Today, I had the opportunity to speak at church and share an experience from one of the church camps that I have attended. Honestly, church camp is where I have learned how to deepen my relationship with Christ. It’s where I how learned to pray in front of people, have a quiet time, follow Christ in full-time ministry, and countless other things that have shaped my relationship with Jesus.
While I was coming up with what I was going to talk about yesterday, I asked myself, “Why does God work through me so much at church camp? What is so different there that I can incorporate into my life now to experience Him all the time?”
God gave me a very clear answer to this question. I realized that there really are things that I can bring into my life at home to grow in Him just like I do at church camp.
SPEND TIME INTENTIONALLY WITH GOD
The first thing that I realized about church camp is that the focus of the entire week is God. The whole thing is about God. From the moment that you wake up and go to breakfast, you say the first prayer of the day. After breakfast, many church camps set aside thirty minutes for a quiet time. This is intentional alone time spent with God. At least two hours of every day are spent in worship, singing and hearing a message all about God. There is just a whole lot of intentional time with God at church camp and this isn’t even half of it!
At home though, sometimes we forget to take time to intentionally spend time with God. If we have plans for the day or get busy doing something else, most of us, especially me, tend to forget to open up the Bible and intentionally focus on God. Oftentimes in my life, I find my self becoming stressed and saying, “I just don’t have time for a quiet time.” In all reality though, time spent with God doesn’t have to be thirty minutes to an hour like it is at church camp. It could be a whole five minutes. In order to deepen our relationship with Christ, we need to set aside time and intentionally get to know Him, no matter how long that time is.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH A GROUP OF LIKE-MINDED CHRISTIANS
Church camp is so much different than school, work, or anywhere else. At church camp, you are surrounded by a group of likeminded Christians who love you (even if they just met you) and are there to encourage you and lead you to Christ. They don’t try to lead you into the worldly path. Almost every person at church camp wants you to follow Jesus. Whether they are students, counselors, or workers, they all want what Jesus wants for you.
Here’s the best part though, they will all talk to you about Jesus. My favorite aspect of camp is that people are not ashamed to love Jesus. They don’t think that it’s weird to talk about Him. They don’t think that deep conversations are crazy. In fact some of the deepest conversations I have ever had have been walking around church camp during free time with both youth leaders and my friends, and just talking.
It’s just not like that out in society. There are a lot of people that try to lead you very far from Jesus instead of closer to Him. Sometimes, even your family may do this. There are people though, like those at church camp, that want what Jesus wants for you. So I would encourage you to find those people. Find the people that talking about Jesus isn’t weird with (but still talk about Him even if they do think it’s weird). Find the people that will have the deep and even hard conversations with you. Discover the people that will keep you accountable.
In order to deepen your relationship with Christ, it’s essential that you surround yourself with likeminded Christians who will encourage you and push you to follow God’s will for your life.
Now, I don’t know if everyone seems to be this way, but I know I can’t be the only one. At church camp, it’s almost like you are in a completely different society. The whole environment to camp is just so different and it feels as though you are millions of miles away from society even though your house may only be a few miles down the road. For a little bit of time, church camp allows you to escape reality. Whatever struggle you are going through at home, somehow that just seems to fade away. At church camp, the only thing that matters is that moment and your relationship with Christ.
I think this is why God always seemed to call me to do something at camp. He always had my undivided attention. There was no basketball, cross country, chore list, or person to please that had my focus. At church camp, only Christ had my focus. Because of this, I knew when God was calling me to do something. Most of the time, I found myself open to obeying God’s calling for my life because of the people and environment that surrounded me. The leaders were always there to help point me to the Bible when I asked them questions about whatever it was God was asking me to do.
Here is the thing, you don’t have to go to church camp to be open to whatever God is calling you to do. When you have surrounded yourself with like-minded Christians and mentors who can point you to the Bible and intentionally spend time with God, you will find the courage to obey God’s calling. Remember these promises:
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'"
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
Today, if you are in a spot where your relationship with God just seems to be put on the back burner all the time, I would encourage you to use these steps to deepen your relationship with Him. Spend time intentionally with God, surround yourself with likeminded Christians, and be open to whatever God is calling you to. There is just something so indescribable about falling madly in love with the Creator of this universe. Growing your relationship with Christ is not always easy, but it’s something that you will never regret doing!
See ya next time beautiful people!