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16 November 2016

A not-so-big weekend away?

Aaron Griffin Aaron Griffin Head of Youth Ministry
Gaines Christian Youth Centre

Aaron Griffin writes about the recent youth weekend away.

Half term rolled around and by 6:00 pm on the Friday evening we had the top of Ogle Road packed with suitcases, young people, parents and leaders. 44 young people and 8 leaders would be spending the weekend together at Gaines Christian Centre in Worcester. Gaines offer youth groups tailor-made week-long or weekend residentials, which include everything from catering to teaching.

An experiment

Admittedly, this was an experiment from my end: giving up the teaching for the weekend away? Leaders not having to plan anything? Coach journey to a faraway land? I was a little nervous on the Friday night, having not really much idea of what to expect.

Youth weekend Oct 2016 - 2

Given the size of the group, the cheapest coach we could get was an ‘Executive’ coach. The one we had was almost brand new (it even had the new smell!) and had one of the happiest drivers I have ever seen. Two and a half hours later, we rolled up to Gaines to start the weekend. We had a good weekend of good food, wide games, walks, teaching on Proverbs, a quiz which involved chocolate (always a winner), computer games, table tennis matches, darts tournaments (I didn’t win … next time!), a bonfire, a question and answer session, and some more food. And before we knew it, we were back on our luxury coach trundling back home to Southampton.

Relationship-focused

The teaching this year was an overview of the book of Proverbs. We have been looking at Old Testament wisdom writing this term anyway so it fitted well. The small groups generated a lot of good discussion and the main talks drove the point home well. Proverbs is very relationship focused, so loads of discussion happened around family, friends, romance, and priorities. It was a pleasure to see so many young people wanting to explore the big questions in life with Bibles open in front of them.

Not a big weekend away?

The whole weekend seemed to be a great success, but I was in for a surprise on the journey home. During our long journey I periodically went up to the back of the bus to catch up with how people were doing. Asking about the weekend away, one of the recurring comments was, ‘We missed the leaders teaching.’ Usually on the weekends away, we will share teaching slots out between leaders. We’ll run groups, organise seminars, host question and answer sessions, as well as have a blast with the young people. I went and relayed that to the other leaders and one of them stated that, ‘Yes, it was a weekend away, but it wasn’t a BIG one.’

Youth weekend Oct 2016 - 1

What did they mean? Part of the motivation for me to go to Gaines was to reduce stress on the leaders. Usually, it is a whole load of work as we take teaching the young people so seriously. We love them enough to want to give them the best we can, and so we spend time preparing hard to give them the best we have. Our young people missed that and, to my surprise, so did the leaders. This goes to prove once again one of the fundamental principles of youth work summarised nicely in Galatians 6:7–10:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

The hard work and devotion of all our volunteers at church is preparing for them a harvest of joy when we stand together before Jesus. A lesson learned, a good weekend, and a supportive church family. Thank you for your prayers, generous giving, and support.

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