“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.
As the body of believers, we are called to participate in the great commission. Many of us embrace this charge personally by actively telling our neighbors and friends about Jesus and what he has done for us. Others of us enter into evangelistic opportunities by spending our time with people in our same life-stage, that is, friends who are single, parents with kids the same age as ours, or fellow retirees, allowing our lives to bear witness to the difference Christ makes. Corporately, the church engages in community outreach with all age groups and most churches recognize one extremely effective way of local evangelism is through children’s ministry.
Research shows that the spiritual maturity process should start at a young age…a person’s response to the meaning and personal value of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection is usually determined before a person reaches eighteen. In fact, a majority of Americans make a lasting determination about the personal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection by age 12.
Understanding the implications of this fact might cause your local church to focus its outreach strategies towards the evangelization of children. Your involvement in the fellowship of churches called the MBC provides numerous benefits to the local church. One unique ministry asset which can be leveraged to maximize your local outreach efforts to help introduce children to Christ is Trout Lake Camp.
TLC’s mission is to create and maintain an environment where individuals can come and be challenged to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. It is also a place designed to disciple Christians to a greater maturity in Jesus Christ by providing an environment where they can come away from the routines of daily living and be renewed. The children in your church can be instruments of God by inviting non-Christian friends to camp with the hope that these friends will make significant, life-changing decisions at camp. Many non-churched families who might be hesitant to come to church are likely to be receptive to a week at camp for their children and teens. Perhaps your church can offer creative incentives for families to consider this opportunity, such as offering partial scholarships to sponsor non-churched children, or rewarding families who do bring a guest who is a non-attender.
Hundreds of spiritual decisions are made at TLC each year, but it is your local church that has the privilege of following-up with each child and family about what God has begun in their lives. The “outreach door” is open between your church and the non-Christian family as a result of a shared week at camp. Pastors, church staff, and volunteers in the kid’s ministry program can make calls or visits to the family, extending the camp experience and nurturing decisions made. Hopefully, this meaningful engagement will lead to regular participation in your church. Actively pursuing a camper or camper’s family TLC experience is a wonderful way to reach out to neighbors and friends, and a byproduct of this strategy is that congregants are equipped to participate in evangelism in a very natural and comfortable way.
We want you to know that TLC is your camp. It is a tool that we want you to use in reaching out to those within your neighborhood. With God’s miraculous intervention, outreach synergies between the local church and the camp will radically impact the kingdom of God. If there is anything we can do to serve your local church more effectively, please don’t hesitate to call.
On behalf of Christ and kids,
Executive Director of Camping
Quote from The Barna Group. The Barna Update: Research Shows that Spiritual Maturity Should Start at a Young Age. Nov. 17, 2003. www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate@BarnaUpdateID=153