Why We Do 180 Weekend

180

For many years, right around Super Bowl weekend, Parkwood has lead in a student gathering for churches across greater Gaston County to bring their youth groups, large and small, to hear the Gospel presented, to worship the Lord, and to make lasting friendships with their peers and discipling relationships with their small group leaders.

This year, over 30 different local churches will come to the main sessions at two locations; Parkwood and Bethlehem. Parkwood will have over 100 volunteers to serve the 200 students affiliated with Parkwood and the thousand affiliated with other churches. We see this as a great way to galvanize with other youth and student workers out of obedience to God. Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11). Paul wrote, “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Philippians 2:2). Coming together for the gospel is a must, as that furthers His glory among the world.

Titus 2:1 says, “Teach what accords with sound doctrine.” Paul tells the Ephesians in Acts 20:27, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” The truth of God’s Word will be proclaimed in 3 different settings throughout the weekend: large group at Parkwood, small groups in homes (Acts 20:20), and throughout the day (Deuteronomy 6:7). Parkwood hosts 3 large group gatherings that are structured like our Sunday morning services. From what is faithfully taught there, the small groups then return to their host homes to discuss the Bible deeper with their leaders. The third way the Bible is taught is through one-on-one conversations. Small group leaders are trained to leverage regular conversations into gospel conversations. [Read more…]

Why We Don’t Send Our Students to Summer Camp

A vast number of churches send students to summer camp every year. An array of options and destinations exist, some classic, some clichéd, and some creative. Some camp options we find like-minded, while others we find ludicrous. But we don’t send our students to summer camp. To be clear, we recognize that many summer camps are doing great work for the kingdom; and we are not opposing them, nor do we think ourselves better than them. The reason we don’t send students to summer camp has less to do with summer camps and more to do with our church and our purpose for hosting our own. We don’t send students to summer camp because we want to do our own camp. And we want to do our own camp for five reasons:

1. We want to equip our students for life and godliness. 

Of course many summer camps make the discipleship of students their primary goal, but we must acknowledge that many do not. Our desire, though, goes beyond seeing that Parkwood students are equipped. We don’t simply want them to be equipped; we want to equip them. Parkwood believes it is the family’s responsibility to equip their students and the church’s responsibility to partner with families in the discipleship of students for life and godliness. We could do that by sending our students to a summer camp, but we prefer to disciple them ourselves by hosting our own summer camp. 

2. We are accountable. 

We are accountable for our students, for our resources, and to our purpose. Accountable to our students, we are committed to pursuing their discipleship and being personally involved in equipping them for life and godliness. Being blessed with resources sufficient to host a camp, we are accountable to use those resources for the glory of God and the equipping of His church, and we believe that providing a quality summer camp that seeks the discipleship of students is a worthy use of those resources. Finally, with the purpose of glorifying God by laboring together for the growth of all believers while going with the gospel to all people, hosting a summer camp is exactly an opportunity to labor together both for growth and for sending. 

3. Summer camp is ministry development. 

As previously acknowledged, quality summer camps no doubt exist, but hosting our own allows us to include ministry development as a significant and strategic element of camp. By hosting our own summer camp, we are actively choosing an avenue for training. Each year we employ interns and summer ministry staff that are trained and developed through the preparation and execution of summer camp. We might see our students discipled if we send them to a quality camp, but if we host our own, then we can disciple our students while employing ministry development through the ministry of conducting camp. 

4. Summer camp is leadership development. 

Summer camp provides us with the opportunity for leadership development at multiple layers. Electing to host our own summer camp places the expectation and responsibility upon pastoral staff to make camp a successful event. Responsibilities that would otherwise be expected of others fall at the feet of our staff. Secondarily, significant weight is placed on interns and summer ministry staff. In a traditional summer camp setting, they may be passive chaperones. In this setting, they are being prepared as leaders. Finally, this context for summer camp extends ministry and leadership development to students. Leadership development remains a strategic focus as our leadership intimately interacts with our students. Summer camp is immediately an opportunity to communicate expectation for leadership, identify leadership potential, and begin or continue leadership development. 

5. Summer camp is fun. 

We enjoy summer camp. We enjoy being together, doing ministry together, and modeling community. The fault of a poor summer camp is likely that too much value is placed on fun and entertaining students to the neglect of discipleship and the training of students in godliness. This fault does not mean, though, that we cannot do both. We believe that discipleship and the training of students in godliness must remain the highest priority, but a proper focus on discipleship and training need not eliminate enjoyment. While summer camp is a lot of work, hosting our own camp is a lot of fun. And it’s been a fun week!