21 Mar 2019 A Weekend to Remember
by Brookes August |
This past weekend I got to see our high school students experience community in a whole new way. Two of those students made the incredible decision to surrender their lives to Jesus, followed by six other students who decided they wanted to be baptized. It was an unforgettable weekend!
Every year the Student Ministry takes high school students on a three-day/two-night winter retreat to the Firs Lodge at Mount Baker. The students get the chance to experience a lot of fun activities, but more importantly, they get several opportunities to seek God as well as spend quality time with each other in small groups.
On the very first night of our trip, I took a step back and watched as the students interacted in groups that didn’t necessarily align with their typical social groups. And in that moment, I knew that I was witnessing a nascent change among the students. After their group time, one student came up to me and nonchalantly said, “I underestimated the guys in my small group. There are some great dudes in there. I’ve got some dark stuff in my life, but so do they.” Validity was found through vulnerability. For those of you who may have been out of high school now for some time, let me remind you that these students are faced with so much darkness these days. But I know God speaks light into that darkness and so often uses authentic community to help us walk through those dark times together.
During one of the small group sessions, I was getting our meeting room prepped for the next activity when a small-group leader pulled me aside and asked, “Is it okay if my group is late to the next activity? We’re in the middle of a great conversation.” I smiled and answered enthusiastically, “Of course. Take as much time as you need!” Later that day and in a completely different group, another student told their small-group leader, “I’ve never thought of all of us as family. This small group is my support line!” How truly amazing and humbling it was to see these students come together in authentic community among one another, often with tears in their eyes or excitement in their voices, worshiping Jesus, and realizing they’re in this life together. That group already started up a group chat where they can remind each other about the promises of God from Scripture.
And this incredible weekend would not have been the same if I did not have a few small-group leaders willing to take time out of their schedules to make a difference in the lives of these young students. You see, these leaders are ministry contributors because they truly believe that Jesus can change everything for anyone.
So how do you create authentic community? The kind of community you feel deep down, that doesn’t have walls or barriers, but feels safer than any other space? Where lonely people find belonging, bored people find their calling, and love and help are freely given? I believe that it all begins with Jesus being at the center of everything we do as we continue to love people unconditionally and offer ourselves as ministry contributors, not simply ministry consumers.
If you would like to be a part of Student Ministries in any way, contact Brookes August at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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