The camp for which I sit on the Board of Directors is recognized as a non-denominational “Christ-centered” camp. Consequently, we are intentional in limiting the expression of any particular doctrine beyond communicating an individuals need for a saving relationship with Jesus Christ as savior and then yielding their lives to the Lordship of Christ. The faith backgrounds of the families who send their children to camp is varied, with some representation from virtually every denomination or fellowship that falls under the overarching title of “Christianity.” It is, therefore, understandable that as a so-called non-denominational camp, parents do not want their children being influenced by beliefs that may be in conflict with those of their family. So, our goal is to inform campers of their fallen natures and separation from God with the good news of forgiveness and redemption in Christ. We also teach them about the good habits of prayer and studing God’s word along with other widely held beliefs about normative Christian conduct. Because we only have them for 1-3 weeks, we rely on true ongoing discipleship for campers being done by their families and their faith community outside of camp. Naturally this would include further instruction on doctrinal distinctives such as God’s administration of grace, and any response to salvation that my be important for a particular Christian fellowship, such as baptism.
Our staff is also diverse in its beliefs, although all obviously claim a relationship with Christ and evidence a changed life because of it. My teaching of this group is somewhat more ecumenical than it would be, were it not for the overall philosophy of ministry for the camp. I consider that I have accomplished the task of being ecumenical when I am asked, (with respect to my denominational affiliation): “What are you?”
[As a side note: There are some readers of this site who have experienced my teaching at camp, and they left without any shadow of a doubt about my theology. Maybe I am not as ecumenical as I think, or I am making a better effort to be more so now than I was then. I have in no way abandoned my convictions, just trying to be less overt about them in the camp setting. I certainly have not veiled my views at this site!]
“What are you?” is a fair question, and it is usually couched in terms of sincere interest. My preference is that the staff remain unsure, at least in absolutely certain terms as confirmed by some declaration on my part. Still, I am certain that if they are listening to my teaching, they could narrow their choices down considerably. They tell me they guess among themselves, and can definitely rule out certain denominations. About a week ago, I had one of those “what are you?” conversation with a bunch on counselors. My answer was that I would describe myself as “anti-denominational.”
Wow, where did that come from? That was the first time I had ever used that term, and it surfaced without any particular premeditation. And after I said it, there was an uncomfortable moment, not because of the counselor’s reactions, but rather my own. You see, I would much prefer to be known as someone who is “for” or “pro” something rather than being “against” or “anti” something. Interestingly, the counselors said that my answer did not surprise them. And, in retrospect, I think “anti-denominational” is EXACTLY how I feel.
In upcoming posts, I will try to condense in my own mind where that thought came from and explain why I am not inclined, at least for the present, to back away from it.