Gulf Coast Getaway 2012 – A Lesson Learned

I was blessed to be able to attend Gulfcoast Getaway this past weekend. It was a blessing to worship with over 1500 college students really pouring out their hearts to God. It was a blessing to hear men like Mike Cope and Randy Harris preach Jesus. It was a blessing to spend time with some of our young adults and a guy who is taking on more responsibility in our college ministry (to help sharpen him up and “talk shop” on the direction of our ministry). It was great seeing guys like Grant Azbell who I grew up with and Donny Dillon, who I have been friends with 10 years now. I was blessed to catch some time with Mike Cope and Eric Brown to talk about ministry to young adults and ways to be more effective in the kingdom. God really blessed many people this weekend and God was really praised. If you weren’t there, you missed out!

This year was a little different at GCG. When you are trying to be on the cutting edge, if you keep doing the same thing all the time it feels like it can run dry. This year they tried some new things and did so effectively. They tried to create more community by splitting the students up into small discussion groups. Worship Sunday ended with communion in these groups with people you had been discussing things with over the weekend. I thought that was a good idea. There didn’t seem to be as visible a focus on international missions this year as their had been in years past. Instead, they highlighted with various campus ministries had done over the past year. This covered everything from paying for a homeless veteran’s eye surgery to serving meals to the homeless, and reaching out to various subsidized housing developments. I thought that was an important focus because often we get the message that what needs to be done is somewhere else and not in our own backyard.

A Lesson Learned:
There was one thing I specifically wanted to share. On Saturday night, Mike Cope spent three hours talking about Jesus and how he fits into the broader story of scripture going all the way back to Genesis. He talked about everything from the major stories of the Old Testament (chronologically) all the way through the Gospels. Pretty much the only stuff he left out was the documentary hypothesis and Q. Other than that, he pretty much hit all the highlights of OT and NT theology. He ended with why Jesus came and what it means for us in terms of how we follow him. It was some solid stuff that should be available soon on the GCG website.

Here is what was so remarkable about it…our students wanted more. The wanted a fourth hour. Now, this is 10pm and they are wanting to hear another 60 minutes of Jesus. Often we fear boring people so much that we avoid the meat. These guys got a taste of it and wanted more. Granted, Mike is an excellent communicator who can go 180 minutes note free on how Jesus fits into the story of scripture. Not many people can do that well or keep people engaged. But their reaction really taught me a few things:

  1. Young people are hungrier for scripture and spiritual meat than I had imagined. They want this. They don’t just want it in Panama City. They want this at home. They want to read the Bible and understand it. Often they will need a guide. Will we provide that for them?
  2. Time really isn’t the issue. Maybe our presentation of it gets in the way or intimidation gets in the way or people looking at watches gets in the way.
  3. Their lack of interest is not the issue. It is easy to assume more Bible = more boredom. That is not the case. Maybe we need to step up our game in how we present it to keep people on board and engaged. We need to present it in a way that does justice to the power of the story.

Any of you attend the Getaway? What did you take away from it?


About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

6 Responses to Gulf Coast Getaway 2012 – A Lesson Learned

  1. James says:

    I didn’t attend, but I can definitely “amen” to your three points because of what I’ve observed at youth rallies, and what I’ve seen in 20-somethings in the AIM program. They are more interested in the Word than given credit, and I’ve known people in this age group to lament the 15-20 messages that some speakers think is “the key” to keeping their attention. That was true when I was their age, too. I remember a couple of guys speaking an hour and a half that we would have begged to keep going, and others speaking 20 minutes we’d have begged to quit, and the difference wasn’t personality, but the content of what they were saying.

  2. Matt,

    I like this observation:

    Young people are hungrier for scripture and spiritual meat than I had imagined. They want this. They don’t just want it in Panama City. They want this at home. They want to read the Bible and understand it. Often they will need a guide. Will we provide that for them?

    How does this relate to your recent post on Why I Hate Religion But Hate Jesus?

  3. OOPS! That should have been Why I Hate Religion But LOVE Jesus.,

  4. The online Christian Chronicle has an interview by Lynn McMillan, editor, with David Kinnaman, president of The Barna Group about David’s latest book, <i.You Lost Me, which addresses the 60% of young adults who went to church in high school but then leave their connection with the church.

    I was particularly interested in the published reader comments, which seem to me to be blaming the culture rather than addressing what the church can do to alleviate this loss. It would be interesting to know if these comments were selected – or if they were just published as they came in.

    Read the interview:

    This thread seemed to be a good place to introduce this interview, since Matt has made some astute observations about what can be done, not only in this post but in other things as well.

  5. John Dobbs says:

    Thanks for sharing that!

  6. K. Rex Butts says:

    This just shows that if we can communicate well and are willing to use that gift to go beyond just trying to safely offer the same old platitudes but instead are willing to go into the word in an effort to encounter and follow Jesus…

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