Hi, my name is Jenn and I am a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with Authenticity.
(For those who haven’t read my first blog on Authenticity, check it out here.)
Like any born-and-raised Southern Baptist, I grew up attending Church camp. Starting with the summer after 4th grade, I attended all 8 years of AWANA camp. Throw in several youth camps along the way and I have a slew of positive and negative church camp experiences.
But have you ever noticed that it’s the negative ones that mark you?
I mean, seriously. How many times have I been to church camp where everyone got emotional and made “life changing decisions” and within 2 weeks life returned to how it was before camp?
It doesn’t take long to become jaded.
So when Catie invited me to Forge 2015, I immediately started thinking up why I didn’t want to go. I had already decided that church camps don’t really “work” and figured I could probably find much better things to do with my Labor Day weekend than go hang out with a bunch of 20-30 somethings that I barely know.
Don’t get me wrong, I expect Forge to be a party. It’s going to be a blast. And it’s what “all the cool kids” will be doing. The Sanguine in me is intrigued and doesn’t want to be the one who misses out.
But the practical, plan-my-life-productively Choleric in me just rolls her eyes and points out that it’s not really going to move me forward.
And honestly, that’s why I decided not to go. I was working on excuse to explain my decision but the decision had already been made.
It was in the process of making up that excuse, I realized the real reason I didn’t want to go… and the reason I had to.
See, I don’t know many of the young adults in our church. I mean, like I said before, I can probably name 5 or 10 of them and recognize faces of another 10 or 15. But I don’t really know them and I struggle every Tuesday just to mingle and have conversations without bolting for the safety of my car. (Even just the term “them” in these sentences shows that I don’t feel a part of the group.)
Most of the struggles I have had at church camps were the same challenges I had in school: I never felt like I belonged.
And really, in all fairness, I don’t belong to the young adults of WBCC.
Other than the Well, which I attend when it’s convenient, I’m not involved. I know they play volleyball and do ministry and watch movies … but I have never even made an attempt to engage in any of those things.
The Well is mostly safe: 15 minutes of mingling, then a worship service, a bit more mingling and out the door.
It’s a lot like Community Groups used to be and it’s exactly what the leadership of WBCC is working to change: “Life change happens in circles, not rows.” I’ve heard it but don’t want to believe it: rows are safer than circles. There’s no chance of rejection. And they are cleaner… no one gets into the messy parts of my life and I stay out of theirs.
Camp is messy and risky: There’s so much time that isn’t structured… where I’d have to choose to engage or be safe, pull away, and feel alone. So it’s much easier to just find some pressing business to schedule that weekend.
But I already decided that 2015 is the year I stop running. And that means that I need to actually get to know these people; to think of myself as a young adult of WBCC instead of seeing it as a group I occasionally visit. And, terrifying as that is, it means I need to be at Forge.
So I bought a ticket before I had time to think about the implications. Immediately I decided to logically prove to myself it was a good decision. Being the practical person I am, I wanted to find out why all four corners of a personality would find value at this event:
- My Sanguine, happy-to-be-at-the-party, afraid-to-miss-out side was easiest to win over. She kinda wanted to go all along. What’s not to love about a three-day party? And who wants to be the one outside the circle of all the inside jokes that come out of the weekend? She’s excited to meet more people to share her life with on Facebook and Wonderings (my blog).
- The competitive, Choleric, leader in me found comfort in the structure of the weekend: it’s themed around the Olympics and my country (whatever it ends up being) is totally going to win! She also enjoyed knowing that this event would further develop the spiritual gifts that God has given me so that I can be more productive in the years to come.
- My Melancholy, student, thinker, teacher side was won over by learning about all the studying we will be doing over the weekend. There will be lessons and discussion groups. Plus the time away at a camp will mean chances to get up a bit earlier than others and catch the sunrise in special time alone with God. (That was always a favorite part of camp.)
- I’m honest enough to admit that Phlegmatic is not a personality trait I live often. But in the interest of rounding out my chart, I found out why a phlegmatic would want to go to camp: there will be lots of time to hang out, build relationships, and just be with the group.
Having thoroughly convinced myself of the decision to attend, I need to ensure that I don’t make the mistake I’ve made so many times before: I can’t let myself get caught up in the events and avoid the connections.
See, I realized all those mountain-top-experiences that didn’t lead to life change came from not having relationships to see them through. That very first AWANA camp, between 4th and 5th grade, I made the decision to stop a sin I’d struggled with for years. And I recommitted every camp that followed. With no relationship-based accountability to back it up, however, I battle that same sin to this day, more than 17 years later.
So I am posting this as a plea to all young adults at WBCC:
- If you haven’t already, please join me in registering for Forge. Please let me get to know you. Plug in and be a part of this journey with me. I can’t promise it won’t be messy … but I do believe it will be worth it.
- When we are there, help me. I want to know you and be known. But it’s terrifying. Please pull me in to your circle and help me tear down these walls.
I’ll see you at Forge.