One of the things I miss most about being a member of the Church of Christ in good standing is church camp. I’m still a proud member of the body of Christ, but the denomination that goes by the same name will not have much to do with me because of my various heresies. More recently, members of my heretical group have disowned me as well because I suggested that individuals who worship with instruments are just as much “in Christ” as I am.
People have asked me what Heaven will be like. Some believe Heaven will be an eternal worship service which, as Rob Bell pointed out in his book Love Wins, sounds a lot more like Hell to some people. I guess that’s even more true depending on who dictates the preferred style of worship in Heaven, which, according to Revelation, seems to involve harps, so it very well may be more like Hell for some of my critics.
I believe Heaven will be a lot like church camp. Of course, without the secret make-out sessions, drama around the Thursday night banquet, and the talent show (to everyone’s pleasure). Don’t get me wrong, the talent show was a lot of fun, but one can handle only so many choruses from pop songs (“Lost Boy” comes to mind).
The parts of church camp I value most are the late night singings, hanging out with some of the only people in the world who understand you, and, of course, the Bible study. Church camp is also where I met some of my favorite people. Special shout out to Caleb, Reva, and the three Dylans. These are some of the only people who know how Baby Shark really sounds. I feel like I’m forgetting someone… oh yeah!
Without church camp I wouldn’t have my beautiful wife Laura and my amazing son Cayden.
There have been few times in my life where I’ve been able to replicate the feeling church camp would give me.
Every night, after the ball field devo, we would sit at the canteen and sing until they made us go up the hill to the cabins. I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever recapture what that was like. On Fridays, we would sneak back down the hill, steal a canoe, ride it down the stairs, and then spend half the night running from Chris and Darren. After getting caught, we would be “forced” to help cleanup then get ice cream out of the freezer from the mess hall. Then we would just talk the rest of the night. (I also vaguely remember trying to catch an armadillo with a trashcan.)
This level of fellowship is so rare. That’s why I can’t help but compare Heaven to church camp. It really is my favorite memory from childhood. The closest I’ve come to recapturing it is the late night I-HOP runs at the annual PPW.
Church camp is like this for me because it was so real. We weren’t there to check off a list for worship, or raise our hand during a count for daily Bible readers. We were there to enjoy one another’s company, grow closer to God, and recharge our batteries. We need to find ways to turn our weekly assemblies into the same type of gathering that gives people similar memories. We need to bring Heaven to earth.
I love this. Though I’m in my 60’s, Bible Camp is one of my most beloved memories. The one year we had a drought and could not go was just a let down for our entire youth group! I’ve come close to the feeling the times over the years I’ve spent at Pepperdine Bible Lectures! The singing was awesome!
Thanks for the heart-felt sharing. Hope to join a PPW someday.
My most heaven-like experiences have been Sunday evening prayer meetings where, after a casual potluck buffet, we share our joys and concerns (in groups of 8-12) and encourage each other in “scheming” for the Kingdom. After bringing our requests to the Lord, we open the hymnals…nothing like those harmonies to bring peace to the soul.