Man did I judge the youth ski trip. I didn’t do youth group as a teenager, so the first I heard of it was in seminary. Churches use valuable staff and financial resources to send their teens skiing. Do they work on a service project while they’re skiing? Do they evangelize their slopemates? Do they at least read a common devotional over the weekend?
No. They ski.
As a 24 year-old prospective pastor, the ski retreat seemed the height of wrongheaded, self-serving, privileged church programming. At 40, I was called to a church that does one.
Tonight I leave on my third ski retreat, and I feel nothing but anticipation about it. I’ve had a few years now to experience what my judgmental junior self had not experienced and could not have appreciated, that, for a group of 6th-12th graders, the opportunity to spend two days with their peers and a group of adults who care about them, away from home, away from school, away from the considerable strain of their daily life, is a valuable gift and a ministry investment that needs no further justification. Though a short (less than 48 hours) excursion, the ski retreat will minister to these young people in unique, tangible ways: they will bless their house upon entering it; they will pray with and for one another; they will hear testimony; they will break bread together.
Oh, and they will ski.
All are welcome. Let’s go skiing.