I spent much of my summer at Church Camps. I ate lots of delicious food, attended numerous chapel services, slept in comfy bunk beds, played messy games and hung out with kids all day long. Some may ask, why would you spend your summer this way? My answer lies within the core purposes of our summer camps. We facilitate summer camps to provide an opportunity for our kids and youth to experience a first-hand encounter with God and His church through recreation, personal interaction, worship, Bible teaching, and response to God. It’s this final one, “response to God” that keeps me returning year after year. My favorite part of camp is the encounters we experience with God at the altar.

There is something special about the altar. The altar calls us to draw closer to Jesus. The altar is a place free from interruptions, where we’re able to reflect wholeheartedly on what God desires to do in and through us. Throughout this response time, God has our full attention. Then we can hear clearly when He speaks, instructs, and convicts us of sin. At the altar, individuals receive salvation, make recommitments, find healing, get called into vocational ministry and receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. I was reminded of this during one of our camp altar times when a Cabin Leader handed me a small note on which she wrote these words, “After 3 ½ years, tonight God spoke to me about how it was not my fault that my husband took his own life. I AM FREE.” She found freedom and healing at the altar.

…she wrote these words, “After 3 ½ years, tonight God spoke to me about how it was not my fault that my husband took his own life. I AM FREE.” She found freedom and healing at the altar.

Recently I was reminiscing of how when I first became a follower of Jesus at age 17, the church I attended highly valued the Altar. Each service began and ended at the Altar. The altar was a sacred place and time designed to encounter God. At the altar, I learned to surrender my will to His will. The altar was the place God altered my life and began transforming me into His Son’s image.

The altar at camp is special because we make it special. The altar can be special at home, too, if we’ll intentionally duplicate the camp altar in our kids churches and youth services. The next generation still responds to altar calls. Young people need a place to encounter the living God. They need a place to experience His love, mercy and life-altering grace. We, as next generation leaders, must intentionally make room for the altar in our ministries, and purposefully create sacred places and times for them to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, for this is our true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

The altar at camp is special because we make it special. The altar can be special at home, too, if we’ll intentionally duplicate the camp altar in our kids churches and youth services.