MUUUCE 2019: Unleashed!
Imagine 614 middle schoolers learning about what it means to be unleashed for Jesus. That was the theme of this year’s MUUUCE (the Most Unbelievable, Ultimate, Urban Camping Experience). From Aug. 1-3, 614 students and youth leaders from 40 Northwest Conference Covenant churches gathered at Crossroads Church in Woodbury for this awesome middle school event.
The three days included a massive Welcome Party with inflatable games and food trucks, a trip to the Big Thrill Factory and Valley Fair, lots of pizza and Chick-fil-A, as well as worship, teaching and small group discussions that are designed specifically for them.
During the worship sessions, Karl Romeus, the student pastor at Bayside Church in Sacramento, CA, confronted students to think about what it means to be unleashed for Christ as young adolescents. They leaned in to hear his stories and his challenges. The Crossroads worship team created a powerful worship experience designed to help middle schoolers connect with God.
Chad Melton, pastor of middle school ministry at Alexandria Covenant said that a highlight for him was witnessing God soften a student’s heart.
“That this student encountered Jesus after a year of praying for that breakthrough… it’s beyond words,” Melton said.
MUUUCE is led by a team of a few paid but mostly volunteer leaders at Crossroads and a few other Covenant churches. This team meets all year to create and implement this crucial large-scale event for our Conference. They work hard to keep the cost affordable and still give students a memorable experience.
As you can imagine, feeding that many teenagers gets expensive. With that in mind, one of the 210 Crossroads attenders who volunteered for MUUUCE is Wendy Rhein. She spearheaded an effort to get local businesses to contribute to help defray the cost. For example, Chick-fil-A in West St. Paul donated chips and gave a huge discount on sandwiches and delivered them free of charge. Kwik Trip in Woodbury donated 120 pounds of bananas as well as pop. Dairy Queen in Woodbury gave MUUUCE a huge discount on Dilly Bars. Green Mill in Maplewood gave a discount on burritos and pizzas, and Cub Foods in Cottage Grove cut their price on donuts, watermelons and carrots for MUUUCE.
In a world that thinks middle schoolers are too young to think about the things of God, too squirrely to make a decision to follow Christ, too immature to handle spiritual questions, MUUUCE is a rare event that is designed to help these students understand that they are deeply loved by God, and that church is a place where you can have fun.
Rachel Lassen, the youth pastor at Hope St. Cloud, summed these amazing three days up well: “What was especially meaningful for our crew was that many of our students got to conquer ‘firsts’ together … first time on a rollercoaster, first time hearing the good news, first big-time retreat and first major encounter with God.”