God’s people have been getting together ever since the Israelites celebrated the first Passover, some 3,400 years ago. The church was born on Pentecost in a campmeeting like gathering. All down through the centuries the church has gathered to clarify and defend treasured doctrines, worship, pray together, get to know each other and work together to win others to Christ.
In the Church of God, our campmeeting history dates back to the early part of the 20th century. Many of you have memories of past campmeetings in Bakersfield, Pacific Palisades, and Fresno. My memories date back to Texas. My parents met at the state campmeeting on the Church o f God Campground in Weatherford, TX in the early 1950s. It was an every summer tradition for our family to drive 70 miles to participate in Texas Campmeeting. Space prohibits me from sharing my many memories of those experiences. So instead, I want to share with you four things I value about Church of God Campmeetings that were true in my childhood and are still important for us today.
We are privileged to hear anointed and insightful preaching and teaching. Gatherings of this kind allow us to hear from speakers we seldom, if ever, get to sit under. We are inspired, convicted, instructed and motivated. Highlighting the ministry of the Word is a core value that we must never neglect.
Campmeeting allows us to sing some old favorites, but also helps us learn to sing some new songs. In the old days, that meant getting a new “convention songbook” every year. Now days, it means looking up on the screen and learning wonderful new worship choruses. The blend of the familiar and the fresh enriches our worship and gives us some new music to take home with us.
Since we are genuinely Pentecostal, we believe in life-changing times in the altar. Many people have been saved, sanctified, filled with the Holy Spirit, healed and called into ministry in campmeeting altar services. I still believe God does supernatural things in our lives when we pray with each other in the campmeeting altar.
Finally, campmeeting is a time of relationship building through fellowship. Time with friends and ministry peers is a highlight of the c a m p m e e t i n g e x p e r i e n c e . G r e a t encouragement flows into our lives through our time together. It is hard to quantify this valuable interaction. You just know that it is special and strengthening.
Alice and I hope that you and the people from your church will join us for REFRESHING, June 20-23, 2017 at the Church of God Ministry Center Campus and Life Cathedral. In this day of ever changing high tech communications, social media and virtual reality, there’s still something very special about us all being together face to face. See you soon.