ELEVATE’S WINTER RETREAT 2018
This past weekend (February 9-11, 2018) 26 students, 7 adults, and 2 of my own small children traveled north to Black Rock nestled in the hills of Pennsylvania for our 4th annual Winter Retreat. This is one of our “big 3” events of the year, and so we put a lot into this weekend to make it the best experience for students to have fun, but most of all, make space for God to work in their lives in BIG ways. Although it was a rainy weekend, we all had a ton of fun, and most importantly God moved in the lives of our students and they responded. As I always say in these summaries, 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.
The theme of the weekend was “True North”. This is a big topic because what you set as your “True North” affects every decision you make, the direction of your life, and it will determine the person you will become. On Friday evening we kicked things off talking about the “Compass of Your Life”, and what is drawing the needle of your life’s compass (God or worldly things). We also discussed the importance of using a map (God’s Word), and the North Star (obediently responding to God’s leading) in our lives. Students were then dismissed into small groups to discuss and wrestle with the message further.
On Saturday morning after breakfast the students spent time having their own personal quiet time with God. During this time they interacted with the devotional they were given on Friday night that specifically looks at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. After quiet time we had Family Room. Family Room is a mix of small group, large group and personal reflection time. During this time we discussed what it means to be a “Static Jedi”. Static is anything that keeps you from hearing and responding to God’s calling in your life, and being a Jedi means that you master the “static” and cut through it to hear and respond to God. The students also took an assessment to see what ways they have an easier time connecting with God based on how they are wired. This led to some great discussions on their passions and uniqueness.
After lunch the students had some free time in the afternoon to hike, play in the gym, and play games in the hang out room (sadly, due to the weather we were unable to have a wagon ride this year). Later in the afternoon we kicked off our 4th Annual Rhino Games where students competed as a team in random silly games to earn the right to have their picture put on the Rhino Award and hung in the youth room for the next year.
After dinner we had our evening service where the students participated in a worship experience where we “Looked North”. This service was an experiential worship time where we spent time reflecting on “Experiencing the Creator”, “Experiencing God’s Love”, “Seeing with Jesus’ Eyes”, and “Serving with Jesus’ Hands”. After this service the student reflected and discussed in their small groups.
After small groups we had our Rhino Games Late Night Edition. This year we had a Lip Sync Contest: Disney Edition. It is always great to see the creativity and energy students bring to things like this. At the end we crowned this year’s winning team, “The White Rhinos”. Congrats to Sarah, Amelia, Natalie, Micah, Jack, Kaylee, Sam, Ivanna who won this year.
On Sunday we once again started our time with personal quiet time in God’s Word. For our last service together we talked about “Supplies for the Journey”. We kicked things off by having the students make their own trail mix for the car ride home, and then discussed how weekends like this is like feasting on a spiritual full course meal. However, we can’t stay at retreat feasting like this, we have to go home. So we need sustenance for the journey like our own “spiritual trail mix”. So we talked about what we should put in our “Spiritual Trail Mix” bag: Quiet Time reading God’s Word and Praying, Community, and looking for practical ways to serve. The students also received a card with the global coordinates of Black Rock as a reminder of what God did in their lives this weekend for when they get back into the daily grind of life back home. We ended our time by partaking in the Lord’s Supper together, and each student served the elements to the person behind them as a reminder that we are called to serve, not be served.
This was an incredibly fun and growing experience for students and adults alike. God spoke in powerful ways, and students responded. It was great to see them share their stories, and include each other in activities. Our group grew a lot closer to God, and to each other this weekend.
I want to give a huge thank you to our amazing 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. Thank you to Barb, Sarah, Wayne, and Kathy. 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. I also want to specifically thank Ryan for coming to lead us in worship and also serving in many other ways throughout the weekend. This weekend would not have been possible without their help.
Blessings on you and your families!