Great Escape (GE), the annual NY/NJ Presbytery’s youth retreat, the  is taking place this weekend.  In one sense, my job is to keep GRC youth alive and well from Friday through Sunday. Plain and simple. However, when I’m not getting super anxious about the unlikely, I remember that my focus at this presbytery-wide event is not merely to sustain the breath of life, but to encourage and stimulate new life in our youth by the power of the Spirit of God.

In the history of the Church this sort of youth retreat – ridiculous fun, all the amenities and bible teaching – is a new invention. Though alive and well in the 21st century it has no precedent in the 19th and much of the 20th, and in some respects, the jury is still out on events like GE.

Do events like Great Escape lead our youth closer to Christ?

The above is a good question; a wise question and one that I will be asking myself as I experience GE for the first time. Nonetheless, as a church, the more important question to ask is: “Before GE, where was our youth’s faith and where is it going afterwards?

Another way of putting that is, “How are our youth being led to Christ outside of this weekend?” This Friday, will I be leading youth for whom we have not been praying? Youth who forgot their Bibles? Youth who will be pressed on the state of their soul for the very first time? After GE, will they come home to division and discord? Will they find the truths pressed on them poorly modeled in their families? Will they ride home with parents who haven’t prayed or enjoyed the Word of God that day?

I pray and believe that for GRC youth, this will not be the case.  I’m often embarrassed at how slow I am to pray for our youth, and I’m asking our Father for a bigger heart for them, a heart more humbled to pray. Let’s take this year’s youth retreat as a time to bolster our prayer and efforts to ensure that our youth are being pointed to the Savior at Great Escape and every humdrum day of life.

And in case you need some motivation, remember these questions we recite at GRC’s baptisms:

Baptismal Vow #3 to the Parents:

Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before him a godly example, that you will pray with and for him, that you will teach him the doctrines of our holy religion, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Question to the Congregation:

Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting these parents in the Christian nurture of their child?

Thanks church,
David Noel, Jr.

David Noel, Jr. is the Director of Youth Ministry and is engaged to Nendir. They are to be married in May.