I am getting ready to wrap up a busy yet great week in Columbia, SC with the great folks of Child Evangelism Fellowship. This international ministry puts Good News Clubs in schools and other locations to reach children with the gospel.
CYIA camp is the training week for students and adults who serve as missionaries during the summer and throughout the school year. I was honored to be asked to preach and lead worship for their chapel time for the South Carolina gathering. I also got to write devotional guides for the staff and students to be used before chapel time in the mornings.
After a 3-day getaway for Amanda and I celebrating our anniversary, I loaded up the boys in the truck on Saturday night and we made the trek down the interstate with the Agnew ladies following a day after. We did some initial setup and got into our rooms at Columbia International University and began a great week.
I went in to wake the boys up on Sunday morning but they were already awake in their beds waving cards at me and saying “Happy Father’s Day!” They are such a delight.
Since the rest of the band couldn’t get there until Sunday evening, I found some replacement musicians for our first service together. Obadiah was on percussion and Eli was on lead guitar for our first worship service on Father’s Day.
From then on, I had a great worship band and the family all together for a pretty special week.
Throughout the week, we had numerous services. Here is a rundown of them:
- Sunday AM – Lukewarm Christianity (Rev. 3:14-22). Your proximity to Jesus is directly proportional to your productivity for his Kingdom. Let’s get closer. He is knocking at the door of the Church!
- Sunday PM – Create in Me a Clean Heart (Psalm 51). This was a storytellers kinda worship night. I introduced 5 original songs to them and told the story and Scripture behind them (Glorified, Go, Woe to You, Immanuel, and Hallelujah [O What a Savior]). I also provided a download code so that they could all those songs (plus 6 more) for free (don’t forget to get your copy). The end part was a confessional time around Psalm 51 and the last song.
- Monday AM – Undignified Worship (2 Samuel 6) – When we really understand who we worship and revere His Word, undignified worship breaks out.
- Tuesday AM – What Jesus Didn’t Die For (Romans 6:5-14). Jesus didn’t die for you to continue in sin. Get better through his strength. Be more like him (you can here version of this message here).
- Wednesday AM – Contagious Grace (Matthew 18:21-35). The grace by which you are saved should be the grace that you offer to others. It’s an infection you want to spread.
- Thursday AM – The Secret to Consistency (Psalm 1). The secret to a consistent Christian life is to surround yourself with people who want to prize Jesus as well. Pick good friends. Get accountable with one another (taken from Freshman 15).
- Friday AM – The Word (Genesis-Revelation). The Bible is not an isolated series of stories, it is one story with the main character as Jesus (message copy available here).
- Friday PM – Keep His Commandments (1 John 5:1-5). We haven’t done this one yet but will in just a little bit. We are going to let the Word speak tonight in a very special way – can’t wait for us to close out the week with this Word-saturated celebration service.
While there are so many things to mention, here are some of the things I learned:
- My family is way cooler than me. I have learned the wisdom in traveling with family on ministry outings before, but this was a great reminder. Loving your family and serving with your family before those you minister to provides validity to your ministry. There is no way around it – I was trusted more because my wife and children are amazing. I watched my wife encourage staff and students. I watched all 3 of my children engage with the participants. Can you imagine a camp full of students and adults that specialize in communicating with children? My children thought the camp was just for them! Make no mistake about it – it was more demanding trying to make sure that children were having fun and sleeping well (which they did except for the last night when the steam from someone’s shower turned on the fire alarm), but the process makes the week so much better. When we did have some free time while training was going on, we also got to do a lot of special things in Columbia and have a mini-vacation. I love this Agnew clan.
- Minister alongside intentional and relational people. I took Heath and Cole with me for the worship band and met up with a new friend, Tracy (a stellar Columbia drummer and friend of some friends) to form our band. Due to schedule, the first time we ever played together was during Monday morning’s service. While each of them are uber-talented, each of them is remarkably intentional and relational. All of the guys had a servant’s heart to help with things that weren’t “their job.” They each reached out to encourage different folks at camp. As Heath and Cole stayed on campus with me, I think they collectively know about every student’s name here. I have heard nothing but raving reviews of each of their musicality, but the worship time has been so much more precious because they have built relationships with the students they are serving. Whether it is in the cafeteria, encouraging them through their presentations (which they did not have to attend), or going out and serving at the clubs this afternoon, they led by example and showed there is no division in the Body of Christ concerning those on a stage and off a stage, and Christian celebrities need to stop clouding the family. My most effective ministry times were not on stage but in a one-on-one conversation with a student. It breaks my heart to hear so many of these students seem in awe that a youth camp’s band and/or pastor would get to know them. God, help us. Let this change. You aren’t anybody important (1 Cor. 2:2; 1 Cor. 4:7). I am so proud of these fellas and would take them anywhere!
- Don’t dumb down the discipleship of the upcoming generations. Amanda and I would talk at night about how impressed we were with these teenagers and young adults in this ministry. They know an incredible amount of Bible. They are remarkable communicators of the gospel in difficult settings. They are passionate about Jesus and his Kingdom. I get so tired of people saying that young people aren’t serious about their faith. Maybe they are not serious about their faith because no one has raised the bar for them. They have followed the examples before them and easily gotten there and not progressed any further. Instead of groaning concerning their spiritual condition, walk in such a way that to follow your example would be to follow Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). Proclaim the Word to them in such a way to present them as complete in Christ (Col. 1:28-29). These students are the real deal. They are going to invade the Kingdom of darkness in this state this summer and be used by God to change lives for eternity. It was my sincere honor to serve these students and staff by the preaching and singing of the Word this week.
Please pray as we wrap up this week tonight and I try to catch up on the flood of correspondence that I have missed over the last 10 days. It has been an honor to serve here and I can’t wait to see how God used the Word in these students’ lives and ministries (Isa. 55:8-11).