Think about that first time you joined your youth summer camp. It was most probably fun, exciting, and pivotal for you. You learned a few lessons, you built Christ-centred relationships and you enjoyed church fellowship. However, none of that—no matter how fun and helpful—brought you closer to God.
Now, I have nothing against youth camps and I still help put together a few of them because they are really helpful. But we must never believe in the misconception that youth camps bring us closer to God. They can help us learn more about God, they can be great ways to connect with church members, but they never bring us to God.
In fact, no event, training, discipleship lesson or doctrine will ever be able to bring you closer to God. Hebrews 4:14 and 16 says this: "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession... Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
The only way we draw near to God is Jesus Christ. As Jesus once said, no one comes to the Father except through Him. It is by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the finished work on the cross that we are able to draw near to the throne of God. It's never by any man-made event or belief system and never by our own strength and works.
The problem we face when sometimes we focus too much on an event to approach God is that we think that we are far from God when we don't come to that event. But God is always near and He is always with us specifically because of who Jesus is and what He has done once and for all. We are now close to God.
James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
We don't need to go to an event, finish a certain material or say a specific prayer to draw near. We need only to put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ and He will draw near.
And again, I have nothing against youth camps, programmess, events, trainings, and lessons. We need all of that, but let us never fall for the lie that that is what draws us near to God. We draw near to God because of Jesus Christ, and apart from Christ we cannot draw near.