Thursday, 20 August 2015

My Love/Hate Relationship With Soul Survivor

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; as I sit here, clean, on a comfy chair, drinking a nice glass of Red, I am reflecting on my time at Soul Survivor week B.

Having got home and into bed at 2:45 am this morning, I am tired and weary from packing up tents in the rain and then having to unpack and dry them out again today, I think I've decided I love and hate Soul Survivor in equal measure:

I love worshipping and celebrating God with 9000 other people - I hate sharing showers and toilets with 9000 other people.

I love to sleep - I hate sleeping in a freezing cold tent on a pump bed.

I love staying up till 1:30am pretending to be sensible and in charge, whilst cracking up at what the kids are getting up to - I hate packing up and travelling home at 1:30am.

I love listening to inspiring, humorous, Spirit led, Bible teaching - I hate sitting on the floor to do so.

I love seeing the young people respond to the presence of Jesus - I hate seeing the pain some of them are carrying.

But, it is a real privilege to go on this journey of faith with them, some of them who have never been to church before, some who are really committed Christians - all of them grow and learn something about themselves before they leave.

The challenge now as part of a youth work team is how to keep that momentum of growth going? How to bring Soul Survivor style worship to our own church?  How to present our youth group sessions with the style and humour that Mike Pilavachi does?  Or maybe, the challenge is for them to realise that something as grand as that can't exactly be recreated in their church, but the worship team will have a darn good go at learning the new songs, and we won't be presenting our talks as Mike or Andy do, because we are not them but what we have to say if it's from God will be as valuable and relevant to them and they can still learn from it!

Ultimately I find it helps us bond, the kids naturally open up more as to how they see this Christian thing in a way that they don't generally do in a normal youth group session, they have a taste of the Holy Spirit and they want more and I want them to have more, because with it comes freedom and release from the rubbish that a lot of them are holding onto and every one of the young people that attend Soul Survivor deserve what God has promised them, a life worth living to the full.
 Will I go again? Of course I will, love wins doesn't it?

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Soul Survivor

This weekend I'm heading off to Soul Survivor as one of the leaders for our church youth group, plus some other teenagers who are tagging along with us.  Last year was my first time and as I arrived home and crawled through the front door at around 2am, lugging my baggage behind me, I tiredly voiced the words "never again" like some sort of half paralysed zombie who'd only just made it out alive from the apocalypse.

Yet, here I am, about to 'do it again', and I can't wait! So what's calling me back? The quagmire we pitch our tents in? The sanitary towel wallpapered shower blocks? The return journey home in the middle of the night?

As a Christian I had felt the presence of the Holy Spirit personally in my life before and seen it in others, but I hadn't been anywhere to witness the movement on a grand scale, and I must admit last year I was a bit apprehensive as to what would occur and how much of it would be real and how much would be teenage hype.  I'd heard the stories of the place erupting in hysterical laughter and people collapsing left, right and centre and it all seemed a bit weird and unnecessary to me.

So I started the week trying to stay very much in control and to not allow myself to be caught up in what was going on, but was just observing and taking it in and wondering if I would be able to resist if I felt myself being drawn in, I was also conscious of the fact I was there as a youth leader and felt I needed to be in control at all times to look after them!  I needn't have worried about remaining in control, I only needed to leave that to the Holy Spirit, yes there was laughter and tears and collapsing but it was in His control and being in the midst of it didn't feel weird at all, it was a privilege.

As each day goes by the momentum of the presence of the Holy Spirit just fills the place and you sing the songs with more feeling, you pray more earnestly and you believe more than you've ever believed before and by the end of the week no matter how much you've resisted, you find yourself surrendering to the power of the Holy Spirit and having the most amazing experience because of it!

So of course I want to go back! Who wouldn't want to see the power of Jesus move amongst His children like that?
Oh, and the worship is pretty cool too!