Category Archives: Youth

What Camp Cannot Do

Christian youth camp is an unparalleled spiritual event for young people. Thousands travel to camps across the world every summer to spend time with other, like-minded youth while growing their faith. A Biblically sound camp is far superior to band camps, football camps, or scout camps. I’ve been involved in camps or retreats for almost 50 years as a youth and now as an adult. They simply cannot be beaten. Every year at the camp I attend, dozens respond, asking for prayers and desiring baptism.

Despite the impact of Christian camping, there are some things that camp cannot do.

Camp Cannot Stop Temptation.

Temptation is the bane of every disciple’s existence. From Adam and Eve until today, temptation attacks every believer. Even our Lord himself was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1-13). If Jesus can be tempted, surely we are vulnerable too. Nevertheless, we know that temptation is not the same as sin. Jesus was tempted but without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Paul reminds us that we are not forced to sin (1 Corinthians 10:12, 13). Sin is a choice that arises from temptation. James says it this way: our desires produce temptation, leading to sin and then sin leading to death (James 1:14, 15). We can avoid some temptations but not all of them. Without a doubt, our campers are tempted once home. Camp strives to encourage and give ways to avoid sin, but it takes continued encouragement from the family and the church.

Camp Cannot Make a Christian

During my days at Freed-Hardeman, I served on the dean’s disciplinary committee. I observed many students sent to a Christian college to “be fixed” by the school. Likewise, troubled young people are sometimes sent to camp for spiritual repair. Camp cannot, in a week, undo 51 other weeks of spiritual neglect by parents and local churches. Hear me, parents! Children need 24/7/365 spiritual nourishment. Christian camps and youth ministers can never substitute for godly parents. God’s best method of turning children into faithful adults is the faithful example of parents. Camp is a small, albeit important part, of their growth.

Camp Cannot Make a Local Community

There is something special about youth camp. It’s either hot or rainy, dusty or muddy. Showers seem to be optional for some. To get to camp, you travel to the end of the earth, past the last cell tower, jump off the edge and then turn right. The singing is heavenly, and the Bible study excellent. For a week, we are all part of a unique, sequestered community. But we all need more. The local congregation must be a community of believers involved in one another’s lives. Youth must never feel like they are fringe elements. They are workers for the Lord, just like the rest of us. Help them to grow into greater roles in the church.  We will answer how we aid the young in their maturing lives.

I am a believer in Christian camping, but it cannot do everything a young person needs. Parents are essential to the growth of their children, as are other local church members. This generation faces a level of worldly confusion and chaos with which we did not have to deal. Despite their vulnerabilities, which are many, our young people are among the finest I have ever had the privilege to work with. They are struggling to stay afloat; they need our help.

Things I Learned from Campers


I know we go to camp to teach young people about our Lord. As adults, we are supposed to guide them. I get that. But for 15 years I have discovered that teaching and learning is a two-way street. This year was no different. Let me tell you how our campers schooled me at Indian Creek Youth Camp.

One Size Fits None

Every child is unique. The differences are great. Apart from the obvious age differences and gender differences, there are deep and not so obvious distinctions among our campers. Some are well trained in the Scriptures; some are not. Some come from solid Christian homes; some do not. Some think girls have cooties and others think boys are yucky. Some like aggressive sports; others prefer video games. Some like to swim; others like to nap. Treating one child like another is a massive mistake.

When Phillip taught the Ethiopian, he began where he was (Acts 8:35) and preached unto him, Jesus. We should approach each child individually and address their unique needs as we guide them toward the Lord.

Children Want the Lord

Have we convinced ourselves that children would rather play, goof-off, or sleep in instead of worshipping? Maybe it is us that prefers to skip church. Maybe extracurriculars are more important for us than them?

Jesus taught us to put him first. Read Mathew 6:33 and Luke 9:57-62. I dare you. Read it and then tell me why you don’t have your children before the Lord constantly!

Any parent who does not bring up his child in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) is a failure!

