This is the season for Vacation Bible School and Christian camps. All over Oklahoma, children and youth have opportunity to spend concentrated time hearing the Word of God and being confronted with the claims of the Gospel. Few venues provide a more fertile and productive field for the Gospel than VBS and summer camp.
Thousands of children and youth will embrace the Gospel and experience the joy of forgiveness and the presence of the Lord in their lives. What an exciting moment when their eternity is changed!
My great concern for these new babes in Christ is follow-up. What will the local church do to ensure these new Christians get started on the road to a lifetime of spiritual growth? When they drive off the grounds of summer camp the responsibility then lies in the hands of the local church to guide the new believer toward a day-to-day walk with Christ.
I sometimes hear people say, “Those decisions don’t stick. I wonder if they are real?” One doesn’t need to worry about how real a decision is. When the Lord saves someone, He saves them! A more important question is, “How strong will our efforts be to get them started on a growth path?”
I would recommend that every church make a concentrated effort to conserve the fruit of VBS and camp. Here are some suggestions.
Implement good decision counseling and place materials in the hands of new believers that will help affirm their decisions. At Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, every new believer receives a CD that gives them a month of Bible study to assist them in getting a strong start on the Christian journey. Many of our associational camps use the same CD.
A staff member or church leader should make an immediate visit to the home to explain the decision to the parents. Many times during those visits, I have had opportunity to lead the parents to the Lord or help them return to active participation in the church.
Make much of baptism. The first act of obedience is baptism. Help the young person and parents understand the importance of baptism. This is our Lord’s command to us: make disciples and baptize them.
Baptize the new believer and make it a major event for both the church and the person being baptized. Have them invite family and friends to see them baptized. Preach the Gospel in the service and use part of it to explain baptism.
Connect each child or young person with a mentor who will meet with them and guide them in developing a devotional life. This could be their Sunday School teacher, the leader of a new members’ class or a staff member. This is where church follow-up usually breaks down and the new follower is lost to active Kingdom service.
Ask new converts to identify others in their circle of family and friends who they would like to see accept Christ. Offer to go with them so you and they can share the Good News.
People often blame the camp for not seeing new believers become involved in the church. In reality, the camp or VBS fulfilled its purpose during the week the child or young person participated. After that, the church must step up and take far more aggressive steps to ensure that new believers become fully devoted followers of Jesus. It is a big job-but one we must take more seriously than ever.