Falls Creek exists to support the evangelistic and ongoing ministry work of the local church.
Though each church typically attends only one or two weeks each summer, the effect of Falls Creek extends far beyond a few days at camp.Students are transformed by their time with God, and their lives are redirected by heartfelt commitments to boldly live for Christ. The knock, however, is that these sincere decisions often live shortened lives once students return home and get back into their routines.
The question churches must answer is this: What are we doing to follow up on students, decisions they have made and information they have learned atFalls Creek? The truth is we should have no expectation of long lasting commitments by students where we have made no ongoing commitment of mentoring and investment as leaders.
Churches should follow up with each student who makes a decision at camp and encourage them with recognition in a church service. Youth leaders should then seek to connect these students to Sunday School, small groups and/or other ongoing areas of Christian growth. Students who made salvation decisions during camp should be counseled with and then scheduled for baptism. Connecting students to the life of the church is an essential first step in helping them mature and follow through with their commitment.
Paul writes in Colossians 1:28-29, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” In these verses, Paul indicates that we should work to center, counsel and complete men.
When Paul says that we should “proclaim Him,” he is saying that our efforts in regard to any person converted to Christ should be to center that individual on the person of Christ. Most new Christians are excited about their new faith, but have much to learn about developing a biblical worldview. Our faith centers on Christ, and our lives should reflect that truth. As those in the church assigned to these new believers, we must help them to understand the centrality of Christ in faith and practice and how that works itself out in practical, everyday life. This takes time and effort. It requires enduring stumbles and failures. Paul called it “labor,” but was determined to put in the effort in order to bring glory to Christ through the lives of those entrusted to him.
Paul also said he admonished every man and taught every man with all wisdom. To admonish is to correct, advise, and counsel. Paul understood that a new believer would not know how to read and understand Scripture, how to pray or how to conduct themselves for godly living. He would have to teach them. Students who come to Christ at camp often have little church background and very little parental support for their new found Christian faith. They require someone to teach them, correct them and walk with them on this journey. Youth leaders who think the job is done once the bus is in the church barn on Saturday are sadly mistaken. In fact, the work has just begun. This work is more than following up a camp decision; it is the commitment to a life-on-life process which results in mature Christian faith.
Our goal ought to be the same as Paul’s—to present every person complete in Christ. It is so easy to put the responsibility of growth solely on those making the decisions and then excuse ourselves when they fail to respond to our programs and contacts. Above all else, we should work to see that any failure on their part is not the result of any lack of diligence on our part.
God is at work at Falls Creek and as He blesses churches with many decisions this summer, may each congregation be faithful to follow these decisions up with great fervor and commitment.
Andy Harrison is Falls Creek program director and student ministry specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.