By Andrew Noe
This is just one of the many moments I remember from going on a spiritual retreat last week. The funny thing was, I didn’t realize I was going on a retreat till the day of. Like many people I neglect to read every email I get, or pay attention to the little details.
I had signed up for Oasis, which was being put on by the CBFYMN (cooperative baptist fellowship youth ministry network). Feeling at home in CBF and being a youth minister I figured this would be a great time to connect with other ministers. Some of which have become very dear friends of mine over the years. When I first signed up for this retreat, I assumed it would be a few workshops promoting some spiritual disciplines, or some lectures, along with tables of new resources and curriculum. I was most excited to get to talk to friends and do some reading in the mountains of North Carolina.
What I really needed was a retreat, and thankfully that is what I got.
This retreat was unlike anything I have experienced in years. The schedule never felt packed, and I didn’t feel like I was rushed through the week. We didn’t have a million Bible studies to be at each day, and we weren’t forced to pick activities to do, if we would rather rest.
The week seemed to be more about silence, peace, and rest, than about connecting, learning, and growing. Yet during the silence, peace, and rest, I connected with other ministers, I learned a lot about myself, and I grew as a disciple of Christ.
It was as if all these youth ministers got together and let out one collective sigh of relief that for the next few days they could rest, they could sleep, and they could be free of most responsibilities. There would be sessions, and discussions, and even some showcasing of new ideas happening, but those would be the background of the week. The purpose was to stop and slow down. To try and retreat from the world and connect with God.
Having experienced the joy from having time that is not schedule to one activity or another, I wonder why we don’t provide this opportunity for our students and youth? How often do we plan a “retreat” and schedule out every minute? When was the last time you took teenagers anywhere, and didn’t have at least 3/4 of the time scheduled or planned?
After the experience I had this past week, I am very much looking forward to taking the youth at my church on a retreat where they have freedom to play, laugh, and learn, without feeling the weight and responsibilities they feel from all the world has piled on them.
I have many more thoughts on how amazing this past week was, but I am still processing them. However I wanted to give you this information.
Our speak for the week was Mark Yaconelli. He was an amazingly gifted speaker and leader. I would suggest reading his books or hearing him speak if you get the opportunity. Check him out at http://markyaconelli.wordpress.com/
CBFYMN put the retreat together. Check them out at http://cbfymn.org/
Lastly, I urge you to check out this cool new resource called Anima. Its a really cool place to explore youth and worship, and how we can do better at that. http://anima.samford.edu/
Oddly enough, having the freedom to slow down, made me much more interested in the week. It was a much different week than what I expected.
Andrew Noe is the Student Minister at Rosemont Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. He enjoys superheroes, and trying to be funny. He is married to the wonderful and amazing Hannah Noe. They have a super intelligent dog named Daphne, and a water-obsessed cat named Ellie. Andrew wrote this post as a part of the Youth Ministry Conversations blog, after attending the first Oasis Conference sponsored by the CBF Youth Ministry Network.