I Love to Retreat Part 5

Yearly Retreating For My Children?

Many of you have had the experience of sending or dropping your student off at a camp for the week or weeks. For many students Ridgehaven has been an invaluable experience in the early years of their development emotionally, physically and spiritually. As a parent perhaps you know the routine of trying to draw out from your student the experiences that they had while away. For some this is an easy task as your student comes home and gives you hours of “system dump”, sharing every event, joke, meal or conversation that they had. For others weeks pass and there is a slow trickle of information coming to you as you try and gain an overall impression of what your child learned and experienced.

I am a big believer in retreats, camps and conferences. I personally have found it invaluable to get away for a time to look back - what have the past weeks, months or years brought, to look down and ask where am I right now in my walk with my family and most importantly my Lord? Retreats give an opportunity to look forward, to recharge and having done so, to look toward the future to prayerfully dream and imagine where the Lord is taking me, my family and/or my ministry. So valuable have these times in my life been, I prioritize them in my yearly calendar so that the busyness of life does not overwhelm this need and desire.

STUDENT RETREATING

This coming summer, 2017 I want to introduce a unique and wonderful opportunity for the middle/junior high ages here at BPC. I have been involved in a conference for the past 20 years called the Edge. So what is the Edge?   

The EDGE Conference is a junior high youth conference centered on the Gospel as well as counselor and student relationships. Located at Covenant College on Lookout Mountain, each five day session of this summer conference is full of gospel-centered teaching, church group times, worship, exciting activities, and sports tournaments. All of the programming at the Edge  is planned so as to stimulate and enhance the relationships between a church’s youth leaders and students that the Gospel might go forth in power out of those bonds.

The following paragraphs about the Edge are taken from the conference’s website and give you a better idea about the heart of those who are on the conference’s planning team along with me. 

WHAT MAKES THE EDGE DISTINCT?

COMMITMENT TO THE GOSPEL OF GRACE.

The Gospel is so much more than just the first four books of the New Testament (these are the Gospels and often misunderstood and mixed when this phrase is used). The Gospel is a message: the good news of Jesus Christ, the Messiah promised of old, coming into the world to live, die and to be raised again to provide a bridge back to our Holy and Creating God. We have been separated from Him because of sin, the sin we inherit and the sin that we willfully act upon every day. A payment for this sin must be made to satisfy a just and holy God against whom we have rebelled. God the Father offers a substitute in our place, Jesus Christ, if we would but turn from our sin back toward Him, in faith. This faith is a gift from God, created in us, enabling us to see our sin, hate it and to pursue Jesus.

This is the message of the Bible, from first to last, and it is the message of the Edge. We have seen hundreds of students come to know Christ for the first time at the Edge. It is a wonderful and exciting privilege to have witnessed this new birth in so many for so many years. But the Edge is not just for those who have not given their lives to the Lord and neither is the Gospel message. Just as when we are lost and dead in our sins, we need the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to enliven our hearts and minds to the truths of the Gospel message, so too do we need the work of this same Spirit to daily draw us to Himself and enable us to live lives of holiness and service and love. The Gospel message is for those who have never heard it before and are in need of salvation, and for those who have heard it a thousand times and have bowed the knee to Christ. And so is the Edge! We strive to meet students where they are along their spiritual journeys and to help them to move forward. At the Edge we seek to both evangelize the lost and further disciple the followers of Christ.

COMMITMENT TO BE A COUNSELOR-CENTERED CONFERENCE.

“Counselor Centered” begins with the assumption that the “real” work of youth ministry happens not so much during one week at camp, but in the day-by-day ministry of youth leaders, volunteers, families and parents.  Families and local church leaders are the ones in the trenches; they know their kids and have built the relational capital to engage their students’ hearts. The Edge leadership sees their role as setting up leaders for success back home.  The Edge seeks to provide leaders with a week free from planning and implementing activities so they can engage the hearts of students without the normal weekly burdens.  The Edge takes care of all the logistics at camp so that leaders can spend the week focused on building relationships with their students.

A COMMITMENT TO BEING FOCUSED ON JUNIOR HIGH STUDENTS.

We believe that this is a critical life stage where big decisions are made, especially when it comes to their faith. We want to capitalize on this time by speaking at their level and challenging them where they are. In addition, it means that we recognize the need of the junior high student to be busy and active and provide the structure necessary to make that possible.

HOW DID THE EDGE BEGIN?

The EDGE was started by a group of youth pastors looking to fill a specific need for their own ministries – a Reformed Jr. High conference centered on the Gospel as well as counselor and student relationships. In 1996, the EDGE Conference came into being. After two decades, the vision of the EDGE continues through the vision and passion of the EDGE planning team.

WHY THE EDGE FOR BPC AND OUR STUDENTS?

Perhaps your child has grown up going to Ridgehaven. One of my own sons just returned this past summer from an amazing week there. I have been to Ridgehaven over the years on numerous occasions and love the ministry that they provide to the local church and for the Kingdom.  What a unique experience to be able to send your child to a camp for a week, knowing that they are being led well by committed believers, in a wonderful outdoor environment! With the Edge we are seeking to build upon this wonderful foundation in the life of your child. With Ridgehaven you send your child to be led by leaders and counselors that Ridgehaven wonderfully provides. With the Edge we seek to bring with us our own youth leaders from the student’s home church, leaders that have been trained and equipped to love and lead your child throughout the year. It is our goal to take your student on a retreat for a week where they will be taught and nurtured by leaders that they will then return home with to build upon this for the rest of the year.

If you hear nothing else please hear this; there is something wonderful as a parent about being able to link arms with other adults in your student’s life -  adults who share the same passion and love for the Lord and to see your student grow in their faith. What a blessing it is to have these adults (and perhaps you yourself) to be able to go away for a week of study, worship, fellowship, fun and excitement and then to return home and build upon this growth for the next year. I hope that you will consider sending you child to the Edge with us this next summer.