Pneuma Challenge Brings 40-Plus Teams into a ‘Spirit’ Competition

2010 National Youth Conference of the Church of the Brethren

Fort Collins, Colo. — July 18, 2010


A Pneuma Challenge participant receives clues via text message. Photos by Glenn Riegel


One of the Pneuma Challenge stations was the making of a cross out of broken shards of pottery.

Sunday afternoon’s Pneuma Challenge scavenger hunt proved popular. Forty six teams of youth and advisors followed instructions relayed to them through text messaging, roaming the NYC campus and searching their Bibles to find items. The hunt ended in the CSU Lory Theater with a video message from the Holy Spirit and distribution of t-shirts to all the challenge participants.

Emily Shonk Edwards, one of the staffers in charge, said the Pneuma Challenge is new to NYC this year.  She described it as a non-competitive activity with many worshipful elements. “Pneuma” is the Greek word for breath, and in scripture means the breath of God or the Spirit of God. The goal of the challenge was for participants to experience that breath of God for themselves while engaging in teamwork, scripture study, and interaction with others to find each answer or photo required.

Teams were composed mostly of congregational youth groups–and many registered under colorful names, such as the Jesus Followers, the Lebanon Leapers, the TACO Belles, the Wrestlers for God, the Peacemakers, the God Squad, the Sangerville Seekers, the F. O. R. C. E., and the CIA (Christians In Action).

The high tech aspects of the event created some problems, however. Clues were to be received by text message and responses were to be texted back, or pictures taken with cell phones were to be sent back to the organizers. Some teams never received the clues, because the number of messages being sent together had triggered a spam filter. Also, at least one team did not have any cell phones with adequate texting or photo sending abilities. But low-tech workarounds (old fashioned print on paper) were devised so everyone was able to take part in the fun and learning.

–Frances Townsend is pastor of Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren

The News Team for the 2010 National Youth Conference (NYC) includes photographers Glenn Riegel and Keith Hollenberg, writers Frank Ramirez and Frances Townsend, “NYC Tribune” guru Eddie Edmonds, Facebooker and Twitterer Wendy McFadden, website staff Amy Heckert, and news director and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Contact .

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