Reflections from Camp

As many of you know, I have the privilege of co-directing our local associational camp.  This year was one of the most challenging and most rewarding camps that I have been able to be a part of.

God did some tremendous things at camp this year.  We saw kids come to know Christ.  We got to hear from many who wanted to further their relationship with Christ through Baptism.  We even got to talk with several young people who felt a strong pull towards missions.  It was fantastic!

Now that I am home and I have had some time to reflect on all that happened at camp, I wanted to share with you my reflections from camp.

1.    Our kids are looking for something real.

As we spoke with kids and did our Bible studies, we saw many kids want to know if all this Jesus stuff is for real.  They are looking for people who authentically believe and therefore live out their faith.  They wanted to hear why they should believe in God and how they can know for certain that Jesus really is God in the flesh.

Not only were they looking for authentic faith, but they are looking for authentic relationships.  They want to experience real church community.  They want people in their lives that will laugh with them, cry with them, and be with them through all of life’s challenges.  The most important part of camp is not the chapel service or the Bible studies; it is the time they spend together in their cabin or in the rocking chairs.  That is where real community and discipleship happen!

2.    Our kids are looking to be challenged

Perhaps the most surprising thing I saw at camp this year was kids who wanted to go deeper in their Bible study and walk with God.  As usual, we go through a couple Bible studies every day at camp and this year’s studies were rather difficult.  The kids responded well to tough passages and tough questions.  There are many kids who want to go past the classic “Bible stories” and the question, “What does this mean to you?” and they want to ponder hard questions and learn hard things about God.  We don’t have to be afraid to make young people uncomfortable with tough questions!  On the contrary, they are craving the opportunity to be challenged in the church!

This challenge isn’t limited to Bible study either!  They want to be involved in the church!!!  I had a young lady come to me excited about opportunities to be on mission both domestically and abroad.  Our kids want to SERVE in the church.  They want accountability.  They want to be doing ministry.  They want to know where they belong in the Kingdom of God.  We have got to disciple our people with a purpose.  We should be actively training up the next generation of pastors, teachers, and missionaries.  The best way to train them is to give them to chance to exercise their gifts!  Let’s put them on committees, send them on mission trips, and give them the pulpit to communicate the Gospel!  We may be surprised at how well they do!

3.    Our kids need parents who are passionate about God

The church can do much to disciple our young people, but their parents are crucial.  Parents remain the primary faith builders of every young person. If a teenager is feeling a call towards missions or ministry; it will be the parent who either fans that flame or extinguishing it.  This means parents need to not only encourage their kids to love God, but they need to show their kids how to love God. Parents, our priorities, our behavior, and our actions will do more to teach our children about following Christ than any Bible study out there.  We have to live the life and communicate why we do so every opportunity we get.  I call this “on the road” discipleship. (Deut 6:7) We do not have to wait for church services or family worship time to share how Scripture influences our lives.  Teach your kids about Christ as you are driving to practice or grocery shopping; you never know what truth will change their lives forever!

Church, please do not neglect your obligation to parents.  The church has to be there to support, encourage, and equip parents for this tough task.  We cannot be the institution to whom parent can delegate spiritual formation.  Instead, we must empower parents to lead their homes into a closer walk with God.  Remember, God created the family long before he created the church!

Again, thank you so much for entrusting us with your kids at camp this year and we will see you again in 2019!!!