I have known the majority of our high school students since elementary school, and now they are juniors and seniors. So speaking at the high school retreat in November was a privilege.
There was something cool about being a retreat speaker with a group of kids you know.
The influence has already been earned and relationships formed. They trust you (or at least I hope they do!). They listen and hang on to the words you have to say.
It also made me want to engage in other aspects of retreat life, such as small group time and down time. These weren’t just kids I would never see again. These were kids I would attend graduation parties for and high five after college acceptances.
The retreat theme was Own It! I have engaged in multiple conversations with high school students over the past few months on this idea of church life versus real life, “Sunday living” versus “Monday living.”
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It challenged me to think like a student. What’s different between Sunday and Monday? And so we focused on four themes of the weekend:
- Own God: Matthew 14:22-33. Own your faith. Make it real. Make it yours. There is a difference between being informed and being transformed. Once the disciples believed, they responded with action. They worshiped (vs 33).
- Own You: John 4. Own the good and own the sin in your life. The woman at the well had been labeled by society. Then she met Jesus. He came to her, a woman the world labeled as an outsider. She had believed what the world said about her. We covered social media influence in what we believe about ourselves versus what God says about us.
- Own Grace: John 4 continued. Own the grace offered to you by Jesus. The woman at the well had been transformed by meeting Jesus. We don’t know her name, but we know she became a world changer. She ran and told those she had met about Jesus.
- Own Monday: Romans 12:2. Own your Monday and your Tuesday and your Saturday night. If you have been transformed, your faith is more than Sunday faith. You live a life that is not just informed but transformed.
There were some great clips in Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors [find it on Amazon] that I showed to drive home these points.
Side note: I provided small group content for retreat leaders to process and discuss in their small group time which would follow each worship session. And if I’m honest, I will say I was slightly disappointed to hear those “chaperoning” (not my favorite term, but you get the point) were not our weekly small group leaders. The goal of youth ministry and kids ministry should always be when there is a chance of going deep, you seek those who are invested weekly in a student’s life. But for whatever reason, those leaders able to attend were not those who are weekly small group leaders.
So ministry leaders….start with those invested, ideally small group leaders. If you host a D-Now weekend, or a retreat, or plan any significant time in small groups during an event, ask your regular small group leaders first! In fact, beg your small group leaders to go on the retreat, to host their small group for Disciple Now weekend, and to go beyond Sunday with their few.