City Church's annual men's overnight is Saturday, April 28th and 29th at Chanco on the James and will feature guest speaker Rob Wootton, a VCU grad, former Intervarsity staff, and currently serving as a pastor in the region. Here City Church member Nathan Watkins tackles some FAQs regarding the overnight and offers some insight on what to expect.
What about the men's overnight sets it apart from a typical Sunday worship service?
The men's overnight will be similar, in some ways, to a Sunday worship service. We'll sing hymns and hear a speaker give a talk, but the talks will be more “guy-centric.” There will also be a chance to break into smaller groups and debrief about what's been discussed. This allows us to speak directly about our lives from what we've heard and look more practically/directly into our own lives. We'll also have a chance to pray for one another about what's been talked about. All that is just the time during a couple of the sessions we'll have. I'll talk about what the free time looks like below.
What makes Chanco a great place for the overnight?
It's a place to get away and not worry about the paper cuts of life. It's a chance to get away from the city, and there's plenty of space to do what you want. It's a chance to do something a little different—something out of the ordinary from everyday life.
There's a basketball and volleyball court, along with other fields to partake in other activities. Chanco is right off the river, and I imagine there will be a few cyclists that bring their bikes for a ride. You can bring a tent and camp out. or if that's too much you can stay in a covered shelter. Sleeping indoors is also an option for those that do not desire a night without regulated temperatures.
Should someone who's new to City Church consider going to the overnight?
Yes. It's a chance to get connected to the church that might not be as easy if you are relying on meeting others at a Sunday service.
If you are new to City Church, one thing to keep in mind is that City Groups are a great way of getting connected with other people in the church. However, a lot of City Groups wrap up in May to take the summer off. The overnight really is a great chance to meet others if you aren’t connected to a City Group yet.
How has your faith grown by attending the overnight?
The men's overnight, by itself, is not going to dramatically change your life. However, what it offers is to be part of your story and part of your own growth as it is an opportunity to do something that is not offered the rest of the year.
Relationship development is about time and shared experiences. The overnight is a chance to have one more experience—one more shared experience—that can help develop (or start) a friendship with a brother in Christ. The overnight is a chance to do something a little different than other ways that we may have shared experiences. It's the one time of the year a bunch of guys get away from the city for the night.
There will be time to hear the speaker talk, but it's not the talks that I remember most from previous overnights. It's the time spent with other men that I remember.
I remember playing board games at last year's overnight when it rained more often than it stayed dry. I remember smoking pipes and cigars in one of the few dry moments. I remember learning spike ball at my first overnight a few years ago. I remember the discussions on the drive to and from the overnight. I remember, at my first overnight, hearing a story about the pig that came to a previous overnight. (By the way, I do believe live animals have now been banned).
The Church is a family that is there for us in both the good times and the bad. The relationships we have one with our brothers (and sisters) is how we can see the love that God has for us and His children. I feel more part of this church now than I did a few years ago. That comes from spending time with others in the church; sometimes it's at a Sunday service, sometimes at a City Group, or sometimes it's serving alongside others. The overnight is another chance to spend time with one another and strengthen, or create, new friendships that will help carry us along when we go through times of struggle.
There are friendships I have at City Church that started at my first overnight. Sure, I may have met some of these guys later on, but it gave me a chance to have that first shared experience sooner, thus allowing more time for the friendships to develop even now.
Gentlemen, if you haven't registered for the overnight, please do so. The cost will range between $50 to 70, based on your choice of accommodation, which includes lunch and dinner on Saturday, and breakfast on Sunday. After April 18th the cost to register will go up. For more information about the men's overnight—and men's ministry at City Church, in general—please contact Frank Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org).