I’ve had the chance to meet Tiffany Haynes on www.mygirlsministry.com which is the social network for those who work with girls in their churches. I asked Tiffany to share a little about herself and this is what she told me:
Born a Kansan but now residing in southwest Missouri, Tiffany Haynes is a student ministry volunteer at First Baptist Church (FBC) of Cassville, Missouri. Tiffany has a thirst to communicate God’s nature to students through a raw and Biblical approach.
In 2008, she married Christopher Haynes who keeps her centered and reminds her that – at least once a day – you should laugh so hard that you get a stitch in your side. When Tiffany isn’t spending time with her hubby or the FBC girls, you can find her chatting it up with God on the road while she runs (and then enjoying that post-run latte!).
This week, Tiffany will be sharing two guest posts talking about the importance of moving your students from summer camp experiences to a deeper place of practically knowing God in the everyday normal routines of life. We’re excited to introduce you to each other. If you want to get to know her better, sign up at www.mygirlsministry.com and “Friend” her.
Experiences are addictive. Shopping sprees, the latest tech-buy, the emotional rush from your latest crush, a job promotion… the list continues! Marketing gurus spend millions creating experiences for consumers to indulge in – just check out the latest advertisements, movies, and television shows. Pictures of ecstasy are painted so delicately that we often forget the reality of reality.
Summer church camp can be just another experience for our girls if we’re not cautious. While we want our students to participate in Christian-driven events and set aside time to recharge, we don’t want them to become addicted to the feeling of camp and forget the function.
The big question: how do we create an environment of knowing God instead of just experiencing Him? God created warm fuzzies for a purpose and I’ll be the first to admit that the days when I experience those fuzzies are fantabulous; but, most days we just live life. We wake up, scrutinize ourselves in the mirror while getting ready, head to class (or work), participate in extra-curricular activities (or kiss boo-boos and pay bills), and come home. In a culture that is drowning in “feel goods”, how can we steer our girls away from craving an experiential high and navigate them towards the God who truly satisfies?
Below is a tip to help you grease those church-camp wheels before summer camps hit and also how to keep them oiled once camps have passed…
Dig Deep Roots (the “before” step).
If you ask girls why they like church camp so much, you’ll probably hear that they like being away from home, the praise and worship is stellar (have you noticed no one ever runs up to the stage when the speaker walks out?), or they like chillaxing with new friends. But when you crack the shell, it comes down to this: they love the high. Jesus does too – He is the Most High, after all. But He’s also a God of tremendous depth and we need to ensure we’re sufficiently communicating to girls the intimate depth of God’s nature.
One way we can approach this is simply by asking students, one-on-one, what God is revealing to them. If they mutter the typical, “I dunno.” then they are either too shy to respond, have no flippin’ clue, or aren’t sitting still long enough to actually discover what God might be saying. Regardless of the reason, you can apply these steps:
- Make note of their response. Either jot down a note on a piece of paper, use your handy-dandy iPhone, or text yourself. That way you’ll remember their name and their response.
- Pray for them. Try as we may, we cannot do the job of the Holy Spirit. Meaning, we can’t create in others an appetite for God’s word; however, we can consistently pray the Holy Spirit work in that student’s life and that we be used to sharpen them (Proverbs 27:17).
- Follow-up. Invest in several follow-ups with your girl. It could simply be an encouraging Facebook posting letting them know you’re praying for them, a note you slip into their Bible during small group, or just sitting down with them over a Slurpee and talking between the brain freezes. Whatever route you choose, be consistent and ask open-ended questions like, “So, last week you said you were having trouble getting along with _____. How’s that going?”
By applying these steps over time (one hit wonders won’t work, by the way), you’ll build a stronger relationship with your girl and have the privilege of watching them bloom as they lay open their heart to you.
Tune in later this week for Tiffany’s continued thoughts on moving students from an experience to a practical relationship in the everyday rhythms of life after summer camp.