The REAL LIFE themed Mission51 Retreat was an absolute win. Though there are several little kinks that need to be worked out for the next event in New England, I consider this retreat the best “first” event of the spring in our five year history.
The big wins from my perspective (not in any particular order):
The Group Interaction/Broken Down Walls- The programming elements of REAL LIFE get the students interacting with folk from other groups far more than any of our previous retreats. Doing just a little investigation on Facebook I can already see many students from different youth groups interacting and following up online.
Clusters- We introduced a new training method to the groups this year. I am absolutely STOKED about these and how well they worked! This put participants in the most realistic opportunity to practice real-life entry points into spiritual conversations.
Double Vision- The guys (Mason and Micah) were a hoot to be with and did a fantastic job leading in worship but the most telling thing to me was that they were so much more than great musicians and worship leaders- these guys love Jesus and want others to know him! They took leadership in other areas of the retreat and it truly became a SLAMM (Student Led, Adult Mentored Ministry) setting.
I’m looking forward to five other retreats with DV, (click on that and “like” them) the mentoring side of this is such a fun side of the ministry. I literally watched these guys grow in confidence and grasp the different concepts and opportunities we were giving them. The great thing, God has been at work in and through these boys for a long time. Matt, their dad/manager/agent/mentor was along for the trip as well!
In addition to our time at the camp, I was able to preach at one of the participating churches (Pine Valley Community Church) on Sunday after the M51 Retreat. I love this church and have a great history with them. They invited Double Vision to lead worship as well!
I believe God is going to use these retreats to really make a difference in the lives of teens and adults throughout the country. Your prayers are needed and much appreciated!
Mission51 number one, done!
Our small group (full of us “older peeps”) had a great conversation last night about the days following the crucifixion.
- “If you were one of the disciples, what would you have done after he was killed and buried?”
- “Would you have believed it when someone said ‘He’s alive?”
- “What would it be like when you really did see him alive?”
Then the doozy of all questions became the topic of conversation for the rest of our time…
- “After seeing Jesus alive, who would you tell and how would you tell them about Jesus?”
Our questions has less to do with back then and more about today. Who are we telling about the resurrected Savior of our sins?
I love that the small group with folk in their late 20’s through people in their 50’s is asking the same question teens are asking. As I gear up to train students this spring through Youthmark’s Mission51 Retreats I was pleased to see that my friends at Dare 2 Share just posted a video in which a gal coming off of weekend retreat was essentially asking the question “how can I talk about Jesus after I’ve been to camp?” You can see the question and read my answer at the D2S blog here. Here is the quick (45 seconds or so) video.
I hope you’re thinking through real-life spiritual conversations just like Joy is. I hope you’re asking the question “whom shall I share with?” and “how shall I share?”
As I stated in my last post, this week I am posting two successive posts pertaining to partnerships and announcements that have me pretty jazzed!
Youthmark is not the only organization who believes in this concept I have deemed SLAMM (Student Led, Adult Mentored Ministry). My friends and partners at Youth Missions International are among the others who believe in this and are partnering with Youthmark to make this venture a reality.
Youth Missions International (YMI) uses all of our curriculum and training elements for before, during and after a mission venture. In addition to partnering with us through the curriculum, YMI is helping make this partnership with Double Vision a reality. Do you believe in giving teens the opportunity to develop their gifts, skills and talents? Perhaps you’ll partner with us as well?
I had the opportunity to speak at YMI’s annual banquet this last weekend. Beyond the short-term mission trips (STM), they send individuals on longer STM’s, run internships and also have an extensive Sports Camp ministry. YMI is growing rapidly- they recently entered into a fabulous agreement with AWANA which will open up a world of opportunity for both orgs.
I’m seriously pumped up about these partnerships as I believe through Youthmark and YMI we’ll be able to advance God’s kingdom through the proclamation of the gospel through students faster and farther! With teens like Micah and Mason (Double Vision) leading their peers!
