New Covenant Partner: Incredible Days

New Covenant Partner: Incredible Days

In this video interview, Executive Conference Minister Rev. Darrell Goodwin talks to Andrew Wicks, founder of Incredible Days Group, an organization that focuses on immersive service learning, team-building, leadership development, and non-profit management -- working with schools, churches, youth-focused community groups, businesses, and non-profits.  

"We continue to think about new and innovative covenant partnerships in the Southern New England conference, and I think Incredible Days offers a really wonderful opportunity to engage our young people, especially through outdoor ministries," said Rev. Goodwin. "It is a pleasure to be in partnership with a covenant partner who offers educational mission and team building programming with a progressive faith lens, and I think can really add benefit and value to the call of ministry in our local churches."

Incredible Days was founded upon many years of experience in coordinating and leading mission trips, teambuilding days, fundraising, research, outreach and other professional services. They have run programs in North America, South America, the Caribbean, and Asia. Their website notes that the organization exists in the unique space between education, group dynamics, and community service. "The belief that we are all called to faithful justice work is the value that undergirds everything we do. As an organization, we are proudly affirming of the sanctity of all of God's creation and the diversity of God's people, including people of color and members of the LGBTQ community."

Incredible Days is a ministry offering led by Andrew Wicks. Wicks also serves as Director of Youth Ministries and Special Missions for First Church of Christ Congregational in Glastonbury. To learn more about Incredible Days as a resource for your congregation visit

Transcript of the Video Interview:

Rev. Darrell Goodwin (00:02):
Hello friends, As you know, we continue to think about new and innovative covenant partnerships in the Southern New England conference. Today we're going to have an opportunity to talk to Andrew Wicks about Incredible Days, which I think is a really wonderful opportunity to engage our young people, especially about how they're engaging outdoor ministries in the Southern New England conference. So we think about the sites we currently have, but we also continue to ask ourselves, how can we expand our horizon, about how we engage our youth? So we have Andrew who's going to share a little bit about himself, and Incredible Days. But Andrew, why don't we just start with, talk to us about who you are in the context of your ministry in the Southern New England Conference, and maybe share a little bit about what drew you from a passion perspective to forming Incredible Days.

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (00:52):
Thank you for having me here. It's really a pleasure to be here talking with you today. I am a child of the United Church of Christ and the historic Connecticut Conference. Myself. I grew up in a local UCC church, and I went to Silver Lake summer camp as a kid and went on retreats there with my local youth group. And today I actually serve professionally in youth ministry in a couple different capacities, as you said, with Incredible Days. I also serve a local church in Glastonbury, Connecticut, where I get to work with children and youth, which is a wonderful opportunity for me. And I am a member in discernment, and I'm concluding my path in the next few months hopefully working towards ordination, which I'm celebrating. Right, and I've taken kind of an alternative pathway.

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (01:38):
So it's been a few months of, or a few years, excuse me, of navigating how working with children, how working with youth, how working with our outdoor ministry centers, how working with Incredible Days, how those all feed into my call to mission and to justice and to ministry, as a vocation and a life calling. So in addition to my work in a local church and worship and discipleship and care, I also spend time with Incredible Days working with local churches to figure out how they can do educational, missional and team building programming when it comes with a progressive faith lens. Because I think that's really important that our faith is rooted in our seeking justice in coming up with fun, creative, engaging ways to interact with youth intergenerationally. I think that's really important for our local churches. And so that's the work that I feel called to do and that I try to do both in my local setting and also through Incredible Days.

Rev. Darrell Goodwin (02:35):
So of course, we want you to talk about Incredible Days and how our local churches can connect with you in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. But before that, since we have you captive as someone who's so deeply engaged in this work around amplifying the voice of our youth, but engaging them for faith context, I just kind of want the armchair version from Andrew. What do you think is a critical thing a church should consider as they're wanting to say, Okay, this is an area that maybe we haven't invested in, Like this is an area we need to be thinking critically about, but we have no way, no way of understanding how to begin, or what's maybe a salient question we should be asking ourselves... If you could give our churches one tip or insight about youth engagement, and I know you have many things, but I'm thinking you can contextualize maybe one way to dip a toe or foot if this is an area that a church just really hasn't had the opportunity to build or they're rebuilding post pandemic.

