I am currently teaching at West Coast Grace Youth Camp, Mount Palomar, California. It is a beautiful sot for a camp, and the people that run the camp give the kids a great week of fun, worship and Bible study. My “task” is teaching 18 college students who will be counsellors next year. I did this last summer as well and had a great time, this year’s group has a lot of potential A few of them would make great counsellors now, but I like the fact that they would like to have a bit more “training” before taking on a cabin of 5th graders.
This year’s camp has been plagued by difficulties which seem to be more complicated that previous years. We have had some discipline problems and a scare with a potentially serious injury, and one of the boy’s cabins has had a little problem with bugs. Any one of these things would have the potential for hindering the ministry of the camp, but that has not happened. Everyone has been able to adapt, they have demonstrated patience, and worked hard to make cabin moves and cold showers less disruptive.
What strikes me about the kids this year is that there is more widespread “ignorance” on key elements of the Christian faith. We do a survey at the beginning of the week and many of the kids who declare that they are Christians think that their good works is what makes them “saved.” Quite a few who at least declare that they believe in God, but a large percentage do not think that the Bible is “literal truth.” In fact, very few know the basic outline of the Gospel even of they say “I have accepted Christ as my savior.”
On the other hand, the campers are extremely fervent in their worship times, As I type this, a group of campers have a guitar and are sining praise songs during their free time. Our Bible hours begin with an appropriate time of praise and worship music, but these are not the “camp chorus” type songs I grew up with. The worship leader has selected songs with rather deep lyrics. (They are almost entirely plagiarized from scripture, but that is not a bad thing in this case. I think they are all examples of intertextual blending of traditions material.) The band is loud, but the music is well mixed and the vocals are clear.
I see most campers singing. The lyrics are of course projected on the wall, but they are in fact singing bits of Scripture, perhaps more scripture than they read on a daily basis. This puts enormous pressure on the worship leader. He must select good songs which the kids want to sing (fairly easy) but must ensure that the lyrics are “scripturally correct” (quite a challenge). There is a constant temptation to pick the popular song without really thinking about what is being sung. Fortunately, we have a worship leader who cares about that sort of thing.
What does this mean for “doing ministry”? I have to be flexible, since the days of singing a few choruses then a 45 minute sermon twice a day are going away (or gone).