Fighting the “Summer Camp High”

I can remember attending summer camps as a young middle schooler, anticipating personal spiritual renewal and the opportunity to “get right” with God. Many of my friends and I experienced God in a way we never had before. We were teary-eyed students repenting of past sins and rededicating our lives to God after an emotional weekend devoted to powerful worship, preaching, and close-knit small groups. 

 

Although these revival events, nights, or weekends made a huge impact on us students at the time, they rarely left a lasting impact. The reality of normal life set in quickly as we fell back into the pattern of old sins, spending inconsistent time in God’s Word and with his people. 

 

Summer camps are often viewed as an end instead of a means to spiritual growth. But a single spiritual experience cannot sustain students through the entirety of the school year. Even so, these events are intended to be a spiritual catalyst in the life of students as they mature over time. 

 

So how do we fight for sanctification in our students instead of hoping a “spiritual high” sticks? Here are a few practical steps to encourage you as you lead students toward mature and lasting spiritual growth.  

Build Strong Biblical Community

 

The adage, “You are who you surround yourself with,” is cliché for a reason. Galatians 6:2 reminds us that when we carry each other’s burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ. A strong foundation of godly peers is a must, especially in the impressionable lives of students facing all kinds of social pressures. Therefore, we have to create structures that encourage and support biblical communities for our students.  

 

Regularly participating in a biblically based community gives way to authenticity and accountability. What systems can you put in place to make it easy for your students to meet on a regular basis to pursue God together? What curriculum could you encourage your students to go through together? 

 

Create a plan for how your students can spend intentional time together outside of weekly worship services. When old temptation or sin patterns return in the lives of our students, the best tool we can give them is accountability with like-minded peers. James 5:16 teaches that when we confess our sins and pray with one another, we find healing and freedom. Evaluate how you are fostering an environment for healthy community. Don’t hope they will hang out on their own—create the space for them. 

 

For more on biblical community, check out Better Than One with Dhati Lewis. 

Practice Healthy Habits

 

When we focus solely on fixing our students, their spiritual growth can feel like an unattainable goal. But we have to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight—it takes years. Our focus should be on the small steps students can take toward growing in their knowledge of and heart for God. Encouraging students to practice healthy spiritual habits each day helps focus their attention on God for a lifetime. Here are three habits you can begin to build into your students:


1) Margin


In our oversaturated culture, filled with social media and overbooked schedules, we must encourage our students to build margin in their everyday lives. A busier life is not a more spiritual life. In fact, Jesus taught the opposite in Matthew 11:28–­30—his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. Margin for students can look like encouraging them to carve out a day to rest each week. When we look at the way of Jesus, we see that he allowed interruption in his life. He was never too busy to be available. Encourage them to use their free time to read God’s Word and spend intentional, but unscheduled, time with him. 

 

For more on margin and rest, check out The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry with John Mark Comer.

2) Prayer

Although we can often view prayer through a legalistic lens, prayer as seen through Scripture was a way of life—Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing. Prayer is powerful and we have unlimited and unrestricted access to our loving Father. Many students are intimidated by prayer but when they are reminded of God’s heart for their prayers both big and small, they will be encouraged to think about God throughout their day and regularly turn their hearts toward him. 

For more on prayer, check out Just Ask with J.D. Greear.


3) Worship

Participating in regular worship both individually and corporately is imperative to the nourishment of our students’ souls. As the gathered church, we can encourage each other and collectively celebrate the goodness of God. We have the honor of encouraging our students to make worship a regular practice. We must also teach students how they can worship through their everyday actions. Don’t let them think worship is just something for Sunday morning or youth group. Students worship God through their extracurricular activities, their interactions with their family and friends, their schoolwork, and every small area of life. No matter what individual worship looks like for each student, we can encourage them to make God the ultimate object of their worship. 

 

For more on what it looks like to be faithful and worship God in every circumstance, watch Fire and Faithfulness with Sadie Robertson Huff. 

While the experience is fleeting, we cannot dismiss or diminish the spiritual growth that takes place at summer camp. But there is work to be done once students return to the realities and difficulties of life at home. Encourage your students to turn the summer camp spark into a flame. By following these practical ways to follow God and remain in fellowship with others, students will be encouraged to take what they learned at camp and continue God’s good work in their lives. 

 

Encourage your students to live out their faith during the school year by taking them through Truth and Love with Marquise Cox.


Related Articles

Every church operates differently, but we all share one similar charge—to share the love of Christ with people far from God. Since Jesus left the disciples, we have carried the gospel across the globe. But, when we think of how to connect with unchurched people in our community, we can be left scratching our heads.

Was it always this hard? Do we need to make our churches more relevant, more trendy, more comfortable? We feel like we’re doing all the right things but we aren’t seeing results—what are we missing?

