Article by Paul Stiver
It has been called the duct tape of the kitchen.
It has a reputation for making literally any food better.
This five-letter word is synonymous with joy and with Men of Hope Boot Camp.
I’m talking of course about bacon. Bacon is amazing, there’s no denying it. But, bacon is just one part of what makes Men of Hope Bootcamp so great.
From the registration page:
“Bootcamp includes, but is not limited to:
Hanging out, hearing from our pastors, bacon, board games, nice cabins, bacon, bonfires, pick-up games, bacon, comfortable beds, YouTube videos, small group discussion, bacon, cigars/pipes, good food, bacon, naps, bacon, and bacon.”
Bacon was an important and tasty part of my experience at last year’s Bootcamp. However, bacon isn’t what made the 2016 Bootcamp experience sizzle. For me, it was the community that made the 2016 Bootcamp sizzle for me. Each Bootcamp, you are connected with your small group. This group of about ten guys becomes your bunkmates and so much more over the course of Bootcamp.
I asked my buddy Nate, who was a part of my group last year, what made our group’s connection so special. He reminded me of how our group created a great space for guys to be themselves. From the drive up, we bonded in conversation over life experiences as guys asked each other great questions. Our group was really committed to learning about one another while creating a safe and friendly environment to be understood. We were able to share when we wanted to, and to listen when we didn’t. The connection of our small Bootcamp group was special.
Community made Bootcamp great in other ways as well. In the large group instructions, led by Hope’s pastors, we were able to better comprehend the gospel message and what it means to be in the Body of Christ.
Our group was composed of men from different careers, ages, backgrounds, life experiences, and so much more. When we broke into the small group discussion that diversity in our community really proved beneficial. The fact that we as men were in all different stations in life and had these unique backgrounds led us to a much deeper and better understanding of the topic, the teaching, and one another. The discussions we had were great and left us more connected and charged up to go forward.
Community also made Bootcamp great because it challenged us. And no, I’m not talking about the “Manathon” as much, although that is a great time. Side note: my team won.
At Bootcamp we were challenged by the pastors, we were challenged by the texts of Scripture that we dug into, we were challenged by the break out seminars, and we were challenged by each other in community.
The text we dug into during Bootcamp last year was Ephesians 4:1-16 and we were charged with how we engage with the Body of Christ as Men of Hope. In our group, we were able to watch God put Ephesians 4:15 into practice:
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. (Ephesians 4:15 ESV)
First, the space our group created through great discussion and listening allowed us to really hit the truth “in love.” Men felt accepted, understood, and cared for as they shared their lives with one another.
Second, we spoke truth to one another. As we applied the gospel to our lives more deeply, particularly in community, we were enabled to see a bigger picture of Christ. The teaching and discussion led us to a greater understanding of what it means to be men who join forces in the work of Christ in the world.
Lastly, being challenged helped us to grow up into Christ. Ephesians 4 calls us to no longer be children, but to grow up to maturity. Growing up involves becoming more rooted in God’s Word and involved in God’s Church. The charge from our Bootcamp experience was that we wanted to be better at giving our whole self to one another and to the Church.
All of the great growth and learning and fun we had took place within the framework of that small group community that was formed at Bootcamp.
Community provided the sizzle that made Bootcamp 2016 so great.
As we look forward to another Men of Hope Bootcamp here in 2017, I hope this reflection post gets you excited. Bootcamp is a great way to get connected, better comprehend the gospel, and be challenged by God’s Word.
In the same way that bacon makes all foods better, community makes Bootcamp better. Community is the sizzle that makes all of these things so great. This year at Bootcamp as we look at living out the image of God in every area of our lives, community will be essential. Each of us men has a great set of strengths and as a body we can help each other grow in living in the image of God together.
Sign up for Bootcamp here!