I'm really glad that I was not a minister in Cleveland 99 years ago. Yesterday I was sifting through the written histories of my two parishes and came across the following news clipping from 1913:
For those who are unable to enlarge the above picture or read the fine print, this is an advertisement for Cleveland Holiness Camp Meeting in 1913. The name of the preacher and song leader are provided, but the line that caught this preacher's eye was the following: "Many other preachers and workers will be present to help push the battle against sin."
If I had been one of these "preachers or workers" present, what would my responsibilities have been? How does one "push the battle against sin" at a camp meeting? Even though I've studied the Holiness movement, theology and history books give me no insight as to the pastoral duties of a 1913 minister!
Then I realized that I was missing the most important part of the sheet of paper. What mattered was not how to battle sin but how to believe. What this little piece of history did reveal was a past desire for revival, for a closer relationship to God. The director of the camp meeting was the Holy Spirit, and "reasonable rates for board and lodging" were available to all. Here we encounter a calling for today's Church. The Church's focus should be on meeting people's needs. Camp meetings met the needs of many people's lives in 1913, introducing them to a God who desires personal relationships with each of us.
Do we as human beings not still have that same longing? To belong? To feel loved? To know God? Of course we do. And the Church can provide that kind of revival. How can we do so? Running this kind of advertisement may not work as well in 2012 as it did in 1913, but what we do need as the Church is to communicate God's presence to the community. How might your church live into this calling?
Read more from Darian Duckworth at her blog.