For the last few years, BCYM have been involved in the delivery of the Youth and Children’s Work South West Conference, in Exeter. This year, on our seventh year of running we decided to do something a bit different, and instead of running a conference, we ran a retreat. The theme was ‘Untitled’ – a day to leave behind all the labels that can end up defining both ourselves and our ministry, and find space to seek the presence of God in order to be refreshed for our life of service for Him.
During the day there was a variety of workshops, seminars, worship streams and labyrinth-style spaces to choose from, both indoors and outside. We created six spaces, designed so that everyone could meet with God in a way that suited them. The spaces were;
HEAD SPACE – challenging and engaging Bible teaching to help us re-discover the majesty and wonder of God, and develop intimacy with Him.
PRAYER SPACE – individual ‘prayer pods’ containing things to help you reconnect with God through prayer and reflection.
CREATIVE SPACE – a variety of expert-led, interactive and creative presentations using art, photography and poetry to help explore God’s character.
JOURNEY SPACE – a variety of ‘stations’ designed to help us connect with God through prayer and contemplation.
LISTENING SPACE – a chance to meet with an experienced and trained listener if anyone wanted help with any aspect of their life or ministry.
DISCUSSION SPACE – an opportunity to discuss issues relating to the theme of the day.
Dylan Barker from Frontier Youth Trust and myself, facilitated the Journey Space. We had a range of stations helping people reflect on their roles, job titles, how to balance and juggle differing roles, the labels young people are given, the labels we give ourselves and our communities, and a chance to think about how God sees us. It was amazing to see so many people make use of the space to chill out, reflect and spend time with God.
For me, the highlight of the day was hearing from poet, writer and retreat leader Ian Adams. Ian spoke brilliantly in the morning about what retreat is, and then led some creative workshops throughout the day on photography, poetry and doodling or mark making. As a creative I really enjoyed his tips and tricks about how to use these methods to spend time with God.
It was a fantastic day, and genuinely the best youth retreat I’ve ever been involved with. I hope we do it all again next year!
Youth & Community Work Lecturer