Connecting kids (and communities) to Jesus with ... science!
Imagine walking into your church to find rockets whizzing above your
head or concoctions bubbling in a lab down the hall. Many churches have
caught on to a new trend of promoting science camps as an outreach to
Children love to experiment and invent. Science camps capitalize on their natural curiosity. When you have captured a child’s attention, spiritual truths can be taught by using science experiments as object lessons.
Shooting off rockets in a Space Camp, for example, starts a discussion about hitting the “target” of correct conduct for Christ. Dissecting a shark in a Creation Camp embeds in a child’s mind the day God created sea creatures. The spiritual lessons leave a lasting impression in a child’s heart and mind.
Specialized summer camps—such as for sports, art, drama and music—have long been used in the church community. The science camp now joins this tried-and-true specialty, with rave results. When planning a science camp of your own, a few initial steps should be taken to help ensure that your camp becomes a successful, rewarding experience.
Step 1. Determine your purpose. Is it to hold the camp as a bridge between the church and the community? For this type of camp, the church may wish to contract with a local science museum, community-education leader or science teacher as a resource. Is it to connect children with Jesus, using science to achieve that? Having church members lead the camp will enable a congregation to accomplish this goal. The members can add the spiritual elements necessary for a successful event.
Step 2. Choose your format. Deciding when and how long the camp will be held is essential. Will it be overnight or all day? Will it be five days in a row or once a week? Should it run during summer break or the school year?
One new trend is to offer specialized camps during Christmas break or spring break, or on teacher workdays. A monthly family science night that offers an abbreviated science camp would be a great hit with families.
Step 3. Target your audience. What ages will you include? Will parents be encouraged to attend with their children? If outreach is a primary goal, where will it be held—in a park, school building, community center?
Looking beyond these initial steps, what might a typical day in a science camp be like? First, a large drama group would open with an attention-grabbing sketch that would introduce the biblical truth for the day. Second, a “mad scientist” would appear, doing fun and memorable experiments.
Last, the children would be divided into small groups and rotated through stations, where they would conduct experiments, do crafts, memorize Bible verses, have snacks and group discussions, and play games. All events would reinforce the day’s biblical truth.
A science-camp experience includes quality benefits, such as long-term retention of the subject matter, special memories created from unusual and unique biblical lessons, and a heightened enthusiasm in the children’s ministry of your church. Those of us who want to reach our culture for Jesus need to be willing to step outside the box. We must show children that God is not closed up inside the walls of a church. A science camp is a great way to begin that process.
A longtime children’s minister, Dienna Goscha currently serves as a pastor at Real Life Community Church in Elk River, Minn.
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