We are not meant to be solitary Christians. We are to thrive in community with each other. But I will confess, there are times when I have been so disenchanted with “community” that I have wanted to throw in the towel and move to some isolated place in Montana or Wyoming where I wouldn’t have to see anyone or interact with anyone. Maybe I would go into town once a month for supplies. Have you ever felt this way? Reality is, though, that after a couple of weeks, most of us would be ready to re-enter society.
The Psalmist writes: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1 NKJV). We NEED community in order for our characters to grow. Paul writes in Galatians about the fruit of the Spirit growing in the followers of Jesus. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. All of these characteristics demand community in order to be exercised. It isn’t hard to be patient with others if we never interact with them. It’s rather easy to be kind from a distance. But it is only in fellowship that we truly have the opportunity to mature into the likeness of Christ and to see the fruit of the spirit grow.
As we pray together, as we encourage each other in faith, and even as we hold each other accountable before God, we are growing the fruit of the Spirit. We are being the body of Christ.
All of this leads me to the theme of this article which is the emphasis for this month’s Lake Union Herald—summer camps and camp meetings. The five conferences of the Lake Union invest heavily in these gatherings. Some might ask if it is worth all the time, money and effort. I would say that it is essential that we gather as the community of faith.
Summer camps have lots of fun activities for our young people and for our families. But they are so much more—they offer the opportunity to develop community as we gather together in those natural settings to worship God and praise our Savior. The spiritual fellowship at “camp” leads many children and youth to give their hearts to Christ and His Church every summer. The memories from camp will stay with them for the rest of their lives
Camp meetings, too, provide us with excellent times of fellowship. They are not just about listening to powerful sermons and attending informative seminars. They also are about sitting in lawnchairs under the shade trees and remembering shared history and bringing our friends up to speed on what Jesus is doing in our lives today. In short, camp meeting is about community.
Camp Meetings and Summer Camps. Let’s support them with our voice and our presence and may we all be blessed by being part of the community of faith.
Ken Denslow is president of the Lake Union Conference.