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So You’re Thinking About a Youth Retreat?
Not everyone would relish the idea of taking a bunch of energetic and rambunctious teenagers on an overnight or weekend outing. In fact, some would say that those who do are absolutely “crazy!”
Well, to some extent, such an assessment is accurate, but not in the cynical sense in which it is intended. It takes special and unique individuals to lead teen-aged youth on a Christian overnight or weekend retreat. Indeed, it takes individuals who are absolutely “crazy” about wanting to see teen-aged you grow in their relationship and walk with our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you find yourself having read thus far and are yet interested in reading further, then it may very well be that you are one of those individuals who is “crazy” about the spiritual well-being of certain teenage youth whom you know.
In the event that you have not yet experienced a youth retreat first-hand, be assured that it can be a very useful tool in furthering the relationship that teenage youth have with their Lord Jesus, as well as with peers and other adults. And whether you are a rookie or a veteran of youth retreats, it is hoped that what is shared here may not only further develop you as a youth leader, but that it may especially serve to further nurture teenage youth in their Christian faith.
Using This Resource
In reading what follows and working through the planning questions, keep in mind that these thoughts and insights are neither an exhaustive nor a definitive pattern for doing youth retreats. Do not feel compelled that you must do everything suggested or exactly as suggested. Some of the ideas will work for you. Others may not. Other things may need to be included. Creativity, adaptation and flexibility should be applied to what is shared here. Allow these insights to become a springboard by which the Holy Spirit launches you into further ministry.
In a military sense, to retreat means to “withdraw from battle.” Although sometimes it is done in recognition of an insurmountable enemy, at other times it is done so that the troops can regroup, obtain rest and refreshment for their bodies, renew their strength, reorient themselves concerning the enemy, and be restored in their courage through the words and presence of their leader. Only then are they ready to go back and face—if not defeat—the enemy.
In a similar, but spiritual sense, Christians do well to retreat from time-to-time. Not because the enemies with which we daily do battle are insurmountable—for Christ Jesus has already gained the victory for us over sin, death and the devil through His death and resurrection. Rather, the value in a Christian retreat is so that we can regroup, rest, refresh and be restored in our courage through the words and presence of our Leader, Christ Jesus. As a result of “retreating,” we are then ready to go back with Him by our side and live victoriously in the midst of our daily battles against the devil and the world.
Planning and Preparation
An effective retreat requires advanced planning and earnest preparation. Matters of primary interest include: setting a date and choosing a site, coming up with a theme and developing a program, selecting music, putting everything together in a workable schedule, deciding the menu for each of the meals, determining what to do for recreation and how to spend free time, how to get to the site, how much it will cost and how to go about raising the necessary funds in order to go. As the plans for the retreat begin to take shape, there will certainly arise other matters requiring additional planning and preparation.