Recently New Life’s Student Ministry from Chantilly and Linton Hall went to PCTC. PCTC is the annual winter retreat that we participate in Harrisburg, PA with over 1,000 6th – 12th graders. It is one of our most memorable events of the year for the students.
Below both Ebony Bright, Chantilly Campus Student Minister and Dan Eno, Linton Hall Campus Student Minister reflect on their experience this year.
Two weekends ago we headed to Harrisburg, PA with 67 students and 18 leaders from both of our campuses to participate in Pursue Christian Teen Conference (PCTC). Being new to New Life Student Ministry I had never experienced PCTC but had heard numerous stories about past trips. In the months leading up to the trip, PCTC was described to me as a weekend full of worship and engaging teaching or in the words of the students “a weekend full of no sleep and downing energy drinks.”
Just as I was told the trip was full of amazing worship and teaching but it was also full of no sleep and a handful of students who were all jacked up on said energy drinks. It was seeing students and experiencing the no sleep myself that made me realize that our students didn’t care as much about the “production” of PCTC as much as they did about creating memories with each other and our leaders. It was at PCTC that I saw students leading in ways they usually wouldn’t lead, students hanging out with students they usually wouldn’t hangout with, students and leaders laughing and joking with each other, and lastly, I saw students being present in what was going on around them. It was these moments and many more that made me realize the importance of getting away where your stress and worries don’t necessarily matter at that moment, all that does is the people around you.
It was only 48 hours, but PCTC was a ground-breaking weekend. Between the worship sessions, the workshops, the late-night fun, and everything else that got crammed into a single weekend, students had a huge opportunity to get real about their faith and to take their next step in pursuing Christ. There was plenty of fun, lots of laughs, and definitely not enough sleep. But what really made PCTC special was the unifying theme: Jesus is calling us, and we need to respond. The entire weekend revolving around this truth, I saw walls come down, friendships grow, and faith being put into action. And best of all, I saw students coming home, excited to take more steps forward in their walk with Christ!
There’s nothing quite like student conference trips. Sure, homegroups are awesome, big group activities are great, and we can all agree that God speaks to us in the quiet moments. But when you leave your comfort zone and go to a conference, when you feed off the energy of hundreds of others, when you join voices and literally shout God’s praise, God speaks even louder in response. You open up to your friends like you never have before, you get honest with yourself and God, and you experience God’s love, grace, and joy in new and exciting ways. There’s nothing quite like a student conference trip, and it’s not something you want to miss!
Great stuff happened at PCTC and three will be more great stuff happening this summer when the 6th – 8th graders will be going to CIY Mix and the rising 9th – 12th graders will be going to CIY Move! More detail are coming this weekend, but they, like PCTC will be can’t miss trips for the students.