Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shift Fall Retreat Reflections


We had our fall retreat this last weekend up in Prescott, AZ. It was a retreat of experiments, of trying new things and seeing how it plays out. After a few days of thinking about it, here are my scattered thoughts about the entire experience:

Mixing junior high and high school is doable. We combined the junior high and high school students on the retreat, allowing space for both groups but still mixing them for team games, worship, and meals. With mixing a group like this, it tends to go one of two ways: 1) The two age groups avoid each other at best, or antagonize each other at worst, creating conflicts and divisions, or 2) The two age groups become almost annoyingly interconnected, with high school students taking junior highers on as pet projects or junior highers following around high schoolers incessantly. (I'd prefer the second option to the first). 

But neither happened this weekend. The groups found a way to maintain their individual identities while also engaging with the other group in healthy and fun ways. The best example was watching the guys play football together--there were both high school and junior high guys involved on each team, but it didn't become an us vs. them mentality; both age groups played well, and played well together. We learned that combining the two age groups is not only doable, but perhaps even healthy at times, allowing both groups to interact with one another and learn from one another. The best part of this was watching an older sister sit next to her junior high brother during worship to talk and pray with him.

Personal emotions aren't the best evaluators. I got sick the first night (as I often do on retreats, mostly because I push myself so far beforehand) and was kind of in an emotional daze for the rest of the weekend, so I didn't feel like I was doing my best. When I was initially asked about the retreat, I couldn't really tell how it went; some parts felt good, others felt only so-so. Yet upon talking with students, parents, and staff afterwards, I had only positive feedback. If I relied only on my emotions to define the weekend, I wouldn't have the entire picture. God really moved in some students' lives and called them to shift their priorities and passions.

Mark Staples is the man. When we were brainstorming about this retreat, we couldn't decide which of us should speak. We could both think of reasons for the other guy to speak, but finally decided Mark should speak. I'm really glad Mark was the speaker; he had some very practical and powerful things to say to the students about following God. Students lives were changed and some chose to follow Jesus with their lives because of God working through him. Definitely proud to have Mark as my friend and ministry leader! Loving the people you do ministry with makes it so much better.

Overall, it was a great weekend! We saw small glimpses of the kingdom as God worked in students' lives.

Plus Gus the Intern, Brady the Worship Intern, and I showed off our circus acrobatic skills. In spandex. It doesn't get much better (or more awkward) than that! :)

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