A Summer to Remember

July 28, 2023 | Jake Smith

And just like that, Summer 2023 is in the books! It was a wild and busy summer at Venture for the kids and student ministries, but let me say this...

God is on the move, folks. 

Our Next Gen team has spent these last two months praying, laughing, happy crying, and celebrating our summer with all that God is doing at Venture through these ministries… and I want to celebrate it all with you as well! 

  • Venture Kids reached 480 kids and had 185 volunteers during VBS. The kids at VBS raised $5,560 for our mission partner, His Eyes, in Honduras.
  • For the first time ever, we celebrated a baptism at VBS!
  • Venture Kids took 35+ campers to Camp Allendale 
  • Venture Students had over 65 junior high and high school students participate in our summer trips to CIY MIX and MOVE (the largest group we've taken in the last 10 years!) 
  • 9 high school students said "YES" to raising funds and going on an overseas mission trip to serve at His Eyes in Honduras
  • All of our summer trips have sparked next steps of faith within our Next Gen Ministry! 
  • Finally, and probably the most significant moment of my summer, we were able to take a student’s “One” with us to MOVE, and that One gave their life to Jesus on the last night of our trip! If you ask me more about that story, prepare yourself for tears!


This list doesn't come close to including all the personal, spiritual, and communal growth that happened this summer, so please be sure to ask anyone who was a part of these events to tell you about their experience. 

As you can probably guess, the last three years have been hard on kids and students in many ways. They are trying to navigate school, sports, clubs, church, work, and more. They are trying to figure out their identities as believers in a world that is telling them their faith is based on silly stories. Their circumstances won’t change with this school year, but something will be different. 

They will. 

Our kids and students are ready for the kingdom work ahead of them this school year. This summer, it has been beautiful to see the Holy Spirit stirring in their hearts, showing them how that kingdom work will be completed through their own gifts and talents. 

One of our high school students summed it all up perfectly. I will end with his words: 

"This past week, I was at a CIY MOVE week-long event at Wheaton College in Illinois. If you aren’t familiar with this camp, I’ll sum it up: Heaven drastically increases its numbers after the week is over. So, after four great days of hour-long worship, sermons and amazing fellowship through games, mealtime, and competitions, we had our last main session on Friday night. After an emotional worship and an amazing sermon over Mathew 8:23-27, we began to close out with more worship and prayer, when the tornado sirens went off. All 1200-something students and adults were then evacuated out of the main gym, and we were sent to cinderblock hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms. 

With a tornado coming right at the college, the Holy Spirit didn’t stop. Kids were not only crying, but we were singing. With the handheld speakers we had and the little voices we could bring, worship never stopped. By kids and leaders alike, songs of resurrection, gratitude, and amazing grace were being lifted up. After about an hour, God answered an abundance of prayers and calmed the storms again. We were then brought back into the gym where we continued worship, and Heaven's numbers continued to increase. 

 This isn’t supposed to be “look how cool we are” or a boasting of faith, no. This is supposed to show you two things. 1) My generation is hungry to hear the Word. And... 2) The early church from Acts chapter 2, devoted themselves to being the church, and they didn’t need a building. They became one big family and continued to add to their numbers every day without laying a building foundation. Christianity shouldn’t be limited to just Sunday or a building. You and I, we are the church, not a building with an address or a roof. We are. We didn’t need a screen to tell us the words, or a band, or fog machines. No production was needed. No A/C or lights? No problem, we will sing louder. I’m sure many of the kids felt like the disciples on the boat - helpless, confused, and worried. But this only made their voices get louder. God was in complete control of the situation and when we all came to that realization, He smiled." - Brennan Decker

God is good. All. The. Time. 

- Jake Smith, Venture Students Pastor