Retreat E–vangelization: Sharing Experiences

Ok, Youth Ministers, Directors of Faith Formation, and all you adult types in the field.  This time, the article is geared towards your teens. Read it to them, send it to them, work it in a talk.  It’s good stuff.  I promise

There’s a boldness that Christ calls us to that challenges us to live a life that is full of truth. The awesomeness of a retreat is a perfect time to let your friends know that God is good all the time.

We all have those times where we couldn’t wait to tell someone something awesome. In a conversation, by text, by Snapchat, the emotions pour out of us in a gleeful eruption. Whether it’s a game we are watching or something we are doing, we want to share this coolness with everyone. We’re practically shaking as we talk, type or snap. Why should our faith be any different?

When you have gone to the mountaintop with God, don’t miss the opportunity to let the world know what you have. I’m one to say that our phones are just extensions of who we are, and that we are present to our friends, family and whoever with our phone. So with those amazing retreat moments being so few and hard to explain after the fact, why not use technology to extend the sentiment to those closest to you.

Pick up your phone and do a little e-journaling with a post, tweet, snap or chat. It allows you to record the moment. On the right social platform, it allows you to go back and relive your God moment. And it’s a wonderful way to “e-vangelize” those who may not know the joy you have and how they can get it.

But as I said right from the top, it takes boldness. But why is it any more boldness than it takes you to be vulnerable in other areas of your life you already are sharing your story?

In that boldness, you want to share in hopes that there are more of you out there. Maybe a friend has had the same God experience. There are so many experiences that happen to us in isolation, and we feel like we are the only one who feels this way about their faith. Yet God touches all of us, so there may be a friend who has had the same experience and would love to talk to you more about it. It’s that community that can give you the support that God gives us in each other.

This glorious experience may draw others to want to join you as a Catholic. Our faith is all about relationships. The more support and love we feel from each other, the more loud and proud about God’s love we want to be.

It’s with that support that we draw even closer to God ourselves. In drawing closer to God, we start to recognize those retreat experiences more and more in our everyday life – not just on retreat.

That e-vangelization can be accomplished as well even if you don’t have your phone. This may be a shock to your system, but pick up a pen a paper to record your thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. When you come down from the mountaintop, you can bring back those memories and feel more comfortable talking about them when mom, dad or your friends ask you how your retreat went. It’s a pretty old school approach, but it will get you experiencing God all over again so that you can share with friends.

We let our experiences be known all the time in the sharing of our life in conversations, on social media and texting with friends. Whether it’s a cat video or we just won a huge game or a shared experience we had while in different locations, we reveal a lot about ourselves without even realizing it. Our faith is no different. And the more people who share that same faith, the stronger our faith gets.

A retreat can show who we are in Christ and how good life can be. Sharing this experience can kick us up to a whole new level of faith when others – and there’s plenty of us out there – identify the same experience and want to bond together in Christ.

Bryan Ramsey

Bryan Ramsey is the director of youth ministry at St. James in Menomonee Falls, WI. Besides Christian formation for some 400 middle and high schoolers, there's youth group activities, inter-generational programs, retreats, service experiences, prayer nights, mission trips, conferences, fundraisers and plenty of other good things jammed into his ministry life. Plus, he is a youth minister's husband and 5-kid father. There's a lot going on there.

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