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!

Jodie McNeill is the Executive Director of Youthworks Outdoors. Contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to find out about the all-new 'Kids Sleep Free' deal for church groups.

Jodie is the Senior Minister at Oak Flats Anglican Church

Comments (2)

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  • Colin Murdoch
    November 16, 10 - 3:08am
    As someone who has been intimately involved in the Leadership, Organisation and Creating a Culture that will "Make a Difference" over decades for Youth, Young Adults, Families and Singles in weekends away at Conference Centres, a number of observations need to be made.

    First, the positive experience and impact will happen if those organising the weekend away faithfully put in the little extra to make it special, like comments indictive of what we have received:"Tremendous organisation to undertake.You ought to be commended! You amazing, talented,loving people."

    Second, pray asking God to touch the lives of those people coming. He will do the rest that weekend or in His time, like comments indictive:" I absolutely enjoyed myself.I have met people I know have changed my life! Words are inadequate to express my thanks. God is good always."

    Third,to become more professional, not all decisions have been popular and may have turned some away.For example, the dreaded minimum number requirement
    many larger sites is 85%! Perhaps needs revisiting if Ministry/Connecting a main purpose! Are we really about the Gospel or $'s?
  • Roger Gallagher
    November 16, 10 - 6:33am
    Hi Jodie,

    Perhaps it's a peculiararity of my church, but one thing I've noticed since I moved to Sydney in the mid-90's is the increasing difficulty of getting people to go away on a houseparty. Every time the English-speaking congregations have one, less people attend. Is the church weekend away an event that has outlived its' usefulness?