There will be at least 56 adults in your lives that will tell you that college is the best years of your life. And they may not be wrong! College is a blast. You get to live on your own, make decisions for yourself, eat when you want to eat, and sleep when you want to sleep (which won’t be a lot). And from experience I can tell you that one of the other greatest parts of college is that you get to attend Salt Co. and join one of their connection groups.
But catch the key phrase in that last sentence, “greatest parts of college.” We aren’t naive to the fact that there are high schoolers that are either attending Salt Co. regularly or you really want to be. Even though this might seem like a taboo subject or one that you are wanting to keep from us, we really want it to be an open discussion! Mark, Ryan, and I understand, probably better than most, the draw to attend Salt. We’ve been through Salt and know that the teaching is amazing and applicable, the worship is top-notch and super engaging, and the crowds of new people are really cool. Those things will all remain true when you guys are in college! But for now, we really want for you all to continue to be engaged in Escape22, and here is why:
Escape22 is your community. This ministry exists because we believe that high school students need to know and love Jesus. Escape is designed so that you have a place to go where you can hear teaching that is applicable to your lives, and engage with students who are your age. We desire for you to be in community with one another and seeking Jesus together as brothers and sisters. That is why we have connection groups and spend time in the gym after Escape. We want to create a space for you all to grow together as a family and encourage, love, and serve one another as Christ served the people around Him. Community is so critical to our walks with God, which is why God made us to desire friendships and relationships. We are made in the image of God, and God himself is in constant community by being a part of the Trinity (this is a whole blog post in itself, so I won’t go too much farther into this topic). We want for you to hear and understand that right now, while you are in high school, Salt Co. isn’t your community. You are in a different stage of life than the other people in that room. You can’t join their connection groups, and if you did, it would probably be weird for you and for them! Think about if a middle schooler started showing up to Escape regularly. You would probably feel weird about that! All that to say, we really want for you to be engaged in the ministry where God has you right now. Your time in Salt Co. will come, but until then, it’s important that you remain in the community of people that have been placed around you.
You can’t have your feet in two ministries. A lot of you could argue (and you’d be right) that you are mature enough to understand that Salt isn’t your community, and that you just like to go sit in on the teaching/worship and then roll out. While this may be true, it is still incredibly hard to engage in two ministries in any capacity. It is nearly impossible to be fully committed to the ministry you are in, if you are already looking forward to the next ministry. And attending Salt is only going to fuel the fire of looking forward to the next big thing. I’ll admit that I have a little bias here, but I think that it is much healthier for you to spend your upperclassmen years loving and serving Escape and figuring out ways that that you can pour into and take ownership of this ministry. We want for you upperclassmen to be leaders, both within our ministry and the other ministries of the church. So instead of breeding the discontent that comes with thinking about moving on from high school and all that goes with it (including Escape), be thinking about ways that you can make Escape better and love your peers here!
In all of this, know that I am speaking from personal experience. I started leading in Escape my sophomore year in college and for three years I was attending Salt and Escape on a regular basis. Because I wasn’t actively pouring into Salt Co, there were times where I didn’t feel as much ownership over that ministry as some of my friends did. They were leading in the ministry and were much more engaged and involved than I was. And because I was leading in Escape and not a student there, that wasn’t my community. So for years I walked the balance tightrope of being a part of two ministries, and it was stretching and, at times, exhausting. You may not realize that by going to Salt and Escape you are walking that same tightrope. It feels like you have the capacity to do both, but in reality, it’s just not what’s most beneficial for the growth of your faith. Now, I need to put a disclaimer here because I don’t regret my decision at all. I made some of the greatest friends and grew a ton in my faith while I was in Salt and obviously leading in Escape worked out pretty great in terms of my faith and my future. But that was because I was in a place where the balance made sense for my life. I was still actively being poured into by my community of college students, and was passionate about leading high schoolers.
Ultimately, we say all of the above because we love and care about you guys more than you know. We would never want to communicate any of this in a tone that is jealous of your time or condescending of your choices. The desire of our hearts is that you all would continue to fall in love with Jesus as your Lord and your Savior, and that your lives would be shaped by the ways that you are seeking Him while in high school. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t truly believe that being an active participant of Escape is one of the ways that God uses to grow your faith and shape your hearts.
If you would like to talk more about this, we would love to hear from you! As always, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.