Apart from Christ, We are Nothing
Suitcases in hand, dog-eared staff manuals stuffed into bags, and hearts full, staffers headed home today with the theme of Staff Training 2018 fresh in their minds –– apart from Christ, we are nothing.
As the week opened, Serena Walker and Johnny Leifheit, Directors of Staff Development, inviting staff to “ask questions, think deeply about this experience and the truth that God has for you this week and how you will prepare yourself for the season, whether you do one class or four classes. We believe you are all here for a reason. And we are so excited you are here.”
Little could staff have expected the fullness of this excitement. Excitement and anticipation towards the work God is going to do this season built as the week progressed and spread throughout all activities – teaching, prayer, free time, worship, and coffeehouse. Laughter filled the spaces between cabins as staffers reconnected with old friends and made new ones. Hope was found as staffers fell to their knees worshipping the Lord. Energy grew as staffers learned how to lead, train, and disciple students.
With chapel doors open, morning and evening worship overflowed into the winter sunshine outside, reminding all our hearts that the things learned this week are not meant to stay just with us – but they are meant to be shared with the students, families, and individuals we will encounter & serve in the coming months. “Worship is a lifestyle,” 2018 Program Director David Taylor explained as he cast vision for why we focus on worship at our State Classes. “We can worship God through prayer walks or TeenPact Legislature–the point is that God is really after our hearts.
Leading by example, our 2018 Interns shared their hearts this week with the staffers through devotionals, small groups, one-on-one’s, and rendezvous groups. In particular, Anabelle’s story struck a cord with the staff as she shared some of the difficult experiences God had recently brought her through along with this quote from Paul David Tripp – “Comfort is never found in the assurance that life will be easy and comfortable. True comfort of heart is found in the assurance that you’ll have the grace you need to face life when it’s hard and uncomfortable.”
Woven throughout the sessions on expectations for staffers, working through conflict, and dressing professionally is the theme of TeenPact excellence. TeenPact excellence is not professional perfectionism–– rather we believe that God’s standard for excellence is different than the world’s standard. It is this concept that inspires this dynamic group of young people to go out and significantly impact the culture through character and purity that flows from a genuine love for Jesus Christ.
Throughout the week of Staff Training, the vision statement of TeenPact – “Changing Lives to Change the World” – took on new meaning for all those attending. “If we try to do this on our own, we will fail miserably. Only Jesus can change everything, explained Mr. Martin in one of the evening sessions. Changing the world is an audacious goal. But with Christ changes everything.
In the spirit of flexibility so well known to TeenPact staffers, this year’s “Capitol Day” was a redefined day at camp. Dressed in capitol attire, staffers walked gravel drives to the sessions hall on this chilly January morning to participate in training activities taught by our 2018 Intern Team. From mock debates to Q&A’s, staffers learned how to teach Field Experiences, lead prayer walks, introduce speakers, and much more.
After a full day of capitol learning, the mood was high and buzzed with conversation as staffers gathered for Saturday night worship. Silence fell as Aaron stepped to the front of the room and began to sing – “My name upon Your heart, my shame upon Your shoulders, the power of sin undone, the cross for my salvation. The Lamb of God in my place, your blood poured out, my sin erased. It was my death You died, I am raised to life. Hallelujah, the lamb of God.”
Gathering again in the sessions hall, Serena cast vision for seeing TeenPact staffing as an opportunity for discipleship. Drawing her listeners in with her charismatic storytelling skills, she encouraged staffers to be constantly working on spiritual depth – developing a broad base of current and future leaders who are passionately pursuing their Savior. Simple put, she said “[Discipleship is] helping others follow Jesus.” (Mark Dever, Discipleship)
Beginning our last day, TeenPact founder, Tim Echols, boldly shared the story of TeenPact and cast vision for the staffers to think beyond their days in TeenPact asking what their passion is and where it might take them. If you don’t have one, “you can develop a passion. Ask God, and consider what he has been nudging you towards. Don’t ignore that . . . Passion is how you do your job. “
Our final evening together began with a Staff Training tradition, Coffee + Questions with the 2018 Program Directors. With Serena moderating, hands shot up across the sessions hall as staffers asked the PD’s a wide array of questions varying from what’s their favorite Narnia book to who has had the biggest impact on their lives?
Laughter subsiding, we turned our attention to our bibles and journals as Johnny explained the TeenPact Ministry Distinctive of Revival––“Is revival this crazy event where God comes down and changes everything? Maybe . . . but at it’s base, revival is the renewal, the coming back alive, of the one who created them to go out and change the world.”
With Johnny’s challenge fresh in our mind, knees bowed and eyes cast heavenward, we closed Staff Training 2018 with a night of worship and prayer. Standing in the midst of old and new friends, with voices boldly singing, we sang this prayer for the season.
As I rise, strength of God
go before, lift me up.
As I wake, eyes of God,
Look upon, be my sight.
As I wait, heart of God
Satisfy and sustain
As I hear, voice of God
Lead me on, be my guide
Oh be my guide
Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me.