Monday, November 10, 2014

Surprise! It was the church...

(The context, here, is that I am involved in a multidenominational evangelistic youth camp.)

So I was involved in a conversation about leader growth and how we accept/reject leaders for camp. A great many wise things were said. And during the conversation I mentioned I was uncomfortable doing presbuteros-y things as a camp director. I feel weird asking leaders about their spiritual health, their ability to model Christ to kids, because I am a camp director rather than their elder or pastor. And someone else said that camp directors are not pastors and I was quite right to feel odd about it.

But I do have pastoral responsibilities. I do have spiritual authority over leaders while on camp (and, to some degree, before and after it). How can I not? I decide (with co-directors) who is qualified to be a leader, what it means to be a leader, what behaviour will make us send a leader home. I cannot do any of these things without feeling and being in some way responsible for my leaders' wellbeing (spiritually, mentally, emotionally).

Essentially a camp director will by necessity be a little bit like a pastor or elder. We can't help it. So I was thinking about what would make me more comfortable with that. And I realised it would be best if roles that included pastoral duties...were performed by pastors.

I want stuff to be run by churches. I don't want to gather up four dozen leaders from a dozen churches to run this camp. I want churches to run their own camps, within their own demesne.

The interesting thing is that my denomination has been trying to get its own youth camps off the ground, and leaders such as myself have been apathetic because multidenominational parachurch organisations already do that camping stuff. They do it bigger, slicker, and better organised.

But I'm now starting to realise the pastoral benefits of church camps which are smaller, rougher, and not always as smoothly administrated. If you think why is this person trying to exercise spiritual authority over me the answer is because that is part of them serving in this church. There are so many things which I can't follow up on with my leaders. I don't have the time, the energy, the authority, or the long-term consistent involvement in their life to disciple them properly.

I've been feeling increasingly weird about parachurch organisations. Surprise! What I wanted was the local church all along.

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