Most evangelical youth camps have a camp speaker, God’s messenger for the week. The last two summers, I’ve had the opportunity to be that speaker. Now I’ve been on both sides of the campfire in this vital role in Christian camping.
I remembered what I wanted in a speaker. Could I deliver this same expectation to communicate the gospel, relate to campers and be used to call young people to know and follow Jesus?
The age group for both weeks was the 11 & 12 year old. This was always a tough group to find a speaker. They scare a lot of pastors since it is a challenge to relate God’s truth concretely. I’ve always thought that a well presented message to these campers might be the same message adults need to relate too.
I have no special skill to minister to that age group. I’m not really known for humor (most of my jokes go over their head). I’m not a magician, chalk artist or ventriloquist. Remembering what worked in my life as a child, hearing stories, I decided that’s what I could do – tell stories. Whatever the theme, the challenge would be to find a story to connect biblical truth to the camper’s heart and mind.
This year’s task was to communicate our “Incredible God – Beyond Super Hero” to these kids. My first response was “this is great!” My second response was to be overwhelmed. It’s an enormous topic and enormously important. The greatest challenge was to communicate God beyond fact so that Kids would get a grasp of whom He is and that he cares personally for them.
I took the story of Bruce Olson as told in Bruchko (Charisma, 2006) and worked it into six manageable parts. I used it as part of the intro to the week and also to bring the week to a close. Each morning story dovetailed with the content of the evening messages. The kids were able to learn who God is, how he worked in real life and grasp how they might be used by Him.
The kids tuned in. Campers constantly asked for story updates. “Thank you for the story” came from kids as if they were story starved. Counselors told me the story lead the way in cabin discussion.
It was worth the effort based on the response I received and the testimonies given. The next opportunity can’t come soon enough to connect the hope of the gospel to kids with the power of a well told story.
Part 2 is coming: I’ll give you the rest of the expectation I placed on myself as camp speaker.