SYATP 2008

Yesterday was a big day for our students. They were up early in the morning to be at their schools one hour before they started. (Some students were there a full hour before, others only made it 15 min early.) These guys stood for Christ yesterday, in a way that some of them never dreamed they would have the guts to do. Yes, for some it was not a real hard accomplishment, but for others it was the hardest thing the had ever done.
See You at the Pole (SYATP) is a once a year opportunity when students from around the country gather around their flagpole, and pray or their friends, their administration, and their nation. It is a student led event. In some schools, like the one I grew up in, the administration is very strict about no adult involvement. Here in South Carolina, at Blue Ridge High, and Blue Ridge Middle  Schools the rules about adult involvement are somewhat ignored. In many ways this is a good thing... but I think some adults missed the point of SYATP.
At the Middle School, we had a great group of 50 or more kids at the flagpole, but none of them really knew what to do. Many of them stood at talked to each other for a full hour. I saw my guys looking around, all with faces that said: "someone just tell me what to do!" I was standing with another parent from our church on the other side of the parking lot, taking some pictures, and praying with this parent for all of these kids. After 10 minutes or so, word got out to some other parents (who were standing in the mob of students) that I was a youth pastor. After a while, it was obvious that I was receiving a number of dirty looks from some parents.
Eventually one came over and asked me to come over and take charge of the situation. He was visibly annoyed when I told him that this was a student led event, and it is not appropriate (or legal) for me to take control of their gathering. He said something about "I don't care what the law is, we need to model for these kids what christians are supposed to do!" Then went back over to the group. I understand where he is coming from. I know his intentions were great. But let me explain where I m coming from.
It was very difficult for me to stand still while my students, in many ways, were begging for some help. But, putting all the legalities aside, this is their school and they need to be willing to take a stand for Christ... for themselves, not for me. They go to school every day without me. SYATP is an event that gives them the perfect opportunity, and a great tool for sharing their faith. But this faith has to be their own, not mine, if they are going to impact their school. In this case I am the daddy bird pushing them out of the nest. They have to, (and will be able to) fly on their own. I have to give them the opportunity.
At Blue Ridge High, there was a number of college students who came and led their SYATP for them.It was well organized, and well attended.. but again thanks for our help guys, but you missed the point as well. What is the point?
To any parents/youth pastors/volunteers reading this post... SYATP is a student led event! Train your kids the very best you can as to what to do, then allow it to be a failure if students don't lead it!
Now, I did eventually go over to the kids from my youth group, and gave them a few instructions as to what they might pray for, who should do the talking, and how to form small groups... but then I walked away. And guess what? Some of them did it! You know what else? Some of them ignored me all together...
But it was student led...


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