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This past weekend was The Bible Chapel's Junior High Fall Retreat. A retreat is by far one of the most epic events in student ministry pretty much anywhere you go. Students encounter God in ways they never have before. One of the main reasons for this is because they are away from the push and pull of their normal schedules.
They are free. They are excited. They are expectant.
This year's retreat theme was "Embrace" - the idea of abandoning our old lives and embracing our new identity in Jesus Christ.
Our students are crying out for truth.
Friday's message was titled "Identity Crisis." Our culture is in the midst of a massive one. The problem isn't necessarily the crisis itself, but that our culture encourages the identity crisis. Culture says that no matter who you are, what you do, or how you do it…it's all good. There is no search for truth anymore. Culture says, figure out who you are and we'll support you no matter what.
Who wouldn't want to buy into that message? And among those not rooted in Jesus Christ, who can resist that message?
But the message is a lie. There's no "we'll support you no matter what." There's only "we'll support you as long as you choose an identity we approve of."
Our junior high students are caught in this life-destroying undertow and are crying out for truth. We in the Student Ministry heard this cry and knew we had to address it. So instead of crafting a content-intensive weekend, we decided to unpack one powerful verse for all it's worth and repeat, repeat, repeat.
The verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17.
The results: life-changing.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
As part of our "Identity Crisis" message, we placed a mirror on the stage with the name of Jesus written on it. On Friday night and Saturday morning, we wrote identities over Jesus' name to represent how we choose to embrace identities that we place above Him. We wrote identities like sports, money, popularity, and sexuality.
This illustration created a tension that hung in the air until Saturday night, when we addressed it. Saturday night's message was this: in Christ, when we see ourselves, we see Jesus. Because when God sees us, He sees only Jesus.
We then erased the temporary identities that covered the name of Jesus on the mirror. Once again it displayed His name, singularly and clearly.
Afterward, students could pray with leaders, and then we all enjoyed a huge bonfire. This is when the awesome stirrings of life change came to light (no pun intended!).
One by one students started sharing.
"I've been basing my identity in how much confidence I have in myself."
"I have always cared about my looks."
"Perfection is so important to me."
"Anxiety has kept me wanting more affirmation from my friends."
"I thought my identity was in how much I could be like my brother."
As each student shared, they ended with a resounding, "but I’m abandoning that and embracing Jesus as my one true identity."
On Sunday was the send-off message. Students were challenged to live out their identity in Jesus Christ. We gave them paracord bracelets to remember to abandon their old lives and embrace their new identity in Jesus.
God moved. Students responded. Young lives were impacted. Identities were secured. Praise God!
Thank you for all your prayers and support before and during this amazing retreat weekend! Look for a blog post coming soon with photos that tell the story of the retreat in images. In the meantime, we want to hear from you. Parents, if your kids attended the retreat, what have they shared with you? What changes, no matter how small, are you seeing in them? If your kids did not attend the retreat - or if you're just learning about The Bible Chapel and haven't visited yet - what would you like to know about us? How can we help you or your kids get involved? We're here to answer your comments, and you can always reach us at . We hope to hear from you soon!