Montreat Youth Conference, part 2

August 5, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Religion, Youth 

The Montreat trip was absolutely wonderful.  Amazing.  Transformational.  Fun.  There are so many reasons.

We started out by driving 9 hours to Greensboro.  Our youth director used to be the youth director at First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro, NC.  We stayed overnight in their youth room (VERY NICE, and with lots of comfy couches and other things to sleep on).  In the evening Saturday we were treated to dinner by our youth director’s in-laws at their beautiful home (not to mention entertained by the dog).

In the morning, we were treated to a tour of this VERY large church (new members have a class on how not to get lost) and breakfast.  We then attended worship.  I found lots of useful information on how they work with visitors that will be useful for my committee.

Then we went to lunch at Fincastle’s Diner and headed for Montreat.

In Montreat we stayed at First House, a private home owned by the Greensboro church that is rented out to groups staying in Montreat.  It was a nice house and suited our needs very well.

Sunday evening, the program began with a welcome session at Anderson Auditorium and Recreation outside.

The program continued with keynote in the morning, small group once or twice, and worship in the evening.  Friday night’s worship was capped by people with candles all the way around Lake Susan two deep – it was so pretty.

Then we drove home 12 hours.  Ooof.

The youth from my church could not possibly have been a better group, or worked together better.  They were ready to go on time every time (sometimes earlier).  They voluntarily pitched in and helped with chores, often before being asked.  They supported each other emotionally and clued in the adults later – leaving the adults free to handle the big stuff (or their own stuff).  Everybody got along well aside from the minor frictions caused by 14 people spending a lot of time together.  I could not ask for a better group.  These 10 youth are now permanently on my list of favorite people.

I feel the same way about my small group.  There were 26 participants (3 adults and 23 youth) plus our small group leader.  I liked everybody in the group.  Think about that.  26 other people, and not one of them was even the slightest bit bothersome or annoying.  This is amazing.  The conversations were deep and meaningful, the games were hysterical and fun (I “won” Big Booty), and I was truly impressed by what other people said.  I hope that I have made one or two or a few friends for life from that group.  I know that I truly love and care for all 26.  Our small group leader was a newbie – having just turned 21 (we couldn’t believe that – he is mature beyond his years) – and he hit the ball out of the park.

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  1. It was HOT most of the week.  The week redefined the concept of sweat for me.  However, I didn’t really mind.  It was cool enough in the evening to sleep and the small group room was air conditioned.
  2. The keynote team did a great job.  We’ll probably use at least one part for our confirmation class.  The concepts that they discussed were well reflected in small group and worship.
  3. The worship was especially meaningful for me (particularly Monday and Friday).  Michelle Thomas-Bush did a good job.
  4. Music was fun, and included some songs that I really enjoyed.  One in particular was very meaningful for me.  Jorge Gonzales was the music leader, and was joined for a lot of the week by Wallness from Haiti (who knew our youth director from when Wallness was a youth in Haiti).
  5. Recreation was well done.  I didn’t get involved in most of the “optional” recreational activities though I did enjoy watching them.  The first night recreation was where I met one of those “friends for life” that I mentioned above.
  6. The site is gorgeous.  Hilly to be sure (I seem to have lost 5 pounds, and moved some of my remaining weight away from my waist), but beautiful.
  7. Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and Raspberry Sorbet make a great combination.  The boundary layer is to die for.
  8. When we went to Asheville NC on our free afternoon, I bought the first pair of sandals that I’ve ever owned in my adult life.  I am now fully qualified for youth ministry.  (There is no need to tell me not to wear socks with them – others have done that already.)
  9. I went swimming.  Unfortunately, I was rock-hopping at the time.  I went into the water and completely soaked myself.  I also completely soaked my backpack.  The electronics all survived, but I need a new Bible and a replacement for the hardcover book that was in the backpack.  I also had some nasty scrapes.  My youth were perfect in that they refused to let me walk back to the house alone – they insisted on accompanying me and carrying my backpack.
  10. My co-workers actually said I seemed relaxed when I got back to work yesterday.  No, really!
  11. You can’t imagine how fun it is to do energizers with a bunch of youth every day.  Adult silliness should be mandatory.
  12. One of the adults in my church group has the uncanny ability to sing harmony with any piece, even if she hasn’t heard it before.  It was beautiful.
  13. I had lots of deep one-on-one conversations with my youth.  This started the first night and I think it’s continuing now.  They impress me with how seriously they take their lives and how thoughtful they are of others.  There is unexpected depth here.
  14. Every group needs at least one unabashedly sunny morning person.
  15. See this post for the most strange and wonderful part of the week for me.
  16. The Jesus in Me loves the Jesus in You.  ‘Nuff said.

I’ve already written in another post about my personal transformation.  I’d like to add to that some confidence in doing youth ministry.  I’m now wondering how to make my job better aligned with my faith and personal ideas about life.  Or find one that is.  I don’t feel a call to ministry (though several others talked about this after this week).  I just feel like I’m not where I should be.

If you are a youth, or you work with youth, you should really consider going to a Montreat Youth Conference.  Groups can be as small as 2 or 3, or very large (I’ve heard of the neighborhood of 50).  Yes, it’s a little scary going to a new place and doing “Jesus stuff” for a week, but it’s really worth it.  My nervousness was wholly unnecessary.

I’d like to thank Rich, Mary Alice, Sara, Gingles, Michelle, Jorge, Wallness, Bill, Aimee, David, and so many others who made my week probably one of the top 10 experiences in my life.