I’m fresh off one of the most intense weeks of my year (not so fresh actually, I’m still dragging). I’m talking about OGN (originally Operation Good News). It’s kind of a equipping / missions / evangelism / worship / prayer & fasting kind of week. The core idea we had when myself & some other Youth Pastors started doing OGN was to help students become impact players in the Kingdom of God. Here it is 17 years later (that’s just the San Diego years – it actually started when I was in Omaha & we took kids to Minneapolis), I’m no longer a youth pastor but I’m still doing OGN.
Here’s what it looks like:
AM – Training kids to share their faith (evangelism) and answer tough questions (apologetics). These really go hand in hand. One of the main reasons people don’t do the former, is they are intimidated by questions that my come up. I teach the 1st & 2nd level apologetics classes.
AFTERNOON – Hit the beaches & other places of SD where people are hanging out not doing too much and try and get in spiritual conversations and share the good news. We do it over the July 4th holiday so there are lots of people. This year the police estimated that 1.2 million people visited the beaches of SD. O.K. Thanks for coming, now please return to Arizona – JK.
AFTERNOON – One of the 5 full days the students stay back fasting & praying for the entire time.
EVENING – Meet for some worship that only happens when you have taken some faith steps with some other people & seen God sustain you, come through for you & give you boldness. Then a message.
I see God move in unique ways during OGN. It’s a long, exhausting week, but it’s an incredible one.
One of the best things about the week this year was seeing David & Bethany (my kids) who have participated in OGN multiple times, take it to a new level.
Let me give you a couple of highlights:
• Helping kids think through why they believe what they believe is always wonderful. This is so critical & I believe is becoming more so than ever. I don’t think people believe or don’t believe for strictly intellectual reasons, but it is important that we have & can share a rational basis for believing in God, the scriptures & the gospel.
• People seeing God use them is like finding another gear in your life. It’s cool seeing kids, or anyone for that matter, take a risk & watch God show up.
• Divine appointments are fun! Every year I see undeniable divine appointments. One group had a guy say that he had recently been thinking that he needed something like God & had prayed the night before that God would send someone to tell him how to connect with God. Cool.
• Powerful prayer is something that we regularly need! Many of these kids have never prayed for an extended time or never fasted. They pray for the entire afternoon led by my friend Paul Haroutunian. The day David stayed back to pray, he got a text from a kid at the beach saying something like, “we can’t seem to get in a conversation”. They started praying & David had the name “Chris” come into his mind. He ignored it, but it kept coming back. Sure enough the next person they approached was named Chris. They talked to him for over an hour & Chris joyfully gave his life to Christ. No one involved in that will ever be the same.
• Anointing on teaching is irreplaceable. I’ve often said, “A trained monkey could speak in the evenings at OGN.” Its electric. But the truth is God wants to move in lives & will do so as we allow the Spirit to fill. One of the nights I was speaking, I had a message I was lukewarm about. It seemed as I walked to the middle of the room, it was like the Holy Spirit was waiting. I choked up & had to get a grip before I even opened my mouth. It was a cool night.
It was awesome to work with Brandon Blumburg, youth pastor at the Bridge. I remember when he came to Christ at that church in High School!
• “No one wants to hear this!” That is a lie from the Evil One! I was amazed again at how many people are up for a humble polite conversation open conversation about God with a stranger on the beach. I would say that well over half of the people that I personally approached were at least open to giving their views on few questions we asked people.
This was one of those weeks that I remembered why I stayed in student ministries for 2 decades