Having got home and into bed at 2:45 am this morning, I am tired and weary from packing up tents in the rain and then having to unpack and dry them out again today, I think I've decided I love and hate Soul Survivor in equal measure:
I love worshipping and celebrating God with 9000 other people - I hate sharing showers and toilets with 9000 other people.
I love to sleep - I hate sleeping in a freezing cold tent on a pump bed.
I love staying up till 1:30am pretending to be sensible and in charge, whilst cracking up at what the kids are getting up to - I hate packing up and travelling home at 1:30am.
I love seeing the young people respond to the presence of Jesus - I hate seeing the pain some of them are carrying.
But, it is a real privilege to go on this journey of faith with them, some of them who have never been to church before, some who are really committed Christians - all of them grow and learn something about themselves before they leave.
The challenge now as part of a youth work team is how to keep that momentum of growth going? How to bring Soul Survivor style worship to our own church? How to present our youth group sessions with the style and humour that Mike Pilavachi does? Or maybe, the challenge is for them to realise that something as grand as that can't exactly be recreated in their church, but the worship team will have a darn good go at learning the new songs, and we won't be presenting our talks as Mike or Andy do, because we are not them but what we have to say if it's from God will be as valuable and relevant to them and they can still learn from it!
Ultimately I find it helps us bond, the kids naturally open up more as to how they see this Christian thing in a way that they don't generally do in a normal youth group session, they have a taste of the Holy Spirit and they want more and I want them to have more, because with it comes freedom and release from the rubbish that a lot of them are holding onto and every one of the young people that attend Soul Survivor deserve what God has promised them, a life worth living to the full.
Will I go again? Of course I will, love wins doesn't it?