Dear Christian Teen,
I’m sure you made some incredible memories at Christian Camp this summer. Good friends, good fun, and new experiences are all part of what camp so memorable! But there’s two things about summer camp that typically don’t last: camp romances and camp ‘decisions.’ Now that your starting up school again, chances are that girl/boy you met at camp has probably moved on, and that life-changing spiritual decision you made after the Thursday evening chapel service has moved along as well. Now you’re back in “normal life,” surrounded by your normal friends and your normal habits.
Perhaps you’re missing the “magic” of summer camp. You’re missing the spiritual mountain-top experience and how close to Jesus you felt. Why is it so easy to grow spiritual at camp and so hard once you get back home?
Let me say something that might surprise you: You don’t need Christian camp. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love summer camp. I spent four of my summers during college working as a counselor at an awesome Christian camp called The Wilds in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. And yet, I think that every good camp director would heartily agree with my statement. Christian camps don’t own a monopoly on spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit isn’t more powerful at camp than he is anywhere else. Camp is awesome, but you don’t need it.
What makes camp so effective? At Christian camp, teens get more Scripture truth in a week than they’ve had in 6 months: Cabin devotions, Scripture memory, morning chapel, evening chapel, personal devotions, and more! At the same time, the typical distractions are removed: cell phones, movies, ungodly friends, etc. Yet, I have talked with so many teens who were genuinely baffled as to why it was “so easy to grow here at camp”! It actually isn’t complicated. When you’re saturated with the Word and worldly distractions are removed, you will grow leaps and bounds. You can count on it. In fact, you can summarize the effectiveness of Christian Camp in one simple equation:
Bible Saturation - Distractions = Growth
The only difference between Christian camp and normal life is who is taking the initiative. At camp, godly camp directors, counselors and evangelists feed you the Bible and remove distractions for you. They do the work, and you get the benefits. In normal life, you’re going to have to do it yourself. The equation stays the same. There isn’t anything magical about Christian camp; the only purpose it serves is to prove to you that the equation does work. Just like the math teacher who solves an equation on the board before handing you the homework, Christian camp fills you with Scripture, removes the distractions, and allows you experience spiritual growth. But after that incredible week is up, it’s your turn. You saw it written on the board, now it’s time to do the homework.
You don’t need to be at camp to saturate yourself with the Word of God. You have access to the very words of God whenever and wherever you want. Through the illuminating power of the Spirit, you can know the mind of Christ through Scripture. And you don’t need to limit your Bible intake to just one time a day! Saturate yourself with Word as often as you were saturated with it at camp! Listen to sermons when you drive, read Bible every chance you get, memorize Scripture, be involved in a local church. Your Bible deficiency isn’t due to a lack of opportunity; it’s due to a lack of desire. Taste and see that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:3). The more you feast on his Word, the more your craving for it will grow.
You don’t need to be at camp to remove distractions from your life—you can do it at home too. Now, when I say “remove distractions,” I’m not talking about removing all things fun in your life (After all, just think about all the fun you had at camp). I’m talking about removing the things that compete for your affection and shift your attention away from Jesus. Can you name those thing in your life? Scripture commands us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely” (Heb 12:1). What is weighing you down? What’s keeping you from saturating your life with Scripture? If you want to keep growing after camp, you need to learn how to tune out the competing voices all around you and tune in to what God is saying in his Word. Identify the ways in which the world's philosophy and values are being spoken into your life (music, friends, movies, etc.) and limit your intake. Think about the habits and hobbies that you "just can't live without" and scale them back. As a result, you'll find that you have a whole lot of extra time to hear from God's Word.
You don’t need Christian Camp. You have the Word, prayer, and the Church. You have everything you need “for life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3). Simply increase your intake of the Word and decrease your intake of the world. The more you love God’s Word, the more you’ll obey it. And the more you’re filled with the Scripture, the more you’re filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18; Col 3:16).
When your church van pulled out of that camp parking lot, you may have left behind new friends, great experiences, and your “one true love,” but you didn’t leave the Holy Spirit behind. He goes with you. Every time you open the Word, he is at work. Every time you are convicted with sin, he is at work.
As you start this new school year, take the equation that you experienced at camp and work it out in your school, your church and your home.
Bible Saturation - Distractions = Growth
Aaron Berry earned both his undergrad and MA in Bible at Bob Jones University. He, along with his wife, Hanna, and daughter, Brooklyn, currently live in Detroit, MI, where Aaron is pursuing his MDiv degree while serving as the Director of Recruitment at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and working on staff at Inter-City Baptist Church. You can follow him on Twitter @AaronMBerry
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