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.
Here's what he had to share about his experience at a new church:
Hi Brian, I have starting going to a local Presbyterian church in a funky
neighborhood near my school. They are hemorrhaging their congregation
as it grows older and they gain few members. I really like the old
I was talking to the minister after church and he said its great to have you here. Are you new in the area?.... I said not really, I go to Millsaps (he knows it very well, its down the road) and I was looking for a temporary/local church home. He said it was great to have me, but there are typically more people in "my phase of life" here but they must be gone or on vacation.
I just thought, I came here for the great old people and the fellowship of everyone together. I didn't come here to meet more people my own age who I know from campus or the nearest bar. It's interesting to me (yet makes logical sense) that he would want to introduce me to the youngins'.
Anyway, it reminded me of what you talked about on the first night and I thought more about it because of this congregation loses members. If they broke down their silos in their tiny church community they may stop losing as many members. Just thought I would share.
I'm so glad he shared because this is what I continually find and try to help our centers and our congregations overcome - creating silos - putting groups in boxes and building from there forgetting the connectedness of our church.
If you read this note to me closely - you will see that he has a desire to connect with older people - and in my experience, I have found the same to be true. I remember when my grandparents were passing and I spent hours with them, that time is time I will never forget and I hope my children get that experience too. They long for it.
First Presbyterian Church in Dallas does a week or two of camp in a nursing home with GREAT SUCCESS! The older residents love the energy and stories of they campers, and the campers enjoy the welcome, enthusiasm and stories of the residents.
Where are you experiencing silos in your ministry?
Is it between generations, gender groups, ministry groups?
What are or can you do to reach across those "silos" and welcome groups into a "new" way of being?
Have you checked out www.pcusa.org/deepandwide yet? Stories of congregational transformation but very easy to adapt to our centers.
I hope you are aware of the silos in our church/world and that you are actively working to break them. That is where the fire is hottest and where the best opportunity for growth exists in my humble opinion.