For the first time in ten years I did not lead a student choir on tour. Surprisingly, this realization did not hit me until I started receiving updates from my previous church regarding their preparations for their upcoming summer tour.
For most of this year, my university responsibilities have been so demanding that I have been devoid of any mental energy to consider the things that I miss in full-time ministry. The occasional text from former students or adult leaders, however, would spark a sentimental remembrance of that season where God allowed me to lead and influence a group of His people at a certain time and in a certain place. At that moment, my heart would overflow with thanksgiving for the chance to pour into those precious families and see them make an impact for the Gospel. I miss this time so very much.
As the student choir ministry summer tour season is coming to a close, I find myself reflecting on those things that I miss the most in student choir tour ministry and also thanking God for the chance to invest in the next generation of His church. Perhaps you have reflected on your most recent tour and recalled its joys, victories, and maybe even its trials. Do you mind indulging with me in a little sentimental reflection? Perhaps, as you prepare for the upcoming ministry year, you might want to make a list of those things that you miss; allow them to launch you into the next year with renewed vision and passion.
Things I miss about student choir tours (in no particular order):
· The excitement (and nervousness) before a concert.
· The goodbye wave from family and friends as the bus pulls away on departure day.
· Long bus rides—yes, I like riding on the bus.
· The look of uncertainty and anxiousness on the face of a newbie (and his/her parents) on departure day.
· The face of a soloist when s/he has done a good job.
· Late night conversations with adult leaders.
· The sandwich/sack lunch assembly line.
· Students encouraging one another in evening share time.
· Final night worship service.
· Theme park day.
· Morning devotionals & prayer time.
· Senior night.
· The faces of children when you get off the bus for Backyard Bible Clubs.
· The faces of teenagers on the last day of Backyard Bible Clubs.
· Encoura-gram post office.
· Late night conversations with students.
· The look on the faces of parents when the bus pulls in the parking lot and their students get off the bus.
· Sitting around the table playing cards.
· The energy in the room on home concert night.
· The face of the choir when they realize how good they sound during a concert.
· Retro prom night.
· Visiting backyard Bible club sites and seeing students impact the Kingdom.
· Adult leaders always willing to step up and fill a need.
· The inevitable breakout of games, including all-time favorites: spoons and the cup game.
· Students who embrace their God-given leadership potential over the course of the week.
· The new friendships that are forged and old ones that are strengthened.
· The transformation of a student in search for meaning who finds it in the impact he makes in child’s life.
· The shy, quiet teenage girl who sits down and talks with the elderly lady at the senior care home.
· The cool, confident teenage boy who opens the door for a WWII veteran at the VA hospital.
· Tour highlight video during the home concert.
· Talent show night.
· Wednesday “hump day” when fatigue sets in and everyone’s emotions begin to get a little raw—beware the attitudes!
· After the home concert, parents dragging students away that don’t want to leave their new group of friends.
· The mad dash from the bus for mall free time.
· The faces of employees at McDonald’s (or any fast food restaurant) when 20+ teenagers walk in.
· After the home concert, the hugs and goodbyes among new friends.
· The texts from students weeks later saying how much they miss choir tour.
For all these things and more, I echo the words of the Apostle Paul:
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace…in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:3-11 (ESV)