4 Ways to have a Bodacious IE Retreat (IE in Panama City, FL)
Inspiring and training believers to tell the truth about Jesus to others is my passion. But doing this on the beatiful beaches of Panama City, FL? …Well, that’s just plain AWESOME!
Wanna know if a youth group could be enthusiastic to evangelize? Meet the students of The Church at Shelby Crossings in Calera, AL! They traveled down to Panama City Beach and invited me to speak to them on Inspiring Evangelism. We stayed at the wonderful Surfside Christian Retreat center, and I’ve gotta tell you my 4 favorite parts of this weekend. In fact, I invite you to take note of each of these. You might be interested in having an IE Retreat for your church!
1. The Leaders. Every thriving youth ministry has a leadership that embraces real ministry. Dean and Allison Shirley and Randy and Phylis Otwell proved their devotion to Christ by showing their devotion to the spiritual growth of these students. I saw patient guidance coupled with humor and grace. I saw maturity and consistency. And I saw a willingness and desire to grow in their leadership capacities. These leaders were even open enough to state their own fears in regard to evangelism. This kind of leadership paves the way for strong discipleship to occur in a thriving youth ministry.
2. The Students. Because of the leadership of this youth group, the youth have an authentic place where they feel free to be open about their fears and struggles in evangelism. This led to honest communication, and what they shared was commendable. I’m convinced this group will be a major part of kindling a fire for Christ for this generation. I spoke on how students can bust out of their self-made boxes and do something extraordinary for Christ. They learned a simple method of sharing the gospel with anyone, anywhere, at any time. And I shared what God is teaching my wife and me through the pain of having a daughter with cancer, and how this relates to Inspiring Evangelism. The results are remarkable! These students are passionate and equipped to take the town for Christ! Please pray for them.
3. The BBQ Pork Ribs-eating Contest. Spontaneous and crazy stuff like this makes for a great retreat! I really don’t remember whose idea it was, but as we all went out to eat one night, 3 of us embarked on the adventure of seeing how many BBQ ribs we could devour. (It was an all-you-can-eat issue.) Of course, I didn’t want to hurt Dean’s and Terry’s feelings, so I allowed them to tie me at 12. And for your info, I don’t think I could eat another BBQ pork rib for another year. (But maybe beef!)
4. The New Year’s Eve Party. Gotta have a special event at a retreat! The 800lb Beach Ball dropped precisely at midnight at the Pier Place in Panama City! It was packed, and we were definitely tired when we got back to the retreat center at 1:30am. Oh, and I had a 6:30am flight the next morning back to Houston. Still not sure how I accidently reset my alarm and woke Dean up at 4:15 instead of 5:15am to take me to the airport. Sorry Deanish!
So much thanks to God for a blast of a weekend on all levels! And many thanks to the leaders and youth of the Church at Shelby Crossings and to the wonderful Surfside Christian Retreat. To say the least, I’m still on cloud 9!
Love you all!
(My next Inspiring Evangelism retreat is at Carolina Creek in Huntsville, TX, on Jan. 27-28. Please pray for a spectacular retreat!)