Thunder was Awesome

By Pete Anderson, Associate Pastor for Youth, Crossroads Community Covenant Church

Thunder 2017 this year was Awesome! We hit the ground running with the adventure of a lifetime. As lighting flashed on a mountain graphic on the screens, Thun-Der was being shouted by 460 Middle school students, and then Indiana Jones repelled from the ceiling. Thunder Retreat 2017 has begun! From worship, to food, to conversations and games this weekend was characterized by the word Awesome… Let me tell you a little more of what I mean!

Awesome Youth Pastors, Volunteers, and Cascades staff and volunteers:

For starters, we had an awesome set of Youth Pastors and Volunteers from across the PNW that sacrificed their time, energy, and sleep, to spend a weekend at Cascades. This retreat isn’t possible without these amazing leaders. I thank God for their commitment, their service, their love for students! We have an amazing set of leaders and volunteers! For real, wherever you are at in the PNW take some time to thank, encourage, support, give a Starbucks gift card to the Youth Pastors and Volunteers that run your student ministries! They are in the trenches and are doing a fantastic job! Speaking of …other people who made this retreat amazing… Jessica Palmer (Cascades Program Director) and the amazing Cascades staff and volunteers! They do an amazing job at helping make this retreat possible. I love the partnership, the comraderie, and support that we have in Cascades. It’s truly a blessing to have such an amazing camp, staff, and retreat to go to each and every year!

Awesome Retreat Speaker: Erik Anderson

Speaking of awesome… Our retreat Speaker was great. Erik Anderson, the outreach pastor at Crossroads Church (Woodbury, MN). He challenged our students into living an extraordinary life for Jesus; being misfits for the Messiah. Our life with Jesus is anything but ordinary. His messages were on point biblically, they were on fleek culturally, and they spoke to the hearts, minds, and lives of our Middle School students. He covered Samson and challenged our students to see that it’s easy to get distracted and pulled away from the extraordinary life God has for us. He looked at David and encouraged students to realize that God’s “Hesed” his love that pursues us, can help us through the pain, hurt, and sin that can make us feel less than extraordinary. He pointed out that the Good Samaritan stood up and did something extraordinary when the rest of the world just walked on by. And lastly, He sent us back into our church vans with this charge: As you go home remember you can play a part in a miracle. God has an extraordinary plan for your life. Go home and be misfits for the messiah. Mark 2 tells us the story of 4 friends who did whatever it took to get their friend to Jesus. We too, can play part in a miracle. There were many students who shared with their Youth Pastors of important faith decisions they made during the weekend; we praise God for how He worked and the faithful service or Erik bringing the good news!

So the questions from this retreat  that we are left with are these: Are we living as misfits for the messiah? Will you step up and play a part in a miracle? Are you living an ordinary or extraordinary life for Jesus?  What distractions are getting in our way from living extraordinary lives? What are you going to do about those distractions? Who is it that needs a little love, needs someone to stand up and live extraordinary on their behalf?

Awesome Worship: Crossroads Worship Team (Yelm, WA)

We had a great time of worship led by the Crossroads Worship team. This team was comprised of Debbie MacNealy with keys and vocals, supported by guitarist Pat MacNealy, Bassist Drex Zimmerman, and Drummer extraordinaire Vern Schick! I’ve truly got to tell you, there’s nothing better than worshipping with 400+ MS students!!! You know that scripture “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom…” Well, that rang true during worship at Thunder. The kids felt that freedom from the Lord’s presence and what followed was an amazing expression of praise… I’m talking about spontaneous conga lines, Piggy backs, Students swaying back and forth with their arms on each other’s shoulders, made up motions to the worship songs, Smiles, laughter, high fives, and the need to take a seat on the side because worship was so exhausting!!! How great to have a time to get into the wilderness with 460 middle school students and praise Jesus in freedom!

