Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 4, 1958
NUMBER 18, PAGE 9-10a

"Church Camp For Teen-Agers"

Charles A. Holt, Florence, Alabama

Not long ago the West Seventh Street church in Columbia, Tennessee, sent out announcements to surrounding congregations inviting them to enroll their teen-agers in a youth camp which they (West Seventh) were to operate. It was announced as: "The West Seventh Street Church Camp For Teen-agers." Thus this church is to support and operate a "church camp."

A few observations are in order just here. First, notice The Purpose Of The Camp. According to the ail- nouncement the purpose is "to provide a place where teen-agers may study and apply God's word, sing, play and enjoy wholesome recreation under the guidance of Christian teachers and counselors." This statement makes several implications which need consideration. It would seem that this church thinks that teen-agers have no place "to study and apply God's word," therefore, it is necessary to support and operate a "church camp" where such may be done. Does this mean the teen-agers never "study and apply God's word" any place else? Can God's word only be studied and applied at a "church camp?" One would be forced to such a conclusion from the statement made. Everyone, young and old, needs to learn that God's word may be studied anytime and anywhere, and it ought to be applied everywhere — not just in some "church camp."

Another purpose of this "church camp" is "to provide a place where teen-agers may .... play and enjoy wholesome recreation . . . ." It appears necessary to have a "church camp" in order to have a "place where teen-agers may play and enjoy wholesome recreation." These camps have come to occupy a very vital place in the thinking of many members of the church today. Great stress is being placed upon them and there has been a real epidemic of them. They have been springing up in all parts of the country and the craze over such has swept our ranks from center to circumference. These camps are considered to be very vital to the success of the church! To listen to all the propaganda put out in their behalf one would think that they are essential and indispensible!' How did we ever get along thru 1900 years without one? Wonder how the teen-agers in New Testament days got along without one? Do you suppose that there was a "place where they could study and apply God's word, sing, play and enjoy wholesome recreation" in those days? It would seem that the Lord missed it and should have instructed his apostles to go into all the world and establish camps! Some promoters of the camps tell us that with the camps they can get done what all else has failed to do. Brother Eddie Grindley, of New York state. has written that they tried gospel meetings, personal work, and nearly everything else and met with failure in trying to reach the people. Then they tried a camp! It succeeded where all else — even the church of the Lord — failed! Here is a statement from a pamphlet advertising "Camp Hunt, a Bible camp, centralized for the Northeast in New York State " It was written by a young man who has fully absorbed the spirit of the camp promoters. At the time it was written this young man was a "Senior Ministerial Student (whatever that is!) at the David Lipscomb College." Read the statement:

"If I were asked what has been the greatest factor of influence on my spiritual life, the answer would have to be Camp Hunt. Although coming from a Christian home, it was at camp where my foundation was made secure. It was there that I obeyed the gospel; it was there that I saw the need for spreading this Gospel to others; it was there that I decided to go to a Christian college. I believe I can truthfully say that if it were not for Camp Hunt, I don't know where I'd be today." — Wayne J. Newland.

That is really a statement of praise for Camp Hunt! The young man must not have had much of a Christian home; and the church where he grew up must have been a real failure! Camp Hunt was the "greatest (not just one of the greatest, but the greatest!) factor of influence on my spiritual life", so he affirms. That places Camp Hunt above all else, even the church of the Lord. Brethren have been going wild over these things in the last few years and this is the kind of thinking such promotes. These human arrangements and organizations are being exalted above the Lord's church. Such is always true for man has always thought more highly of the creation of his own hands than he has of the Lord's church. The popularity-seeking, materialistic-minded, and promotional preachers and churches have been pushing such things. The church is being turned into a glorified social center. A church without a camp will soon be a back number!

Let it be observed that the West Seventh Street church is providing a "place where teen-agers may play and enjoy wholesome recreation." Here is an example of a church that has gone into the business of providing a place to play and enjoy recreation. They are not alone in such. Hundreds of others are likewise engaged and are thus using the treasury of the Lord for such purposes. It seems to be the order of the day and the "on the march" churches are really dishing out large helpings of play, recreation, entertainment, youth programs and rallies, food and drink, and sporting activities. All these things usually go under the misnomer of "Christian fellowship."

