Last year I was asked by my friend, Jeff Andridge, to come to Lake Geneva Youth Camp (Lake Geneva, WI) over Labor Day weekend to lead worship and speak at their annual Family Camp. I first met Jeff at Moody Bible College when he was emceeing a Dare 2 Share “Lead THE Cause” event (probably in 2015). I immediately recognized that he was a great guy who loves the LORD and has a heart for youth ministry. At the time, he was serving as a Youth Pastor in Michigan, and he was doing an awesome job.
Since then I have been with Jeff at numerous Sonlife events, including traveling to Israel together in 2017. We were 2 of the 3 Jeffs on that trip of roughly 40 people.
Jeff felt called to accept a position of Program Director at Lake Geneva Youth Camp, which is a perfect fit for him. As the Program Director, he has invited me to lead worship and speak at their Arctic Blast Winter Camp—which definitely lives up to it’s name! It is a blast.
Apparently he saw our family Facebook LIVE videos that we do each year leading up to Easter and Christmas, and that inspired him to ask us to come to Lake Geneva Youth Camp to lead worship for their Family Camp… as a family!
Last year at LGYC Family Camp was the first time that we ever led worship on a stage as a family. It was an awesome weekend. At the end of the event, Jeff asked if we could save the date to come back and do it again this year.
Not only did we save the date, but we have been looking forward to this event, as a family, ever since.
Lake Geneva Youth Camp really is a place set apart. God is using the camp in truly powerful, Kingdom building ways, and it is awesome to have the privilege of playing even some small part of it. They have an amazing facility, an incredible staff, and an undeniable passion to advance the gospel and make disciples.
Last year I used the six speaking sessions to take an in-depth look at how Jesus prepared his disciples to go into all the world and make disciples who would make disciples who would make disciples, etc. I thought that would be a really helpful focus for families who are wanting to disciple their kids to become people who will make disciples who make disciples.
It went really well. In fact, I am in the process of taking that general concept and turning it into a book. Hopefully more information about that will be coming soon…
This year I took a slightly different approach. While Jesus certainly was intentional about preparing His disciples for Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, and Acts 1:8, it is fascinating that Jesus never directly taught His disciples how to make disciples, how to preach, or how to be a witness.
Of course He taught all these things (and so much more!) indirectly, but he is not quoted anywhere in the New Testament as saying, “When you make disciples…” or “when you preach…” or “when you witness… do A, B, and C.”
But we DO see Him saying, “When you PRAY, say…”
And he said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”Luke 11:2-4, ESV
And this was not the first time that He taught this to His disciples. In fact, tucked in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount is a very similar teaching.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”Matthew 6:7-13, ESV
Using this Scripture as the foundation for this year’s Family Camp, I spoke and taught about what it looks like to pray like Jesus. I separated the different verses of the Lord’s Prayer into four main sections: Praise, Requests, Admit, and Yield (which, when separated into these sections, conveniently creates the acronym P.R.A.Y.).
Along with the teaching on prayer, I gave a practical application and opportunity for the families and individuals to craft their own family psalm / prayer, using sections of praise, request, admit, and yield as the basic format.
One huge highlight for me happened during the Monday morning session when I gave the families an opportunity to share their family psalm / prayer. Not every family shared the psalm / prayer that they had crafted throughout the course of the weekend, but those who did were really encouraging and inspiring.
The book of Psalms is really just a collection of prayers that the people of Israel had offered to the LORD throughout their generations. They were used to worship God, who is worthy of praise, but they were also used to simply encourage one another by reminding one another of what God had done in the past and of what God is capable of doing in the future. When the Israelites were taken away into Babylonian captivity, they had lost nearly everything—but not their psalms. The psalms and prayers of God’s people kept their eyes fixed on God’s goodness and character. God used the psalms of His people to help them keep hope alive.
I would encourage you to take a moment to think through your own life experience, and write a few lines of praise, then a few lines of requests, then taking a moment to admit any pertinent ways that you have personally fallen short of the glory of God, and finally, writing a few lines of surrender to God and His good and perfect plan for your life. It may serve a powerfully meaningful expression of worship for right now, but it may also be something that you (and possibly even your family) can look back on in the future—maybe even when you need it most.
Another huge highlight for us from this past weekend was the wonderful families that we got to meet and interact with (some we actually met the previous year but were able to reconnect with this year). One family in particular really stood out to us. They were kind enough to provide free coffee for everyone throughout the weekend! I mean, how cool is that? They actually founded a coffee roasting company called BLENDED HOUSE COFFEE. It is delicious. You should definitely check out their website and consider ordering a bag of coffee. I recommend the Frostbite blend.
In addition to the six chapel services, the long weekend was also filled with hilarious moments and memories. The staff at LGYC do such a great job, and they pull all the stops for Family Camp. On Saturday night we had a big, make-believe horse race—which was hilarious. On Sunday night we played an epic round of Zany-ball, which I am not even sure how to explain. It is kind of like baseball, but with tennis rackets and an odd assortment of balls… plus there are 30 active players on each team, you get told whether to run to first base or third base when you go up to bat. Also, it should be mentioned that there are helium balloons anchored all over the field, and if you hit one while you are at bat it is an automatic home run. (I think I am the only person who actually hit a balloon.) There is also an orange balloon in centerfield that is worth 10 home runs.
Since Eden was not old enough to play, she had to be my “helper”, which meant she followed me and did everything that I did. That also meant that after I hit the ball, I put her on my shoulders and we ran like the wind.
Each team had a mascot in full costume, and the mascots were quick to offer entertainment between innings. There was also a seemingly endless supply of snacks, including huge jars of cheese puffs, boxes of cracker jacks, and hand-spun cotton candy. The best moment of the game had to be when the other team hit a ball high up into the air and it landed right beside Abigail and Piper, who stood flat-footed with cotton candy in their hands and protruding from their mouths. After that, one of our more competitive members of our 30 person team decided to stand by them and not let that happen again.
Finally Tall Enough
Last year when we were at Lake Geneva Youth Camp for the Labor Day weekend Family Camp, five of us rode on the “Giant Swing”. It was a blast, and certainly another highlight of the weekend. Unfortunately, you had to be at least 4 feet tall in order to ride, and Eden was not quite tall enough to do it. She was super sad. Throughout the year, as we talked about going back to Lake Geneva, Eden said, “I hope I’m tall enough!” The first thing that we did when we got there (after getting unpacked) was to run down to the Giant Swing and see if she was tall enough. She was! This year she finally got to ride the Giant Swing.
We had a blast at this year’s Family Camp. It was a joy and a privilege to share gospel infused messages, to teach on praying like Jesus, to lead worship with my family, to reconnect with Jeff Andridge, and to connect with so many amazing families (including our own family). We hope to be back at Lake Geneva Youth Camp some day, but even if we are not there, you should definitely consider bringing your family to next year’s incredible Labor Day Family Camp. I’m sure you wouldn’t be disappointed.