After a four-day business trip to Indianapolis Denise and I took advantage of the spring like weather in northern Michigan and walked around camp (last weekend we snowshoed around camp). As we walked around Copper Country I reflected on the incredible support SpringHill has received over the decades.
Incredible support comes from incredible people who believe in what God has done and is doing in and through SpringHill. They align with the answers to the 6 key questions I’ve been writing about over the last couple of weeks. There’s a mutual commitment to making the answers to the 6 key questions a reality.
It’s important to understand that at SpringHill we include in our definition of supporters – volunteers, prayer partners, ambassadors, and donors. Every person who falls into one or more of these categories is absolutely critical to our effectiveness. We’ve been blessed over the years to have many people in all four groups.
While in Indianapolis I, along-side Craig Soderdahl our Regional Vice President and Kate Wilson our Regional Development Representative, met with friends of SpringHill who included corporate donors, long time supporters , former and current board members and staff, and over dinner, a group of future camper families, prayer partners, ambassadors, volunteers and donors.
Each meeting in Indianapolis was a powerful reminder of the essential role our supporters play in SpringHill today and into the future. The walk around Copper Country reminded me of the critical role our supporters have played over the years. So whether it’s past, present or future, on this early spring day, I’m deeply thankful for our supporters and what they’ve done and do for SpringHill, kids and Jesus.
Where, other than life on the new earth, can you find 9000 people from more than 250 different churches and denominations playing, praying and worshipping together? At SpringHill’s Winter Teen Retreats! That’s right, attending a Winter Retreat is a little like Heaven. Because at SpringHill, like eternity, there’s no divisions between God’s people.
Instead the only competition between churches at SpringHill is the annual broomball tournament. The battle on the ice isn’t about doctrinal and governance issues, but instead about winning the coveted Winter Teen Retreat banner.
I have to admit, even after being a part of Winter Retreats for 14 seasons, I’m still amazed every time I walk around camp during a winter weekend, to see and talk to students and leaders from so many churches and traditions. It does make me think about and anticipate the coming of Christ’s Kingdom on the new earth.
What makes such an experience possible? First, every church understands the purpose of the weekend is to help students to know and grow in their relationships with Christ, to assist leaders in developing relationships with their students and to build stronger youth groups. Second, because of this purpose, SpringHill programs around what all Christian churches agree on – Jesus Christ. Finally, we stay away from issues that cause division and encourage the group leaders to do the same, which they’re only too happy to do.
So, this winter, if you think about SpringHill, say a prayer for the 1000’s of students and their leaders who’ll be attending one of eleven retreats, that their Christ centered focus will continue well beyond the weekend, becoming the focus of their lives and the lives of their churches.
My wife Denise called Tuesday my “pastor day” because I had the opportunity to hang out in metro Detroit with three dear friends who are also inspiring pastors and incredible leaders – Terry Prisk, Steve Andrews and Eric Russ.
My first stop was with Terry Prisk, a long time SpringHill partner and leader of The River Community Church. Terry and I meet every few months to share, challenge and encourage each other in our respected leadership positions. As usually happens we exchanged books we’re each reading knowing we’ll discuss their respected contents the next time we’re together.
Next I had the opportunity to have coffee with Steve Andrews from Kensington Community Church. Steve’s a former SpringHill board member and current member of our strategic planning team. In these roles, as he did once again in our time together, Steve’s spoken into my life by challenging me to think big about SpringHill and its place in God’s Kingdom.
I ended my day near downtown Detroit with Eric Russ, a current SpringHill board member, who leads Mack Avenue Community Church. Eric and I spent our time together riding in the “Mack Truck”, an old pickup truck used by the church. We toured the neighborhood where his church ministers. I’m inspired every time I’m with Eric but never more than when I see the community, people and work he’s committed his life too.
As I drove home from Detroit I thought to myself “what a great day”. I also thanked God for each of these men and the significant impact they’ve made on both SpringHill and on me. In my final thought of the day I searched for answers to this question “how can SpringHill and I better support them and their churches in the incredibly important work they do in the communities they serve?”
For over twenty years Michael Perry has made it his mission to bring young people closer to Christ through his Bible study publications, his capacity as the President and CEO of SpringHill, and his recent book, Experience = Everything. Over the last fifty years, SpringHill has changed over half a million lives—proving that it is more than just camp, or a place, SpringHill is a transformative experience.