The sponsors of such affairs never seem to be concerned with whether or not such activities are a part of the work of the Lord's church. If they ever knew and believed the Lord is "the head over all things to the church," they have forgotten it or else no longer believe it. One would think that such promoters consider themselves to be in charge of the church and therefore at liberty to put the church in the business of sponsoring and subsidizing financially anything they think up. Where is the authority for the church "to provide a place where teen-agers may . . . play and enjoy wholesome recreation?" Can the elders of the West Seventh Street give the scripture that authorizes such? Of course, they can not — and they will make no effort to justify by the scriptures such an endeavor. Will Brother Warder K. Novak, the new preacher at West Seventh Street, defend their "church camp" as scriptural? I challenge him to do so. I hope that working with a "big" church for such a big salary will not buy Novak's tongue, pen and convictions! '

If this church has the scriptural right "to provide a place where teen-agers may . . . play and enjoy wholesome recreation," she would also have the same right to provide such for adults, children and all other ages and classes! If not, why not? Why such a place just for teen-agers? Furthermore, if they have the scriptural right to provide such for one week, why not for a fifty-two week period — all year long ? Do teen-agers need such a place only one week out of the year? Why not a permanent all year around program of play and recreation? If the church can conduct a program of swimming, fishing, handicrafts, hikes, group games, nature study courses, etc., for one week, why not do so for fifty-two weeks? If they can provide a place for teen-agers to swim for one week, why not just have a permanent swimming pool operated and owned by the church? If they can provide a place to fish for one week, then why not a year around fishing place. (This really should suit some of the brethren! Wonder why some enterprising promoter among us hasn't thought of this? It really offers possibilities. Could even have short church services for the fisherman at and even on the lake!) If the church can provide a place for horse-back riding for a few days, then why not buy a stable of horses, build a barn, hire some men to operate it and go into the thing on a permanent basis? There is just no end to it! Digression knows and can have no limitations!

In the announcement we also learn that the program at the camp will include "short Bible classes, nature study, fishing, handicrafts, hikes, group games and campfires." Is it the work of the Lord's church to sponsor and provide facilities for such activities? Notice that it is plainly stated that the Bible classes will be short. No doubt they will be "short" in time and in quality as well! Nothing is said about anything else being "short."

The announcement states that there is a $2.50 registration fee and $10 for enrollment and health and accident insurance for the week at camp. This $12.50 is to be paid in advance to the West Seventh Street church. Here is a church in business, charging fees and selling insurance! It may be a non-profit affair, but it is a business nevertheless. If they have the right to operate such a non-profit venture, then why not operate a profit-making one?

We learn that "parents may visit the campers during the day and meals will be served for $1.00 each." So this church is to operate a cafe and sell meals for $1 each. Is there any profit in this phase of the venture? If the church has the scriptural right to sell meals for one week, why do they not have the same right to open up a cafe or restaurant at the church building and sell meals all year long?

The campers are told what to bring along: "Blanket, sheets, pillow, towels, wash cloths, bathing suit, toilet articles, comb, tooth brush, toothpaste, shoes . . . .play and outdoor clothes, fishing tackle and game equipment." This is advertised a "church camp" and it is said that there will be "short Bible classes," but in all the long list of things the campers are told to bring not any mention is made of a Bible! It probably isn't needed at all and would likely get in the way; especially if some serious study was given to the work the Lord has assigned to the church! Perhaps since there will be only "short Bible classes," the class would not last long enough to get the Bible open anyway, so why bring one!

Brethren, this is but a sample of what is happening all over the nation. It portrays the attitude and thinking of brethren. The camp craze has caught on like wild-fire and churches are building and operating them. This is but another indication of the modernistic thinking that is sweeping churches into digression. The church is being controlled by men who desire to remodel and remake it. They are time-serving politicians, who are interested in personal gain, financial and otherwise, and they have abandoned (if indeed they ever believed in such) all real respect for the church as Jesus built it and arranged it, and all regard for the authority of God's word. They operate the thriving colleges and publishing houses among us. They are determining the belief and practice of a great host of churches. Their influence is tremendous and their appeal is to the fleshly desires and appetites. They cooperate with each other solely because of a common interest — the personal gain to themselves and their institution. Thus the church is being sold into apostasy! When will brethren wake up to the awful reality of what is taking place?