Thursday, July 19, 2007

On campmeetings

This week I am at the Family Camp of the Pacific Northwest Association at our Double-K Christian Retreat Center in Easton, Washington.

Note the title: "Family Camp".

In truth, however, this is a version of "campmeeting", a long-standing tradition across the Church of God. These events have been an important part of our identity, especially in our early years. Almost ever region of the continent used to have a campmeeting, and our national one was dubbed "Anderson Campmeeting". But, over the years, campmeetings have faced many challenges, and are generally only a shadow of what they once were. Society changed, as has the social nature of our movement. The name change of Anderson Campmeeting to the North American Convention is a reflection of the transformations that have occurred.

Certainly, some campmeetings are still thriving. Our district neighbors in Oregon continue to have a very successful campmeeting, probably the largest regional one in the Church of God. And there are some very committed campmeeting junkies who attend year after year, some even visiting several across the country.

The reality, however, is that campmeeting participation is shrinking overall across our movement, and has less overall impact than it once did. Our own camp this week will see far less than 10% (probably closer to 5%) of our constituency in attendance even for one day. We have a good event, but its influence is not as significant as campmeetings of the past which drew in large proportions of movement adherents.

Further indications of some of the changes and pressures affecting the Church of God.


Anonymous said...

I still say that the lack of participation in events like these stems from the same reason that I suggested for the lack of participation in the NAC. The following is my post from that topic, whcih I suggest also applies here:

I would suggest that the decline is in part due to natural attrition of people who realize that they are participants of the movement in the first place. Many of the newer churches (such as mine) are growing at record paces. However, a large portion of the congregation is not aware of my church's affiliation with ChOG. It is never mentioned (I assume it is to not scare people away who are looking for a non-denominational way of finding Christ, which is why we are actually here in the first place). But, this trend of the ChOG affiliation being some secret that only the informed ones are aware of is a growing trend in the large "community" churches like mine, which must certainly contribute to the lack of participation caused by a lack of awareness.

Mike G.

Steve Nelson said...

I'm 38, and haven't been to a camp meeting since I was a teen. Probably 23-25 years ago.

I take that back, when I first went to Oklahoma, they still had camp meeting, and I went one night one year. Then they tried a "family convention" held at MACU - I went the first year, and then I'm pretty sure it folded.

I don't think there is such a thing as camp meeting here in Florida.

I love camping. I hate meetings. Maybe we should all just go to Colorado and go camping?