiing weekend. If the youth group has 30 kids, it’s 9k. Add in some the incidentals for the church (gas, leaders, insurance, etc.), it’s a $10,000 investment for the weekend. Lots of churches pay this kind of money all the time for their big-time youth ministry.
This youth event is a Christian event with a purpose. The themes for this ski retreat are all about radical discipleship. Extreme commitment. Change the world. Be the generation that God uses. Getting serious for God. Stop the Silence. Confront the Culture. Finish the Work. Good titles.
Maybe there are some young people, youth ministers, parents of youth or parents who might read this post sometime. If so, I want to give you a challenge. Stay with me here.
I want you to ruin the ski retreat for Jesus. I think some of you already suspect that you don’t need another ski retreat to have a cool youth ministry. You know that you need to do something that puts you right in the place of a Jesus-follower. Not on the ski slopes, but in the place of risky obedience, shaking up the ordinary and accepted way of thinking.
I want to challenge you to make the words “extreme discipleship” look good somewhere besides a t-shirt. I’m going to suggest a way to be radical, to actually change the world, to move past the rhetoric of what this generation is going to do for God and to do it.
I want you to go home after this experience, lay down in your bed, and feel the feeling you won’t get from the ski retreat, the testimony service or the big cry. I want you to lay down and say you loved, sacrificed and did a Jesus thing.
Take your $300 a piece and give it away to missions. Get your friends in on the same thing. Start a counter-culture there in your nice air-conditioned American church. Turn the tables signing up the ski retreat upside down.
Specifically, give your money away to the church in the third world. Instead of skiing away the money, hearing music and staying in comfort, give up your ski trip and make something happen that will bring you joy for the rest of your life.
Here’s a K.P. Yohannon quote from the site:
All of us rejoice and praise God when a new church is born in an unreached area. We pray that the number of believers will multiply and the church will become that “city set on a hill”? Jesus talked about in Matthew 5:14. And indeed, it is only a matter of time before such a new fellowship of believers becomes clearly visible to the community – and to their enemies. That is when they must move from a home into a larger, rented facility to accommodate all the church members and visitors.
Though a joyous occasion, it is often also the beginning of serious problems and persecution. Angered by the presence and activities of the church, anti-Christian individuals and groups will persecute the believers and threaten all those who associate with them such as visitors and seekers. In addition, they will put serious pressure on any present or future landlord until he cancels the lease.
This forces the church to move from one place to another until they run out of options.
For a pastor, building a solid work under such adverse circumstances is very difficult. Even if his congregation stays faithful, the situation is less than inviting for any potential visitors.
The greatest need for such a harassed church is to have a place of its own where believers can worship Jesus in peace and grow in their faith without constant interference. The very best thing is if growing congregations such as Brother Sugard’s can build their own church homes and not have to rent at all.
Right now we have well over 1,000 churches that have reached this crossroad and are in desperate need of a building.
The average cost of a simple concrete and brick building that reflects the local culture and seats 300 people is $11,000 [Australia $15,000, Canada $13,200, New Zealand $18,000, United Kingdom 6,400 pounds].
This sounds more than reasonable to us, but for many of these young churches on the Indian subcontinent it is a huge amount that goes far beyond their ability to raise on their own.
There is a solution to this problem, which our churches embrace with enthusiasm and eagerness: The believers donate materials and labor and go as far as they possibly can with the construction of their church home. At the same time they pray and believe that God will provide the funds for the land and the building’s completion through their brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.
I know this kind of thing can get a big discussion started. You aren’t a bad person to go on the ski trip. Your church isn’t bad for sponsoring it.
Here’s the thing: your church thinks that ski trip is what you want. They believe that you want the kind of youth or college group that goes skiing, has a huge “spiritual” experience, then comes back and schedules a mission trip for next year.
But you and I know that there are millions of young Christians who don’t need the ski trip or the concert or the entertainment. They don’t even need the once a year week on the mission field. They need to live the life. They need a passionate vision and opportunity to give till it hurts, to sacrifice, to connect with the cause of Christ. They want the church in America to stop being a joke and to become the asset to world missions and church planting movements that it can be.
You can start that. Start it with Gospel for Asia or another ministry that is there on the ground with the real needs. You don’t need to ship your youth group overseas to build the building. You need to give the money and make the thing happen. And then you need to do it again, and again, and again. Till the youth minister gets saved, the pastor starts preaching on missions and the parents are afraid you’ll spend your college money starting churches in Mongolia or building clinics in Appalachia or tutoring in the inner city.
Ruin your ski retreat for Jesus. And have fun doing it.