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Josh Clevenger leads children in song during Sunday night worship at the Macland Road Church of Christ in Marietta, Ga.
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Virtual visit: Macland Road Church of Christ, Marietta, Ga.

Service for graduating seniors highlights how we cope with change — and the role of summer camps.

After I preached in Altus, Okla., last week, Beverly Barnett invited me to virtually visit the Macland Road Church of Christ in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta. I’ll take any excuse to visit my home state. (I grew up in Macon.)

There are a lot of worship services and Bible classes to choose from on the congregation’s YouTube channel. I opted to watch a recent Sunday night service for the church’s graduating high school seniors.

“For our seven graduates, remember: You may have graduated, but you’re still someone’s baby,” said the church member in charge of announcements. (I’m sure the teens really appreciated that.) He invited all of the congregation’s children up front for a “Kids Sing” time led by youth and family minister Josh Clevenger.

The young men who graduated led songs and read Scriptures during the service. Two of them gave short devotionals.

Michael Rolen speaks about the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

Michael Rolen speaks about the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

Michael Rolen told a compelling story about the number of people who get lost in America’s national parks each year. Many are never found. He skillfully connected this with the feeling of being spiritually lost. He felt that way a few years ago.

“I hit rock bottom,” he said. “Going to Camp Inagehi that summer saved me. I was debating the thought that God was not real, so I went to one of the counselors. His name was Colt. Colt took two hours out of his life and taught me a better and deeper understanding of the Bible. Colt renewed my beliefs, and that man saved my soul …”

He connects that story with the parable of the lost sheep from Luke 15.

Scripture reading during a Sunday night worship service at the Macland Road Church of Christ near Atlanta.

Scripture reading during a Sunday night worship service at the Macland Road Church of Christ near Atlanta.

His words about Inagehi, a Christian camp in Douglasville, Ga., really hit home with me. So many of our camps — including the one where I was slated to serve as a counselor — were canceled due to COVID-19. Our own Laura Akins reported on this recently. (In the midst of writing the story, the camp where she intended to serve got canceled, so she had to rework the piece just before our print deadline.)

I really hope our churches will develop meaningful ways to connect with youths this summer. There’s so much spiritual development at summer camps. Souls are at risk.

Jameson Hope compares the Old Testament stories of Job and Jonah.

Jameson Hope compares the Old Testament stories of Job and Jonah.

Another graduate, Jameson Hope, talked about how we respond to change. He contrasted the responses of two Old Testament characters, Job and Jonah, to unwanted change. Job questions God, but falls down in worship. Jonah openly defies God, and even when he repents and does what God wants, it doesn’t seem like his heart changes.

“Satan can use change to make us turn our back on God,” he said. “But the one thing we can take comfort in is that God never changes. He is the one stable force … the one thing we can count on, in this ever-changing world.”

Thanks so much, Beverly, for pointing me to thought-provoking lessons from these young believers.

Where should I virtually visit next? Leave suggestions in the comments.

Filed under: Atlanta covid Covid and church COVID-19 covid19 Features Georgia graduates high school livestream livestreamed livestreaming National sunday night

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