I recently spent a week at our local church camp during a High School Week of camp and just had a great time. As I get older, my body physically doesn't like the lack of sleep, but my oh my how my spirit is strengthened by the experience there!
I had the thought and I've had it before I wish our churches were a lot more like church camp. It's really sad to me that students and adults have to go somewhere else to experience the type of fellowship, worship, and spiritual renewal you get at a week of church camp. Wouldn't be nice if our local churches had this type of atmosphere, attitude, or experience?
I know their are differences between being away somewhere and enjoying time away from your normal routines and buys lives, I still think the local church could implement and adopt some of the things we experience at church camp. First, the worship is typically intimate and awesome. We settle for traditional,same ole same ole, predictability in our worship services at the local church and even in our children and youth ministries at our local bodies. We should learn to have worship services at our local church like camp, that are more touching, involve the worshipper, and move you. After all, worship is about God and for God anyway, not us.
Secondly, I think the relationships you build at church camp are more authentic and real. We really open up and make ourselves more vulnerable and accessible, while at the local church we come in and sit on our pew, closed off, silent, guarded, and go home without allowing someone to get truly close to us or us getting close to someone. We need each other and the Bible tells us to carry each others burdens. We need to rely on the body of Christ and be someone others rely on when we hurt, struggle, or have problems.
Thirdly, the spiritual aspect of camp is always something I think we need to experience more back at home in our local churches. While church camp typically has a great setting and you're away from your world, I think the local church should be an oasis too for the Christian and those seeking God. Our churches have become too much business as usual, and doing the same things the same way for decades, and really becoming more religious social clubs and gatherings, and not the true body of Christ and a place for people to find refuge, healing, love, and change. I think we need to do a better job as a church at being relevant, practical, realistic, and loving.
Finally, I think church camp is a little glimpse of what the church is supposed to really look like and be like. While, we need our church camps and should support them, use them, and be involved in them, we also need to have the same type of attitude/atmosphere for both our members and visitors at the local church. When they walk in our churches they need to sense the spirit of God there. They need to feel welcomed and loved. They need to experience God in a variety of ways.
I pray that all of our churches can learn to be more like we are when we go to church camp. For most us who go to camp a lot, we love camp, miss camp when gone, and can't wait to go back. That sounds like the way church should be.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.