3 Things to Remember While You are on Your Youth Ministry Retreat
Youth ministry retreats are all about the planning. You pick a theme, promote it, solicit volunteers, beg for more volunteers, do a kick-off night for sign-ups, beg (again) for students to actually sign up, plan meals (aka: so much pizza), buy 1,000 water balloons, reassure your budget committee that it’s worth it, get the last few waivers signed as students are boarding the bus….and then you get to check out. KIDDING. When your retreat finally begins, you are in the middle of such an incredible time with your students. Discipleship is happening, fun is being had, and we pray that lives are being changed. You’re being pulled 100 different directions, but here are 3 things to remember:
1. This Time Is like No Other
Something about being “on retreat” just sets such a beautiful stage for real life change. Getting students away from their normal settings (and maybe going somewhere that doesn’t have cell service), is a great way to capture the attention of your students in a new way. Remember that these students are here because they WANT to be here. This isn’t mom and dad making them come to Sunday School. They raised their hands, signed up, and probably did their fundraising to be able to come on this trip. Don’t waste their enthusiasm!
2. Leave It Better Than You Found It
If you rent a location for your retreat, leave it better than you found it. If you have hosts that volunteer their homes to your students, leave them better than you found them. If you do a group jump at the local jump park or a meal in a restaurant, leave it better than you found it. Not only are you teaching your students to respect others, but you’re setting the stage for future events! It never hurts to have a few venues or host homes in your back pocket that you know will welcome you and your group with open arms the next time you plan an event.
3. Planted Seeds Need Water
We pray that life change happens at your retreat (and rejoice when it happens!). But maybe the seeds you planted need a little more water. Continue discipling and pouring into your students long after the retreat is over. Create follow-up material that students can do at home, or even pull in parents with resources that promote at-home discipleship. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like “nothing happened” at your retreat. Remember what we learn in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
You might forget some things on your youth ministry retreat (hopefully it’s not a student at a gas station, but more like name tag lanyards that are sitting on your desk at the church). Remember that God doesn’t need lanyards to move in your ministry. Truthfully, God doesn’t even need us to move in our ministries. But, we have the honor of being a part of His plan for our students through events like these. Remembering the three things I mentioned above I believe will ground you in the midst of chaos and leave you open to all that He is doing and will continue to do in your students’ lives.