Student Cohort Retreat Produces Spiritual Growth


By Jasmine Haynes, Communications Specialist
Sounds of laughter erupted from a group of teenagers swapping funny youth group stories that soon drifted into a quiet contemplation as they explained a shared fear of the uncharted territory that they would soon be entering called 'college.' These students are from various regions of the state with different church sizes, and they met for the first time a year and a half ago when they decided to participate in the conference's student cohort.
Recently, the cohort met in person for the first time in several months and when asked about how they feel the cohort has impacted their lives, their comments varied but had one consistent element.
"I know so much more about everything now," said Sarah Jane Bishop, a senior from Long Beach, Miss. "The last year had been a year of growth for me and a big part of my overall spiritual growth."
Some other common points of progress for the group were engaging in relationship building and learning that it's okay to be uncomfortable. Each year, the students are tasked to plan and implement a shared -- mission event and discussed how one of their biggest challenges was stepping outside of their comfort zones. They also discovered that when you leave your comfort zone-one of the youth noted --"that's when God's got me."
Mark DeVries, founder of Ministry Architects and one of the adult leaders present with the group, explained that researchers did an experiment to see what would happen to an amoeba if it was continuously kept comfortable. Their results were that all the cells died. DeVries shared that like those cells, it's essential to our survival as living organisms to be uncomfortable sometimes so that we can grow.
"Here's how you know you're doing something important," said DeVries. "You'll face resistance and you'll feel a lot of opposition."
The cohort also spent time studying Jesus' miracles in Mark 1 and delving into being more deliberate about entering in God's presence.
This student cohort was developed collaboratively by the Mississippi United Methodist Annual Conference and Ministry Architects and designed to equip today's leaders from different church sizes, cultures and locations to grow and serve their various communities as lifelong disciples. The program is a two-year commitment and helps build the participants' sense of community.  
For more information on how youth can apply to take part in the next student cohort, click here or contact Mike Howington, youth and families coordinator at 601.354.0515 or mhowington@mississippi-umc.orgThe deadline to apply for the next student cohort is March 31, 2018.  Click here to see pictures from the cohort's weekend retreat.

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