On Friday night, Ed Newton preached on the parable of the Rich Young Ruler, and made a statement that seemed to resonate with the students. He said, “It is not what you have that keeps you from Christ, it is what has you that keeps you from Christ.”

DAVIS—More than 2,200 people gathered at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center Oct. 17-18 for the 2014 Fall Back Retreat. Many students used their fall break to attend this event and grow in their understanding of how God is equipping them for their future.

“The goal of the retreat is very simple. We are striving to provide a quality retreat experience for churches at a reasonable cost that is low stress for leadership,” Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Conference Centers Director James Swain explained. “We open the concessions and recreational opportunities that students are accustomed to in the summer, and (it) makes for a great retreat.”

The Falls Creek staff opened the amphitheater for students to use the skate park, ropes courses, ping pong and other activities.

This is the fourth year for the Fall Back Retreat. After brainstorming ways to serve the churches of Oklahoma, Fall Break weekend seemed to be a great place to start. Bill Bergstrom, BGCO Conference Centers guest relations manager, puts together a team of youth ministers to help plan the event. This year’s team included Aaron Myers from Ada, Trinity; Garry McNeill from Durant, First; Brad Millsap from McAlester, First; and Holden McCrackin from Duncan, Immanuel.

This team selects the speaker, worship leader and programming elements included in the weekend. This year’s retreat included services led by Ed Newton and worship led by the Doug Matlock band Friday night and Saturday.

“Ed is one of the most popular speakers in Oklahoma youth ministry life today,” Swain said. “He has a unique giftedness in communicating the truth of God’s Word in a way that engages students and adults. I experienced Doug and his wife Courtney leading worship at the Oklahoma Youth Ministry Forum last fall and thought they would be a great fit for Fall Back. Their band did a great job leading the students in worship and preparing their hearts to receive God’s Word.”

About 90 churches were represented during the weekend retreat. For new Ardmore, First Youth Minister Jake Anson, this was his first event with his students.


The Doug Matlock Band, featuring Doug and Courtney Matlock, led worship during the Fall Back Retreat.

“This event really helped us become a more united ministry,” Anson said. “Ed Newton did an outstanding job teaching the Word of God. Newton always does well at engaging with students and student leaders. He provided a real challenge for our kids. God truly uses Ed Newton as a teacher—not only are my students a fan, but I know I am, too.

“Doug Matlock and his band were wonderful! Our group loved the songs they taught us. The event is a much more relaxing feel than a normal week at Falls Creek, and the band did a great job at continuing that experience.”

Two students in Anson’s youth group gave their lives to Christ, one recognized the need to be baptized and three felt a call to missions.

“To see our students respond to the word of God and the teaching and worship is always a highlight for me,” Anson explained. “Newton did a wonderful job using the Word of God to show our students that they are being prepared now for the call the Lord has for them. He used his own personal story and related it to our kids to help them see that they, too, can be used in a powerful way when they surrender to God’s direction and leadership.”

There was an invitation at every service, but the only time they recorded the decisions was Friday night. On Friday night there were 27 professions of faith and 10 other decisions recorded. On Saturday, the students responded to their youth leaders.