In Acts 6:1-7 the early church faced a problem that threatened to distract them from their core ministry; they also encountered divisions that endangered the new community. These challenges were resolved by godly leaders who employed some fundamental organizational practices. Centuries later, the business world has adopted these church-based practices as their own.
Business management can be complex and challenging, but much of the mystery is resolved in three basic functions: the management of money (and physical resources), the management of people, and the management of time (which is all about setting priorities and self-management). Each of these is addressed by the early church in Acts 6:1-7. These issues were challenging 2,000 years ago and they are faced by camps and other ministries today.
Resource Management - The early church didn’t have enough food to feed all the hungry and deserving people. Two groups held different expectations about how the existing supply should be allocated.
Limited resources can brings out the worst in people. Selfish decisions tend to override good intentions. We generally negotiate what is best for ourselves and those closest to us, even at the expense of others. Our commitment to the total community and the bigger cause must override our self-centered bent.
Camping ministries continually address the challenge of limited resources. There is never enough money, enough buildings, enough campers, enough donors, enough volunteers or any other essential element of camp. But camp leaders are highly skilled at accomplishing a great amount with very little. Good planning through intentional budgeting, controlling costs through effective oversight, and accountability through timely and transparent reporting are essential for camps, and all ministries, to use limited resources well.
People Management – Selecting the right people to tackle the food problem was a major task for the leaders of the early church. They had two requirements for the task-force members; they were to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. The Apostles delegated their authority to the task-force to address the problem and come up with a solution. They knew how to delegate and empower those who met the position requirements and were selected to serve. The Apostles laid hands on them, prayed over them, and then got out of the way.
Camping is a relational ministry; therefore, selecting and empowering the right people is critical. The wellbeing of young children is too important for camps to miss the lead of the early church. Camps need to select people who have godly character and who are prepared to make wise decisions. Once selected, staff members need to know they have the prayerful support, encouragement and watchful eye of their supervisors.
Time Management – The Apostles knew they needed to stay close to God through prayer and studying, teaching and preaching the Bible. They recognized their temporal limitations and knew they could not do it all. They invested their time accomplishing the tasks that were critical and that they were called to accomplish and they made sure someone covered the rest. They had to say ‘no’ to personal involvement in the very important and noble cause of feeding the hungry. The Apostles managed themselves by focusing on their calling and multiplied their results by enlisting others to help.
We all have the same amount of time; we don’t really manage time – in reality we manage (or mismanage) ourselves. We manage ourselves through priorities developed with clear objectives and with a passionate commitment to what God has called us to do. It means saying ‘no’ to the good to accomplish the best. Leaders do not abandon other causes -- they simply encourage the right people with the right gifts to engage the need that God has put before them.
Camps are complex ministries. They requires success in three areas 1) impacting lives, 2) exemplifying a Christ-like community and 3) managing well their money, people and time.