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (03:38):
Yeah, absolutely. And you're right, I probably could talk about this for a while, so stop me if I get too long winded here. But I know a lot of our local churches are either struggling with, they want to have a youth program or historically they've had a youth program and they see that the numbers ,sort of energy around that, have declined in recent years. And they're wondering how do we, reinvigorate how do we bring vitality to youth ministry and engaging young people in the work of the church? And I think there are a couple different answers I would give to that. One is that it's all rooted in relationships, right? If we spend a lot of time building programs, but they're not rooted in having personal relationships with, with young people and with their families, that we're not going to gain a lot of traction.

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (04:22):
Secondly, I think we need to be rooted in the real world that's existing today, right? Not be stuck in what was our youth ministry doing in 1998. Our youth ministries today probably need to incorporate social media, as a way for engaging young people. Our youth ministries today need to have a sort of sense of where young people are at and what they're experiencing in their everyday lives because those issues have changed over the last 10, 15, 20 years. I know the youth I work with, we spend time talking about you know, gun violence, talking about racism, conversations that I think even adults sometimes feel uncomfortable engaging. I hope that our local churches are not stuck on conversations that I think our youth have moved past things like, is it okay to be queer in the church?

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (05:08):
Yes. I think our young people get that already. It's not to say we shouldn't be talking about it in our local churches, but I think it's time for us to say, our young people have thought about this and have an answer to it. And what's the next thing to be talking about? How do we include trans individuals in our ministries and expand our outreach into queer communities beyond the local church, right? Or how are we creating spaces in our church for youth programs that reach out to kids that haven't traditionally been part of our youth group, or families traditionally been part of our churches. Perhaps because their gender expression or, who they love or how their family is composed hasn't traditionally been welcomed in our churches. So sort of a rambling answer, but a few times.

Rev. Darrell Goodwin (05:48):
No, no, but I mean, it was, I just wanted a little dip. You know, I think most people will of course continue to reach out to our faith formation area as well. But I thought since we had you here, now the point of the whole conversation is to talk about Incredible Days. First of all, what a wonderful name, of a ministry to have because we do want our youth to be engaged and because of their imprint of an interaction with us, have an incredible day. So talk to us about what Incredible Days is, kind of your vision around your programming, whatever's on your heart.

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (06:24):
Yeah, so as I mentioned before, we do educational mission and team building programming with a progressive faith lens. So that has looked like a variety of things and we really specialize in coming up with custom answers for different local congregations or youth groups, camps, whoever, we've worked with clients in all those areas, schools as well. So for us it's about trying to figure out what are the goals that you want your young people to get out of this or your intergenerational groups or even your adult groups. We've done team building with local youth groups as they kick off the program year and they want to get the group of kids that they have together, to feel a sense of comradery and connection and trust and communication between each other. We've worked with groups to put together mission trips.

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (07:08):
I actually just got back last week from a trip working with one of our UCC partners Back Bay Mission in Mississippi where we took a youth group from New Jersey. And we were spending the week doing construction and recovery ministry, here. And so when we think about how we create an incredible day or an incredible week, or an incredible year for a group that we work with, we want to think about what are the outcomes that you want? And then how can we tie that all back to our faith that God is good, that God is loving, that God is always inviting and welcoming us into partnership and then that God calls us to make this world a better place and reflection of God's kingdom, right? A place of justice and inclusion of compassion and mercy. Our programming has looked at different, with a bunch of different groups. And that's, I think something that we specialize in. But for groups that are interested in finding out, you know, how can we build a team here? How can we, maybe our group doesn't have enough people to do a mission trip or we want to think about mission and service. But our church only has a handful of connections in our local community. Those are all sorts of groups of folks that we've historically worked with to help come up with more vibrant program offerings.

Rev. Darrell Goodwin (08:20):
So if I want to make this palatable to people who are hearing it and trying to figure it out. So bear with me, but I want to walk through a couple of scenarios. So going back to my question, my church is discerning that we want to do more to engage our youth. We don't necessarily have a system in place. I could reach out to you and Incredible Days and sort of say, we want to begin some preliminary programs. We want to have some offerings. Can we contract with you as a partner to be able to start fleshing that out based on goals we've articulated and maybe Incredible Days might be able to help us kickstart that. Is that what I'm hearing in terms of a possibility?

