01 Dec Church Plant Journal: Incarnation Youth Group Joins Retreat
By Christy Bodett Lukins
Last time I drove into the gravel driveway of Phantom Ranch Bible Camp, I was squeezed among dozens of RezYouth Wheaton students. This year I drove in with just five IncYouth students.
After serving as youth leaders at Church of the Resurrection (our diocesan cathedral), my husband Noah and I moved to the Fox Cities, Wisconsin, to support Fr. Chad and Kirstin Magnuson at Church of the Incarnation. We now lead a youth group of about ten students at the youngest church plant of our Diocese.
Church of the Incarnation is not yet a year old, but we already have more youth than many churches our age. Almost ten percent of our church are in middle and high school!
Though many ministries need support at a church plant, youth discipleship is a priority for Incarnation, and we are proud of the age diversity. At a normal IncYouth gathering, we meet at the church’s rented office space every other week. Like many youth groups, we play games, study the Bible, and pray for each other. Our small size means that we end up spending time together as a whole group. The age range from 6th graders through 10th graders studying the Bible and praying together brings unique joys and challenges.
Given our limited resources as a church plant, planning an overnight retreat is out of the question. After participating in previous RezYouth Wheaton retreats and seeing how relationships are built over the course of a weekend, it was an easy decision to join Resurrection in southern Wisconsin. Our youth were welcomed by 75 Resurrection Wheaton and City of Light Aurora students during a fun weekend filled with outdoor activities, games, worship, and teaching from the Book of James. Paintball and horseback riding were highlights for many of us, but so were the joyful times of worship and dancing.
On the drive back to the Fox Cities, we asked our students to rank the retreat on a scale of one to five. One of the students responded, “I’d give it a 20!”
The gift of this weekend was far more than just joining a retreat we didn’t have to plan. We were nourished by our mother church. Our Diocese is more than a conglomeration of churches with the same theology—we relate to each other as family.
Joining RezYouth Wheaton’s retreat gave our students the opportunity to share with peers, although from very different communities, in the work that God is doing in their lives.
On Saturday night we worshiped and prayed together. Students shared areas of their lives that had been closed to the Lord and laid hands on and prayed for each other. Together, we participated in the work that God is carrying out. We left that weekend knowing the joy and strength that comes from ministry with brothers and sisters.