Posted by: gbake783 | July 26, 2011

Pioneer Bible Camp

Last week I had the privilege of speaking for Pioneer Bible Camp’s Junior High week – 90ish Junior High students. This was my first time speaking for a camp, so I was a little apprehensive. My primary concern for the week was how to encourage lasting change. Genuine change is, of course, God’s work. Yet, can a speaker to create conditions more ideal for the camper to allow God to affect long-term change?

The problem? Me. I can sense when I’m trying to steal some of God’s glory – I want to be remembered by the kiddos. I want them to like me. I want to make a difference. I want . . . I want . . . I want.

Yet, ministry is relational. People, middle schoolers included, don’t really care very much what you’re preaching about unless they know you care about them.

Here was the challenge – engage in relational ministry that upholds Christ as much as possible for as long as possible.

For the relational ministry, it seemed that meal-time was most available opportunity. The audience is captive (they’re not going anywhere) and distraction free (no 8th grade boy wants to talk when he’s got a bow-and-arrow in his hands.) So, I ate a different meal with every cabin and had no meals to spare. And while eating with the individual cabins I tried to learn their first names.

I announced this strategy in the first service. Ergo, an unanticipated source of accountability – 10 minutes never passed without the a camper asking, “Pastor Greg, what’s my name?” Progress was a little slow at first, but eventually I think I had about 80% down. The girls were the hardest,  especially the A’s and K’s: Aubrey, Audrey, Allison, Aspyn, Angela, Abigail; Kara, Klara, Karla, Kayla, Katie, Katrina, and Kimberly. When in doubt, try an A or a K and it’ll probably be close!

For challenges, it seemed that picking themes for the morning and evening sessions would work well. Since the camp’s theme this summer is Army Bold, I thought working through a series of Joshua’s battles would work well for the mornings. For the evening, we tackled several of the Beatitudes.

Oh, and I mixed in a healthy dose of object lessons. I’d never been booed while preaching before Friday night. But that’s for another post!

The result was one of the highlights of my young ministry. The kids ended up ministering to me at least as much as I ministered to them.I miss them this week. I’ve been thinking about them often and praying for them. I’ve kind of hesitated to go up to camp this week because I know it will have a different feel. And I want to remember it for the wonderful week the Lord provided.

At the campfire service on Friday evening, one of the young ladies gave a sterling testimony. Her words are an excellent reminder to any preacher: the Holy Spirit uses the Word rightly preached to accomplish His own ends. Application should not be a starting point, but exegesis. Even for Junior High students. This young lady said something to the affect of, “I learned this week that I’m poor in spirit. God doesn’t accept me for what I’ve done, but for who Christ is. [This is where my teaching stopped and her application began.] So it doesn’t make any sense for me to try to be popular or change who I am so I can fit in with my cool friends. God accepts me because of Christ, not me.”

Wow! I wish I would have thought of that! Maybe I’ll steal it in the future. I simply explained the passage. God’s Spirit taught her how to apply it. My application that night went in a completely different direction. It’s just encouraging to know how much God uses the Word rightly explained.

Here’s a pic of the group right before our Friday night preaching time!

PBC JH Week #2

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