The Big One 2.0

by Rick Bristol



PETOSKEY, MI – I find I am “the good kind” of sore, but what a blast I recently had in Petoskey. My church hosts a couple of Christ-based, scouting programs: Trail Life USA and American Heritage Girls.


We began this adventure in the Fall of 2020. We were a replant, starting at the end of 2017 and looking for ways to connect with our community and grow. We had only a handful of volunteers, and resources were extremely limited. When I pitched the scouting program to folks, I wanted to figure out some capstone event that would create stories for the kids, allow for mentoring opportunities, and still be something we could manage with our limited budget.


What could be easier and more economical than walking? This is how “The Big One” was born.


Before my time as a replanter, I served as a chaplain working with Marines. While the Marine Corps may have called them by different names, my time with them hiking and camping provided countless opportunities for Gospel conversations and showing Christ. I figured I could use what worked in that ministry context in my new context.


The NCT (North Country Trail) winds through our town and ultimately near my house. My plan with the Big One was simple. We’d hike 50 miles over five days along the NCT as soon as school was out. Basically, we’d all walk to my house from the church. As you might guess, ultimately, it was not that straightforward.


The kids got on board with the idea early as did a couple of parents.



Throughout the winter, we refined and developed the plan. A lot of little ones wanted to participate but were not able to walk the whole way. So we figured out potential drop-off and pick-up points along the way.



By this time, the planning process had moved beyond my knucklehead idea. Our Associate Pastor Dan Kucharczyk, his wife Angela, and some brilliant parents were the primary planners. Eventually, one parent suggested we could ferry all the kids back and forth to the church as a base camp during the event. So that is how we did it.


After the Big One 2021, I discovered we had not only created opportunities for Gospel conversations. We created a discipleship laboratory. A great deal of grace was required not only by the leaders and kids, but also the families.


I also know not all of the families are in the same place in their walk with Christ. Therefore, it was a living discipleship forge. I’d love to say we all acted perfect, but perhaps even better, we worked as people who needed grace, and tried to model it to their best.


Fast forward to this year and the Big One 2.0, and we have added to our scouting capstone (and family discipleship laboratory). We added canoeing, fishing, and disc golf to our hiking and other camp activities.



I am excited to report the same Grace Laboratory happened again. We had families attending various stages of their walks. As we spent four days living, working, and playing together, much of the public veneer vanished. When folks would come under stress or even into conflict, they revealed their source of strength.



We have families who have been hurt in other church contexts, and folks with no church background. Those who have heard us talk about grace would get to see if we live it. Again, Praise God! Having a family (several families actually) show dependence on Christ and modeling grace throughout these times can be worth more than many “amazing” sermons.


 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After the Big One 2021, I discovered we had not only created opportunities for Gospel conversations. We created a discipleship laboratory. A great deal of grace was required not only by the leaders and kids, but also the families.


#JULY22






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