Brian Frick is the Associate for Camp and Conferences Ministries with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has been involved in camp and conference ministry since high school. For the past ten years, Brian has served as program director of Johnsonburg Center in New Jersey, Westminster Woods in California, and Heartland Center in Missouri.
Camp and conference ministry compliments and partners with other ministry aspects of our church to foster faith development and reflection. As our communities and our church changes, our ministries need to grow and adapt with creative and emergent programming and leadership to meet new realities.
These blogs entries, though varied, are intended to spur thought and conversation around the opportunities and challenges before us.
I was checking into another blog, Rethinking Faith, and came across this entry - While driving home from work I can't help but notice the marquee signs
in front of churches. I am usually appalled by what they have to say;
often times they take stabs at our culture. These marquee signs
typically are only meant to guilt people into visiting their church,
not offering any real insight. Not only are they a bad marketing
technique (another offensive thing is how the church has turned to
marketing campaigns to grow their clubs), they typically show how out
of touch Christianity has become with society... and how ignorant many
I catch myself writing letters in my mind to the person that thought their particular "message" would be beneficial and helpful to those driving by. Yet I refrain from putting these thoughts to pen and paper because I suspect that my words would echo in the hollow halls and not be heard, or my words only encourage their extreme negativity.
Maybe the reason I find these signs so offensive is because of their negativity. A large portion of Christians have destructive attitudes about the culture they're a part of. Instead of drawing on hope, many Christian groups have given up on making a positive impact. You hear people say things like, "Things are only going to get worse," which is an unfounded mentality to have. It tinges the glasses of those who espouse this attitude, and they unknowingly come across as hateful to the culture at large.
This entry resonated with me because that is a comment or observation that I hear from both "sides" of the religious debate.
It leads me to the question, what is an open and welcoming faith? How can we bravely proclaim our faith in a way that invites others to join with us, to build something new, to show the love of Christ as deeply as we believe it? To not show that we are an exclusive club and that if you don't already think the way we do, you will not feel comfortable or we will try to convert you.
I guess I keep getting back to the fact that the biggest part of my faith comes down to my understanding of grace. God saved me. I'm just human. What could I really do to please God enough to "earn" salvation? I'm not a puritan looking for signs in other as to if they are saved or not. I believe that God saved me 2000 years ago and my "job" as a Christian is to welcome others in that walk and live my life as a thankful response to God's act of grace.
I am really disturbed by such signs of faith that "Unwelcome" those not like the people inside, but I'm equally bothered at the lack of signs (whether printed or publicly available in other means) that say the opposite. You are welcomed here. I know of many faith communities that live that way, but why can't they get a message of welcoming faith out in the way that churches that unwelcome are able to? How does this juxtaposition encourage folks to be atheists because they don't want to be judged or to follow a God who would judge them in such a harsh, and not loving manner.