Works or Words?

A couple of months ago I was at a Christian Venues Association (CVA) Outlook Conference (for leaders of the major Australian campsites).  Tim Costello was the opening presenter and together with several of his World Vision staff made a strong case for a social gospel, where the sharing of the gospel is integrally tied to a campaign of works and community involvement.

It provoked a lot of discussion about the approach to ministry and mission in the camping context, and bought on a collision between two different world views on what constitutes legitimate ministry.

Some sites have strongly held views on the primacy of compulsory bible teaching to all camps, where others are taking a more pragmatic approach to how they cater to their secular guests.

The internet age, and the rise of a virile and antagonistic secular humanism in the public school sector means that the day is not far off, if it is not already upon us, that twentieth century style bible teaching will become a barrier and stumbling block to secular schools and community groups accessing Christian campsites.

Perhaps this landscape was echoed during the discussion between the World Vision guys, and the advocates of bible teaching when talk turned to their work in Afghanistan and the question was posed: “Would you rather we insist on presenting a Western gospel and find ourselves locked out of Afghanistan, or would you rather we’re there feeding their orphans and widows and letting our actions speak?”

Increasingly I’m finding this tension exists.  Will we Christians be known by our works or our Words?  Partly it’s generational I think too.

When it comes to QCCC’s approach to bible teaching and camps I’m going to quote the latest political catch phrase – we will neither “rule it in nor rule it out”.

This is because we have developed a Trojan horse approach to our ministry and mission in the form of the R1202 concept we are introducing into all of our Centres.

R1202“ is a reference to the biblical Romans 12:02:

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within.”

It also references Jesus’ comment in Luke 17:21 that the Kingdom of Heaven lies within.

Also known as “The Hand” we believe the R1202 theme will enable us to partner with visiting groups to reflect on the key attributes and values required for a successful life.  We are developing camp programs that are themed around R1202.

The beauty of R1202 is in its simplicity.  The “Be attitudes” can be used to shape high-end leadership content for a Year 12 leadership camp, but at the same time can also wrap around an activity learning program for 9 year olds in Year 4.

As it is developed we will make it a flexible tool that can fit the objectives and outcomes of each group who visits us. We will also develop resources so that the lessons learned from R1202 on camp can last long after it concludes.

Our staff have identified approximately 70 object lessons that can be drawn from R1202 using colours, fingers and other concepts.

It’s a Trojan Horse approach to ministry because it’s a concept that will be accepted by any visiting group, but the heart of the gospel message lies within R1202, bursting to get out.

Queensland Baptists will host nearly 40,000 guests this year via QCCC’s camping ministry.  For many of these guests our staff might be the only Jesus they see and the only bible they read.

I’ll conclude with this email recently sent to staff at our Brookfield site:

“We always have such a great final camp at your facility and it is so good to be somewhere with our own ethos. Thank you so much for all that you do to accommodate us and make it so enjoyable. I thought you might be interested to know that this year we had 10 students step up after the speaker challenged them, specifically to be bolder and stronger for God in the next phase of their lives. In 2009, 8 students made first time or re-commitments. Even though our students are challenged all through their school life, we are always gravely concerned about those who might slip through without committing their lives to God. It is so rewarding to see God working right up to the 11th hour with our precious kids like this! So thank you, for the use of your facility in helping this to happen.”

It is our hope that R1202 will better equip us and empower our guests in this process.

Postscript: And speaking of CVA, they’ve been good enough to invite me along on a study tour of the major Canadian camp sites and conference centres, while their summer programs are in full swing.  So in a couple of days (ash permitting) I’ll be heading off on a two-week tour of more than thirty sites.  This means my blog will either be silent, or given over to the adventures in Canada.


One Response to Works or Words?

  1. MUM SAYS says:

    Well, well, familiar with all you are trying to accomplish, and great to hear results are filtering back. We do have to “move with the times” and this is not easy sometimes. Keep on keeping on…..

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