Have you ever heard the slogan “Camp Matters”? It’s been rolling off the tongue of every NextGen leader for about 10 years now. We’ve read about it. We’ve seen promo videos about it. It has popped up on Instagram, and Facebook and maybe even Snapchat.
I have always loved camp. Camp is the place where we get away to meet Jesus. Camp is the place where we get away to meet new friends. OK, and for real, it’s the place where I met my wife!
This year my wife, Kerri, and I had the privilege of traveling with our students and spending the week with them at Camp Hickory. It brought back so many memories for me (and not just about meeting my wife, although that’s a pretty big deal)! I was reminded of the leaders I had thirty years ago that poured into my life. Men like Steve Hohm, Greg Everson and David Smith. I also remember a cabin leader I had named Gary. He was from Michigan. It took me a while (like one day) to get to know him, but by Wednesday of camp, I had come to understand that Gary was a leader who wanted to make sure that I had the tools to grow in Christ. He made a huge impact on my life in just a few days.
I thought about all the youth pastors I had grown close to over the years while bringing students to camp and the great conversations and experiences I had with so many other leaders. And of course, I remembered the campers that as a youth pastor, I had invested in over the years.
Camp is a remarkable place. Camp does matter! Camp is a place where we see a remarkable Kingdom dynamic occur right before our eyes. And it’s not just the powerful worship, or times in the word, though we know those things matter. But more than that, this remarkable Kingdom dynamic has to do with history, and family and passing the calling of God’s work on to the next generation.
I was struck, as I sat in on a devotion led by a pastor–who was a camper just a few short years ago. I watched him as he led this group of campers. For me, it was almost like a proud dad moment of seeing this man, whom I had invested in, lead his group and pass on the same investment to the next generation. It was a moment where I could visibly see the work of Jesus bridging the gap between generations.
My encouragement to you today is simple: Invest! Invest in the next generation.
All of us can look back at our lives’ and recall the men and women that have invested in us. Someone took the time to invest in me. Someone took time to invest in you. Someone took the time to help you get your stuff together. Maybe someone like just like Gary, spent a week at camp just for you–investing in you!
This isn’t a plea to get you to camp next summer. (Or maybe it is.) It’s a plea for you to look around your life and your schedule and your big list of ‘to do’s’ and to remind you that ministry is simply about Jesus passing on from you to someone else. It is so easy for us to lose the real goal of the Kingdom in the midst of all the big ministry things we have going on, when Jesus simple plea to us is to make followers of Him.
So invest. Invest in people, not programs. Invest in people, not property. Invest in people, not services. People bridge the gap of generations, cultures, language and nations. People are the only vehicle that can carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. And you might happen upon one of them at a kid’s camp next summer, or by leading a breakout at youth camp.
This year, we had a first-time cabin leader named Mary. Mary is 71 years young! She rocked camp! She believes in the next generation so much so that she gave up a week of her life to invest. She even rode the mechanical bull at Bible camp. (Yes, camp has changed a bit over the years!)
Paul writes these words to his campers in Philippians 2:15-17, “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.”
When we get to Heaven and see this great story that Jesus has written in all of our lives, I pray that I will have shining stars in the sky that held firmly to the Word of Life. I want to be able to boast a bit about my investment. But I know that it comes at the cost of running hard, and being poured out. So let’s commit to invest together, as a Foursquare movement into the next generation of God’s great family. Keep up the hard work of investing and #campmatters!