When the calendar page turns to summer, Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center awakens to thousands of people who will find their way to the Arbuckle Mountains and an encounter with the Living God.

Across the years, I have pondered, written, and spoken regarding the uniqueness of the spiritual success of Falls Creek. I would like to think out loud with you at the beginning of summer encampments on the subject of this spiritual success.

I am convinced the genius of Falls Creek lies in the fact that it is local church driven. Campers are not recruited by the camp, rather they attend because of the invitation of the local church.

A parent cannot just contact Falls Creek and determine to rent a bed in a cabin for their teen. Every person who attends must come with a local church. This is exactly the way it should be.

The convention and its ministries support and extend the ministry of the local church. Students who come to Falls Creek not only come with a local church, but also are under the primary supervision and care of the local church. While each group is required to operate within the guidelines of the camp, the primary investment of time and ministry is accomplished by sponsors and ministers of the local church.

Everything that happens at Falls Creek supports the work of the local church. The worship experiences, recreation, and missions focus is designed to give church youth groups opportunities to connect with God and each other.

When teens come to Falls Creek with their local church group, they come under the spiritual umbrella of the local church. Back home, there will be church members who will bathe the week in prayer.

In most cases, every camper from that church will be prayed for by name by members of the church. This dynamic alone sets in motion powerful spiritual encounters produced only by prayer.

As I drive around Falls Creek on my golf cart and make stops at various cabins, I find a host of adults who have taken vacation time to sponsor or cook. One thing becomes clear quickly, these people did not come just to hang with teens.

These volunteers will most certainly have fun with the campers, but I find adults passionately focused on the needs of the kids they came to serve. Spending a week among teens will provide many opportunities to share Christ with them, encourage them, weep with them, and laugh with them. Falls Creek could not happen without thousands of local church volunteers who have the heart to invest in teens.

When young people walk down the aisle in the tabernacle to profess Christ, refresh their walk with Christ, or commit themselves to missions or ministry, the burden of discipling and encouragement falls to the local church. What happens at camp is only the beginning—the local church has the responsibility to baptize, teach, mentor, and walk the person to maturity in Christ.

Why is Falls Creek a servant of the local church? Why this focus? Because it is the local church who Christ commissioned to spread the Gospel, make disciples, baptize, and teach. The local church is the bride of Christ. As important as Falls Creek is, its importance is directly related to the local church.

The headquarters of Oklahoma Baptists is not in Oklahoma City or Davis, but is in the local churches. Falls Creek is a choice servant to enhance the local church in reaching young people with the Gospel and walking them to maturity. May this be a glorious summer to the glory of our Savior!