Many of you that would read this blog probably know that I recently accepted a position at my church, Christ The King Lutheran Church, as the Communications Director. I’m doing a lot of things, but right now, I’m redesigning the church’s website and managing the church’s social network activity. I’ll be helping folks with implementing new email marketing things as well in the months to come.
But, I’ve also been volunteering my time with the youth of the church, for about the last year or so. It’s been an extremely surprising and rewarding time, and as I’ve gotten to know the kids in the group, I’ve seen my relationships with them deepen. In turn, my walk with God has deepened and it’s become a source of tremendous blessing for me personally.
This weekend was the annual winter retreat, and like last year, we convened in Gatlinburg, TN at the Roosevelt Lodge. The lodge itself is just an awesome house and I was really excited to be back there this year. Christy and the kids went with us, and we had 19 youth and three other adult leaders, including our new Youth Director, Kelly Mongoven. Kelly is into her first year in a program through the Memphis Theological Seminary and the Center for Youth Ministry Training. Every time I see how she is with the youth and how much thought and prayer goes into what she does with them, I thank God for placing her at CTK. I’m sure whoever God placed there would be great, but I believe in my heart that Kelly being selected for this program and being placed at this church was God’s chosen plan.
This year, the theme for the trip was “You Are Beloved”, and we focused on the things that the Bible tells us about being one of His beloved children. The kids really took to the lessons and songs we sang and as we broke into our small groups, I was privileged enough to be asked to lead the boys’ discussion group after each worship session. Our discussions were real, they were funny, they were poignant. I was constantly amazed at how this group of 13-16 year old kids could express themselves.
We spent a lot of time in playing together as well, and got even closer. Then Saturday night, something very special took place. Kelly had organized a prayer walk (playlist for the walk linked). Throughout the house, Kelly had set up 12 stations for the kids to go through, each one representing a different style of prayer.
As the kids took more than an hour to go through the stations, it was apparent to me and all the leaders that the kids’ hearts were being changed with this activity. It gave them a chance to express in words, actions and thoughts, and it was very liberating to them. Without a doubt, this was the highlight of my experience this weekend.
I went through the prayer walk myself and was blown away at how the activities really brought about thoughts I didn’t know I could have, feelings that lay dormant inside of me came springing to life. I saw kids who were “too cool” for most of the discussions throw themselves into the activities with reckless abandon. I saw Kelly being transformed as she walked throughout the house watching her kids participating in this.
This was Kelly’s first retreat with this group as Youth Director, and it will certainly be remembered as maybe the best trip of it’s kind that I’ve ever been associated with. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with these kids from this trip!