I went to church camp every summer when I was a kid. It was the highlight of my summer because we didn’t really ever go on family vacations. Camp was normally during mid-July, and from the end of the school year until the day we left for camp, my friend Carlene and I would call each other on the phone at least once a day to go over the “list” to make sure nothing of supreme importance was left at home during camp week.
Another important part of camp was the Bible/spiritual part. We would memorize countless verses to earn points for our team. We had Bible studies together everyday, and of course, there was a campfire worship service every night, culminating with the big last night of the week-crying because of the work of the holy spirit-throwing sticks in the fire to represent the sin you were repenting of-CAMPFIRE. After I would get home from camp, it would take another week to decompress, to sort through what I learned, and to set out to be a better Christian by keeping all the promises I made to myself and God regarding my behavior.
Here’s where the REDUX comes in. I attended a 2-day leadership seminar sponsored by the Willow Creek Association this past Thursday and Friday (The Global Leadership Summit). The seminar is two days of well-known Christian and business leaders speaking on topics relevant to Christians in leadership roles. I went as a part of group from the church where I work. My post-seminar personal debriefing has a very familiar feeling–I feel like I did after church camp as a kid. I am re-evaluating my personal piety practices, my work habits, my personal schedule. I am asking myself how I can be a better Christian in all the roles I play in my life.
I know the tone of this post sounds somewhat sarcastic, and well, I am a bit jaded about these intense periods of teaching and spiritual contemplation and what kind of real impact these sorts of things can have on my life. BUT, I ultimately think times like these can be helpful. I am blessed to be in a church where we partake of the Lord’s Supper each week, and through that practice, I find myself being better about personal repentance and keeping a shorter account with God. But hearing the thoughts of Christians outside my own tradition for a concentrated time and allowing my guard to come down so the Holy Spirit can prick my conscience is still good. It is helpful for me to take a little spiritual inventory, and consider ways I might become more like Jesus. The part that is a lot like my church camp experience is that ultimately, I will probably fail in my resolutions to make a change. Ultimately my behavior may not be noticeably different to those around me. But I am counting on God’s grace to use the experience I had this past week in the same way that he used camp when I was a kids. I am counting on His forgiveness when I fail, and I am counting on Him to change me just a little bit and to slowly change me in more noticeable ways for His glory. I am also starting to count the days until I can attend the Summit again.