A few months ago, my Children Youth and Family (CYF) Cohort leader at Luther told us about some options for our spring retreat – including “Recharge.”  I didn’t give it much thought – so many of the options were either Saturdays or during my CPE unit, and I was avoiding schedule negotiation at the time.

Not too long ago, I got an email from the Youth Ministry director at Augustana, Don Marsh, inviting people who work with youth at our church to go to the Recharge – and he’d cover the cost.  This is my second invitation – perhaps I should listen!  So Don signed me up, and I let my husband know that he’d be with the boys all day while I was “recharging”.

Now, as a person who promotes the health of honesty, I will tell you I wasn’t looking forward to it. Saturday is one of the days I have with my husband, and he works two jobs, so it’s precious time.  I’m also not a huge fan of large crowds of people – I can be in front of them no problem, but in them, I get itchy.  Lastly – I love my CYF people, but sometimes they are a little intense when I just want to lay back and be sleepy on a Saturday morning.

Thank God I was given the opportunity, and reminded that I should go – because this event was a lovely example of why I need to push myself out of the comfort zone of laziness and avoiding crowds.  While the crowd was HUGE, and navigation between sessions could be tricky, I was very happy to be in this crowd!

Opening worship was lead by a leader of the Upper Room worship community, Stefan Van Voorst, who opened with a ton of self deprecating humor – my FAVORITE kind, and a great tool to humanize yourself an build relationship with an audience – and he did so without being TOO mean to himself.  We sang, and then we heard from Karen Powell, co-author of the Sticky Faith book and studies – and she had some awesome things to say.  Things that I’ve been thinking in my head for a long time and wasn’t able to articulate – so thanks to her, I have some new ways to approach these ideas!

The workshops I went to were so helpful – Karen Powell talked more about “Sticky Faith” tools – keeping youth engaged in church by getting them to build relationships with adults, give them space to have doubt, and talk about stuff – LOVED it.

Tiger McLuen gave a helpful talk about what leaders do to themselves to impede themselves – and he did so with “snake” and “garden” illustrations.  While snakes FREAK me out, and there were pictures, I appreciated not only the tips to watch out for in our own lives, but his honesty in sharing how he’d experienced these things, and why you should be careful to avoid them.

My last session was with Kari Lyn Wampler about adolescent suicide and depression, and coming away from that, all I can say is again, we need to be open and honest with kids – even adults.  Be willing to be vulnerable and admit your down times and failures, share that it will be ok even though it might not seem like it, and let them be honest with you about what they feel – it might be scary, but you being a safe person to talk to can be SUCH a help!

Thanks to the Recharge Ministry, blessings to all the Children, Youth and Family ministers, paid or voluntary, and thanks for all you do!  I’m so excited to put new ideas into practice!


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