It can be disheartening to go through seasons where we aren’t seeing people come to Christ. We can feel stuck or behind. It can be tempting to think that we have to try something drastic to introduce more people to Jesus. But when we think about reaching the unchurched—people who have no experience with or interest in either the church or Christ—we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We simply need to do what Christians have always done with a strategy that best fits our context. 

Context

In Bible study, we all know context is king. If you don’t know the context of a passage, you will probably miss the point. The same holds true for your church. God has place you (a unique pastor) in your church (a unique people) in a unique place. Your position is purposeful and should define everything from the sermons you preach to the sort of programs your church offers. 

To connect with the unchurched, start by thinking through your unique context—the things that make your mission field and position unique. These questions can get you started:

1. What is the personality of your city? Neighborhood? Church?
2. What is your church’s demographic? Are you wanting to reach out to a similar demographic? Why, or why not?
3. Where do non-Christians hang out in your city? Is it different from where Christians live, work, or play? What are some common spaces where people of diverse backgrounds and ideologies overlap?
4. How do people think about Christians in your city? Are people in your city likely to go to a church on Sunday? What do they think about Jesus?

 

No matter how you answer these questions, starting with God’s unique design for your church will give you an idea of his direction for your church. For example, if non-Christians in your community are unlikely to go to church on Sunday, think about how you can empower your people to befriend their neighbors or to make your small groups open to visitors. Or, if your church is downtown but speaks the language of the suburbs, consider how you might adapt to relate to the people next door. 

Face Outward

As you figure out your context, your creativity will spark. You will think of new events, sermon series, or ministries that could help you connect with the unchurched. But, as our culture changes, our posture also needs to adjust. For decades, the church has operated on a “come and see” model. People were willing to go to church or check out weekly ministries because the church was broadly seen as trustworthy and needed. Today, that is not always the case. 

Unlike in year’s past, people today are more likely to think organized religion isn’t important. According to a 2019 Gallup study, only 36% of Americans have a high level of confidence in the church or organized religion, an all-time low. At the same time, 29% of Americans have little or no confidence in the church, an all-time high. In other words, we should assume that the people around us are skeptical of the church, even if they claim Christ. 

So what do we do? A Sunday service may attract a handful of curious unchurched people. But a mobilized congregation of purposeful, Christlike friends can reach dozens of neighborhoods, workplaces, coffee shops, and grocery stores every day. Our congregations can reach more unchurched people in a day than we could with dozens of well-crafted sermons. 

 

The attractional model has passed its prime. It is useful in some areas, but less so every year. To connect with the unchurched, our model for ministry needs to turn outward, shifting from a “come and see” to a “go and tell” mentality. For some of us, we may just need a change in our language, speaking to the specific concerns and questions of our culture. For others, we may need to fundamentally alter the way we do ministry. 

Trusting God

There are many reasons why the unchurched may not be attracted to a church service or event, but there is nothing stopping us from going to them. Everywhere you go, someone needs Jesus: your neighbors, coworkers, bank tellers, and mail carriers. God has placed you in their path; trust him and what he can do in their lives.

 

Connecting with the unchurched is not about marketing strategies, trendier social media accounts, or more relevant sermon illustrations. None of those things redeem sinners. Only God can change a person’s heart. Our responsibility is to faithfully make disciples wherever and whenever God gives us the chance. 

To summarize the Great Commission: go, baptize, teach.   

Connecting with Unchurched People

It feels like church is changing. Well, that isn’t completely the case. Worship styles, Christian culture, and the popular forms of preaching change with every generation. That is as inevitable as the sun setting this evening. But the cultural ground under our feet has shifted. While many Christians are still going to church, committed members feel few and far between. Apathy seems to rule the day. 

 

As pastors, we can often despair over our congregation’s lack of passion. To combat their malaise, we dream up campaigns to build excitement, events to attract people distant from the gospel, or emulate popular teachers to add an extra spark to the pulpit. We run ourselves ragged trying to dispel apathy. But what happens when flashy strategies and catchy anecdotes don’t energize our people; when there are no new volunteers and Back Row Bob still sleeps through your sermons?

 

When our strategies fail, we often feel like failures. Shame, despair, doubt, and self-criticism come knocking on our office doors to remind us of our flaws and shortcomings. If we aren’t careful, we will end up like Elijah, abandoning our calling in frustration, grief, and despair (1 Kings 19:1–10).

 

Our culture is changing. In many ways, the Christian culture of the last thirty years is disappearing as the West evolves into a post-Christian world. The strategies of yesterday aren’t working today like they used to and won’t work in tomorrow’s world. But we don’t need a new strategy. The solution to apathy and the church’s woes is not a better worship set, a more responsible youth pastor, or better elders. Gospel-oriented passion is a God-given gift. 

Revival

 

When we ask God to cure our apathy, we are asking for nothing less than revival—a reorientation of people to God by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s a tall order, far too much for any one of us. But, to our relief, the enlivening of God’s people and reawakening of the spiritually drowsy is not our responsibility. It is not in our skillset. Any and every pastor-led “revival” will end as soon as that pastor’s humanity is revealed—either through exposure of sin, exhaustion, or weakness. 

