Preparing for Summer: The "Who, What, and Why" of Outdoor Ministry
Have you ever gotten so caught up in managing all the details of an upcoming event or season that you find yourself wondering, "what is the meaning of all of this?" When deadlines and demands and to-do lists and inboxes are at max capacity, it can be easy to forget why those things exist in the first place.
For us here at Crossways, as we plan for a full summer of ministry we are constantly reminding ourselves of our mission:
bringing people together in Christ so lives are changed and communities enhanced.
This is who we are, this is what we do, and this is why we do it. I imagine camp staff across the country (and the world!) are also feeling the pull to pause and remember the "who, what, and why's" of outdoor ministry.
Dr. Jake Sorenson, outdoor ministry expert and founder of
(a ministry offering research and training to camps and congregations) writes and teaches about this very thing. One of the five fundamental characteristics of an effective camp experience as identified by
Sorenson's extensive research study
. Everything we do at camp is centered around our identity as followers of Jesus Christ. Faith and faith practices aren't just program elements -
they are the core of who we are.
At home, caught up in our daily or weekly routine, it's easy for faith to become compartmentalized. Faith practices like prayer, worship, or reading scripture are given a time slot on our schedule, as though "faith" is something we do at
time, and then we go to soccer practice. I know this, because I
this! At camp, however, faith is just not part of everything we do, it is at the center of everything we do - throughout the day campers and staff are learning to notice God around them, in each other, and in themselves. They are engaging in daily faith rituals and taking part in ancient traditions when they worship, pray, and play in Jesus' name.
Another powerful highlight to come out of Sorenson's research was the finding that after returning home, campers were praying more, reading their Bibles more, worshiping more, and having more faith conversations than before they went to camp. Faith-centered camp experiences ignite the spirit, and the embers burn long after the last campfire is extinguished.
So as we prepare for a busy summer of ministry, we are going to remember who we are, what we do, and why we do it: we are followers of Jesus, here to bring campers of all ages together in Christ, to live in intentional Christian community for a week, a weekend, or for however long the session lasts, so lives are changed and communities enhanced. We can't wait to live this out come June.
Hope to see you there!