Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gratitude

It has been almost 3 weeks exactly since I last posted. I'm sorry. I know the blog-o-sphere hasn't been quite the same in my silence, but I'm officially back. I guess it would be appropriate to tell you why I've been gone for so long. I took the students at Concord to Student Life @ the Beach June 11-15 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and then once I got back I had one week before Adventure Camp.

What is Adventure Camp?

It was our attempt to move away from the gluttony and overload of thematic VBS' and engage the children in our community with an active, God-centered, exciting day camp. Concord is an average size church and we've had minimal success engaging our community with the gospel even though this desire is deeply embedded in the heart of our staff and leadership. When I came to CBC we still had the typical VBS. A lot of effort, creativity, organizing, planning and energy went into an event that produced only minimal results. All in all, we typically had about 3/4 of our church kids and a few visitors - most of whom had previously attended another VBS at another church with the same theme one week prior. In other words, we found ourselves baby-sitting.

For the past two years we took VBS on the "go" with mobileVBS. I think the idea behind this concept was great. Take small groups of people into the community, secure a locale such as an apartment complex, and set up shop for the week. Meet unbelievers on their turf rather than expecting them to come to us. But once again we were met, not only with some resistance in the community, but less participation by our own church famiilies, and with very little success.

Our desire this year was to move away from the typical VBS altogether. While we originally planned for Adventure Camp to meet in the evening, we chucked that idea in favor of a day camp (well, a 1/2 day). While we intitially we met with some resistance even among our volunteers, people eventually bought into the idea. We planned a registration weekend and the preliminary results weren't promising. Only 13 children registered that weekend. However, the camp slowly began building momentum after about 1800 flyers, yard signs, road signs, radio announcements and free newspaper publications. We maxed out our camp. We eventually registered 87 children for Adventure Camp, 12 for MiniAdventure, and 8 in the nursery for a total of 107 children! The frustrating reality for us is that we could have registered more (I would estimate about 130 just in Adventure Camp) if we had more volunteers. It was painful turning people away.

We called this week Amazing Adventure Camp and it lived up to its name. Not only was it a blessing having so many children and having the opportunity to share the gospel with them, but to see God's hand over the 80+ volunteers was equally encouraging. To my knowledge this was the largest assembly of volunteers for any event at Concord in my 5 years. Our youngest volunteer was 13 and our oldest 81. It was so humbling seeing God take hours of conversations, planning and organization and lead us, by the Spirit, to ask precisely the right people to serve in their particular capacity during the week. Not only were volunteers doing what they were asked to do with very little supervision - but they were doing it very well! This week was exactly the kind of liminal experience that I believe our congregation needed.

So what did we do this week? Each day was filled with music; bible study that focused on the purpose of our existance - which is to worship God; daily Footpath Encounters were children took hikes and met historical Christian figures, ordinary people whom God used in extraordinary ways (Gladys Alyward, Sheldon Jackson, Corrie Ten Boom, Eric Liddell); "adventures" including a giant maze (which the kids LOVED), wacky Olympics, an Amazing Race, a rock-climbing wall, capture the flag, water games, and being ambushed by super-soaker wielding bandits; we ended the week with a Pinewood Derby that was awesome.

I don't know the full impact of the seeds of God's Word scattered this week, but we are praying that the Spirit would take our efforts and begin drawing children to Christ. We are praying for a meaningful connection with families in the E Brainerd area. We are praying that God would be pleased to allow us to be a part of the harvest of our labors. But we are also full of gratitude for God's bountiful provision and care for us this week. He was SO good to us in so many ways.

Maybe you have a favorite Adventure Camp memory or something to give thanks to God for. I'd love to hear that that might be. Thanks be to God for a wonderful week. Now it's time to sleep because that has been a scarce blessing for the past 2-3 weeks.

5 Comments:

At 1:29 PM , Blogger Michelle said...

Thank you again for all your hard work. Seriously. It was wonderfully put together. The kids were so much more engaged and I learned a lot as well. A lot more than if I was just baby sitting as you so appropriately called it. The week was a real challenge to me since my kids could be incredibly disrespectful at times, but I've been learning that love is an action, not a feeling. With lots of help from God, I chose to love my kids by not giving up, and by the end of the week, God gave me the feeling of love for them as well. I really hope I can be involved again next year.

 
At 1:30 PM , Blogger Michelle said...

P.S. Nice new design.

 
At 9:39 AM , Blogger Aaron said...

will you be back from South Africa next June?

 
At 11:59 AM , Blogger Michelle said...

I get back in late May. Every time I think about it I feel so blessed. God has been so good to me.

 
At 7:31 PM , Anonymous Heather said...

My favorite part was getting completely soaked in the back by our student pastor!!!
Adventure Camp was amazing and I know many children saw Jesus in a real way.

 

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