The Value of Youth Ministry Retreats
I’ve just come home from a youth camp with the Melbourne Youth Mission Team. I had an amazing time with a wonderful group of young people, and was reminded again of how much I enjoy ministry with young people.
Here’s some of my highlights from the weekend: everyone spontaneously dancing to the Jackson 5 as we re-grouped for the main sessions; a first-time participant being ‘group-hugged’ as he farewelled the rest of the group yesterday; and the group belting out Matt Maher’s ‘Alive Again’ as the recessional hymn for the final Eucharist.
The first two highlights make the third highlight possible. Faith formation, evangelisation, conversion happens when there is an experience of Christian community. When young people encounter a genuine faith community who welcomes them they begin to experience the plausibility of Christian faith – that it makes sense, and that it is possible to live out. Most of all they experience the Gospel as the way of love. People don’t really think their way into belief (which is not to deny the legitimate and essential intellectual dimension of faith but to contextualise it); they are loved and love their way into faith. Those young people belted out the words of the song because they meant it, they had encountered the One who re-creates us, but it was possible because they had been part of an intense experience of Christian community for the weekend.
YMT launched their new national iStand Generation follow-up ministry over the weekend. The website is still under construction but it’s worth a look.