Five Reasons for Going to Youth Camp

As summer approaches youth camps across the globe will commence.  From sports camps, band camp, church camps and many in-between.  For those thinking about attending for the first time there

can be some intimidation.  Sometimes even the question, “Why should I go?”  As an experience camper, camp counselor, and camp supervisor, I can tell you there are plenty of reasons to go.  Especially to church camp.  Here are five quick reasons to go to youth camp.

Spiritual Formation

Basically everything about going to church, whether youth or family oriented, is about spiritual growth.  Even the next four reasons are built on this principle.  Going to youth camp is a great place to be introduced to intentional and structured discipleship.  The camp may only last a week but the effects of it will last a lifetime.  Having regularly scheduled prayer and bible study times throughout the day, multiple worship and preaching services each day, even serving, doing chores and participating in activities are a powerful way to place yourself in position for God to form your life.

Build Relationships

It’s true that when you get out of high school that you won’t meet most of your classmates except at the occasional class reunion.  Youth camp is different.  You will develop friendships that are deep.  You won’t just camp together, play sports together, and take on tasks together but you’ll experience a whole week of life together.  Even more, you’ll worship and be formed by God next to a whole group of youth experiencing the same movement of God.  Even if your shy you will find it easier to make friends in the youth camp environment than if you stayed at home during the summer.

Getting Out of the World’s Current

Things are moving fast.  You are growing up and new responsibilities are being handed to you each day.  Life demands a lot from even the youngest and as an adult there are fewer opportunities to step out of the world’s current.  Internet, cell phones, and social media have increased the reach of life beyond natural limits.  It can wear you out.  Going to camp helps you disconnect.  I’ve seen teenagers deal with a terrible nervousness at camps because they didn’t have a computer or game to play.  That’s not where you want to be.  If the camp is one week long then that is one week that you can slow down and look at what you really need to thrive and what extra things you have blessed with.

Going Beyond Yourself

Camp will challenge you.  It will stretch you.  It stretched me because of my shy nature.  I had to step out of my comfort zone when I went to camp.  I don’t regret it one bit and camps have truly been one of the biggest formative forces in my life because of that.  You will be challenged not only to make new friends but you’ll be challenged to grow in God through the classes and sermons.  You’ll be challenged by your leaders and friends to be a stronger in the faith and more committed to serving him.

Find Direction

It was at a camp that I started down the path of being a minister.  It is because of many of the prior reasons that camp is an excellent place for finding direction in your life.  Some of more worldly friends will offer distractions.  The world’s fast pace will keep us running after things that do not matter.  Staying focused on our self and in our comfort zone will never allow us to live for God.  By allowing God to work in your life during camp and separate you from those roadblocks may just be the thing you need to find God’s vision for your own life.  Maybe to be a pastor, teacher, missionary, or to work in a secular profession with a Christian witness.  Why wouldn’t you want to have the confidence that what you want to do with your life is what God really wants you to do with your life?
Now, get the forms filled and sent in.  Start packing.  Anticipate and get excited about going to youth camp.

Review: Autopsy of a Deceased Church

Book reviews are something that haven’t made it into my blog so far.  So, I am fairly new at this endeavor even though reading is a favorite pastime of mine.  My personal library is in my house and it is growing because of my reignited passion for actual books instead of on my kindle (iPad gives me a headache anymore).  Here is my first book review on the blog.

This year Thom Rainer, CEO and president of LifeWay, published a book entitled “Autopsy of a

Deceased Church.”  In it he writes about his research done by interviews with members of churches that are no longer alive.  The symptoms and causes of decline and decease are all given a chapter that builds on the idea that a church’s death is more like a “slow erosion.”  By the end of the book (which is only 102 pages long) he finally moves from the causes of church death to twelve thought patterns that have to occur to help a dying church.  Actually, the last four are not how to view a dying church in order to revive it but ideas of what to do with the dead church property so that new life can come from others.  Overall it is decent quick read.  My first quick read only took a few hours and I gained some insights.

The Good…
One overall theme stood out to me in the book that I took away as the main cause of church decline and death.  That is a focus on self.  The reoccurring thought is that “they looked inwardly instead of outwardly.”  Whether the presenting cause was in the past, bad-community outlook, selfish budgeting, no outreach, and more (usually more or the issues), the underlying theme is that churches can expect to decline when they focus on themselves.  This comes in many ways but once a church turns inward there may be growth in who is there but nobody new from the outside is going in.

The Not-so Good…
There are two things I would like to have seen addressed and one issue I think rises up with the book.  The first of the two things that needs addressed is that only fourteen churches were studied (albeit not everyone would agree to being interviewed about their dead church).  I have read estimation of 3,000 to 4,000 churches in North America close their doors each year.  I find it hard to believe that fourteen churches could be seen as the pattern for those.  Rainer does however state that he is relying on those fourteen churches and his years of experience as a church consultant.  I do trust his expertise in this area.  But this leads me to the second thing needing to be addressed.

He assures the read that the churches were different sizes, different denominations and did not have a major crises or moral failure to point out for an abrupt church death.  One thing though that jumps out to me is that the fourteen churches all seem to be very traditional in nature.  I do not see much evidence to think that any of these churches would be considered contemporary.  It made me feel that only traditional churches die.  That’s what raises up an issue for the book.  Rainer makes no apologies for the reasons these churches died (I do appreciate the bluntness).  But I do think that it will strike a chord of division with readers from a more traditional background.  They will read and find examples (like I have in my mind) of traditionally oriented churches that are thriving and push back against the symptoms.  I would of liked more detail about the churches researched, and I think it would of helped if there was some research shown of more contemporary oriented churches to balance it out.