One of the big things I have brought to Village Green is that we will be a youth group that takes part in retreats. Since Bedlam is approaching quickly, I wanted to explain why I have made this decision.
Over my time in ministry I have noticed that weekend retreats meet 3 needs in a healthy youth ministry: they break the static, build relationships, and deepen students faith.
Life is chaotic and busy. There is always something more to do and in that state life becomes static. I am referring to the sound that static makes – that harsh white noise that in a lot of ways we are comforted by. However, this static can do one big thing, it can hinder our ability to connect with God in a deeper way. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” When you read Psalm 46 you learn it is all about God being our source of comfort and strength. It uses a description that talks about how God crushes our enemies in war. When we come to verse 10, the Psalmist encourages us to be still and know God. Stillness is hard to find in the static of everyday life. This is why these weekend retreats happen a few hours away. We go to Muskoka Woods and escape for a weekend and find that stillness so we can encounter God again, or for the first time.
Youth ministry is primarily about building relationships. Respect is something that you have to earn nowadays and I am OK with that. Personally, my favourite part of my job is getting to know the students better. The quickest way to build relationships with others is by spending time together. Getting away on these retreats gives lots of hangout time both for the leaders to get to know the students better but also for the students to get to know each other better. Getting away on these retreats does two things it strengthens the community of our youth group and also teaches our students that they are not alone in their faith as they meet with over 500 other Christians. These simple lessons are so crucial today as most teens and preteens feel quite alone. Being a Christian means you are a part of something greater, the body of Christ. Weekend retreats lend themselves to this.
A common prayer I have for our students here at Village Green, and I am sure the parents pray this as well, is that these students will have a deep faith in Jesus. These weekends allow for the Holy Spirit to work in our student’s lives, from the skilled speaker sharing God’s truth, the musical worship moments, and the great small group discussions, students are challenged and pushed to really assess where they are in their walk with God. Students are encouraged to take the next step in the journey of making their faith their own.
Let’s be honest – it would be really awesome if all of us went on retreats regularly to continue to grow in our faith. We could all use a break from the static, building more relationships and deepening our faith. After all, our journeys with God are all works in progress. Making retreats a yearly part of our youth group helps instill a strong life principle of slowing down every now and then to connect with God on a deeper level. This is a life skill I wish I had cemented in my life sooner.
We have retreats available for our Jr High and our Sr High.
Bedlam is for our Jr High (grades 6-8) students. This is happening on November 16-18 2019.
Snocamp is for our Sr High (grades 9-12) students. It happens near the end of February or beginning of March.
Lastly, In the next couple of years, I am hoping to introduce a third retreat called Summer Refresh that would happen near the end of August. It would be both for our Jr and Sr Highs and would allow us to get away before the school year starts and set our eyes on God and commit the year to grow together.
Thanks for taking the time to read through why I am passionate about retreats being a regular part of our lives. If you want more information about either of these retreats please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And I agree with you, Devon, on having these tailored retreats. I see that children, since they are little, are taught indirectly a busy life style by being involved in various activities (sports, arts, music, etc.) and barely having a time of solitude, of quietness in their home; hence, they grow with a sense or urgency and cannot appreciate well themselves, their parents and their surrounding, nor can they appreciate and understand the need for time with God. So, Devon, you are planting and nurturing a necessary seed on the heart these precious children of the Most High God.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this and your vision for this Ministry.
I love the idea of taking a break from the static so we hear what’s really important! Great focus, Devon.