“Everything that parachurch ministries do must be done for the love of Jesus’s church,
local and universal.” - Jon Bloom, Desiring God
We love this sentiment shared at Desiring God. It is our heart's desire to come alongside the local and extended church, providing a place of welcome where individuals and groups can rest, learn, and grow... to come to know Christ personally, to grow in their walk with Him, and to follow the great commission, sharing the gospel from generation to generation.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
Just as He commanded the Israelites, God calls believers today to love Him fully, to love others because of Him, and to teach His commands to our family, neighbors, and the world.
Camp Bethel seeks to do this both by becoming an increasingly beautiful, efficient, cared-for, growing facility where guests can experience the beauty of creation away from their everyday, and by partnering with churches and other parachurch ministries as they, too, walk out the call to share Christ with others, as we follow Him.
So what is a parachurch ministry?
"The broad concept of parachurch ministry is wonderful. Para in Greek means to come “alongside.” By definition and design, then, parachurch groups ought to come alongside churches to provide ministries those churches cannot fulfill alone. (As one person observed, the difference between churches and parachurches is like the difference between families and soccer teams.)" (Jon Saunders, for The Gospel Coalition)
We are called to support, never replace the local church.
Camp Bethel is always looking to develop deeper relationships with church leaders, volunteers, community members and parents. We also seek out opportunities to grow in our skills and develop our property and facilities so that we can support the primary work God has called the church to do.
"Yes, it’s wonderfully true that the ministry of the local church carries out God’s Great Commission plan. But it’s equally true that this will only happen if the church goes and ministers to students like parachurches do. Congregations must leave the friendly confines of the church building and go into the dorms, the intramural buildings, and the coffee shops to make disciples." (Jon Saunders, The Gospel Coalition)
Locally, we have several initiatives and partnerships where we invest time and resources to more effectively live out this calling - these are some but not nearly all of those!
We are wholeheartedly committed to the Gospel.
At the heart of everything we do, we seek to first and foremost know Christ, and to make Him known. It is only by faithfully following this calling that we can effectively serve the church!
J. Mack Stiles says this: "One of the best reasons for a parachurch ministry to exist is to bring people together who are passionately committed to the gospel but who might not agree on every secondary doctrine. To be healthy, all parachurch ministries must maintain a deep commitment to the core of Christianity—the gospel—no matter what else they do. Beware of any parachurch organization that does not hold to the gospel with a firm grip." (From 9Marks Organization)
We actively pursue accountability and transparency with the local church and with our ministry partners.
We know that God's people MUST have healthy relationships with other believers for encouragement and for accountability to walk faithfully with Him. Our staff and volunteers seek to grow in relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ who will exhort, support, and speak the truth in love so that we might become increasingly effective in living out our mission.
"Being in accountability relationships with the church goes beyond mere church membership or attendance; many parachurch organizations already encourage or require church membership. What’s needed is transparent accountable relationships, both individual and corporate. Yes, parachurch ministries should hold their staff and members more accountable to robust involvement in gospel-centered churches, and to a lifestyle of submitting to church leadership. But further, parachurch leadership should seek out evangelical church leaders who are willing to challenge and exhort them..." (J. Mack Stiles, 9Marks)
We seek to always connect guests, visitors, and campers with their families and with their local church.
God has ordained parents and grandparents as the first disciplers of their children, and He has ordained the local church body as the "called out" community where biblical teaching, discipline, and discipleship are lived out. We actively look for ways to point campers and guests to connect intentionally with regular church attendance and to encourage God's work in and through Christian families.
We take seriously this admonishment from John Piper: "The default mode of undergraduate students will be to treat your parachurch ministry like church. You must go above and beyond to make sure your ministry funnels students into the church, not away from it." (From The Place and Purpose of Parachurch Ministries.)
We love how Brian Strider says it: "The gospel is the good news that sinners like us can be reconciled to God through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (Eph. 2:1-10). Being reconciled to God also means we’re reconciled to God’s people (Eph. 2:11-22). Becoming a Christian means being adopted into God’s family, and joining a local church is like showing up at the family dinner table." (From Like Families and Soccer Teams: Church and Parachurch."
Have more ideas? Email us. We'd love to talk more about how we can align with the work God is doing and partner with the Body to serve Him in it!
Together for the gospel, connecting generations in Christ,
- The Camp Bethel Team