What if there was a teen camp that intensely focused on teaching robust ecclesiology to middle and high schoolers? Answering questions like: What is a church? Why is it central for a Christian? What’s the mission? What does it mean to be a member? What are healthy marks of the church? How to find one?
However, it seems to me that many summer camps focus on individualistic experiences rather than the centrality of the local church. It’s common to hear of teen camps that focus on God’s salvation for me…God’s purpose for me…God’s plan/will for me…God’s relationship with me. Now, I’m not saying these things are bad, but I am wondering if we have unintentionally detached those things from life with the church? Proof of this detachment is seen in the serious lack of understanding our adults have in the church today on what the church is and how central it is for the Christian’s life.
But what if we could better disciple our young people earlier on? Educate them before misunderstandings plunge too deeply?
Now to be clear: it’s the local church’s job to primarily disciple in these things, not a camp. But what if while a strong healthy church emphasized ecclesiology to young people throughout the year, a strong summer camp then reenforced and complemented those things during the weeklong intensive?
Would our teens come back with mountain top passions that were properly located in and attached to the local church? Would the mountain top passions be sustained because the local church was the arena that continued to fuel such zeal?Would the teen that feels “called to the ministry” first expect for the church to filter and examine the call before assuming it to be true? Would the teen ready to be baptized at camp realize why he needed to wait and be public before the church before that took place?
Would teens be lost at home without camp, or would they be invigorated to invest in the church, where the action really takes place? Would they not simply be zealous for God’s mission in the world, but specifically zealous for His means as well, the local church? Would they be much more prepared to stay in the church after graduation because they had years making clear to them if they were even truly in the church to begin with or not? And once in a church, would they stay for the right reasons and avoid leaving over silly ones?
Maybe my argument is mainly for teaching young people early on the importance of the local church more than looking for an ecclesiological summer camp—and I do hope this ongoing teaching IS happening at a church level. But what if there was a solid Christian camp that could come along side that teaching?
That’d be great.