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leaders retreat

Come With Open Hands


Come With Open Hands

Team leaders, room leaders, and servant team all have had a great secret to bear. It comes with the job, I guess. At the end of April, these students from five different schools gathered together for the Leader’s Retreat where the theme, verse, and book of the Bible to be studied this summer were announced. This all has to be kept from the disciples until the very first rally of the summer. That’s too long when you’re excited about something! And all the preparation that they have been involved in has definitely caused a lot of anticipation and excitement for these returners to Project.       

As one of these returning students myself, I can completely relate to these feelings that we are experiencing in the final days leading up to Summer Training Project. Recently, however, I’ve been reflecting on why I am so excited. Though there are a lot of good reasons to feel this way, a large part of why I am excited is because of last summer. Last summer was my first year at Project, and I had one of the sweetest seasons of my life. It seems almost like the ideal Project experience – my room got along and became my closest friends, I worked at a wonderful Walmart with great coworkers, and I learned and grew so much over the two months. Not everyone who is returning has this same story, but it stands to reason that most people who go back do so in part because of how good their first summer was.

You wouldn’t think that this could be a problem, but it has become one for me recently. Whenever you experience something for a second or third or fourth time, you come in with expectations for what it will be like based on your previous experience with it. This has been the case for me, and I’m guessing many others. But coming in with too many expectations can be dangerous. Expectations have a tendency to rob your current experience of the joy that it brings because you are constantly comparing it to the past instead of embracing your present for what it is. This is unfair of you to do. Not only does this have a negative affect on you, but it could also land on those around you, especially as a leader.

During the Leader’s Retreat I had to mourn my last year’s summer. It sounds extreme, but that’s what it felt like. Last summer was a wonderful season that God brought into my life. It is so easy to want to hold on to that, but that’s not how life works.  Time moves on, and it’s best if we let go and move on with it. That season served its purpose. This summer is going to be different. It could be harder, or easier, or busier… Only God knows what it holds. He is bringing a new season into our life that will have its own unique challenges, blessings, laughs, and memories. It will be its own kind of sweet.

I had to let go of the expectations for this summer in order to embrace the good that God is going to do in this new summer. I hope and pray that we can extend our hands before God wide open to what He has in store for us this summer instead of trying to hold on to the past, because as the wise C.S. Lewis says, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” And I don’t want to miss any of them.

“And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing and I will send down the showers in their seasons; they shall be showers of blessing.” Ezekiel 34:26

Jasmine Winter, senior

University of Northwestern

2019 STP Communications Intern


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Retreat to Victory

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A weekend retreat to a camp in the rolling hills of southern Minnesota, when the trees are budding and flowers are blooming…who doesn’t love the sound of that? Add to that the fact that the retreat is put on to prepare a group of college students to be effective servants of Christ, and it has the makings of the best weekend ever.

A couple weekends ago, about fifty students, including myself, attended a retreat just like the one I described,  better known as the Leaders Retreat, at Camp Victory in southeastern MN. These students have committed to be leaders on the Summer Training Project, Twin Cities Project, or Cross Cultural Project this summer. This retreat was a time of training and bonding to prepare us for a summer of spiritual growth. With four talks, three workshops, Bible studies and worship packed into two days, there is so much to share, but I want to give you a sneak peek into what the leaders retreat is all about!


Now, you may be wondering why this post is titled "Retreat to Victory." It wasn't meant to be just a funny pun on a retreat happening at Camp Victory. We learned a lot about what it looks like to be victorious as a leader this summer. The talks given by staff members Matt Reagan, Paul Poteat, Mike Polley and Eric Lonergan highlighted the truth that victorious Christian leadership is not about leading the most people to Christ, having all the answers or telling people what to do.

It's about being a servant.

Mark 10:43-44 states, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”

Servanthood sounds great, but nobody naturally wants to be a servant. It can be a lot of pressure thinking that we have to be the perfect selfless leaders for a whole summer. But we also learned that because of the grace we have received on the cross, the success of STP, TCP or CCP has been redefined. Success no longer looks like us being model Christians.

Success looks like being faithful stewards of the Gospel and growing deeper in our relationships with Jesus Christ. The results of the summer are up to God.

When the results aren’t up to us, we are free to fail. But we are also free to take risks, to step out of our comfort zones and experience the grace of God in a whole new way. That kind of victory makes this summer incredibly exciting! 

Leadership in Action

Saturday morning of the retreat, the STP leaders attended six mini-workshops designed to equip us for being team leaders and room leaders. We learned how to effectively spend time one-on-one with students, studying the Bible together or just having fun. But we also learned that all these things should be done with the aim of knowing them on a deeper level and pointing them to the Gospel. We also learned how to lead a discipleship group, do beach evangelism and study the Bible using the inductive study method.

Seeing day-to-day what it means to be an STP leader this summer helped adjust expectations to reality and allay a lot of fears!

Field Day Fun

Of course, we couldn’t spend a weekend at a beautiful camp without getting some time in the great outdoors. On Saturday afternoon, the CCP team put on a good old fashioned field day for the rest of the teams and staff. We competed in a three-legged race, wheelbarrow race, tug-of-war and lip-syncing contest. During free time on Saturday, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, mini golf and exploring the river area kept us busy; in the evenings, games like Mafia, Nertz or Bang were the popular attractions. It was awesome to see everyone come out of their shells a little more with people from other schools through the fun, informal times!

So much more happened at the retreat, but now you have a few snapshots to give you a taste of what we experienced! We’re so excited for this summer and can’t wait to share more about what God is doing! 

Here are a few pictures from the weekend: 

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Leaders Retreat: Skills

Charlie Brooks concluded our time by talking about the skills of the leader. How do we apply the picture of discipleship that is laid in scripture to the everyday interactions we have with the people we are leading? His last point was to pray for the growth of the people you are leading – we often forget the importance of this. [display_podcast]



Leaders Retreat: Character

Andrew Knight talked on our retreat about the character of a leader. He then moved to talking about diagnosing character issues in the people that we disciple. Listen to his talk here: [display_podcast]



Leaders Retreat: Knowledge

Ken Currie opened our time at the Summer Leaders Retreat with a talk on knowledge. We need to understand intellectually the truth the underlies any experience we may have in life. He also talked about the interconnectedness of knowing God, knowing self, and knowing the world [display_podcast]