By: Amanda Willis
More than 275 Minnesota youth in fifth- through ninth-grade gathered last weekend for fun, fellowship, and learning around the theme “We are God’s Masterpiece” as part of “The Event” at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd.
The youth, representing 31 churches across the state, engaged in activities that included games, a Boiling Point concert, making blankets for a homeless shelter, and nightly devotions; they also participated in three worship services that explored the theme.
Lindsey Nuehring, who co-leads the conference’s Youth Ministry Team and leads the youth and young adult ministry at Wesley UMC in Winona, delivered the messages during worship. Friday night, she talked about “God and me,” or how each youth is an individual masterpiece; Saturday morning, she discussed “God and others,” or how to see others as a masterpiece; and Saturday evening, she brought everything together by sharing how to live as a masterpiece and be an active Christian in the world.
“I’m hoping that this idea that other people are God’s masterpiece will change the way these kids behave in their school and community,” Nuehring said.
At one point, the youth played a game called, “masterpiece or piece of gum?” Nuehring showed close-up photos of gum and art and had the youth guess what they were looking at.
One of the breakout sessions involved a prayer station. The youth were invited to think of something they were grateful for and write it down and glue it to a board as part of a “prayer mosaic.” The boards, which were covered front and back in prayers, were presented and blessed during a worship service.
On Sunday morning, the youth reflected on what they had learned.
“They were articulating the theme and showed how to interpret the theme through art… it really seemed to sink in,” Nuehring said.
The format of “The Event” allowed for United Methodist youth who attended to invite their friends. This helped the gathering to reach some new people.
“It’s a great way to spend intentional time with your youth, builds relationships, and helps the churches to grow through youth programs,” said Rev. Erica Koser, co-leader of the conference’s Youth Ministry Team and pastor of discipleship and justice ministries at Centenary UMC in Mankato.
Here are a few comments from the evaluations that youth and adult participants completed at the end of the weekend:
“We are all made different, but we are all made for a reason. We are made the way God made us.”
“[I learned] just to be myself. We are not all the same, but we are all unique masterpieces. We are who we are, and no one can change us.”
“Something I really liked was Saturday night and bringing the prayer boards out and having everyone come forward touching boards and connecting.”
“Great way to find yourself spiritually and get closer as a youth group; perfect mix of chill and excitement.”
“It’s fun, amazing, God-centered.”
Mark your calendar for future youth events!:
- New senior high outreach project, Super Saturday of Service: Feb. 5, 2016
- Confirmation Gathering: March 4-5, 2016
- Storm Camp, Boiling Point, and a party in the park during annual conference: June 21-23, 2016
- The Event: Nov. 4-6, 2016 (Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd)
View photos from the weekend here