Six Characteristics of The Leader at Regen

This began as an email to our volunteer staff coming to camp, but I thought it would be helpful to post here as well. 

I am blessed and grateful that we get to be a part of Regen every year, and very excited that each of you are coming. Thank you for your commitment to Student Ministry; I know it is a commitment ultimately to the Lord and to the advance of His Gospel. I’m thankful to be serving alongside you all year long, but especially sentimental about our ministry team during summer camp. You guys are awesome.

I wanted to give you a few thoughts I have about the role of a leader at summer camp. Many of these thoughts have been handed down to me over the years. Surely this is not everything that could be said, but I hope this will be an encouragement to you and help you get your heart in gear for camp.

1. The leader at camp seeks out students.

It's easy to get caught up in the fun and lost in the crowd. Be intentional here: make opportunities to grab students individually for one-on-one conversations. There is a great coffee shop you can take them to, great views, great paths around campus to walk along, great hikes to take, and a dozen chances a day to seize the moments between everything else. 

Real ministry happens in the context of relationships. This is maybe your most important role at camp. Not only is it valuable WHILE your at camp, but the time you spend building relationships at camp during this 1 week will change every other week of the year when you get home. Consider it an investment that will pay relational dividends in the months to come. 

2. The leader at camp is an enforcer of logic.

We can help our students with gracious reminders about the rules. We can help keep them safe and prevent bad ideas from coming to fruition. Especially when it comes to where they should be and when they should be there. We should check the dorms to make sure all our students are in their rooms at lights-out time. We should shut-down any malicious pranks. We should be a voice of mature reason. We should “keep an eye on them” like their parents would want us to while they are away from home. I think this honors the Lord. We’re not just their friends. They don’t need more friends— their real friends are cooler than us anyway.

3. The leader at camp cares more about relationships than

Rules are good. We should encourage students to keep them and talk with them when they don't. We should send students home who have a total disregard for rules and authority. Students from our church and from other churches will dress immodestly, sing secular songs, make off-color jokes or gestures, and generally act as though they are high school students in 2015. None of this is OK, and we should never act as though it is. We should graciously encourage them about these things, but the temptation for us as leaders though is to become so obsessed with “making sure the students keep the rules” that we forget:

  • We are there to build relationships and minister the gospel, not enforce rules with a taser.
  • Love covers a multitude of sins.
  • Abraham was a pagan idolater before God called him, and so are some of these students, and so were you and I.
  • The law didn't save you. Grace did. 
  • God has to change her heart before he changes her shirt. #CastingCrownsBro
  • Students who break rules probably don’t know God, and they need Jesus and his Gospel, not just a lecture (and probably not a taser).
  • We are fellow rule-breakers, so we should treat them with the same grace God shows us.
  • When students break the rules, our example of grace and kindness will teach them more than the rules ever will.
  • A taser could help though (just kidding).

4. The leader at camp quotes his/her Bible.

Isa66At camp, many students will open up with questions and confessions that they may not have the connection or time to talk about previously. When these opportunities come, it’s easy to spout off some advice and thoughts. We're older and wiser than them (lets hope so). However, remember that you have no real answers apart from the Bible.

It is God’s word alone (not mine or yours) that are “the words of eternal life.” It is God’s word that is “living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword.” It is his word alone that can "sanctify them in the truth." Let’s show them how valuable it is by counseling and discipling them straight from the Word. The action of opening your Bible to answer a question says to the student, “I’m not the guy with all the answers, I’m the guy who points to that guy.”

5. The leader at camp parties like it’s 1999.

Biblical faithfulness in ministry does not mean rigid and stuffy ministry events. You are not that awesome, so don't be so serious. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Paint your face. Shout at the top of your lungs. Dance like David. Stay up late eating chocolate. I know we’re all on the same page here — let’s have a blast together and make the memories of a lifetime with these students. Most of all, enjoy the privilege of serving alongside one another.

If John MacArthur can fire a T-Shirt cannon, I will hear no excuses from you why you dont play games, paint your face, jump in the water, and put dirty socks in your mouth in the dorm. Wait-- sorry that last one just slipped out; I never got past that night in 9th grade. 

6. The leader at camp is a camper at camp.

Hey! This may be the most important thing to remember. Camp is about people knowing God. You are a person at camp. Camp is as much about you and your heart and how God wants you to grow as it is for the students. Leaders are in a different category of authority at camp, but not under heaven. Leaders need the truths preached at camp. Leaders need the relationships developed at camp. Leaders need the discussions in small group. Leaders need camp too. 

We should always remember that in every small group, in every session, in every song and sermon, in every opportunity to respond to someone, in every problem that comes up, in every bible verse read, in everything that is said, every one of us as leaders is a christian who needs to grow to be more like our savior.

Always be aware of what God is trying to teach you, what sins in your heart he is trying to show you, what ways he is trying to humble you, and what areas of your life he is trying to refine. He loves you and he would never want you to go to camp ONLY as a neutral facilitator of spiritual dynamics for others. God wants you at camp as a soul-bearing humble active participant.

Praise the Lord we get to do this. 

Your wildly-pumped insanely-excited camp-crazy Pastor,