February 23, 2008 by Stephen
Most of all I enjoyed planning the retreat with Josh. I love being able to plan and share ministry opportunities with friends. And I especially enjoy friends who make me think in deeper and fresh way. Josh is that kind of friend. Our friendship was a big reason I decided to suggest to our Youth Ministry Group leadership that we do our Winter Retreat differently this year. Normally, we go on retreat during the semester break. I’ll invite in a speaker and worship leader, we’ll go away to a resort, enjoy skiing and tubing, and have a few sessions. We usually have a great time and take a big group, but the retreat sessions part usually isn’t that powerful because the kids are always tired from skiing. And because of that, I have felt that we are not being good stewards of our ministry budget dollars. This year we are substituting three things for our Winter Retreat – a ski day at Whitetail, the JUBILEE Retreat, and the PlanetWisdom Student Conference. Doing this met several needs: better stewardship, a greater focus on the retreat teaching, and being able to participate in activities with other groups. After PlanetWisdom, we’ll evaluate and make decisions for next year.
I thought the retreat went well. We only had 8 in our group – 3 adults and 5 youth.
Despite the low number, I felt the participation was above average. I am really looking forward to seeing how this retreat impacts the lives of these youth, our youth group, and our church. Here’s a breakdown of the retreat from my perspective:
The location, LivingStone Monastery, was a perfect setting for our theme of Jubilee.
The speaker, Jon Middendorf, did a great job communicating the idea of Jubilee to us. We had three worship gatherings and the style of Jon’s teaching changed with each gathering. I think that helps to keep interest from the audience as well as allow people to experience several different learning styles. I thought Jon did a great job of explaining Jubilee and then tying it into our personal, church, and community lives. I was challenged and inspired to make Jubilee a reality.
The worship music, led by Tim Gardner and Kent Jaffrey, was excellent and the audio/visuals, led by Kent’s wife Andrea, fit in seamlessly and added to the experience immeasurably.
The songs chosen, the graphics used, the prayers and readings chosen, and the movie clips used for reflection all helped to create an environment for worship to take place. The theme song, Give Reviving, was wonderful and for me, helped to focus my thoughts on Jubilee.
I felt that the worship stations allowed for us to reflect more in depth our relationship with God and they also helped us have an awareness to the need for Jubilee in our lives and in our world.
The chance to work with the community at LivingStone was an integral part of the weekend. I had hoped we would be out in the community instead of at the monastery, but all in all it was good to do something, however simple it may be, that will help minister to others as they come to LivingStone for help. I look forward to our groups getting together again in our local communities and practicing Jubilee together!
I really enjoy doing things differently than they have always been done. It’s good to get out of our comfort zones and stretch our mental and spiritual muscles. Through solid teaching, wonderful music, opportunities for service, observing others living in community, and being challenged to bring about Jubilee, this retreat definitely made a mark on me and I trust my youth group and Josh’s youth group. Ending with lunch and games at Chuck E. Cheese capped off a great retreat weekend!