by Jordan Doerksen
In late October 2016 EMC youth leaders gathered from near and far at Camp Cedarwood on Pinawa Bay, in Manitoba, for TRU. What is TRU? Great question! It is a weekend retreat, planned every second year by the EMC National Youth Committee, with a goal to Train, Refresh, and Unite youth leaders within the conference.
Fourteen churches were represented among the group of 80 people, with over 80 percent of the leaders being volunteer workers that came together with their church group. What a great weekend of learning and fellowship we had!
I remember feeling awkward and out of place when I first went to TRU in 2010. I didn’t arrive as part of a group, I was the only participant from Alberta, and the only person I recognized was Gerald Reimer (our Conference Youth Minister).
It didn’t take too long, though, and I started making connections with other leaders as we sat together in sessions and shared meals together. I was given a number of valuable youth ministry tools and ideas, and I was especially encouraged to know that we do not serve alone.
Here I met dozens of brothers and sisters with a common desire to serve Christ and disciple teenagers; and now in 2016 I returned for TRU to find a number of the same people still serving faithfully in the church. As I retreated from regular routines for a weekend like this, I was built up by people sharing ideas and testimony of God’s life-changing power. It is a real advantage to be part of a family of churches across Canada!
Our main speaker for TRU 2016 was Dr. Chris Marchand, the pastor of Niverville Community Fellowship in Manitoba. During his three sessions, he shared personal and biblical examples of how leaders should inspire teens to “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1 NLT). Specifically, they should be able to imitate our words, the way we read the Bible, and the way we pray.
Chris challenged us to carefully consider our own Christian life, and use a variety of opportunities to teach youth. A one-size-fits-all approach to spiritual growth will fall short because God has made everyone unique.
Along with these messages, youth leaders enjoyed great times of worship in song, numerous group discussions, and six different ministry workshops to choose from. These provided some great insights for leaders to understand youth culture, as well as some practical tools to employ in leading small groups and connecting with teens. There was also a good amount of free time planned throughout the weekend for people to enjoy activities, visit together, or even take a nap.
It’s obvious that TRU is not the biggest or flashiest youth leaders’ weekend in the country, but it is a very personal, positive, and powerful time for the youth leaders that choose to participate. We’d love to see you bring your youth leadership team out to join in 2018!
Jordan Doerksen is the youth pastor at La Crete Christian Fellowship Church in northern Alberta. He is part of the EMC’s National Youth Committee, which, in alternate years, provides Abundant Springs (2017) and TRU (2018).