Our regional camp was an excellent adventure! Although it rained constantly for two days and two nights that did not dampen our spirits as we explored what it means to follow Jesus. You should not follow someone you don’t know or trust, so on the Friday we pondered the question, So, exactly who am I following? On Saturday morning we then considered how Jesus is a realist who is ‘straight up’ about the cost/benefit analysis when it comes to following him. On Sunday morning we concluded by looking at Peter’s adventure with Jesus that involved initial self-confidence, failure, reinstatement and the call to mission.
In this camp, we tried to run things differently, where we moved away from the traditional top-down ‘lecture setting’.
What we did:
Get people directly into the Gospels: Who am I following, see John 10; the cost benefit analysis, see Luke 9:23-26, 14:25-33, 18:28-30; Peter’s adventure, see John 21:1-19. We provided cultural background information to help orientate everyone to the text.
Provide questions that everyone could discuss to help them understand what Jesus was saying and asking of us.
Train small group facilitators. Two weeks before the camp we had a training session looking at best practice in small group facilitation and came up with some ground rules for all participants. This gave us confidence that as we shifted the locus of authority God would work through the small group leaders and every participant. We wanted everyone to be a player.
Pray. Four ISMNZ workers sacrificed their involvement in the small group sessions to pray for each person as the camp progressed.
This approach gave people more time to interact directly with the Scriptures and discuss its implications for their lives. It was fascinating to see how a variety of cultural perspectives were shared that enriched our collective understanding of how to follow the same Jesus but in culturally nuanced ways. There was also a sense of people taking increased ownership of what they had learned.
We finished our time together reflecting on Jesus’ end game from Revelation 7. People from every tribe, nation and language will worship together with him as the King they had followed. Our regional camp was a snap shot of this with the nations we had present at our regional camp - despite the disruptions of Covid over the last two years.
ISMNZ Palmerston North City Leader