Awesome Weekend:

Cascades camp is an amazing place and we are so thankful to have a place to retreat and worship Jesus! Over the weekend we explored the 1,000 acres while playing big games, dueling our friends in the GaGa Pit, competing in extreme spoons, dodging paintballs in the paintball arena, making arts and crafts, off roadin’ in the Rubicon, having an adventurous time riding horseback through the forest in the rain, getting muddy, playing hours of 9 square in the air, probably eating too much candy, feeling the breeze as we zipped on the zipline, conquering fears scaling the climbing tower, holding reptiles like a Python and lizard, getting selfies with an alligator on your head, and much, much, more… What an awesome weekend that was! Thank you once again to everyone who helped plan, pray, give scholarships, and support the Thunder Retreat! We’ll see you next year!

Awesome Planning Team:

As I close this letter I want to give a big shout out to the great Retreat Planning team for the 2017 Retreat. Behind the scenes planning is often unrecognized and I want to make sure these folks know that I appreciate their hard work, their prayers, months of prepping and planning, and their partnership in ministry. As the retreat coordinator I couldn’t have pulled Thunder 2017 without this planning team: Kara Harris (Faint Covenant), Jessica Palmer (Cascades Camp), Erik Cave (PacNWC), Tim Anderson (Cascade Covenant), Brianne Losacco (Shoreline Covenant) and Micah Holmes (Countryside Covenant).


Stories from Renew Covenant’s Relaunch in Lynnwood, WA

Stories from Renew Covenant’s Relaunch in Lynnwood, WA

By Dave Sim, Lead Pastor of Renew Covenant Church

5am Thursday.  Our crew is starting the coffee up and setting up shop in the front of our church.  At around 6am commuters begin parking in the church lot, a designated park-n-ride through Community Transit.  Renew Covenant Church is now located in North Lynnwood on the very busy intersection of 164th ST SW and Manor Way.  This is the former meeting place of Martha Lake Community Covenant Church which closed its doors this past Summer after 70 years of ministry.  A young man, who had come by a few weeks earlier, stops by the coffee stand saying, “I was hoping you guys would be here!”  After several minutes of conversation he says to our crew, “I think I want to check out your church.”

Actually, the music wasn’t too loud for me . . . it was wonderful actually.”  This from a young woman in her 60’s, a member of the former Martha Lake church.  Eighteen or so former Martha Lakers returned to the sanctuary to join Renew for our Grand Opening worship and building dedication.  We had 75 plus adults and children at this first service.  More beautifully our gathering was the Creator’s mosaic of different generations, of diverse socio-economic and racial-cultural backgrounds, and of souls journeying on such a variety of vectors and relative position to the church and Jesus.  “And thank you pastor for bringing the word!  It was so good and so refreshing.”  I just wanted to hug this lady as I thought to myself, “Yes, this is all so refreshing!  God is doing something new!”

     A woman in a nice business suit shakes my hand and introduces herself.  I recognize her from our Grand opening worship service.  “I’m here to meet with Christy about the community garden.”  Christy is heading up Renew’s community garden ministry.  Renew has inherited from Martha Lake 14 raised garden plots that we are now offering to our neighbors to tend and plant.  We are hoping to intersect a robust theology of creation care, our missional intentions to reach neighbors with the Gospel, as well as a strong desire to foster meaningful community in a culture of isolation, all through this garden.  I leave Christy and Sarah to their meeting.  An hour later, Christy emails our leadership team clearly excited.  She says, “I had such a great meeting with Sarah.  She wants to help me with the community garden!  And she wants to help serve park-n-ride coffee!  And did I say she was asking me if we had small groups?”

These three stories are snapshots that demonstrate why Renew is so excited to be re-launching in Lynnwood and stewarding this boon opportunity towards the embodiment of our vision and mission.  The Renew dream is for people in North Lynnwood and beyond to experience the grace and mercy of God and to be transformed as images of God. We believe we are given to in order to give away, and so we will endeavor to love and serve our neighbors in tangible ways.  At Renew we are renewed by God for the renewal of our neighborhood.  Please join us in celebrating what God has already been doing and revealing to us!