Retreating: “We’re Moving!”

This past weekend I joined the youth of Mars Hill at my old stomping grounds, Camp Geneva, for their middle school winter retreat. I was invited to talk about belongingbaptism, and the church.

Here’s the thing: that is my jam.

Hey, Mars Hill Youth!

God really blessed me this weekend with familiar things in an unfamiliar situation:

  • my bed in the retreat center
  • camp hot cocoa
  • the lovely faces of a dedicated staff
  • worship in the Celebration Center (pictured above).
  • that explosion of energy you experience when you give it everything you’ve got, and then immediately crash

[Thankful for the little things ☺️]


I met with Kyle (friend from WTS, 5th-6th Youth Pastor at Mars Hill) at Lemonjello’s to go over the schedule several weeks in advance. Over the past few months, he had been teaching the youth about identity and purpose, particularly as it relates to who God is and what that means for us. Kyle’s hope for this retreat was to touch on belonging (what does it mean to belong?), the church (emphasis on US being the church), and baptism (which is coming up for some of these kids in February). We had great lattes and even better conversation and because we’re both pastors of youth, we had to swap some embarrassing stories. I left feeling CALLED and STOKED.

It took a good couple weeks of mulling it over, but God eventually led me to this video and drew my attention to a quote around two minutes in:

“The fullness of the Kingdom of God according to Jesus is not merely expressed as a way for people to escape an evil world when they die. Rather, the good news of God’s Kingdom is about the announcement of God’s Eternity moving in to the present world … The people who belong to Jesus join him in his worldwide restoration project.”

Thus, a theme was born: “We’re Moving!” God has already moved in and we, too, must “move in” to God’s Kingdom. Ultimately, we make room for our neighbors to join us. For those who find it interesting, here were my three presentations in a nutshell (please know that each presentation included a severely animated power point)…

Presentation 1 – Belonging

  • I know I belong when…
    • I recognize I’m worthy of love and connection.
    • I feel safe to be who I am.
    • I experience it consistently (within a relationship, social system, institution, etc.).
    • I want to create that same experience for others.
  • How do I know I belong?
    • Because God says so: “I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.”

Presentation 2 – Church & Baptism

  • In Acts 2, the church is not a pastor, ministries, a building, etc. The church is “they” – the church is the people.
  • Eκκλησία (church) comes from the words “out” and “called,” meaning “the called out ones” (as in “I call you out from where you are into something new/different,” i.e. Matthew 4:18-22).
  • Baptism represents God marking us with love and grace, adopting us into the family of God. This is our tangible representation of belonging.

Presentation 3- You

  • God calls us to…*
    • PLUG IN: get connected to the service / youth group
    • CHARGE UP: small group community connections
    • LIVE OUT: use your gifts and passions
    • PASS ON: share it with others
  • Shared a personal story of belonging and not belonging, and played a song I wrote this summer on the uke.

* see inspo.

Additionally, I prepared leader and student guides for 30 minute small group discussion following each teaching session. I loved weaving all the pieces together, imagining how God was going to work and placing lots of trust in the Holy Spirit.


Some favorite moments from the weekend:

  • “Pastor, can you come home with us?” – adorable 5th grader
  • singing Hebrew lullabies over 6th grade girls as they fell asleep in their cabin
  • when Kyle and I realized that our birthday is on the SAME DAY, and he insisted on confirming with our licenses
  • sharing my orthodontic history
  • watching “The Secret Life of Pets”
  • being entrusted with painful narratives (truly an honor)
  • fining my gloves in the fridge


Retreat #1 is on the books! Time for sleep.


Author: aedewaard12

Wife. Pastor. M.Div. Reformed. Feminist. Runner. Enneagram Activist. Mediocre Writer. Lover of the Bible. People call me Aud (it suits me).

2 thoughts on “Retreating: “We’re Moving!””

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