If you are a skim reader and notice the words ‘camp’, ‘youth’ or ‘work’ you may be tempted to think, “Oh well, this article isn’t for me….” but let me encourage you that it certainly is something for you! I am no gifted writer, far from it, in fact this is about my 10th attempt at this article, but I hope you grasp something that I think the Lord wants to teach us all.
Adventure has always been a special part of my life. I just love it and camps are an opportunity for adventure. A week/weekend or afternoon with a group of noisy children is exhausting but at the same time fulfilling, energizing and motivating. Rachel and I have often said that if it was possible for us to do camp after camp on a full time basis, it would be a dream job.
Since the Elders asked me to be involved with the youth of IBCZ I have really been challenged to think again about what youth work really means. I am an ideas person, I tend to have too many in fact, or so my wife says! But what is the use of ideas, however good (or bad), if they are not what our Lord wants. I do not want to initiate or do anything with regards to ‘youth work’ including camps, that would not be what Jesus would want us to do. Whatever we do it has to be done on the foundation of Scripture.
Quite early on in the Bible, in Deuteronomy 6: 5-7, God made sure to tell us what was important to Him, through His servant, Moses. Many of us know the first part of the verse by heart: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
But read on what directly follows: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up”
God told us to teach our children of Him, diligently because he knows that the next generation is watching us, learning from us – how to live a life that is honouring to Him. God did not say teach the children diligently once a week and/or for 5 minutes every morning, He said always, in every aspect of life.
This brings me back to camps – why is it that I love camping so much? Why is it that the impact of camps tends to be so deep and long lasting? Despite the good food and the crazy games, I think that it is because life on camp is experiencing the Church family up close and we in fact see discipleship in action.
Camps are an important opportunity that we should grasp as a means to teach our children, through our actions, by our examples and our words. Camps are however, only a small part of the ministry, there are Sunday morning classes too as well as various one-off events that are not to be missed. The Core Youth Team are seeking to explore and try out different ways and ideas of how God wants us as a church family to be teaching the next generation – even better than we are right now.
This is not just a task for the parents or for the youth leaders or Sunday School teachers, but for all of us. It is also not just the task of teaching our own children, but each other’s children and also not just in church or at home but whenever and however we possibly can. Whoever you are, it is a task that God has made available for you.
Young people and children are always up for a challenge, they are open to learn – they are forgiving, optimistic, and unique. To teach them diligently is an act of will that takes effort on our part and the more we do it the better we will get at it. What is more rewarding than investing ourselves in teaching the children what is most important: to love and honour God with everything they are? So, whether we are sitting, walking, lying or rising, let us diligently speak to our children of what God has done and can do for them. May the Lord help us to help each other to do just this, in this coming year.
Join us this coming Sunday as we worship and fellowship together as a family and respond together with Pastor Will to the Royal Invitations found in Matthew 7: 7-12: Ask, Seek, Knock.
Yours in Christ,