Faith formation is not just a Sunday morning activity. There are firsts, milestones, rights of passage with specialness wrapped all around which can offer faith experiences and sticky spiritual memories. I believe each local church, each family even, can prepare an ordered format of FAITH MILESTONES offering intentional firsts as part of a student’s faith experiences.

A retreat is time away from our normal life for the purpose of connecting with God on a deeper level.  1 Peter 4:10 was the focus of our day away at Ms. DeDe’s for rising 4th-6th graders and last week’s annual Deep & Wide Retreat: where we go deeper in our relationship with God and each other & where we look wider in our scope of influence than just our own little world.

$45 per student provided supplies, lunch, snacks, dinner, movie tickets, rental van to carry everyone to and from, and a great tshirt. Our AMAR District summer interns brainstormed the scripture, the schedule, the activities, and the supplies needed for the kids to learn more about their personality gifts, their spiritual gifts, and practice serving others in their every-day. Parents pick up and drop off at my home. Most of them carpool because I live 40 minutes north of the church.

10-10:30am Rock painting
Finding painted rocks are huge in our area, so we started the morning by painting rocks we would later hide on the playground and in the pool area of the neighborhood to delight others we would know nothing about. What happened? After going swimming the second time, we observed and heard the squeals of a family as they were finding our painted rocks and uploading pics on the Canton Rocks Facebook page.

10:30-11 Lesson #1 True Colors Personality Quiz
Take and discuss the different personalities and how accurate they are. How can we use this to better understand ourselves and others? Discuss how better knowing who you are, and your gifts, helps you better understand how you can help serve God’s purposes. The different colors and personalities each offer different ways to best serve others.
Orange: drawn to active mission projects, building houses (Amelia Earhart and Teddy Roosevelt)
Green: curious and logical innovators who can solve issues (Moses, Ben Franklin)
Blue: drawn to outreach, relationship building (Oprah Winfrey, Abraham Lincoln)
Gold: drawn to admin jobs in the church, office (George Washington, Henry Ford)

11-11:20 Make lunch of sandwiches, chips, fill water bottles

11:20-12:00noon Lesson #2 Spiritual Gifts Assessment
Dissect the 1 Peter 4:10 scripture. Discuss how we must work together as ambassadors for the Lord. How to use spiritual gifts to serve others in church, at school, in the community, and in the world. God can use even what you think is the smallest of gifts. David was small and though he was young, yet he protected his people with God’s help and a little slingshot. Esther was a woman in a time where women did not have any power, yet she saved her people by changing the king’s mind. Gideon was a farmer, but God made him into a mighty warrior who saved the Israelites from the Midianites and other meaners. Rahab was an innkeeper whose strong faith in a God she’d only heard about in stories led her to risk her life by hiding spies in her home. Moses ran away from God at first due to fear, but then he led the people to the Promised Land. Noah picked up his family and built an ark due to his huge faith in God.

12-12:30 Hiked to reservoir and picnicked lunch

12:45-2:00pm Pool time with snacks during Adult Swim/whistle blow/lifeguard breaks

2:30 Movie: Cars 3

5:00pm Lesson #3 Debriefed Movie
Proverbs 19:21 & 1 Peter 4:10 Discussed how, in the movie, each car had a different gift/purpose though all were cars/vehicles. Though McQueen had gifts he used to win, he also had gifts he could use to help others win. Jesus served others in many ways, never taking the glory for himself, rather giving it all to his Father. Discussed how each student could help others win.

5:30pm Prepared fruit salad and deep dish pizza
The rising 6th graders (since this is their last Deep & Wide) used their gifts to teach and coach how to prepare the fruit salad and the deep dish pizza. Played games while cooking: Spoons, Pit

7-8pm Distribute painted rocks around neighborhood playground and pool area and go swimming

8-9pm Returned to pack up for pick up and enjoy fruit sorbets (a tradition) Discussion of how they served each other today, their experience watching/hearing the family making painted rock discoveries, how they can carry on serving the others they live with (family), at church, and in their community.

I love these kids. I love watching the older ones teach and coach the younger ones. I love hearing the stories and seeing the comments on social media sharing their Deep & Wide Retreat experience. Enjoying their company in the everyday with the thread of the scriptures throughout makes for sticky spiritual memories. The interns and I debriefed realizing we accomplished a lot in one day without rush or mishap. We engaged every learning style and offered laughter, competition, creativity, and all the physical needs through food and lots of water. You can find out about past Deep & Wide retreats here and here. The amazing tshirts (designed by the interns and our friends at Sportsprint) we’ll wear to church on Sunday. What does your kid’s first retreat look like?

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10