 

You are imperfect, but God has called you to lead his people, flawed as you may be. Your call is to be faithful. What you need, what your people need, and what the world needs is for the Spirit to move in our midst. 

 

The first step in combating apathy is to drop to our knees in humble prayer, admitting our limitations, our fears, our frustrations, and hopes. Praise God for what he has done in your church (how often we forget!) and what he is preparing to do. Practice what you preach. Confess your sins. Thank God for his goodness. Weep and rejoice for your flock. Boldly ask that God would awaken you and your people and be glorified in your congregation. 

Worship

 

An expert band, thousands of dollars in lights, and beautiful staging, are nice for Sunday worship. But true worship is neither confined nor defined by staging. True worship is defined by spirit and truth and can happen in every moment of our lives. The profound beauty of worship is not found in your band’s version of “Oceans” or in your expert teaching. The glory of worship is in its object—God himself. Worship is an opportunity for you and your people to wholly turn to God in praise and awe.

 

The second way to combat apathy is to point your people to God—the one who is, was, and ever will be. The Alpha and Omega; beginning and end. The most passionate church in the world is the church who is wholly focused on God. And, again, true worship is a gift from God. The Spirit leads us in truth, prays for us when we do not have the words, and glorifies the Father and Son as he indwells us. 

 

Once again, you are dependent on God to enliven your worship. So keep praying. 

The High Calling

 

It can be easy for lay people to assume that pastors and church staff are the only people with a calling on their life. We know that isn’t true, that every person is called to lay their lives down at the foot of the cross. 

 

We are busy. But our schedules don’t change God’s calling. Often, we try to make church amenable to people’s schedules. To a point, that is totally understandable. But decades of seeker-sensitive models have taught Christians the church is a low-commitment event. It is what we do on Sundays—well, the Sundays we feel like going. Is it really that surprising Christians who see church as an optional program aren’t excited to sacrifice their time, energy, and resources for it?

 

When we minimize commitment to the Body of Christ, we send the message that the church’s need is not so great—that sacrifice is for church staff, volunteering is a hassle, and the mission of God is a side plot to our lives.

 

Do not minimize involvement in the church. Don’t soften the commands of Scripture. When someone shows up to volunteer, don’t give them a minimum requirement—tell them what you need and ask for a commitment. Invest in them. 

He Is With You

 

Apathy has always been a problem for God’s people. We aren’t experiencing anything new, even as our culture slides into a post-Christian perspective. But when the world ignores the church, our hope doesn’t change. 

 

Pastors are like the prophets of old, surrounded by idols and syncretism. Like the prophets, we call people back to God’s Word, to radical repentance, worship, and service. Our world doesn’t need a better event; they need Jesus.

 

Turn to him. Point your people to him. Call them to his standard. 

 

Pastor, he is with you. 

Battling Apathy in the Church

The job of a pastor has always been a challenging one. 

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and underequipped as a church leader, you’re not alone. With the influence of social media, changing cultural dynamics, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s pastors face unique challenges. According to recent studies, today’s pastors are struggling with everything from time management to trusting God. Lifeway Research spoke with more than 1,000 pastors about their greatest needs; five were most commonly mentioned:  

1.     Developing leaders and volunteers
2.     Fostering connections with unchurched people 
3.     Congregational apathy or lack of commitment
4.     Consistency in personal prayer
5.     Friendships and fellowship with others. 

Pastoral needs graph from Lifeway Research.

At RightNow Media, our core value is “The mission of the church matters.” We are here to pray for, equip, and encourage church leaders in their ministry because healthy leaders are a crucial to building healthy churches. We strive to support pastors in all areas of their ministry, which is why we’ve compiled resources to address your five biggest needs.

Need #1: Developing leaders and volunteers. 

As a busy pastor, it can be hard to find time to equip your leaders and volunteers. While digital training can’t replace in-person experiences, it is an effective tool to develop your leaders outside of face-to-face trainings. RightNow Media has a library full of Interactive Training Content you can assign to your leaders to complete when it's convenient for them. Or, click here to learn how you can create your own Interactive Content.

The following blog post will help you learn about some of the fears and doubts your leaders and volunteers may be experiencing. You can share this article with your team to encourage them! 

 

Read now: Qualities of an Effective Small Group Leader

Need #2: Fostering connections with unchurched people. 

Jesus clearly calls us to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19–20). But outreach ministry can take a backseat when we feel too busy with what’s going on inside the walls of our church. 

 

Even if you don’t have a designated external outreach ministry, you can still foster connections with unchurched people. Read this blog post for practical ways you can begin to bridge the gap between your congregation and the unchurched. 

Read now: Connecting with Unchurched People

Need #3: Congregational apathy or lack of commitment.  

