4 Reasons We LOVE BigStuf!

Our student ministry just got back from our summer camp and we had an amazing experience! This is my second year taking our students to BigStuf and my response after we get back is always WOW! I want to tell you why we are willing to drive 10 hours to Panama City Beach, FL where BigStuf is hosted every year.

  1. The Beach!

Who doesn’t love the beach!?! I mean there is just something about the beach… and that is one of the biggest reasons BigStuf takes place at one every year. It is so much easier for our students to invite their friends who either don’t have a church home or don’t have a relationship with Jesus to go to a camp that is on the beach. While they may be skeptical of a christian camp with worship and preaching, there is just something about a beach!

2. Investment in Our Leaders

Each morning all of our leaders eat breakfast at 7:30am and then we go to a leader meeting while the students eat. This is no ordinary meeting! We play games together and then we hear from an amazing speaker who encourages us, helps us to grow in our leadership, and provides great advice on how we can better engage students and their families. This time is so refreshing for our leaders and it shows just how much importance BigStuf places on our adult leaders who volunteer every week with our student ministry. 

3. The Speakers

The speakers at BigStuf are student pastors at churches. They have a pulse on what our students are working through and a heart to see students give their lives to Jesus. We had two guys speak and both did such an amazing job of teaching God’s Word and applying it in a way that challenged everyone from 6th grade all the way to 12th grade –  and even our adults! My favorite part about our speakers was how they handled the response time. The night they gave an opportunity for students to respond they didn’t try to manipulate students’ emotions, but simply invited students who wanted to give their lives to Jesus to just stand up. No eyes closed, no heads bowed. Then he didn’t lead them in a prayer, but asked each church to look around at their students and have their small group leader have a conversation and pray with them afterwards.

4. Changed Lives

We had 3 students stand up on Wednesday night, and we had an opportunity to talk and pray with each of them afterwards. It gets better… After each worship service in the morning and at night we would have small groups. During those small groups we had 7 more students approach their small group leaders and give their lives to Jesus! Then after we got back, we had another student contact us to let us know they had made a decision to follow Jesus as well! THAT’S 11 STUDENTS THAT GAVE THEIR LIVES TO JESUS! 

Some students’ eternities were changed and others decided to take a stand and be leaders. This is another thing I love about BigStuf. Our leaders get the opportunity to speak with each of our students to find out where they are spiritually and encourage or challenge them. It was so cool to watch how our group grew in unity throughout the week and how some students began to step up as leaders. Also, how our group welcomed new students that went with us.

I’ll leave you with this text that I received from a student that doesn’t go to our church, but went with us to BigStuf (names changed to protect the awesome):

“Hey Brandon! Its new student. I just wanted to thank you and the rest of the group for making me feel welcome. You know I was never really accepted into my youth group. The whole group, especially student #1, student #2, and student #3 made me feel welcomed and as if I had always been a part of the group. Thank you guys for making the experience awesome.”