Presbyterians don’t make a habit of talking about our “conversion” experiences. The idea that one’s faithfulness to the Gospel can be measured by a singular choice to follow Jesus often seems alien to our experience. When we manage to talk about conversion at all, we describe it as the beginning of a lifelong journey in which striving is more holy than achieving; asking more sacred than answering, and hearing more laudable than speaking.
We gather together as people of faith because we believe that conversion takes place in community. Conversion is not something we force upon others; it is something God does to us. It is the continual transformation of who we are into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
When I reflect on the journey that brought me to Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, I cannot point to a singular moment in which God flipped a proverbial salvation-switch and brought me into the community of faith. That said, the clarity of hindsight reveals some sign-posts along the way. Images of intentional community, life-giving relationships and invigorating service come to mind.
Next summer, the BMPC Youth Ministry will lead two short-term mission trips. From July 8-12, middle schoolers (rising sixth graders to rising eighth graders) will dive into the busyness and beauty of New York City for “Urban Plunge 2018.” From July 22-28, 24 high schoolers (rising ninth grade to graduated 12th graders) and adult leaders will make their way to Mexico City, Mexico, to serve and learn alongside one of our congregation’s mission partners. On August 5-11, our youth (rising sixth to rising 12th graders) will also make their annual trek through the Poconos to Camp Kirkwood for a week full of friends, fun and faith.
The truth is, we don’t set off on these mission trips or make time for the Kirkwood experience because we think our brief visits have a drastic impact on the common life of our host communities. While we remain open to the possibility that God might use our service to edify these communities, we plan short-term mission trips because they provide opportunities for young people to experience the transformative power of the Gospel in new contexts. These trips carve out space in our lives to encounter God’s grace anew through the communities and organizations with whom we partner.
In the coming weeks, more information will be available about mission trip pricing and schedules. All youth are welcome to apply for our mission trips, and all are encouraged to join us at Camp Kirkwood next year. I invite all of you, whether you participate in youth ministry or not, to support our young people in prayer as they seek to discern whether or not God is calling them to take part in these opportunities.