When it comes to things that we do together as a youth ministry, the Winter Retreat is one of the best events on the calendar. For starters, every year we have seen students give their lives to Christ and saved during this event. It is also an opportunity for our group to get away from Sheridan, away from the routine, away from distractions and dive in to a time of teaching, worship and fellowship that is so needed for our students (and adults too). We do a lot of events with other youth ministries (Summer Camp, AYC, Elevate Weekend, CityReach, etc.) but this is one of the big events that is just for DRIVE Students and so we really have a time where our group comes together and we always leave closer to each other.
This year the Winter Retreat will be held at Budd Creek Camp in Greer's Ferry, AR. We have invited a good friend, Richard Alonzo to be our guest speaker. Richard is the youth pastor at Pauline Baptist in Monticello, AR. He was previously a youth pastor at Harmony in Prattsville, so many of our students are familiar with Richard. We know he will do a great job bringing God's Word to our group.
The theme this year is "IDENTITY." A few weeks ago our group had a night where we simply shared what was going on in our lives. Students and adults shared the good, the bad and the ugly of their world. One reoccurring theme that I heard in many of the students stories was that they were struggling with identity, self esteem, not fitting in, peer pressure, and much more. I believe these students need to know and be reminded that their identity comes through Jesus Christ. Not who this world says they are, but who God says they are. We want to see our students embracing their value in Christ and letting that shape who they are becoming.
We are also going to be doing something for the first time at our Winter Retreat. I have asked 5 college students who were former members of our youth ministry to come back and speak to our group. These students are Tiffany Easter, Roxanne Easter, Cody Walker, Cody Alderman & Carson Bray. Each of them have a very different college background and they will all bring something unique to the conversation. Many of them have stated to me a desire to come back and minister to our students. They want to tell them things that they should expect when college finally comes. They also have told me that they want to share with our students, "things that I wish I would have paid more attention to in middle school and high school." I think this will have a huge impact on our group to see former students investing in our current youth group.
The cost of the Winter Retreat is $60. This will cover their lodging, their meals, a t-shirt and help with other expenses. There will be a $20 deposit that is due on December 18th. (As always, please let us know if your student is in need of a scholarship. Not having the money to go, is NOT an excuse for our youth group).
As a youth pastor, I really hope you will encourage your student to join us for this year's Winter Retreat! You can sign up your student today by going tot the Winter Retreat page HERE!