Winterfest 12 – The Spiritual Disciplines

This past weekend, I helped to lead a group of 24 teens, college students, and adults to a large Christian youth conference called Winterfest, in Gatlinburg TN. If you’re familiar at all with the youth ministry world in churches of Christ, you’ve probably heard about the conference. There were nearly 15 thousand young people there for a big Jesus party (one of the speakers, Joss Ross, used this term—it works well). This was my 8th year to go, and to be honest, I have grown pretty ambivalent to it over the last few years. I was especially ambivalent toward it leading up to this year. It’s a huge trip for a small church like ours, and I’ve really questioned its worth for us, because the last few years just haven’t been what the conference used to be. A lot of hype and extravagance, but not a lot of connection or value.

But this year was different, for a number or reasons. The production value was significantly better than years past. I am not always a fan of “production” in worship, but if you are going to do something, it’s important to do it well, and this year they did. They have been transitioning Jeff Walling out of the keynote speaking for the weekend, which hasn’t always gone well, but they are beginning to make it work. I wish he’d have a more active role, as MC, even when he’s not speaking, just because of his ability to connect with the teens, and give a sense of direction and movement to the conference.

The best part of the weekend, by far, was the theme. We talked about Foster’s 12 spiritual disciplines, which could not have been a more relevant theme for me, my teens, and our church. We need spiritual disciplines. I have been a journey with the disciplines since college, and have been trying to champion them with our kids and in our church. The spiritual disciplines have been a big part of conversations we’re having in my grad school cohort, and God has really been laying them heavy on my heart.

So I think I’m going to spend some time here reflecting on them, to help solidify things for me, to push myself to engage them further, to prepare material for some teaching, and to continue the conversation that’s been started at Winterfest. Some of my kids have wanted to deepen their faith thru engagement with the disciplines, so I want to give it my best shot. To begin with, I’ll be preaching something of a recap sermon this coming Sunday, to summarize the weekend for our entire church, and to give us the basic framework for engaging the disciplines together.

I’ll need to give some more thought to how I’m going to approach it in this space, but as I’m riding home, reflecting on God’s work this weekend, I’m struck by the incredible need and potential the disciplines have for us all.

I leave you with this, a fundamental conviction I have about the disciplines. They do not exist for our purposes alone. They are not simply about working our way to peace or happiness. They are about equipping us for participation in the life of God for the world.

2 Responses to Winterfest 12 – The Spiritual Disciplines
  1. Mitchell Powell Reply

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t even list the twelve disciplines if I tried. Any chance I could talk you into spilling the beans?

    • bradschrum Reply

      For sure man. I’m hoping to get to that today, though I won’t make any promises. I highly recommend Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline” if you are at all interested in the disciplines.

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