This morning on the Get-Up & Go Show I shared my experience speaking at Mapleview Community Church’s Jr.High group Wired ( middleschool.ca ) retreat. This is my second year speaking for them and I didn’t think it could get any better but it did!
I wasn’t sure what to expect this year as their Jr.High Pastor, Ryan Koroll, said that 60% of the students he was bringing had never experienced a weekend like this. Jr.Highs that understand church culture have a hard enough time sitting still for a one hour service on Sunday, let alone four services in two days! Throughout the weekend these kids, in grades 5-8, were taking notes every service and then following up with their thoughts with their leaders back in their cabins.
By the time Sunday rolled around I was humbled watching the students dig into the services. Usually by the time Sunday morning starts both kids and leaders are tired from little sleep. Leaders are changing gears from ministering to the things that need to be cleaned up and packed away. Typically not as many people are engaged in the Sunday morning service, but this retreat was different. Not only were they engaged but they were pressing in the entire service, they didn’t want to leave worship.
Why was this weekend so successful? There’s a few things I could point out but I’ll stick with Pastor Ryan’s leadership team. They brought the vision and worked extremely hard to implement it. They put God first and went from there. (PS. When selecting your leadership team think integrity and competence. I know competence can be taught but your key people have to be competent or your program will die a messy and painful death. ALWAYS surround yourself with people who can do the job better then you, don’t let your ego get in the way. Once key players are in place move to people that can be taught). Pastor Ryan’s team lived out the “One body, many parts” scripture from 1 Cor 12. Everyone had a job and they did them really well. I witnessed one of the teenage leaders snapping on a glove to clean the boys urinal because it had been clogged. What was more impressive was this kid was also up front on the worship team. It’s that kind of buy in that sets the environment for students to experience Jesus. Students can sniff out the unauthentic right away. Pastor Ryan’s team showed integrity and competence, and that opened the door for God to move through the students lives this past weekend.
Do weekends like this work? What’s the impact when they return home and school? The following Jr.High Tuesday night students gave testimonies of how God nunged them to stand up others who were being bullied. My own daughter prayed for two people while she was doing office duty during lunch break ( update: my daughter just text me and said the girl she prayed for accepted the Lord!!!!!)
Parents and youth pastors, if I can encourage you, don’t set the bar too low for your students. Believe it or not they will hit it, so go for it and give them something to reach for!
Thanks Pastor Ryan for the invite.
PS If you’re looking for ways to grow your Jr.High connect with Pastor Ryan he would love to share how God is working though his ministry!
Contact him at middleschool.ca