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (09:00):
That could be part of it. And I think another piece is bringing together some of our local churches that maybe feel like they don't have a critical mass of young people, but if we could find 2, 3, 4 local churches, maybe we can help do that. Whether that's for an individual event, whether it's for a long term sort of relationship partnership, for ongoing ministry. Yeah, I think those are both options.

Rev. Darrell Goodwin (09:24):
So I, throughout another I, this is on the fly, so if we were to per instance think about a Southern New England conference engagement for youth, that was like back to Back Bay Mission or that it was to go to the Franklinton Center at the bricks and learn about that kind of dynamic is my also understanding that Incredible Days might be a vehicle to sort of curate what that youth engagement, mission trip might be like. And then, but you know, sort of the logistics and how and the workshops and the things that folks would go through. Incredible Days would provide kind of a framework for that.

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (10:03):
Yes, exactly. I know that a lot of our local churches that maybe used to have a part-time, a halftime youth leader, CE director maybe that role now is five hours a week, maybe it's a volunteer. And people are struggling and feel like, well I don't have the right resources to do this. I don't know, you know, I haven't been trained or this isn't my professional vocation. I work 40 hours a week doing something else. I think that's where we can provide the expertise to say, let us provide the logistics. Let us get your group together, give you the details, take care of making sure transportation and education and accommodations are there and you come with your young people and let us create for you that experience where you're going to learn, grow, create a community bond, explore your faith. That's exactly what we specialize in doing.

Rev. Darrell Goodwin (10:48):
So the most critical question is now that we have a framework, of a tool, but I think our churches might be able to use down at the bottom of the screen, people know that they could learn more about Incredible Days by going to your website. But do you have any other insights about what's the beginning process for a local church or a faith formation leader who's trying to do something innovative and creative to then connect and get more details about how they can interact with Incredible Days? Will you walk us through what would be a helpful process for a church to enter into connecting with you.

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (11:22):
Yes, definitely feel free to visit the website and reach out. There's contact information for Incredible Days on the website email, phone, any of those. I just love to have conversations with our local youth people because I want to stay on top of what's happening in the world of youth ministry. So if you have a problem, you're trying to figure out if you have a vision for what you want your program to be and you think incredibly it can help let's start a conversation there. And then, like I said, we work on sort of custom offerings. So every solution is catered to the individual church and what their vision is for what they want for their ministry.

Rev. Darrell Goodwin (11:55):
Yes. I do want to say to everybody listening, Brother Andrew is not volunteering to come and be the consultancy for all of our churches, but this is a passion that you've created a business out of. And I think I'm using the word business, I think when you and I have talked about this, you've used the word ministry, which it is. I do want to just own that there is a compensation related network to something that has become a part of how you see your ministry in the world. I imagine there's competitive pricing and things like that, but I just want to be clear because you might get a lot of invitations and emails, and I want people to understand how your ministry is curated. So Andrew, I just want to say thank you so much. I want to let you, if you wanted to say anything and wrapping up and then I'll say some things to close our time.

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (12:46):
Simply. Thank you. We're really excited to be a covenanted partner with the Southern New England conference. It's a place that's been my spiritual home for my entire life and we've had the privilege already of working with a number of congregations in other groups, throughout the conference. So excited to have this conversation with you and hopefully be able to be a resource to additional groups and congregations within the conference.

Rev. Darrell Goodwin (13:08):
Thank you Andrew. And folks, again, we know that we're in a terrain of trying to figure out how again, can we optimize, amplify, and engage varying constituencies within the lives of our churches. And so here is just one other opportunity to figure out a curated space. I love that Andrew has described this as progressive. It's going to be thoughtful in nature, I think inclusive to the folks who we're trying to serve, but also something that, you know, is going to have a ministry component. So please check out Incredible Days. Andrew, thank you so much. And it is a pleasure to be in partnership with a covenant partner who I think can really add benefit and value to the call of ministry to our local churches.

Andrew Wicks (Incredible Days) (13:52):
Thank you so much.
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