One Big Day 2021 offers day overflowing with fun, faith to NWC middle schoolers

On Saturday, Aug. 7, around 280 middle schoolers, leaders and volunteers from all over the Northwest Conference converged on Minnehaha Academy for One Big Day. It was a day packed with fun and faith, all designed with middle schoolers in mind.

The day began with a massive Welcome Party. There were giant inflatable games, a mini-golf course built by a member of Dassel Covenant Church in Dassel, MN, 9-square in the air and corn hole, arts and crafts, colored hair spray, and sno-cones and gigantic donuts. One student exclaimed as he walked in and surveyed the scene, “You mean all this is for us?”

After a Chick-Fil-A lunch, students headed to different stations to learn about four of Jesus’ miracles through hands-on, interactive lessons. For the blind man who was healed, for the paralyzed man whose friends put him on a cot and ripped apart a roof to get him before Jesus, for the 5,000 who were fed, and for the fishermen whose nets were almost broken by the weight of the fish they caught … the day those miracles happened was their One Big Day.

At the different stations, students heard from the former owners of the Rustic Inn about what it would take to actually feed 5,000 people. They heard from a fisherman about what it would be like to catch that many fish. They learned about the miraculous creation of an eye. They built cots out of wood and rope and had to carry a teammate across the gym floor, experiencing a taste of what those friends might have experienced 2,000 years ago.

From the miracle stations, students headed out to the Minnehaha football field for an epic tournament. Through screams of laughter and cheers, four teams battled to win crazy, creative camp games.

Pausing to catch their breath and eating giant ice cream sandwiches, students headed to the final session. There they experienced C.H.A.O.S. (Crazy Humans Attempting Outrageous Stunts). There were reverse charades, competitive cheese ball tossing, and more.

In a way that only middle schoolers can pivot, they turned to dynamic worship led by Emmanuel Covenant. When Greg Speck got up on stage, he had the room laughing and groaning as he talked about his One Worst Day. And then had them leaning forward in anticipation as he told them about meeting Jesus and how that was his One Big Day.

Youth pastors lined the chapel, praying with and for students, some who came to know Christ for the first time, others who were renewing their commitments and yet others who just needed prayer.

One Big Day was led by a team of youth pastors from across the Northwest Conference who met for months planning and designing the event: Mike Bechtold (First Covenant Church, Red Wing, MN), Rocky Hovda (First Covenant Church, Willmar, MN), Evan Kolding (Lakeview Covenant Church, Duluth, MN), Chris Kelly (Linwood Covenant Church, Wyoming, MN), Zach Klein (United Covenant Church, Clear Lake, WI), Luke Korthuis (Salem Covenant Church, New Brighton, MN), Annie Larson (Plymouth Covenant Church, Plymouth, MN), Dan Swartz (Emmanuel Covenant Church, Shoreview, MN).

Our NWC youth workers shined as they shepherded their students. The backbone of the day was a team of amazing volunteers who made it all possible: they set up and swept up, stood in the rain, greeted and cheered. They fed hungry kids, bandaged bumps, took photos, led games, picked up garbage, refilled water jugs, handed out masks, and, most importantly, prayed.

It was a day overflowing with fun and with moments of joy and connection with each other and Jesus. It was One Big Day.