Connecting through church camps
Last week I addressed the new Mission Areas leaders of our Diocese to discuss the place of church camps as a tool for mission in our community.
In my presentation I made that point that our church houseparties (as we commonly refer to them) are often considered to be events that primarily develop community, rather than outreach.
Yet, thinking that defines an activity of the church as achieving only evangelism or discipleship is unnecessarily narrow.
For, the work of the Spirit through the word of God will result in hearers being challenged to obey Jesus as Lord, whether for the first time as a conversion experience, or for the ongoing maturation of already-committed Christians.
So, if a member of our church invites an outsider to join a church camp for a weekend, then if the teaching is faithful to the Scriptures, they we can expect it to achieve both mission and nurture.
Yet, the benefit for mission extends beyond simply the impact of the Word ministry of the actual weekendaway.
For, one of the greatest effects of a houseparty is its ability for a church member to grow in their satisfaction of and love for the group.
If we want our parishioners to commend our churches to their friends, families and other contacts, then we will want to make sure they already love the 'product' enough to recommend it.
Given that the 'product' we provide is a community of relationships gathered around Christ in his word, then 40 hours away together is the best kind of product-building exercise available.
Plus, if a parishioner can invite a family or friend to the weekendaway, then the impact of the Christ-centred community upon the outsider can be a potent tool to demonstrate and commend to them the power of God in our midst.
So, next time you're planning for mission activities, don't overlook the impact of a weekendaway for your church group… and for your wider community!