In retrospect, I can totally understand why my friends wanted to kill me. I’ve never been a detail-
oriented person, and I really should have at least gotten an address.
It was 10:30 pm in late March, 2000. I was 19 and on my first collegiate Spring Break. 15 hours
and 1,000 miles ago, four friends and I had piled into an early 90s-model Toyota Camry to begin
the drive to Jacksonville, FL. We were on our way to visit my friend Amber, whom I’d met last
summer at my last ever Youth Group Summer Camp.
She’d invited me to visit, and my four friends decided Spring Break in Florida sounded very collegiate of us.
In the days before cell phones and GPS, in the days before Printed Map Quest Directions, we
followed our Road Atlas all the way to Jacksonville. My friends turned to me to find out how to
get to Amber’s house.
Which, as I previously mentioned, is totally logical, except that I hadn’t gotten any directions
I was pretty sure Amber had given me her dad’s phone number and that she would
be meeting us there (she usually lived in Orlando with her mom).
So they were understandably grumpy when we pulled off to find a pay phone (no cell phones,
remember!) to call Amber’s dad. And then wait at a Taco Bell for him to (hopefully!) get home, or
something, because he didn’t answer.
We all agreed that this was not my brightest moment.
Eventually, we got ahold of Amber’s dad, a biker who didn’t know we were coming, but who
graciously opened his home to five strangers. Amber arrived the next day, and we ended up
having a pretty amazing Spring Break. We even all made it back in one piece.
What strikes me about that trip is how unprepared we were.
Five kids between 19-21 who had no idea what we were doing. We made plenty of mistakes and dumb decisions. But we survived, we had fun and have hilarious stories to tell for the rest of our lives.
After that trip, no journey ever scared me. I was ready for anything. And even if I forgot some
little things – like say, the directions,
—I knew we could figure it out.
I see a lot of young adults who have come through the Youth Group model of church like I did
who lack this initiative. For all the wonderful things Youth Group taught me, it didn’t teach me
I learned – to my detriment – that adults would always be there to plan for me.
That I could show up and consume rather than produce. I could reliably assume that at least thrice annually I’d get a weekend or summer camp. My parents would pay for it and then I would just go and have fun. Food, transportation, content, games, all planned for me.
I see that experience shaping young adults in the Church. I served briefly as a young adult/
college pastor, and the main complaint I received was that I didn’t play enough activities. When
is the Christmas party? Is there a ski trip in our future? Can you take us on a retreat?
I understand that those are fun. I love parties. I throw lots of them. Who doesn’t love to fall down
a mountain for two or three days? And I cherish any chance I have to get away with friends for a
But if you’re over 18, there’s no reason you can’t plan those things yourself. You’re an adult.
Don’t wait for the Church to plan your social calendar. Stand up, take the initiative and plan.
Find three or four other young adults at your church and do a road trip somewhere crazy. Plan a
ski trip. Find a retreat center somewhere and get away for the weekend. Invite someone in your
church to come share with you for the weekend.
Or better yet, share your own stories with each other.
Don’t wait. Now is the time to grow, to figure these things out for yourself. You can do it. You’re
an adult. These things aren’t beyond you.
Are you going to make mistakes? Sure you are. But that’s good. You’ll learn from your mistakes.
You’ll grow. And eventually, everyone will be coming to you, asking you to plan their stuff for
them. And you’ll get to say—
No, I think you need to do this yourself.
Have you ever planned your own adventure? Or challenged others to do the same?
[Photo: john millar, Creative Commons]