Fire building: a rite of passage for Frontier campers, a necessary nightly task for program staff, and a source of joy to facilities pyromaniacs (ahem) staff.
EVERY summer, without fail, the chance arises to watch campers and staff (and sometimes myself) struggle to start a campfire. The mechanics of fire building make sense in theory but actualizing the reality is often a frustrating process. Inexperience, fear, rain, hurrying, poor planning and inattention serve to complicate the matter. Fire, when unleashed is hard to control, just look the efforts to control ravaging forest or house fires. Yet, it can be SO HARD TO START.
And so, at camp, we explain the basics and model the process. Giving campers/LITs/staff the tools, space, and support to build their own.
Then we observe, gently coach, tell them to stop blowing on the little flame, suggest they feed their fire more wood, and encourage them to regroup when time and time again the flames won’t stay lit. We face a few realities when working to build fires: 1- Once you light the “little stuff” you have to feed your fire more wood or it will go out. 2- It is VERY unlikely that you will have a successful fire trying to go from match straight to split wood.
You can learn a lot when trying to learn fire building, about yourself and inevitably the process helps us to talk about our faith.
John the Baptist came baptizing with water but, speaking of Jesus, he said, “He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Jesus said he would ask the Father to send the (Helper, Comforter, Advocate) Holy Spirit. When the promised Holy Spirit was given, the book of Acts records it as “tongues of fire” or “flames” that came to rest upon them and they were “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Put in the context of scripture, it makes phrases like, “I’m so on fire for God” more meaningful than just an analogy, but a reality. Last summer, campers and staff alike were moved as we worshiped together singing “Set a Fire.”“There’s no place I’d rather be
There’s no place I’d rather be
There’s no place I’d rather be
Than here in your love, here in your love
That I can’t contain and I can’t control
I want more of You God, I want more of You God.”
While starting a fire can often be the most difficult part it is not the end but the beginning. A fire needs to be fed and built up. If you wait too long after the initial kindling lights to add more wood the kindling is consumed and the flames disappear. It can be too easy to be satisfied with the initial “spark” of faith we see in someone and fail to care for their developing faith.
An established fire needs less work but still needs to be fed or it too dies away. You can’t just throw big logs on a few tiny flames and expect everything to work out fine. Many fledgling fires have met their demise by adding wood that was too big and actually crushed the tiny flames. A new or maturing believer needs nurturing to build them up yet all too often, we wonder why they aren’t growing when no one putting an intentional effort to step by step equipping their growth.
Our Frontier campers know very well that the embers of a fire that appears to be dead can reignite with just a little work. Faith may appear to “die out” when in reality, like the coals or embers of a fire, with a little care faith can be reignited!
A fire is not a constant, it is a process.
Our faith is in progress.
Evangelism is only the first step, the ignition of our faith. We teach evangelism, instruct on how to share your story and God’s story. It isn’t easy but it also is not the end. We need to put as much care and effort into discipleship, equipping people on how we come alongside to help support the growth of maturing believers.
Has God placed someone in your life that is growing in their faith? As we are thinking about the process of discipleship, let us start by praying specifically as Paul prayed for the Colossians:
9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,[a] 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom[b] and forgave our sins.
As we pray, we recognize that it is God who is the disciple-maker and we ask that He equip us to feed the fire of faith in our own lives and in the lives of others. Let’s start there. This is a topic that I care about deeply, I think it deserves a part 2, so stay tuned 😉
*In my desire to delve more deeply into the topic of discipleship, I’m hoping to hear from you! Would you share with me about how you were discipled, how you are working to disciple others, or books/articles that you have found helpful on the topic of discipleship? You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org