Speaking of proclamation, through YMI we are looking for others to believe in this training and support this cause through the Proclaim Campaign.
Double Vision will be flown to all of our seven Mission51 locations this spring. In addition to the twin boys, their manager (who happens to be their dad) will be traveling with. Flights, lodging, rentals and food are among a number of costs, but it’s a cause we believe in, but certainly would love to see others support it as well and offset some of the costs.
If you’d like to donate to this (or other YMI causes) please click here (and scroll to bottom). There you’ll see you can give directly to the Proclaim campaign simply by giving in the fifth box down.
I’ll be sure to post many-an-update and keep you posted on how Micah and Mason are doing and how Youthmark and YMI are encouraged by the hundreds of teens and adults we get to train to share the gospel in Real Life (the theme for the Mission51 retreat).
Thanks for your prayers and for considering a gift!
P.S. I have one more really BIG announcement in regard to this next week!
I’m very excited about two successive blog posts I have going out this week (both “announcements”). These posts speak to a couple partnerships we (Youthmark) have developed over the last year.
Let me start with a few of my soap-box issues…
- I understand that some teens can come across as punks (just like some adults can be unkind, not classy or mean as well), but I firmly believe that far more young adults are phenomenal and simply need the opportunity to discover and hone their crafts, skills and talents!
- I know some churches believe that the youth pastor should be the primary person influencing the spiritual formation of the teens. While I believe a youth pastor can have a great role, I believe parents should be the main disciplers of their sons and daughters. BUT I also know that teens influence their friends decisions more than anyone else. The church and parents need to gain a better understanding of this fantastic fact! We in the youth ministry world need to allow students to use their God-given gifting far more frequently!
The Back Story
While in Kansas City scouting mission locations for a Youthmark trip I began a friendship with my contact, Matt Marrs. I found out that his then fourteen year-old twin boys were part of a band appropriately named Double Vision. Matt shared their music with me. Long-story-short, Double Vision will be leading our worship and participating in the training at Youthmark’s Mission51 Retreats this spring!
During our training times I am consistently saying to teens that they should be the best missionaries that US has ever had. I firmly believe that. 80% of those who place their trust in Christ will do so by the age of 18. Teens have a captive audience of their peers on their campus, at their clubs, in their community and while at church.
In addition to “mission” (read: evangelism), students have other gifts, talents and skills that bring glory to God and influence one another. I simply believe we needed to model that this year by giving the students the platform from time to time. This is not to say adults aren’t to lead. I believe if you have the gift of mercy you should show it. If you’re gifted in admin, you should administrate and if you’re gifted in leadership you should lead (regardless of age).
I believe Micah and Mason Marrs should lead. They’re gifted musicians, but they’re so much more than that! I cannot wait to see them facilitate worship, but dive in to the training aspect as they challenge their peers in Real Life, conversational, relational influence! These guys love Jesus and want to make him known!
Please join me in praying for these young men! Check them out and like them on Facebook and check out their website. I cannot wait to see how this Student Led, Adult Mentored Ministry (#SLAMM) opportunity works out!
In addition to a post likely to go live on Thursday (another announcement) I’ll have an additional blog post specifically relating to Double Vision next week!
Though we’re nearing the middle of March this weekend very much has a “mission” feel to it.
If you’re at a church still wondering what you want to do this summer, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’d love to get you going down the right path so that you and your teens can still get involved with something HIGHLY significant this spring and summer! The cool thing, there are mission opportunities for under $200 to as much as you want with ALL of the training, fundraising and even a retreat involved!
Here’s why I feel this weekend has a mission feel…
1. I am speaking at a fundraising banquet for Youthmark’s premier partner Youth Missions International!
Hope you’re thinking about a mission, but not just a mission trip, prepare for Mission51, the 51 weeks beyond a mission trip! We’re called to be missionaries here, there and anywhere!
