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Sr. High Retreat

Thrown into the middle of the early month craziness was a retreat with just our group to Camp Crestfield. It was our senior high group and I was really thankful – it was the type of group that because I really had to wing things (Doug’s announcement came earlier that same week). What I learned and haven noticed in the past, is when you don’t have any prep time and you’re forced to wing things, God will bless it and work through it ways more powerful that you ever expected. If you have the prep time and you choose not to use it, and then wing it God usually won’t bless that in the same way. Anyway, this retreat was luckily the first case, and God really did give me some super inspiration at just the right time. We talked about “Questions of Faith” and the theme for the weekend was “Doubts, Fears, and Questions are part of Faith”. What I’ve learned is that for kids who have grown up in the church there needs to be a period of “doubt”. Marko dealt with this topic a little while back and I guess I have come to prefer the word “transition” because this transition between childhood faith to adulthood faith is a transition period that is sometimes marked by what people would call doubt. I know my transition really occurred when I was seventeen, and it was doubt I guess, but when I found myself praying prayers like “God, I know you don’t exist, you can’t possibly exist” while I was praying I through the doubt and questions.

Anyway, the vast majority of the sr high students I work with can be described as “church kids”, despite varying levels of involvement.  So, the goal of this retreat was to give them the space to ask the tough questions and recognize that they weren’t losing their faith – it was growing right along with them.

The retreat turned out to be a huge blessing to me, as for the first time ever I felt as though when I came back from a retreat I too had had a chance to refresh and reload.  One of the reasons for this was what I did with the schedule.  Breakfast @ Crestfield is at 8 am, which is early for both me and the group.  So… after breakfast they had til 10am to do whatever they wanted – this also gave me time to do some last minute prep and relax.  By the time 10 o’clock rolled around, everyone was a lot more awake and ready to go.

What was cool was that a lot of what I talked about was stuff I had learned about while I was at the National Youth Workers Convention.  My first talk was one I had adjusted from our Jr. High retreat that dealt with how God speaks, through “shear silence” as Elijah found out.  That led into a bible study of 1 Samuel 3, based on what Kenda Dean talked about at the NYWC, where I talked about the relationship between younger and older members of the community of faith, and how younger ones hear different things, but need their elder members of the community to help them discern whether they’re hearing God or if they’re hearing themselves.  My second talk was centerd around John the Baptist sending messengers to Jesus to ask “Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?”  this had two purposes (1) Validate the role of honest questioning within faith (2) Talk about the way to deal with these questions and doubts – to bring them to God.  In the evening we did a variety of stations and a guided meditation for about 2 hours in the evening.  All in all, despite the rush in the week leading up to it, I thought things went quite well.

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