I was in the youth cafe last night going through the serving line, and something was mentioned about the Discovery Weekend we had a few weeks ago at DUMC Youth. From behind me, I heard one of our high school guys pipe up saying, “Do we have to wait a WHOLE YEAR to have another Discovery Weekend???”
Talk about music to my ears!
DUMC has never done Discovery Weekend as far as I know. It was funny to me to see the skeptical twinkle in peoples eyes as I was talking about it the months leading up to the weekend. It was almost as if I could hear the questions behind peoples eyes: “A retreat in town? In our church building? High schoolers leading? Have you lost your marbles?”
However, even among the questions…I had tons of support! Our church family, staff, volunteers, and parents rallied around our students and me with support and showing Christ’s love through the church! It is always a little tricky implementing something new that is a church wide event like Discovery. I was overwhelmed by the sweet reception our church had to the idea. Support through providing scholarships, showing up to events during the weekend, helping at different services, prayer teams, providing food, and even just encouraging me!
I have done five Discovery Weekends in my time in youth ministry. In those five different ones there has been three different types. We did Discovery Weekend (called Ignite) at Cove Church. Then at Trinity, we did a middle school Discovery Weekend and high school Discovery Weekend. All the types were a little different. They had their own flare and traditions. Same services, but a little different feels to them and execution.
As I was preparing for Discovery, it was kind of fun for me. First of all, I love planning experiences for students to encounter God and connect with each other. I had a unique stance in implementing the weekend here. I could pick and choose the best from the three types of experiences. It was so fun to take my favorite things from all three and roll into one! It was also fun to be able to leave the things out that I wasn’t so fond of (can you imagine I wouldn’t like something?). It was cool to make new traditions. Then of course it was neat to see it all come to life.
The even better part, I love seeing God show up and do things that I never could of planned. Students bowing in worship, parents praying together with their student, forgiveness received, bonding among groups of students and leaders, students stepping out of their box and leading, students speaking the word of truth, people working together young and old, middle and high schoolers connecting, and God changing hearts. I just love it. The weekend is such a beautiful illustration of the body of Christ. I can not wait for next year.
Pastor Barry even let us “take over” the services that Sunday morning. The youth band led worship, and I was privileged to preach in all the services. Below is a link to my sermon if you would like to see it!
There is a first time for everything…and I really can’t think of a better “first thing” to implement than Discovery Weekend!