February 23, 2008 by Stephen

Last weekend I was on retreat at a monastery in Newport News with my youth group and my good friend Josh Hayden‘s youth group. The retreat was called the JUBILEE Retreat and you can read about our hopes concerning the retreat here. I really enjoyed the retreat!

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.

Being able to observe people living for a season of their life in community was wonderful. Being able to join with them in the daily rhythms of their prayer life was fantastic! Having our students have the opportunity to have a Q&A with them was beneficial and helpful for the retreat and for the students.
The facility itself was very conducive to having a spiritually-focused retreat. Our hosts displayed wonderful gifts of hospitality.

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.

We ended our last worship gathering with taking communion together – two different youth groups from two different Baptist churches, but with one heart – a heart for Jesus and a heart for Jubilee.

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.

I felt that the discussion time with Jon about Jubilee and how it impacts us on many levels was powerful, challenging, and inspiring all at the same time. I have great hope in a future where this band of students and adults has chosen to make Jubilee a reality in daily living! This hope was seen in the response to our groups to the movie we watched on Saturday night, God Grew Tired of Us. The movie dealt with the crisis in Sudan and followed the stories of several of the “lost boys.” Seeing their response to tragedy and injustice was inspiring.

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!

One thought on “JUBILEE Retreat

  1. Tom says:

    wow…this is a wonderful post Stephen. The retreat sounds great. Wish I could have been with you guys.

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February 2008



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