This weekend marked the second Summit Lake Fall Retreat for senior high students that I've taken students on since being a youth pastor. We joined about 200 folks in a weekend of reflection, worship, conversation, and fun. The retreat was put together by a team of youth workers from NorthStar Church Network, which my church is a part of, and in the last three years as I've gotten more and more involved on the associational level, I've made some good friends, and been able to help create some positive experiences for students that help to push the confines of the conversation to new places. We were able to incorporate worship stations, great music, powerful breakout sessions, together with a thought-provoking and generous speaker Chris Folmsbee, to help us work into an on-going emerging conversation taking place in a theologically diverse group of churches. Last year my friends Harp 46 played for the entire weekend, and this year they were back for two of our four worship gatherings over the weekend. Hearing Harp 46 play live is such an amazing experience...whether we are singing "worship" songs or not, being in the same room while they do their thing is simply beautiful. Last night as Shey and I were discussing the retreat, we both kept coming back to Harp's worship sets, and how we just miss that kind of reflective, prompting music that offers more complexity and texture than the typical pop-worship we are accustomed to. Harp 46 also has added another member to the band, Amanda Lee, who has a tremendous voice, and did a fantastic job helping lead our students through a time of worship through music.
It was also really great for Shey and I to get to hang out with April and Nuc's son Lukas during their worship sets. There were some cool moments as Chris was talking about the importance of new life and how we are made in the image of God, to be able and look over to see such new life in some of the children there, like Lukas, it was very moving.
So we had a good retreat, and over the last couple of months in conversations and emails, and now after hanging out a bit, it was a blessing to be develop a new friendship. As I mentioned before, Chris Folmsbee was our speaker this weekend. He's the author of A New Kind of Youth Ministry, and is now the Chief Ministry Officer of YouthFront and President of the Sonlife division of YouthFront after the recent merger of the two ministries. (YouthFront and Sonlife) He did a great job speaking and helped urge the conversation amongst our students and youth workers to new places as we discussed being made in the image of God, holistically missional, life change and action, and the importance of being open-minded (amongst many other things). We had a chance to hang out for a bit on Saturday night, and it was encouraging to hear about the ways the YouthFront and Sonlife are coming together to help shape and stimulate the conversation and provide some great resources for future youth ministry. If you have a chance to hang out with Chris, or hear him speak, make sure you do. Thanks for a great weekend and great conversation Chris! Oh, and he's also blogged about his experience with us here.