Why Not Try This? …Take a Road Trip with Some Church Youth

In early June I took a 2100 mile road trip with two teens from my church. They happened to be my sons, Jacob, 19 and Dustin, 17, who had jobs working at the Adventist youth camp in Kansas. We drove from Portland, OR to Kansas City together; then I flew home.

I had forgotten how much young people open up when they are trapped in a car or van together for several days. Memories are relived, ideas are shared, confessions are made, and what music is playing is argued over! Even though we had to average 700 miles a day we still took time to see Arches National Park in Utah for three hours and to unroll our sleeping bags under the stars by a river in a state park one night.

I began to remember all the countless hours I’ve spent as a pastor with various youth groups on road trips-Pathfinders headed to and from Camporees, Missions Teams on their way to or from Mexico, Youth groups traveling to and from Youth Festivals, etc. As I reflected I began to realize that traveling with young people is one of the best ways to reach their hearts for Jesus. It builds rapport and it gives us pastors lots of teachable moments to share truth and eternal values with the next generation.

On our “Serns men” road trip, even though there were occasional times of stress, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else. Call it “male bonding” if you like. I just know that we are a closer family because of the time together. And I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to make an impact on their hearts and minds before they are totally on their own.

Ministers of the gospel should form a happy acquaintance with the youth of their congregations. There is a great reluctance on the part of many to become acquainted with the youth, but it is accounted of Heaven a neglect of duty, a sin against souls for whom Christ died. The youth are objects of Satan’s special attacks; and the manifestation of kindness, courtesy, tender sympathy, and love, will often work the salvation of those who are under the temptations of the evil one. The love of Jesus will win you an entrance into the hearts of the young; and when you have obtained the confidence of the youth, they will listen to your words and take your counsel….Why should this labor for the youth in our borders not be thought the highest of missionary work? Why do the ministers leave the young without endeavoring to win them to Christ? Why do they not urge the young to give their hearts to God? This work will require the most delicate tact, the most thoughtful consideration, the most earnest prayer that heavenly wisdom may be imparted; for connected with the church are those who are not ignorant of our faith, yet whose hearts have never been touched by the power of divine grace.”–RH Mar. 24, 1891. {Pastoral Ministry p. 275.1}

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