The ICYC campers confirmed this very idea. While they enjoy sports and extracurricular activities, they love their Lord even more. They are deeply troubled when parents guide them away from the service of the Lord and into less valuable pursuits. What would you say to a child who asks, “is it ok to disobey your parents when they tell you that we can’t go to worship because we have something else to do? Can I go anyway?”

Children Have Real Problems

The world is not what it was when we grew up. Our Youth are dealing with deep issues that will affect the rest of their lives. This week, 17 young people publically asked for prayers in our large group assemblies. Others asked for private prayers in their cabin groups and in one-on-one meetings. I was knocked back on my heals at the raw emotions that poured out from them. They spoke of deep and profound doubt, they spoke of dark thoughts of self-harm, they spoke of recurring sin, and they spoke of parents who don’t care.

Tender Jesus heard it all and was tempted by all (Hebrews 4:15). He watched the hatred of the religious leaders focused upon the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11), and he saved her life and likely her soul. Of children, Jesus said, “see that you do not despise one of these little ones…” (Matthew 18:6). He said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42).

Our children are waging a battle that we never dreamed of. They face real skirmishes every day. They cannot opt out of this great spiritual war we face. We must not fail them. We are not doing enough to steel them against the wiles of Satan! Let us do better!

Photo is courtesy of Terri Lane Photography, @ 2018

Christian Camp – Why?

Eastern Shore has many members, young people and older, who are at youth camp this week. Some are at Backwoods, near Rockford, Alabama and others are at Indian Creek, near Jasper, Alabama. Across the nation, young people are taking a week off from everything else and heading to Christian youth camps. There are at least four major youth camps in Alabama alone.

Why leave the comfort of home for camp?

1. Fellowship

There is a camaraderie among campers that is greater than that seen almost anywhere else. During a week at camp, young people live, study, eat and play among other Christians with similar values. For some, they will associate with more Christians at camp than at any other time in the year. Even those who participate in team sports at home know that the close-knit friendships at camp far outstrip the single purpose friendships on a ball field.

We, first of all, have fellowship with God (1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 13:14). Next, we enjoy fellowship with other Christians (Acts 2:42) but reject uneven fellowship with the world. As Paul asked, “What fellowship has light with darkness?” Good question!

2. Study

Our campers spend hours in Bible study. Like fellowship, many will spend more hours in the word this week than at any other time during the year. Bible class teachers are chosen for age-appropriate classes that are based on the word of God. All teachers accept the total inspiration of God’s word and teach with the authority that comes from Scripture.

We try to prepare our campers to “give an answer” for any Bible question they may be asked once they return home (1 Peter 3:15). We take seriously, and we teach our campers to do the same, Paul’s admonition to “Study…” God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15).

3. Immersion

No, I am not talking about baptism, at least not at this point. I am talking about a week immersed in Christian thought and teaching. In the mornings, campers may be involved in early morning devotionals. They enjoy their meals with thanksgiving to God. During sports activities, they play according to the Golden Rule as well as the rules of the game. Bible studies with qualified teachers mark out the day while prayerful worship begins the evenings. A final large group devotional ends the day while a last devotional and Bible discussion is held in the cabins just before bedtime.

The original Christians enjoyed an immersive faith (Acts 2:42-47). We strive to make sure our campers do too.

4. Fun

And yes, it is fun. Whether we are stirring the purple soup or listening to the harmonious melody of Butterbeans, we have a good time. We cut up and carry on – but never do pranks – in a wonderful time of real fun. Try as we might, we shall never forget some of the skits that have masqueraded as art. We shall never eat with our elbows on the table again and our sides still split when we think of the pink monkeys, a bar of soap and a typewriter!


Casual Sex and Culture

MileyCyrus_signature.svgShortly after the Miley Cyrus embarrassment students in public schools were seen twerking. That is, they were moving their bodies in way suggestive of having sex. The provocative moves soon found their way into some dance team and cheer-leading routines in public schools.  Cyrus was not finished debasing herself and culture.  Her music video featured the moderately talented Cyrus dancing nude on and around a wrecking ball. Other entertainers who appeal to the youth demographic are also pushing lewd behavior to new lows.