We all want our churches to thrive, but many of our congregations struggle with attendance, recruiting volunteers, and keeping members engaged. There may be moments when you feel like one of the only people committed to the mission of your church. But no matter how you feel, God’s promises are true and he promises to never leave you or abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6). 

 

Read this blog post for an encouraging word on staying committed to the church even when you sense apathy in your congregation. 

Read now: Battling Apathy in the Church

Need #4: Consistency in personal prayer. 

With the many responsibilities of shepherding others, pastors can unintentionally put their personal relationship with God on the backburner. In our desire to be self-sufficient, we often forget that we have a Father who hears our prayers and loves when we talk to him. 

 

Reignite your passion for prayer with this practical blog post all about the gift of talking with your heavenly Father.

Read now: Rediscovering the Importance of Prayer

Need #5: Friendship and fellowship with others. 

While church leaders often preach the need for Christian community, the perceived safety and comfort of isolation can tempt tired pastors. While it can be difficult to find people who understand the unique weight of spiritual leadership, community is worth pursuing for pastors in every stage of their ministry. 

 

Set aside a few moments for self-reflection and to answer the questions in this blog post written specifically to pastors. Then, consider the opportunities in your life to connect with other church leaders. 

Read now: Overcoming the Loneliness of Leadership

It’s a challenging time to be a pastor, but current circumstances don’t nullify God’s promises. Listen to what God says through the prophet Isaiah: 

 

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you,
and the rivers will not overwhelm you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be scorched,
and the flame will not burn you.” (Isaiah 43:1–2)

 

No matter what difficulties you face as a church leader, God’s love for you is unwavering. His plans for you are good. His divine power has given you everything you need for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). 

The body of believers, including all of us at RightNow Media, is cheering you on. We pray these resources encourage you as you minister to others.

Support for Today’s Pastors

This month, we are shining a spotlight on some of the new RightNow Media content being produced in Africa. Over the past few years, we’ve enjoyed collaborating with the Christian community in Africa through our strategic alliance with NextGen Global leaders. In 2019, RightNow Media began serving churches and organizations in West Africa. And then in early 2020, RightNow Media expanded its reach to churches and organizations in South Africa. 

Today RightNow Media serves more than 350 organizations and counting in Africa! We pray often that our video content can reach as many people as possible. Many Christians in Africa speak English, so they have been able to immediately use RightNow Media with all of our English Bible studies, devotionals, and training courses. We are working to expand RightNow Media’s influence in Africa by captioning English studies in local languages and partnering with local teachers. 

The Team

The team in Africa is led by Mari Joubert and operates out of Pretoria, South Africa through our strategic alliance with NextGen Global Leaders. The team of nine people currently serves churches and organizations from 47 countries in Africa. 

Mari Joubert

Mari Joubert

Regional Director

Mari was born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa and worked for almost twelve years in Christian publishing before joining RightNow Media through NextGen Global Leaders. She is married to Andre and has two boys, Joshua and Luka. 

Studies from RightNow Media in Africa

Currently, RightNow Media offers 24 series taught by speakers from Africa, with more planned to be released this year. Most of these new series are taught in English, but we are expanding our efforts to caption series in local languages to reach as many people as possible. In addition, RightNow Media is working with teachers to produce original series in local languages like Afrikaans.

A Call from God

A Call from God

Mike Bamiloye

Are you called by God? To answer that question, you may first need to answer another one—what does being called by God really mean?


Often, the call is misunderstood as a leading from God to enter full-time ministry. We may feel that the “call” is something reserved for those who are far more spiritually advanced than us. While it is true that there are different types of calling, no believer is exempt from God’s call. 

Psalm 90: Number Our Days

Psalm 90: Number Our Days

Dalene Reyburn

Wherever you find yourself in life, you have a choice: you can look back with regret, look forward with fear, and live a mediocre present or you can take hold of the truth that Jesus redeems your past, is real in your present, and positions you to be ready for your future.

Join Dalene Reyburn in this four-part series through Psalm 90, in which we’ll echo the prayer of Moses: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Dash

Dash

Craig Roberts

One day, there will be a DASH created between the birth and death of every single one of us. How can we make the greatest impact for Christ during our short time on Earth? 

Join Craig Roberts in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for this challenging four-session study as he looks at life through the lens of eternity, distractions that draw our attention away from Christ, and learn how to practically restructure our lives to experience purpose, hope, and joy every day! 

The Spirit of Excellence

Chika Ossai-Ugbah

What does it mean to be truly excellent? How can we excel at the tasks we are responsible for, make a difference and stand out? And does being excellent by God’s standards qualify us for excellence in our “secular” lives?

 

In this six-part series, (Rev.) Dr. Chika Ossai-Ugbah answers these questions by examining the life of four Hebrew refugee boys, better known as Daniel and his friends. Discover how you can cope with “culture” while adhering to God’s standards for holiness and excellence.