Over the last couple years I’ve had the opportunity to partner with Scottsdale Christian Academy in the Phoenix area. The SCA High School shuts down “regular” classes for the week to engage in missions all over the place.
This just happens to be the week that the 14 teams are out!
I’d invite you to take a look at the various places they are serving and perhaps click on one or two that interest you and read a bit about what they’ve done and experienced. It is VERY evident that God is at work and more prayer is needed!
- Colorado Springs (primary service to low-income families/day care facility)
- Costa Rica (primary service bible distribution and kids-min)
- Disaster Response team 1 (primary service is Sandy Relief)
- Disaster Response team 2 (primary service is Sandy Relief)
- Imprint Team (a “road trip” mission)
- Nicaragua (primary service education and sports ministries)
- Portland, OR (primary service to homeless/low income)
- Salt Lake City (primary service to LDS community)
- San Diego (primary service to a camp and inner-city)– this team was originally headed to Vegas
- San Francisco (primary service to homeless/low income)
- Seattle (primary service to homeless and recovery programs)
- Thousand Oaks, CA (primary service to the “James 1:27” communities)
- Phoenix Valley: City Team (primary service to orphans and domestic violence victims)
- Phoenix Valley: Native Team (primary service to Native American communities)
Hope you’re encouraged to read what God is doing and we solicit your prayers as these teams finish the race!
I had the opportunity in Iowa this week to talk with a number of teens who were pretty excited about Jesus, pumped about some potential changes coming to their youth group and TERRIFIED about anyone ever asking them about their faith.
This should not be.
Unfortunately this is pretty common, not just among teens, but all Christians.
I am pretty passionate about this area and I simply want to see those who know Jesus equipped to have REAL LIFE conversations about him with those who do not yet know Jesus. I understand those fears, but I’ve also seen many people get past that and actually, like me, get to the point where we’re craving those asks!
Please consider joining us though a Youthmark Mission51 Retreat. Check out the 90 second video explaining this year’s REAL LIFE theme.
This is the link to all the retreats! Can’t wait to get real!
I’m pretty pumped about my latest at the Dare 2 Share blog.
For those of you in the great NW we will have the opportunity to spend a weekend with several friends of mine. Not only are Greg and his D2S crew going to be here for the Follow Tour, but they are bringing four of my good friends as the worship team!
I’ve had the privilege of partnering with Everfound for 6 different venues (four of them week-long camps) in the past and I think that D2S struck gold by inviting them to be the band for the tour.
Check out my unique introduction to this band and what stood out about 4 Russian brothers!
I am not gifted in evangelism.
Though many of the speaking opportunities I am blessed with deal with equipping teens (or any age) with tips, strategies and tools for sharing our faith, I can honestly say that evangelism is not found at the top of any spiritual gifts inventory test I have ever taken.
Not #1, #2 or even #3 (most of the time it does fall around 4 or 5 though).
Though I am not gifted in it, I do it.
Likewise, though I am not gifted in mercy, I’m called to show it (Matthew 5:7). It would be wrong for me to show myself disobedient to what God has specifically called me to do. And yes, he’s called Christians to share our faith too (2 Tim 4:5). In fact, combining mercy in with evangelism makes for a pretty potent combo!
The cool part, I see God taking someone not-gifted and making me skilled. Like any area of my life, if I want to become better at something, I must learn and try. We become skilled through practice.
My goal is to practice Real Life evangelism.
Conversational. Relational. Real.
So many of us just struggle with figuring out the entry point into a conversation. We struggle with moving from the surface to the soul. This is is certainly a risk, but one worth taking. For me, it was a Young Life leader moving the conversation from the weather to whether or not I understood what the camp speaker was talking about.
Take small risks in your conversations and see if it may just be the entry point into a real spiritual conversations.
We put together a poor-mans version of a Nooma-like video a couple years ago called Entry Points. See if this helps equip you or your group with the concept of finding the entry points into the life of a person who does not yet know Jesus!