But now comes a report that parents have had enough. They are seeing changes among their own children who mimic the moves and words of the performers. A Brit website, Netmums, conducted a survey of parents which revealed their observations and fears. The cultural breakdown survey is brief and worth reading.

Dogs, Fleas and Friends

The saying, “If you lay down with dogs you’ll get up with fleas” is not in the Bible. But the idea is definitely Biblical. Those we associate with can help us or harm us. Consider Paul’s words:

“Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals.”

(1 Corinthians 15:33)

The wisest ever, Solomon wrote:

If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;

let us ambush the innocent without reason;

like Sheol let us swallow them alive,

and whole, like those who go down to the pit;

we shall find all precious goods,

we shall fill our houses with plunder;

throw in your lot among us;

we will all have one purse”—

my son, do not walk in the way with them;

hold back your foot from their paths,

for their feet run to evil,

and they make haste to shed blood.

For in vain is a net spread

in the sight of any bird,

  but these men lie in wait for their own blood;

they set an ambush for their own lives.

Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;

it takes away the life of its possessors.

(Proverbs 1:11-19)


“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

(Proverbs 13:20)

We are warned that our associates, our friends, make real and lasting impacts in our lives. Sadly, the more wayward the friend the worse the impact. One would hope that the one with higher values would uplift the unrighteous but it is not so. Preachers decry the dangerous union of believer and non-believer in marriages because the faithlessness of the unbeliever is so powerful. While there are certainly exceptions, the overwhelming majority of such unions end in spiritual catastrophe.

When Lot was separated from faithful Abram he moved among the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah. His decision to move “his tent as far as Sodom” proved horrendous and cost him his family (Genesis 13:12-13 ff).

But such damage is not limited to marriage or even to intimate relationships. Our youth should learn the danger of close associations with the unrighteous. Parents must provide direction for their children and must be prepared to prohibit some friendships. Every parent must monitor their children’s Facebook pages and any other social media which they use. Parents must, on occasion, be intrusive into the lives of their children.

A Christian can and should have relationships with unbelievers. Life will undoubtedly require some interaction with the wicked. But it is wise to say that a Christian’s closest, dearest friends ought to be other Christians.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans






Why We Camp

Last week 38 from Eastern Shore spent the week in the woods of Walker County Alabama at Indian Creek Youth Camp. It rained almost every day, temperatures hovered around 90 with humidity readings near 100%. 11 of our 38 were adults who volunteered their time to shepherd a total of 148 children. It was fun and uplifting but still a challenging week. Eastern Shore had an especially good showing at camp and provided a significant number of the counselors and staff.

But the question still remains: Why did we go? What was so important that we put band and football on hold for a week and took time away from work to go to camp? Is it really that important?

Christian Camping Provides an Important Retreat

Children face a difficult grind in the everyday world. They are surrounded by images and sounds that argue against strong Christian values. The constant pressure from Satan affects our youth despite church efforts to the contrary. Our children need a break from the world.

Following the assassination of John the Baptist by Herod, Jesus tried to withdraw to a desolate place (Matthew 14:13). In Mark 3:7 Jesus withdrew from the crowds and took his disciples with him. Sometimes we need a little break.

Christian camping takes youth and adults away from the world and allows time to work on the important business of building relationships with others Christians.

Christian Camping Builds Lifelong Friendships

Ask any of our youth and they will tell you of new friends made this year and many old friends from the past. Campers come from across the southeast and find love and acceptance from people they would otherwise never meet. There is a sense of camaraderie among campers that will last for a lifetime.

Parents often anguish over their children’s friends. They worry about peer pressure and bad influences that impact their children. These are valid concerns. Of course, not every person your child meets at camp will be a positive influence but most are. They struggle with the same pressures our youth face and can empathize with their struggles. These friendships give strength to their faith and support for those days when our youth feel so alone.