Impact

While RightNow Media is still a new platform in Africa, God is already using these Bible studies to encourage churches and support their mission. Johan van Aswegen, pastor of Ligpunt Church in Pretoria, South Africa, expressed how helpful RightNow Media has been to his church during the pandemic. He said that RightNow Media “has become a storehouse full of solid resources for all the leaders in our churches, for couples wanting to grow in their marriage, and for parents wanting to raise their children up in Christ.”


Teodor van der Spuy, a pastor at Church without Walls, said, “The RightNow Media platform is crucial for our church growth . . . We trust RightNow Media to equip both our congregation and our leadership.”

 

Our mission at RightNow Media is to work with the global church to inspire people to love others before themselves and Christ above all. To see more series we are creating with churches outside of the U.S., check out our International Voices library on RightNow Media. 

RightNow Media Around the World: Spotlight on Africa

I can remember attending summer camps as a young middle schooler, anticipating personal spiritual renewal and the opportunity to “get right” with God. Many of my friends and I experienced God in a way we never had before. We were teary-eyed students repenting of past sins and rededicating our lives to God after an emotional weekend devoted to powerful worship, preaching, and close-knit small groups. 

 

Although these revival events, nights, or weekends made a huge impact on us students at the time, they rarely left a lasting impact. The reality of normal life set in quickly as we fell back into the pattern of old sins, spending inconsistent time in God’s Word and with his people. 

 

Summer camps are often viewed as an end instead of a means to spiritual growth. But a single spiritual experience cannot sustain students through the entirety of the school year. Even so, these events are intended to be a spiritual catalyst in the life of students as they mature over time. 

 

So how do we fight for sanctification in our students instead of hoping a “spiritual high” sticks? Here are a few practical steps to encourage you as you lead students toward mature and lasting spiritual growth.  

Build Strong Biblical Community

 

The adage, “You are who you surround yourself with,” is cliché for a reason. Galatians 6:2 reminds us that when we carry each other’s burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ. A strong foundation of godly peers is a must, especially in the impressionable lives of students facing all kinds of social pressures. Therefore, we have to create structures that encourage and support biblical communities for our students.  

 

Regularly participating in a biblically based community gives way to authenticity and accountability. What systems can you put in place to make it easy for your students to meet on a regular basis to pursue God together? What curriculum could you encourage your students to go through together? 

 

Create a plan for how your students can spend intentional time together outside of weekly worship services. When old temptation or sin patterns return in the lives of our students, the best tool we can give them is accountability with like-minded peers. James 5:16 teaches that when we confess our sins and pray with one another, we find healing and freedom. Evaluate how you are fostering an environment for healthy community. Don’t hope they will hang out on their own—create the space for them. 

 

For more on biblical community, check out Better Than One with Dhati Lewis. 

Practice Healthy Habits

 

When we focus solely on fixing our students, their spiritual growth can feel like an unattainable goal. But we have to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight—it takes years. Our focus should be on the small steps students can take toward growing in their knowledge of and heart for God. Encouraging students to practice healthy spiritual habits each day helps focus their attention on God for a lifetime. Here are three habits you can begin to build into your students:


1) Margin


In our oversaturated culture, filled with social media and overbooked schedules, we must encourage our students to build margin in their everyday lives. A busier life is not a more spiritual life. In fact, Jesus taught the opposite in Matthew 11:28–­30—his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. Margin for students can look like encouraging them to carve out a day to rest each week. When we look at the way of Jesus, we see that he allowed interruption in his life. He was never too busy to be available. Encourage them to use their free time to read God’s Word and spend intentional, but unscheduled, time with him. 

 

For more on margin and rest, check out The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry with John Mark Comer.

2) Prayer

Although we can often view prayer through a legalistic lens, prayer as seen through Scripture was a way of life—Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing. Prayer is powerful and we have unlimited and unrestricted access to our loving Father. Many students are intimidated by prayer but when they are reminded of God’s heart for their prayers both big and small, they will be encouraged to think about God throughout their day and regularly turn their hearts toward him. 

For more on prayer, check out Just Ask with J.D. Greear.


3) Worship

Participating in regular worship both individually and corporately is imperative to the nourishment of our students’ souls. As the gathered church, we can encourage each other and collectively celebrate the goodness of God. We have the honor of encouraging our students to make worship a regular practice. We must also teach students how they can worship through their everyday actions. Don’t let them think worship is just something for Sunday morning or youth group. Students worship God through their extracurricular activities, their interactions with their family and friends, their schoolwork, and every small area of life. No matter what individual worship looks like for each student, we can encourage them to make God the ultimate object of their worship. 

 

For more on what it looks like to be faithful and worship God in every circumstance, watch Fire and Faithfulness with Sadie Robertson Huff. 

