This past weekend (February 27-March 1) Elevate Student Ministry took 22 students and 5 adults to Black Rock Retreat in Pennsylvania for Elevate’s Winter Retreat 2015. It was an amazing weekend where God moved in a powerful way in the lives of our students. There is no way that I could fully capture the wonder of the weekend fully in this simple post. This is my humble attempt to give a overall summary of the weekend. I encourage all parents to ask their own teens specifics about the weekend.
Our guest speaker was Brian Schafer who is the youth pastor at Gaithersburg Nazarene Church. It was great having Brian, his wife Jenny, and kids Ellie and Isaac with us for the weekend.
The theme of the weekend was “REVEAL”. In the Friday evening service Brian shared the story of the Prodigal Son and how when we see how God sees us, it changes us. He ended his message with having the students look in a mirror on the stage, and then write on the mirror a prayer to God. The students then broke out into small groups to reflect on the evening’s message.
After breakfast on Saturday morning the students spend some time in solitude doing a prayer walk, reading God’s Word, and journalling their thoughts.
For our Saturday morning service time together we did a different format called “Family Room”. This format is a mix of small group, large group and personal reflection time. During this time we discussed how each one of us is a masterpiece created in the image of God. However, we are a masterpiece still being REVEALED just like a piece of marble in the hands of a master sculptor. We talked about Michelangelo’s statue “St. Matthew” and how it looks unfinished, and then we watched the Skit Guys video “God’s Chisel”. The students then spent some time reflecting through carving pieces of soap.
In the afternoon the students had some free time. During that time some students went on a hike on the many trails around Black Rock, some played basketball or volleyball in the gym, some checked out the nature center, others chose to play board games, and others just took that time to relax.
Later in the afternoon we had our first annual Rhino Games. Congrats to Samuel, Kyrsten, Brandon, Benjamin, Beth, Rebecca, and Aubree of the “Greater One-Horned Rhinos” Team for winning this year’s games. Their picture will be on the Rhino Trophy hanging in The Underground (youth room) till next year’s Rhino Games.
In the Saturday evening service Brian shared about the conversion story of Saul becoming Paul, and about how once we “taste and see” how good God is the only thing that makes sense it to surrender all to Him. He ended the time with having the students write down what they need to surrender to God on a Post-It note and stick it on a cross. The students then broke out into small groups to reflect on the evening’s message.
Saturday night after small group time we had “Saturday Night Live Elevate Style” where everyone was given various props and costumes and had to created a skit using all of their team members and props/costumes. It was hilarious to see what they came up with. After that we had an impromptu karaoke night suggested and ran by the students themselves.
For our Sunday Morning Service Brian talked about how we are called to REVEAL Jesus to the world. We ended our final service together with the sacrament of communion.
After service we packed up quickly, and decided to leave for home a little earlier due to the impending weather. The kitchen staff at Black Rock were gracious enough to have lunch ready 30 minutes early for us so that we could get an earlier start heading home before it the weather got worse.
It was a fun and powerful weekend with a great group of students! They were so inviting to each other, they were receptive to what God did in their lives over the weekend, and they were just a ton of fun!
We also have a FANTASTIC group of adult sponsors who gave up time with their families, got little sleep, and probably lost a bit of their sanity to minister to our students this weekend. They served as small group leaders, drivers, behind the scene helpers, and were always ready to be there to support and listen to a student. Huge thanks to Barb, Ashley, Aubree, and Michael!
Here are some quotes about the weekend from students:
“It was a renewal worth every second of the time.”
“Great experience to unplug and get real with God”
“Better than home!”
“One of the best experiences of my life. Even though I couldn’t see him, I could feel God’s presence all the time.”
Blessings to you and your family!