LEAD Student Retreat Fosters Leadership Skills

Date Posted: 5/11/2017

Youth workers left the April retreat with new ideas and a new sense of enthusiasm for their various ministries.
Several dozen youth and adult leaders sharing ideas, games, and worship makes for an inspiring combination, according to Eddie Erwin, Director of Youth/Young Adults for the Texas Conference. “I was really excited that we had students interested in spending time learning leadership qualities at the LEAD conference at the end of April,” he shares, “that they can take back to their local churches.  We were able to introduce them to other student leaders and connectional opportunities. There were student ministries from larger and smaller churches and ones that are in rural and suburban settings. It was great to see them come together, share, learn, worship and lead when they hadn’t met each other before showing up on Friday evening.” 
The retreat provided a forum where all could share in worship, led by several Texas Youth Academy alumni. Additionally, each group took turns contributing some best practices from their ministries.
For example, one ministry hosts a “Tacky” prom while another offers a “Senior” prom to their church community that is designed for members over 50 years old.  Other groups enjoy a game called “grog”, a different ministry offers “Chuber” or “church uber” as a ride share for other students who don’t have transportation to their gatherings. Another shared their experience with “Whataburger Wednesday” where they leave the walls of the church for a student-led Bible study. 
When asked what leadership quality they learned during the event, participant answers included:

  • “being prepared to fail”
  • “working together as a unit”
  • “passion and innovation”
  • “not to be fearful to try new things”
  • “inclusiveness” and
  • “the best leaders have the most love for everyone”
Student leaders mentioned they grew in their faith with regard to positivity and integrity, realizing God wants his children to change and grow, and trusting God to help in leadership situations. The most enjoyable aspects ranged from the team building time to the meeting of new friends. “I think it would be great if we do this again to have youth directors bring copies of applications, policies and such to share with others in attendance,” suggests one of the adult leaders.
The late April kickball tournament is another “team building” event within the conference to generate friendships and fun within the South District. “Youth Directors meet monthly to create and foster community among our churches,” shares J.T. Larue of Seabrook UMC.  Leaders decided to host the first annual kickball tournament which drew about 130 students from UMC’s including  St. Mark’s-Baytown, LaPorte, Cedar Bayou Grace, League City, Clear Lake, The Watershed, Crosby and youth from the host church of Seabrook UMC. “St. Mark’s took home the first place trophy, with Seabrook placing second and League City UMC in third. In addition, our district hosts collaborative youth events such as Engage and Holiday Hoopla since many of our churches are just 10 miles apart,” he says.