While the experience is fleeting, we cannot dismiss or diminish the spiritual growth that takes place at summer camp. But there is work to be done once students return to the realities and difficulties of life at home. Encourage your students to turn the summer camp spark into a flame. By following these practical ways to follow God and remain in fellowship with others, students will be encouraged to take what they learned at camp and continue God’s good work in their lives. 

 

Encourage your students to live out their faith during the school year by taking them through Truth and Love with Marquise Cox.


Fighting the “Summer Camp High”

In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul gives readers the most in-depth, comprehensive explanation of the gospel in all of Scripture, showing us what it looks like to live according to the good news. And this good news is better than we could have imagined. 


We sent a film crew with pastor J.D. Greear to Rome, Italy to film The Book of Romans: Part 1 and Part 2, a series examining one of the most important books ever written on the Christian faith. In this series, J.D. helps us see just how good the gospel really is. It exceeds all our expectations.


While filming, our team asked J.D. a few questions about preparing for this series and his hopes for small groups.

RightNow Media: What is the one thing you learned while preparing for this series?

J.D.: One distinctive thing I think I re-learned as I was prepping for this series is just the distinctive message of grace that the gospel offers. The power of grace to transform our lives. Especially being on location here in Rome where you’re associated with so many different symbols of religion, and all the works-righteousness that goes into religion, and people doing things to try to earn God’s favor. Paul’s message in Romans is [righteousness] is a gift. Righteousness is not a standard that we obtain to; it’s a gift that God gives us. And then in response to that, out of love, we serve God, and we serve others. The power of the gospel, it was renewed in me, rekindled in me, not only as I studied and prepared for this but as I actually taught through it as well. 

RightNow Media: What is the one thing you want viewers to walk away with after watching this series?

J.D.: One of the things I think I’m hoping—I’ve been hoping and praying for out of this study—is that this study of the book of Romans, which is one of the deepest and richest looks at the gospel anywhere in Scripture, would have this effect of not only getting us excited about the gospel and transforming our relationships but just burning in our hearts until we have to tell others. The gospel is kind of like a spiritual tornado, it never pulls you in without also wanting to thrust you back out. And so, I think just pressing into the beauties of God’s grace, it just does something to you that changes you so that you not only treat people differently and think about yourself differently, you just find yourself having to talk to other people about the things that you’re learning. 

RightNow Media: Tell us about the most memorable moment of filming this series.

J.D.: So, the most memorable moment, spiritually, is probably going to be down in Paul’s prison. When we’re pretty sure it is the actual cell he stood in before he was executed, and just to think about that—that was amazing. I loved filming from there. You know, always my favorite memories with this are slow walking with Will (Senior Producer at RightNow Media). Just to follow me around with a camera, and just to kind of zoom in on my feet and to make me really self-conscious about my posture, "Am I walking crooked?" So, that definitely is what I’ll take away. Will’s got a special place in my heart.

J.D Greear is speaking at the 2022 RightNow Conference. For more information and tickets, click here.

Behind the Scenes: The Book of Romans with J.D. Greear

In Matthew 5, Jesus begins his most famous sermon with a list of characteristics, commonly known as the Beatitudes, that offer us a glimpse at what it looks like to live “the blessed life.” But they’re not exactly what we might expect. 

We sent a film crew with author and pastor Matt Chandler to Big Bend National Park to film The Beatitudes, an eight-session series examining Matthew 5:1–12. In this series, Matt teaches us what a blessed life really looks like. It may not look the way we imagine, but it’s better than we could ever hope.

While filming, our team asked Matt a few questions about his preparation for and teaching of this impactful series. 


RightNow Media: What is one thing you learned while preparing for this series?

Matt: Going into the series, I was familiar with the Beatitudes. I mean, I’ve been a Christian for thirty years. I don’t know that I’ve ever explicitly taught through them but certainly understood them to be Jesus unpacking what the kingdom of God would look like. So, the thing that was in plain sight that really ministered to me as I prepared was that the Beatitudes aren’t a list of things that I need to work on, but rather the kind of person that Jesus is turning me into. And I think that was the big thing that stood out, that Jesus doesn’t show up looking for this kind of person, like “let me find the man of peace” or “let me find the meek.” But, rather, he’s saying, “my people that I’m going to work in, that the Holy Spirit’s going to—this is the kind of person they’re going to become.” So, it’s not eight different people, right, but eight characteristics of the same person. So, it honestly gave me a lot of confidence that God is working these things in me and that I will continue as long as I’m here.

RightNow Media: What is one thing you want viewers to walk away with after watching this series?

Matt: If I think about people in living rooms or in church rooms and buildings, and watching this, the thing that I most want them to walk away with is a confidence that God is at work in their lives. I don’t want them to listen to a single one of these episodes and feel crushed by it or feel that it’s impossible. That by episode after episode after episode that they would grow in their deep and earnest belief that God is at work in the mess of their lives. That God’s patience is there, that his shaping power is there, and that he has not forgotten them, but is actively turning them into this kind of person. 

