On Camps, Retreats, Revival and the Real World

I have just returned from Centrifuge/M-fuge at North Greenville University.  And in fact as a youth minister, I regularly attend multi-day events.  For me there is youth camp, conferences (like Strength to Stand in January), mission trips, and retreats.  These events are a normal part of every youth ministry I know of, and to some degree they are regular to the life of all American evangelicals.  For the church at large there are often revival meetings and mission trips as well. There is a phenomenon that is common to all these events.  We often call these events "retreats" because at them we retreat or escape from our normal lives.  We back away from many of our relationships (with school friends, coworkers, etc.), and remove ourselves from the media that saturates our lives.  At the same time as we retreat, we spend much more time in worship and Bible study.

At Centrifuge, theres devotion even during rec time

In fact, for many American Christians it may be the only time we really study our Bibles.  All of this exposure to God that is foreign to us causes us to hear His voice.  And Christians generally want to please God so we make commitments and experience what I believe is genuine revival.

But then something happens

We go home.

And we return to the same environment that kept us from God before.  We experience the same frustrations at work and school, the same ungodly friends, the same media, music, and images.  I bet you have been there - What happens next?

Sadly, the newfound commitment fades.

I should say again that I believe the revival we all experience during these retreat experiences is genuine.  But if it is genuine why does it not last?

It doesn't last because we return to our normal lives.

So how do we prevent this seemingly inevitable decline?  We prevent it by continuing in the things that brought about the revival in the first place. Spend time daily with the Lord.  Have your quiet time, study the Bible, pray, and meditate on the Scriptures.  If escaping from the media is a big factor for you, be sure to replace that media with something.  Listen to Christian music rather than whatever you were listening to before.  Maybe cut out Desperate Housewives, or Friends or whatever drags your thoughts away from holiness.  Attend church regularly.  For most all evangelicals there are multiple times per week to worship.   While at church, worship God properly, in spirit and in truth.  If you attend church with the wrong attitude or in an unworshipful spirit, you will not benefit.  The Scriptures make it clear that God cannot stand false worship.

I really believe the key to keeping the fire that kindles during these events is that simple.  Keep the commitments you make to God, have regular quiet time and spend time in the fellowship of the saints and corporate worship.