After a long bus ride, ranging from 30 minutes to 5 hours, to the Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina, there is a buzz of excitement in the air as groups of children make their way inside. Once inside the building, loud music is heard and people move around the entire building. The entire auditorium is almost full, and the noise from people is almost as loud as the music. Once all of the groups are inside, Someone begins to give announcements. But it is not long before music starts again, this time live. Huge crowds of youth run to the stage to form “the closest thing to a mosh pit Methodists will ever come to” as an adult leader describes it. However, eventually the small concert ends, and everyone returns to their seats. It is then that the speaker for the year, Brock Morgan, takes the stage, and begins to preach.
Every year, Methodist youth groups from across the state gather in Columbia for Revolution, a gathering pretty much unlike any other. Starting Friday night and ending Sunday morning, kids ranging from 6th grade to high school seniors attend a four part worship service that includes dancing, live music from both professional performers and other youth, testimonies of faith, and a sermon each service from a different speaker every year. Some groups stay at hotels, and aside from attending the service at Township Auditorium they also visit with other churches for a pizza party and mission work. Other groups actually stay at another church in Columbia, spending the entire weekend with one or more youth groups. No matter where the groups stay, one thing is certain: everyone, leaders and youth alike, is filled with excitement for the weekend, from the moment they leave Friday to the time the bus pulls away Sunday.
Everyone throughout the event, adult and youth alike, takes full part in the weekend. The adults range from volunteers in college to youth leaders to parents and other adults helping out the youth leader, but they all take time out for the whole weekend to help run the trip.
No matter what age, those there seem to love it. They enjoy the live music, this year from performer Tauren Wells, the speaker Brock Morgan, and spending the entire weekend with other churches, including sleeping, eating, playing games, and bonding in general. As can be seen by many of the tweets from the weekend, everyone is sad to be leaving, and especially sad to be leaving the new friendships made over the weekend.
Revolution in Society
Clearly, Revolution is a pretty big deal to youth groups around the state, and clearly, a large number of kids attend these youth groups. These kids decide to spend an entire weekend in Columbia with other groups purely based on religion. In general, they seem to decide to attend for two main reasons: one is because they want to spend time with other kids their age with similar interests, and the other is because they want to experience a large scale religious service. Both of these reasons are intertwined with one another as well as religion. Because of their religion, the members of youth groups want to spend time with other people of the same religion, and in the case of Revolution, the same denomination: Methodist. Also because of their religion, the kids in the groups simply want to have a religious experience; basically the decision to go is entirely based on their religious values and wants.
However, it is impossible to consider one reason without the other. Due to the nature of the event, Revolution is a group activity. It is based on both the interactions between the youth and the speaker and worship and music leaders, as well as the interactions between all of those attending. In spending time with one another, sleeping together, doing mission work together, playing games together, and worshiping together, youth attending form a bond with one another that is entirely based on religious beliefs, creating a friendship that would not happen elsewhere and without religion.
Most people would agree that a weekend is pretty important to any kid in grade school, as well as most adults, so giving almost the entire weekend up for one trip is a pretty big deal. The trip needs to at least sound enjoyable, and even then those going need to have a fairly compelling reason to go on it. So, at least for the kids and leaders who decided to go to Revolution, religion plays a large role in helping them to make decisions. And if it affects a decision as large as how to spend a weekend, especially a weekend that creates numerous friendships and strengthens others, wouldn’t religion influence their other, daily decisions, and their friendships in general?
“The Township Auditorium.” Photo provided by Flickr.