RightNow Media: Tell us about the most memorable moment of filming this series.

Matt: So, the thing that always stands out when I get to shoot these things is it’s always done in just stunningly beautiful places. So, there is the team, of course, that you laugh with, and you have a good time with. But you’re getting to . . . I said to somebody, I think it was early this morning, “Can you believe we get to do this?” We’re up early, everything’s new, the sun’s coming up, everything’s beautiful, and then we get to talk about the creator God of the universe. We get to point toward the gospel. We get to marvel at his goodness and grace. I think that’s the thing, and really, through all my shoots with RightNow, that’s been the thing that always has stood out as I head home or as we wrap up, that in these really beautiful places, these really privileged spaces, that we get to just talk about and point towards the king of the universe. 

The Beatitudes with Matt Chandler releases on RightNow Media July 26, 2022. Click here to watch.

Behind the Scenes: The Beatitudes with Matt Chandler

The Bible begins with God. In the book of Genesis, we see his power, creativity, and splendor in what he made. But we also see his mercy, love, and redemption through the flawed people he has made. While Genesis sets the stage for the rest of the Bible, it also helps us see God’s glory in his creation and teaches us that he can make something out of imperfect people like you and me. 

 

Last year, our team traveled with Dr. Charlie Dates to the redwood forests of Northern California to film a series on the book of Genesis. After speaking at the 2021 RightNow Conference, Dr. Dates spoke with us about his experience on that shoot and his hopes for this series. 

RightNow Media: What is one thing you learned while preparing for this series?

Charlie: Preparing for Genesis is very different than preparing to teach other books. Genesis is a genre of history that doesn’t really fit the Psalter, Judges, or the prophets. It doesn’t have to be decoded like apocalyptic literature. I learned about the genre sensitivity of the study—that is, wrapping our minds around what the point of Genesis is—is really the best way to see God’s activity so we can teach and preach it. 

Genesis could tell us about dinosaurs, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and all that kind of stuff but it doesn’t. It has a view toward chapter 50, getting the scene set for a savior who is going to come. That’s something I came to appreciate while working through the book of Genesis. 

 

It’s different. The Bible gives us varying shades of color in different sections. It’s not monochromatic. When we study the genre, we get to see God’s Word in the fullness of his color—it comes alive. Is there anything better than 4k resolution? If there is, I don’t know. God beats that high-def stuff. Genesis helped show me that. 

RightNow Media: What is one thing you want viewers to walk away with after watching this series?

Charlie: I want viewers to be like, “Man, the Lord is amazing, and Charlie Dates works for Jesus.” 

 

[laughs] Okay, seriously, I want viewers to walk away with a bigger picture of God. If God really did create time, space, and matter and if he did choose one family, and through that family wove this wonderful narrative, then surely he can work through the matters of my life. Surely God can bring something out of nothing where I live. I hope when you see Genesis, you feel the power and presence of God.

RightNow Media: What was it like filming this series with out team?

When you film with RightNow Media you need to do, like, four weeks of yoga. We were in the middle of nowhere—in the Redwoods with trees that looked like they were out of a Narnia book—and I climbed on a [fallen] tree and was walking on it, balancing. I was thinking, “If I don’t get home safely, my wife’s not going to be happy about this.” [laughs] 

 

They go to great lengths to capture the most epic and beautiful scenery to match the picture of the text, so they can deliver what I think is the highest quality video content. 

 

Now, here’s what else I learned: I’m jealous. I didn’t think I was jealous, that I was envious. But the fact that they don’t live in Chicago and don’t work for us at our church . . . I had to repent of some of that. Other than that, it was great. It was fantastic. 

Charlie Dates is speaking at the 2022 RightNow Conference. For more information and tickets, click here.

Behind the Scenes: Genesis with Charlie Dates

Many times, we approach the Bible to get new information about God. There is nothing wrong with that, but God tells us about himself so that we can know him, not just so we can stockpile trivia about him. 

 

Author and speaker Francis Chan accompanied our team to the Utah wilderness to film Jesus’s Farewell Message, a deep dive into Jesus’s last sermon before his crucifixion. In this series, Francis examines what it means to know and trust God deeply. God has far more for us than many of us dare imagine. 

 

While filming, our team asked Francis about his experience filming this new series. 

RightNow Media: What is one thing you learned while preparing for this series?

Francis: I learned so many things while preparing for this series. One is just the shallowness of my thoughts. I focus on this low level instead of all I have in Jesus. Like, I know him, and I have for years, but the depth of what it means to know him . . . it’s so hard to explain because it’s not new information but a depth in my knowledge of God. 

RightNow Media: What is one thing you want viewers to walk away with after viewing this series?

Francis: I sure hope that [for] everyone who watches this that it doesn’t end here. Where [they say], “I need to experience this oneness with God!” That it actually takes them somewhere. It’s got to be more than [learning] information. 

