Friday, November 8, 2013

Three Reasons For Youth Ministry Retreats

My personal favourite: the jumping shot.
This past weekend, over 70 people from NLCC—high school youth, young adult volunteer leaders, and volunteer work crew—all made the trip through the winding mountain roads to Rockridge Canyon for a weekend retreat. Our theme for the weekend was “Ships,” and we talked all about relationSHIPS, friendSHIPS, worSHIP, and discipleSHIP (see what I did there?), all grounded in the theological concept of the Trinity.

I love retreats, so we're willing to take the time and investment to have at least two retreats every ministry year. Here are three reasons I love youth ministry retreat weekends:

Relational Focus. I tell my volunteer leaders that going on a weekend retreat is like having six months worth of small group meetings and youth group nights packed into a two-day period. Removing distractions, cramming people together in tight quarters, lots of playing together, and focusing everyone's attention on the same activities brings everyone closer. I strongly encourage newer students and volunteer leaders to attend retreats, knowing they'll come back with newfound friendships and a deeper sense of connection.

Shared Experience. Part of what creates such a strong relational emphasis is the shared experiences of those who attended. It's all about memory-making and creating shared stories. From games to worship to conversations to spontaneous acts of silliness, bonds are formed that go beyond just words. Even when the shared experience is a disaster--remember that time when the bus broke down and we almost died?--there's a deep sense of, we did this together.

Spiritual Renewal. There are so many examples in Scripture of people "just getting away from it all" to focus on their relationship with God. Removing the distractions of schoolwork, family dynamics, technology and media, and everyday routines allows people to simply be present with God and one another. It creates an environment where the Spirit's voice can be more clearly heard.

What do you love about youth retreats? Share in a comment about your favourite retreat weekend or practice!

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, there's so much I love about retreats, I could go on all day. The journey to wherever we're going, and the fun we have along the way. On our most recent trip to Wisconsin/Northern Michigan Youth Convention, we made a Harlem Shake video, my friend Sam's phone made it's squeaky-toy notification sound right in the middle of Queen's We Will Rock You (right on beat, too!), I serenaded another van driver on the road (they thought it was pretty funny too)... I could go on and on. Suffice to say, the journey is part of the fun for me too, and I made some great memories with my guys. We had some great times outside of service as well, so I guess in the end I would say just what you said above; it's the fact that we did it together, and allowed relationship and community to happen.

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