I talked with a long term volunteer/staff person at an evangelical summer camp recently. She was decrying how enrollment in camps had trended down over the last 10 years and blamed the downward trend on the rise of social media. At first I was a little skeptical of her assumptions. Facebook is barely 5 years old and the downward trend started long before that. I’m not sure that MSN messenger or even Myspace would have had that much pull. I think there are other factors at work. However I must admit that I’m so connected spending a week at camp disconnected would be a major downer for me.
What I don’t really get or what seems terribly inconsistent is the thought that texting on a cell phone, or connecting to ones friends over facebook is inherently less social that traveling away from your home to stay in a cabin with strangers, most of whom are your peers, most of whom you won’t see again ever, and participate in programmed activities, sing songs and listen to sermons.
It is startling when I consider so much ministry is modeled on programed activities aimed at groups of peers that are in only in a position to receive ministry. When enrollment in this programs declines we try to introduce better programs in better facilities and hope things change. Perhaps the whole model is so dependent on entertainment that it now competes with what the world offers on mobile phones, computers and tablets. There is no hope in trying to out program the world…the programs have to go and the real Jesus needs to be explored through real discipleship and real fellowship.