Our annual desert weekend man trip retreat is now complete and what a BLAST it was. We took 57 adults and students from 2 churches to the desert for a weekend of bonding, Bible study, and things that go BOOM.
We did the usual stuff like a huge bonfire and shooting ranges for both rifles and shotguns. Yes, we blew some stuff up. We ate like kings. We enjoyed one another. We had some great conversations and saw some students take some renewed steps back to God.
But this year, there were 3 things that really stood out to me.
LIFE WITH GODLY MEN IN MY LIFE IS BETTER.
I love doing life with the men in my ministry. I'm so thankful for Godly friends who are willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with me and call teens to step it up into manhood. I loved listening to their conversations, watching them model ministry, and serving along side of them. I really could not ask for a greater compliment to my own ministry than the character and integrity of the friends and mentors who have willingly chosen to unite with us. It means the world to me.
ACTIVE AND VISUAL LEARNING IS FLAT OUT BETTER.
This year we used a book called "Dangerous Devotions for Guys" and seriously, it was worth EVERY PENNY we paid for it. In each of our large group conversations we had we used a visual from this book and had the guys make them in 8 small groups. I'll go into more detail on the 4 that we used that were epic in future posts this week, but suffice to say, the visuals were amazing teaching tools. These images might not mean much to you right now, but trust me, none of the men on this trip will forget them or what they stood for.
Also, on the first night, we gave every guy on the trip a block of wood as a memory tool. Then for each message or conversation time, we created a "brand logo". There were 5 plus one danger symbol that we used for each talk and to shape our weekend. Jason, our resident metal worker, used a water jet to make steel logos which we heated with torches and branded into their board after each talk. Epic. Seriously Epic weekend of POWERFUL visuals. Here's my board:
REAL MINISTRY TAKES TIME.
I think this is my 6th year to the desert with our men in Encounter and each year it gets better. The men get more confident, the students get more involved, and manhood is literally growing all around us. Not because we blow stuff up, but because we're consistent. The men that go with us to the desert and stay plugged into our small groups through the year are slowly but surely changing into the image of God and it's powerful stuff to watch and see. This year, my oldest son TJ got to join me for the first time as well. That is longevity of another fruit that I'm so blessed to now enjoy. I've waited 14 years for this season of ministry and I'm so blessed beyond words at the long term fruit in my own son's life at this stage. I thank God for the way time and the Holy Spirit together change lives.