Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 23, 1959

Is The Church In The Encampment Business?

George T. Jones, Kilgore, Texas

A copy of June 9, 1959 issue of Christian Chronicle was sent to our mailbox. This paper is published in Abilene, Texas, under editorship of James W. Nichols. On its masthead it professes to carry "World-Wide News of Interest for Every Member of the Church". From this one is forced to the conclusion that news carried in this paper is of peculiar and special interest to Christians. It professes to chronicle church activities.

In this issue, however, under a front page photo of a woodland scene is the headline "Camp Season Is Here Once Again!" Under the headline are these words: "Throughout the land Christians are again looking to the beauties of God, and are reopening Christian camps and encampments . . . They give an excellent opportunity for Christian fellowship, rededication to Christian service, and in many cases chances for actual conversions to Christ." (Emphasis mine, GTJ)

It is quite apparent that in the judgment of this editor information relative to these "Christian camps" is of prime and peculiar "interest for every member of the church"; and, one cannot escape the conclusion that said camps are church-related. For instance one item reads: "Our purpose is to provide the pure teaching of Christ, to exemplify the joys of Christian living, and to provide association in the spirit of Christ". Another item reads: "In addition to two Bible classes, daily and evening devotionals and the usual camping activities will be provided". Another encampment announces "Theme for his nightly messages will be 'Improving Our Efforts To Restore'." One could multiply these quotations about "Christian camps" and their evident church connections, written up as news of interest to church members.

But there is more specific evidence in this same paper that the church has gone into the camping business; that is, there is evidence that various local congregations are conducting these camps. For instance: "The Elders of the Eighth Street Church of Christ in Cisco, Texas have announced plans for the Lake Cisco Christian Youth Camp to be held August 9th through 15th. . . In keeping with their aim for the camp the Elders have arranged for a very pleasant and well-arranged campground overlooking the picturesque Lake Cisco Dam . . . These include Bible Study, worship, singing, sports, homegrown entertainment, and fellowship. The sports program includes swimming (boys and girls separately), volleyball, softball, croquet, horseshoes and ping pong."

Another announcement reveals: "The churches of Christ in Oregon plan an encampment at Crescent Lake — near Crater Lake." Concerning this encampment it is further said: "The church in Oakridge has paid the fee of $100.00 for the use of the cabins, etc. for the week". Promised to those who attend this "church camp" are "good fishing and a wonderful place to spend your vacation".

Another announcement reads as follows: "Yosemite Bible Camp's first youth encampments are set for this summer. They are as follows: June 22 through July 1, directed by Central congregation in Bakersfield, California; July 1-15, directed by the Central and B Sts. congregation in Madera; and August 21-29, directed by the churches in Hanford and Visalia. This camp continues to make strides toward its goal of making available to the congregations of Central California a fully equipped site for encampments."

From Chattanooga, Tennessee comes this statement of the Third Annual Christian Youth Camp: "Although Central Church of Christ has taken the initiative, preachers and staff members from many congregations will be in camp this year". From another encampment in Oregon comes this word: "The teaching program will be under the direction of the elders of the church in Vancouver, Washington and will include classes for all age groups, special lectures and sermons".

These are not isolated cases confined to some segment of the country. These church-operated camps extend from Tennessee to Texas to California to Oregon and Washington. It is our prediction that by another "camping season" there will be three times this number of churches actually operating these summer camps, not to mention the others so closely related to the church one cannot get a knife blade between. Brethren truly have a fever to do something BIG, to make a splash! And, they are not particular how they do it. They are set to out-do the denominations. Yes, they have put the church in the camping business but the Lord did not. He did not put it in the business of secular education, in manufacturing, in farming, in dairying, in the business of supporting human institutions, in entertainment, or general benevolence; any more than He placed mechanical music in the worship. There is just as much authority for instrumental music in worship as there is for churches to be operating these camps as described in this "church newspaper". Brethren are set to change the church to suit themselves. They have (no) regard for the will of God when it comes to perverting the church. We see no difference between their attitude and that of Baptists who pervert the plan of salvation or the old Digressives who perverted the worship. Brethren, who continue to hold to the New Testament, let us hold fast that "no man rob you of your prize".