Gathering Exemplifies Ministerial Leadership Development in Montana
By Sarah Lucas
In the mountainous state of Montana, right along the Flathead River, the Churches of God meet together annually for Family Camp. The camp hosts many families that come together every summer to worship and spend time together. Games are played, lots of fun is had, but the main reason they all come together is to experience and grow in God together. This year especially, the gathering also demonstrated how God is raising up new leadership.
Every year the camp has a speaker come in to deliver a message for the weekend. This year, four young men were asked to speak, all of whom were going through or have completed Leadership Focus. Ben Fosgate, one of the speakers for the camp, talks about how Leadership Focus was an important part of his development of faith and path to becoming a pastor in his church. “Leadership Focus really helped me to be able to understand and articulate my beliefs in a better and more logical way to other people and different personalities.” This leads to being able to network better and being able to grow in emotional understanding, according to Fosgate. Fosgate has finished the three-year experience and has been working with pastors in the state in order to make it even better. He wants to make sure the program is comprehensive and helpful for everyone that takes the course.
Both Fosgate and Pastor Luke Knoll, chairman for the Church of God in Montana, acknowledged that this year at camp it was very unique to have these young men come and share their message with the camp because they are home-grown, Montana pastors. The men that spoke this year are grassroots leaders and spoke about the pursuit of God and how to take intentional steps into the ministry.
The Montana camp is called a “family” camp to emphasize the opportunity for families to come together and experience a period of uninterrupted time with one another and meet new people with whom they can get to know. Knoll says he has been going to camp with his family since he was four or five years old. He loved being able to break up the monotony of everyday life and being able to spend uninterrupted time with his mom, dad, and sisters—as well as the broader family of God. He talks about the many games that they played, and the amount of quality time spent together. He said one of his favorite memories of camp was playing in a softball game against some of the pastors. Through the experience of playing together at camp, it helped Knoll see that the pastors are imperfect people just like him. This is a large part of what makes family camp so special for so many Church of God people in Montana.
Campers come from many different churches all over the state to gather. Knoll says, “Camp is something that I think is vital in unifying the body in the state of Montana. We have a large vast open area in between a lot of us. A lot of us are close by, but even being close demographically does not mean that we get time together, and so I look at camp as an opportunity to get to know one another again, learn more about what has happened over the past year, and see what God is doing in our state as a whole.”
Unity is a huge part of the family camp and camp meeting experience. Spending time with each other and celebrating what God has done to raise up new leaders enhances unity not only for individual families and congregations, but the Montana Church of God family as a whole.
Learn more about Leadership Focus at www.jesusisthesubject.org/leadership-focus.
Sarah Lucas is a senior at Anderson University, majoring in public relations and political science. Lucas is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, a student-run public relations agency at Anderson University.