High schoolers brainstorm on ministry’s future

Students and leaders get their blood flowing by sprinting and yelling at the top of their lungs midway through a two-day high school leadership retreat, where they spent hours planning and sharing ideas on the vision and purpose of Community Covenant’s high school youth group at Chickaloon Retreat Center.

Students and leaders get their blood flowing by sprinting and yelling at the top of their lungs midway through a two-day high school leadership retreat, where they spent hours planning and sharing ideas on the vision and purpose of Community Covenant’s high school youth group at Chickaloon Retreat Center.

By Mary M. Rall
Community Covenant Church

Students and ministry leaders put their heads together at Chickaloon Retreat Center during a two-day retreat to plan how the high school youth group can better serve Community Covenant and the surrounding community for the 2016-17 school year.

“The intent of the retreat was to bring together our vested leaders and participants to evaluate, dream and plan about how God is leading us into the next year,” said Mike Alverts, the High School and Young Adult Ministry director. “The hope was to provide increased ownership, to foster collaboration and to aim at fitting our ministry to our opportunities. The whole process also provides an opportunity for aligning together in vision and purpose.”

Ten high schoolers and four leaders participated in the retreat, which encouraged the students to discuss the strengths, weaknesses, observations, threats and barriers that exist when planning discipleship, engaging in prayer and coordinating outreach within and beyond the CCC community.

“Most of us have a ‘born-and-raised-in-the-church’ testimony,” said Madelynn Barnlund, who will be a high school senior in the fall. She said youth who never move out of their comfort zone within the church community may have a limited perspective on how to relate to people who don’t know Christ or don’t know the truth of who Christ is.

“Students give a unique, valuable and keen insight into their peer group,” Mike said. “Students can also begin or accelerate the journey of leading their peers—everything from leading events to leading peers into a personal journey of faith.”

Stephanie Conlan brainstorms activities and outreach opportunities Community Covenant youth can invest in for the 2016-17 school year during a high school youth group leadership retreat at Chickaloon Retreat Center.

Stephanie Conlan brainstorms activities and outreach opportunities Community Covenant youth can invest in for the 2016-17 school year during a high school youth group leadership retreat at Chickaloon Retreat Center.

Stephanie Conlan, a recent Chugiak High School graduate, said participating in the discussions created a sense of anticipation for the future.

“Doing all this stuff, it makes me excited to see what’s going to happen and what I could potentially be doing in the future,” Stephanie said.

The students turned to their Bibles throughout the retreat, discussing healing, hope and wholeness to better understand how God can be present as plans for next school year progressed.

“I enjoyed being able to make plans,” said Brendan Binniker, who began attending CCC with his family this year and will be a freshman at the University of Alaska Anchorage in the fall. “I also enjoyed meeting new people. It makes me feel included.”

Mike said the students and leaders worked hard throughout the retreat, laying the groundwork for next school year and providing feedback on how the ministry may be shaped in the months ahead.

“I thought we had fabulous discussion, great insights from all participants and great alignment with where the church is moving,” Mike said. “I think we’re positioning our ministry to be in step with the broader church body. Everybody worked hard and stayed super engaged.”