Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Church Camp Still A Needed Element of Spiritual Growth

I am part of a Holiness denomination, which was built on the foundation of camp meetings. A time of bringing together all who people of the same faith, belief, and foundational background. For many this is a blessed tradition, of getting away from the everyday life to spend time focused on spiritual growth.

I didn’t grow up in this background, but began attending with my wife when I was twenty. She loved going to camp, and I quickly fell in love with the Northern Michigan camp we attended. We were blessed by many speakers, special music, and the fellowship with those of kindred spirit. It was nice to get away from the computers and television to enjoy some time with God. Helping out with children’s ministry a couple of years was an additional blessing. It is great to enjoy the outdoor’s, and a place a little off the beaten trail.

The problem today is that many, even in our own denomination are forgetting the revivals and the blessings of going to camp meetings. Many feel that older camps are far too outdated to be effective. They want glamour, flash, new buildings, and physically aesthetic places to seek God. Some are closing campgrounds, even when people are coming in large number. They may wish to build a more modern facility, which will cost far more than adding or maintaining what is already owned.

I find it funny to hear friends in other districts who are facing these fights to save their campgrounds. People will not come to an old tabernacle to worship, yet the younger generation will gather in garages, pole barns, warehouses, and even barns to worship every week. The younger generation may be hooked on IPODS and computers, but when they worship they love traditional atmosphere, with new amenities. Maybe those considering closing a camp should look at this upcoming culture and realize what they really like. With a few modernized changes, most due to electronics and not the look of the building a camp may be able to be used for the next generation to be blessed by a new revival spirit.

We now live in Central Illinois and our district hasn’t had camp in years. There is a great separation between many of our church. We do gather yearly for conference and we try to get together at other times, but it is difficult to pull the district together at times. We miss the fellowship of pastors, generations of believers gathering for worship, and the atmosphere of revival found at church camp.

My wife is in ministry training and attends FLAME courses from the Wesleyan Church. They often use district camps to offer training through out the country. I am blessed to join her each year in Frankfort, Indiana; at the Wesleyan Campground. It is not exactly like going to a family camp, but it helps to fill the void missing to the two of us. I hope and pray that those considering the closure of camps think long and hard about the purpose of camp meeting. I also hope they never forget either the foundation we are built upon, or the ability to reach the next generation through camping. May the fires of revival continue to burn from campgrounds, just as the fires of the campers shine into the darkness of the night.

- Keep on your journey with Jesus