This past week I had the pleasure of getting to the be the speaker at a Senior High youth camp. Having been profoundly effected by my experiences at youth camp in my younger days I always look forward to the opportunity to share and be a part of students lives. Not only that, but being for the most part a kid inside I still enjoy the games, the late nights, and all the other goofiness that goes along with camp. But about mid-way through camp I noticed something that was a bit unsettling. You see, I belong to a tradition (The Church of the Nazarene), where if you want to do business (I suppose this is a campy way of saying it) with God then you respond by coming to the altar. And it was towards the middle of the week that I came to my wife discouraged because no one had been responding by coming to the altar. I felt as if I had put in the proper preparation for my sermons and I knew the camp was being covered in prayer, but still… Then my wife asked me a very pointed question; what are the counselors saying about their campers and your messages? “Well they said they have loved them. And that the students are responding during their small group time. And they are seeing great things.”. “Well maybe their altar time looks a little different than yours”, she replied.
For those of you who have not married a spouse wiser than you (women) I can’t tell you how amazing it is at times to get to feed off this insight. Maybe their altar time is a little different because they realize that the burden of the church and its’ mission isn’t meant to be carried by just one person. Maybe we do indeed have to learn to respond together and be accountable together if we are going to truly live into what God is calling us to be. In his letter to the church of Ephesus Paul writes, “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” – Ephesians 2:21-22 In Christ we are one together…in Him we are being built up together to be a place where God’s Spirit lives.
I am not saying that there isn’t a place for us to come to God on our own and come clean before Him. But maybe there needs to be more places where we come together and do business with God as a group rather than just as individuals. That week at camp we talked about the image of God and how we were created to reflect the creator. And I highlighted the fact that the beautiful thing about it is that we can’t in and of ourselves reflect what God has in store for us…but maybe, we as the Church can come closer to living out God’s image as we all come together to respond to the world and its’ brokenness. I guess I just wasn’t ready for people to take those words to heart. May we respond as one to God’s Kingdom being brought to earth and may we come to an altar before God together to find Grace and mission.