Making memories in ‘holy spaces’
A church youth leader shares memories of Soul Survivor and why she’s excited about bringing a group to Luminosity 2020.
There’s nothing quite like taking a group away to make memories — stories that get retold year upon year, laughter, community deepening, faith growing. Memories that are even more concrete and influential by being rooted in a collective place of reference. Soul Survivor and its 20s-30s festival Momentum were such holy spaces for the youth groups I’ve worked alongside for the past 15 years.
A team member dressed up as a carrot as part of a Love Stafford mission day. Putting up a not-yet-trialled marquee (rookie error) in the pouring Shepton Mallet rain — everyone holding a pole, tears mixed with the rain drops, as the paper instructions dissolved in front of our eyes. Hysterical, hot chocolate mountain-fuelled late night games of Mafia and ‘I can see your teef’. Ringing chants of ‘Lancy Lancy Lancaster’ from the grandstand during a five-a-side football final.
Young people we’ve worked with for years heading to the front to say ‘Yes’ to Jesus. Standing up for prayer ministry. Spending time praying for each other. Young people abandoned in worship — so lost in awe they spend the whole meeting with their eyes closed. Singing down someone’s ear in the wrong direction. Jumping around like loons, not caring what they look like.
Young people receiving calls to mission and ministry — taking their own youth groups away together in years to come. Being the ones to now enjoy the privilege of seeing God at work, alongside all the pastoral dramas and long days and nights. Young people heading home to lead worship, start peer Bible study groups, help their CUs engage in mission in their schools, going all in — and bringing others along for the adventure.
Standing in the cow shed at Stafford last summer, I reflected on so many memories — and was so grateful for the opportunity afforded to live life alongside these young people in this way.
Soul Survivor was, for me, what the ancient Christian Celts call, ‘a thin place’— a place where the space between heaven and earth seemed tangibly closer. Where we could almost touch God, and experienced him in such a powerful and life-changing way. Where you knew that everything was held together with hard-working gaffa tape and the Holy Spirit — but where the incredible honesty and humility of the team mattered and made the difference. It was so special, spiritual and significant.
So, as I book our young people into Luminosity, I don’t come with an expectation that it will necessarily be the same. Or because we need our summer camp fix. I’ve never been to United before, only being in post at a New Wine Network church for the past few years.
I’m booking them in for the opportunity of making more memories — as a youth group in the Luminosity venues and campsite together, but also as part of our wider church family. I love the fact that parents, pastors and friends will be able to not only hear about our crazy encounters, but will be on site to experience them together first hand.
We’re coming for that opportunity to laugh, cry, be moved, develop, grow, and be changed by Jesus together in the same place. It’ll be different in lots of ways, but I know that the impact of that memory-making is eternal.
Ali Demet is the Youth Co-ordinator at St Thomas’ Lancaster. She’s bringing a group to Luminosity Week 2 from youth groups in the area.
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