RightNow Media: Tell us about the most memorable moment of filming this series.

Francis: It’s pretty fascinating just looking at a place I’ve never been—all the ridiculous rock formations and different terrain. But the quietness has been my favorite. I just realized how seldomly I hear quiet in my life. With where I go and the things I do, it was just nice to be in a place where you heard nothing.  

Jesus's Farewell Message with Francis Chan releases on RightNow Media on June 14, 2022. Click here to watch the trailer and add the series to "My Saved" for a notification when it releases!

Behind the Scenes: Jesus's Farewell Message with Francis Chan

Summertime can feel like an obstacle to overcome for parents of school-aged kids. How do we keep our kids busy without over-scheduling them? How do we manage our own responsibilities while also ensuring our children’s minds don’t wither away from hours of screen time? Can anything keep kids interested, occupied, productive, and even learning during summer vacation?

 

Exciting things happen when we encourage our kids to create.

 

Remember playdough, finger paint, and crayons? Toddler days were messy! But while the medium may (or may not) change, our kids’ creativity doesn’t. Let’s occupy their busy minds by filling their busy hands with opportunities to create. Adapt the following ideas to the ages and abilities of your children. 


1. Making

Set up a dedicated spot in your home—a table, nook, or entire room if you have it—for artistic endeavors stocked with a supply of paper, pencils, paint, and other creative tools. Name a particular hour of your day as “art class” and explore a passion or talent your child may possess. And if you just can’t handle glitter, paint, or modeling clay, find a friend who can and trade playdates with them. When my kids were between five and twelve years old, I always loved taking them to my friend Susie, who, as an actual artist, was happy for them to join her kids in making a huge mess on her kitchen table. They came home with glittery hair, colorful smudges, and shining eyes as they showed me their newest handmade treasures.

2. Reading

Books are the doorway to the future, exercising children’s imaginations, thinking, comprehension skills, and creativity. Stories help them understand the world and imagine a new world in which they can play a part. The power of reading inspired Dolly Parton, for instance, to create her Imagination Library, which sends a book per month to children from birth to five years old.

 

While babies are napping, toddlers can enjoy “rest time” with books until they doze off. Older kids can settle down during the heat of the day with a reading hour. Or jazz up your routine with a weekly trip to the library where they can discover new stories and foster a lifelong habit of reading. 

 

Begin with the best book in the world, the Bible. A short time reading God’s Word will start every day with pure goodness. Don’t make it complicated—even opening your physical Bible and then retelling the story in your own words teaches your children the value of hearing from God every day. Let them participate and help you as they are able. Maybe have them draw a picture depicting something from the story that day. 


3. Acting

Once they start reading, many children begin dramatizing the stories they love. Do your kids enjoy imitating or quoting their favorite characters and scenes? Clean out your closets and offer your rejects or old favorites to a costume bin. Encourage the kids to act out their morning Bible stories, write screenplays, get into character, and become someone new on stage. Cheer on your cotton ball-bearded Moses and blue sash-draped Mary. Ooh and aah when “Jesus” multiplies the cheese and crackers. Always say yes when they ask if you want to watch. 

4. Writing

Reading often leads to writing. Keep old school notebooks from the recycle bin, tear out the used pages, and reuse what’s left as “dreaming and drafting” notebooks. Let your kids’ creative instincts run wild! Don’t worry about penmanship or grammar. When they feel they’ve completed a poem or short story and are ready to share, help them re-write it neatly or even type it into the computer (we can’t ignore sneaking in easy learning). Print out a final version to share with friends and family. Celebrate your child’s imagination and hard work.

 

5. Video Editing 

Storytelling takes many forms, and video is easily the most popular type of media right now. Disney, for example, rules the screens in many households. The kids will ask to watch their favorite episodes or movies all day long, and we are often tempted to let them vegetate in front of the screen. But why not put the camera—or your iPhone—into their hands instead? Using free apps such as iMovie or InShot, young aspiring producers can learn basic editing skills for photography and video. Movie night can take on a whole new angle.

Let’s encourage our kids to tell stories that reflect their faith and God’s character. The original kids’ series The Creators, a product of the RightNow Media video production team, tells the story of a group of friends who join forces to create films that are “meaningful, virtuous, and good.” The Creators weaves biblical truths into engaging stories with humor and the right dose of seriousness. Perhaps a short time in front of a show will inspire your kids to produce their own series!

When God created humans, he made us in his image (Genesis 1:27). That means we are made to be creators too—it’s part of our DNA and our purpose. Who says we have to wait until we are adults to make wonderful things? 

 

Let’s get our kids creating this summer. 

5 Creative Outlets for Your Kids this Summer

Give everyone in your ministry access to RightNow Media.

Get Access

If you’re a decision-maker at your organization, request a free consultation to find out how RightNow Media can equip and inspire your people.

Not a decision-maker?
Tell your pastor about RightNow Media instead.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.