By Scott Bruns
While visitors come and go and various meetings or planning sessions are an ongoing reality at the Regular Baptist Ministries Resource Center in Arlington Heights, Illinois, something unique took place there in March. For the first time in almost 50 years, executive directors of camps in the National Association of Regular Baptist Camps met with leaders and employees of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.
The men and their wives, representing 12 camps, had a powwow with John and Daria Greening, Andrea Gower, Darrell Goemaat, and David Gunn to discuss positive ways the GARBC and NARBC could work together to promote the benefits of Christian camping to Regular Baptist churches. The essence of the meetings centered around three questions.
How can the Resource Center help NARBC camps? The real question was, How can the GARBC and the NARBC ramp up their ability to work together? John Greening explained the many benefits offered by the Resource Center. He spoke of the value of working together and referred to King Solomon’s words, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion” (Eccles. 4:9, 10). There is an amazing similarity between the services the Resource Center and Christian camps provide churches. It was agreed that “strengthening our churches” must be the heart of our ministries.
How can the NARBC help churches? Greening led the directors in a discussion on the importance of assisting the diverse churches within the Regular Baptist fellowship and making it the NARBC’s job to strengthen them. He highlighted the many ways the apostle Paul strengthened first-century churches. The similarities were uncanny! It was agreed that the NARBC exists to partner with local churches in their task to evangelize the lost and disciple Christ-followers. The directors’ wives met separately with Daria Greening to discuss the unique challenges of being in ministry and married to a camp director. A summary of the main talking points was compiled, focusing on a proactive, positive spin on their role.
How can Regular Baptist Ministries publications help the NARBC communicate more effectively with our churches? Communicating prayer requests, camp needs, staff openings, upcoming events, and “camp stories” is valuable and can be accomplished primarily through the Regular Baptist Ministries’ E-Info Newsletter and Prayerlink Network. However, of greater importance is the need to provide regular exposure that explains the value of a camp experience and to view it as an essential part of a church’s Christian education program. Camp still works, and churches will benefit from a consistent reminder of the life-changing events that occur in an outdoor setting. The obvious intent is to see more students attend camp each summer. It was agreed that this could best be achieved if the value of camp is a regular feature in the Baptist Bulletin. A strategy was developed to organize writers and contributors, with pastors and church leaders as the target audience.
On the second day an official GARBC/NARBC camp logo was introduced, solidifying the relationship. The group shared burdens and praises; then prayers were lifted on behalf of each camp. To top off a great event, the directors became salespeople and with the cameras rolling were asked, “What is the importance of a camp experience?” There was lots of joking and laughing, with enough outtakes to make a blooper video, but in the end, the video accomplished what was intended. Before the good-byes, Jon Beight, from Twin Lakes Camp in Indiana, reminded everyone of the incredible privilege it is to serve our Lord in Christian camping. Exciting opportunities to influence lives for God’s glory await and should be the motivation for guarding against the dangers of simply settling into another summer camp routine.
The meeting was indeed a unique event. Its purpose was achieved, and God was glorified. There is a wonderful Christ-centered bond between the GARBC and NARBC. It’s true: Together we can accomplish more to assist the local church and further the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Scott Bruns is director of Scioto Hills Christian Camp and Retreat Center in Wheelersburg, Ohio.