Christian Camping Builds Faith

At the heart of our work is faith. Every activity is designed to help establish, rebuild and renew the faith of the camper. We actually spend hours every day in direct Bible study and worship. Campers sing with voices of angels the old songs and the new worship songs. Their hearts are opened to the truth of God’s word and sound counselors, preachers and teachers fill them with a love for God, for his Son and for the Bible. Our sole aim is to build faith. We are fully aware that some campers will return to homes where Jesus is not uplifted and where God is not honored. So our time with them is precious.

Many campers choose the lofty environment of camp to become Christians. Their time with Christian friends and Bible study helps them to make that great decision. I am confident that some are Christians today because of their time at camp and probably would not be otherwise.

This congregation, Eastern Shore, is a strong supporter of Christian Camping and reaps the benefits. Be sure and find a camper today and ask them about their week. Find someone who did not attend and encourage them to go. It will only lift them higher!


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.


The Dangerous Prom

Spring brings the prom. It’s the social event of the year for many young people. But hidden beneath all the fancy dresses and well groomed, tuxedo-clad men lies a dangerous truth. The prom is no place for a Christian. It’s an optional event that is fraught with danger. So much so that the term “prom babies” was coined by the students themselves who know that prom night is a time of relaxed morals.

A dear friend and former classmate of mine from Freed-Hardeman, Cindy Colley has written extensivly about the prom. Please read her latest post,Don’t Tag Me.” Cindy’s words ought to resonate with parents who attended the prom. Do we really think the prom is better than it was in our days? Read this with an open mind and seek the wisdom of God, not the ever-shifting thoughts of men.

By the way, Glenn Colley, Cindy’s husband, preaches at the West Huntsville Church of Christ in Huntsville, Alabama. He and I were also classmates and worked together at WFHC  radio many years ago.

Praising Teens

Teens are often criticized. Their lifestyle, way of thinking, priorities and such are often assailed. While their behavior may be different than an adult’s it is not necessarily wrong. Minority teens and teens from inner city neighborhoods are especially subject to criticism. But here’s a story about two teen girls from inner city Jersey City, New Jersey. Just west of Manhattan Jersey City is the second largest city in New Jersey and racially one of the most diverse cities in the world. Almost 20% of the residents live below the poverty line.

But two teenaged girls showed aggressive leadership and initiative Wednesday when they saw 6 small children running down the streets naked and unsupervised. The two girls rounded the children up and found a seventh child (age 2) left in the locked apartment. They bathed the children, fed them and called police.

Nilaja Wyatt and Aaliyah Glover are being hailed as heroes.

I’m proud of these two young ladies. They deserve our praise and full support for taking actions that many adults would not, and in this case, did not. But I suspect the girls parents should be praised as well for instilling an attitude of care and concern in their daughters. Great work!

Worship at Indian Creek Youth Camp

The Value of Christian Camping

Worship at Indian Creek Youth CampWhy would 60 grown men and women take a full week of their vacation to travel to Indian Creek Youth Camp in the hills and hollows of West Alabama with 190 children? Why would these normally intelligent people leave the comforts of their own beds to sleep on thin mattresses inside a small cabin that doesn’t even have running water? Why would adults, accustomed to the comforts of daily American life give up their nice, master baths to use a concrete block bath house that sometimes has no hot water?

It’s for the kids! Continue reading The Value of Christian Camping

Indian Creek Youth Camp

Indian Creek Youth Camp, Clark Sims week, is now over. What a great week in Walker County Alabama near Jasper, Alabama and just north of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 253 people were at the camp for the session that ran Sunday through Friday. 11 were baptized and 31 rededicated themselves to their Lord.

Clark Sims, preacher for the Cottondale Church of Christ, does an outstanding job bringing people together from across the Southeast to worship, study, play and grow as Christians. This was Clark’s 7th year and I hope he has plenty more ahead.

I am exhausted at the moment but will post more with a few pictures tomorrow.