Retreat Week Day 4: Team Retreat B

Day 4: Team Retreat (As a Leader)

Purpose: To deepen relationships and prepare our team to effectively minister.


Yesterday I shared about two team retreats I’ve been on in the past few months on which I was a participant. Today i want to share two other retreats I was on, which I was leading.

Adult Volunteer Leadership Team

In early September (I wish we could have done it earlier) we took our student ministries volunteers away for 24 hours to regroup after the summer and gear up for the new school year. We loaded up at 6pm (so our leaders didn’t have to miss work on Friday), drove about 45-minutes, then stopped for dinner. We went to a fun burger joint called American Roadside. After dinner we drove out to Montauk at the end of the south fork of Long Island. We got settled into our rooms, then gathered together for a brief time of sharing followed by board games until almost 2am. There was a lot of laughing happening, especially when one of our volunteers cracked open the game Pretty Princesses.

The next morning, after breakfast, we had a devotional and a time of sharing. After that we had a time of getting into small groups to pray for each other. This time of sharing and praying for each other was much-needed by our team as was evidenced by the fact that we went quite a bit longer than we had planned. This could be seen as a negative thing, as it took away from the time that I was hoping to do some leadership training, but I chose to let it go because one of the things I have really come to value through the years is the importance of having good, strong relationships between team members. More than having skills to work with students, our team needs to model loving relationships. Jesus understood this. We never really read of Him giving his disciples leadership principles (although we can certainly mine them from His teachings). What He did do was spend time just living life with His disciples, and He told them that people would know they were on His team “if they have love for one another” (John 13:35).

After a short break was did a fun, interactive, challenging activity which required everyone to work to ether. Once they accomplished the task, we debriefed the teamwork exercise and talked about how it related to working together in youth ministry. Before checking out of our lodging, we talked through the student ministry calendar for the new school year. We then had a very nice lunch together and visited the bluffs and the Montauk lighthouse before driving home.


Student Leadership Team
In October we went away for 24 hours with our 2013-2014 student leaders. Another time I will tell you about how I handled our retreat speaker having her flight canceled on the day of the retreat, but for now, I’ll just share what we did on the retreat.

Friday night followed the same pattern as above. On Saturday morning we had devotions followed by two interactive training sessions. We then had each one of the student leader come into the center of the circle one at a time, and we prayed over them. We prayed for them to respond to God and be the leaders He’s called them to be this year. After cleaning and packing up, we drove into town, had lunch together, and visited the bluffs and the Montauk lighthouse before driving home.

As a leader of leaders I love these kinds of retreats. Creating opportunities to get away together gives us a chance to get to know one another better. The car rides are ideal for conversations and relationship-building. I actually prefer to get away for longer than just 24 hours for leadership team retreats (and will continue to work towards that end), but my experience has been that once we move to multiple nights away our attendance decreases as the demands of finding house-sitters, baby-sitters, pet-sitters, etc. increases – regardless of how far in advance the retreats are announced.

10 Years Ago The World Lost An Amazing Man …

I remember sitting in my office 10 years ago reading the devastating news that one of the pioneers of youth ministry, Mike Yaconelli had died. I never had the chance to meet Mike, but his books, videos, and teachings really influenced me. I loved hearing stories about him from my dad who was likewise impacted by Yac during his years in youth ministry.

Here are 5 videos of vintage Mike Yaconelli:

Video 1 – Showing Kids You Love Them
Video 2 – Dealing with Struggles in Life
Video 3 – Building Sand Castles
Video 4 – Involving Parents
Video 5 – The Best of Mike Yaconelli

Receive Inspirational Quotes from Mike Yaconelli by following @YaconelliDaily on Twitter.

Retreat Week Day 3: Team Retreat A

Day 3: Team Retreats (As a Participant)

Purpose: To receive training, strengthen team relationships, and help with planning.

In the past 6 months I have been on four different team retreats. Tomorrow I will address the two retreats I led. Today I want to share about the retreats that I attended as a participant.

The first one was our church staff retreat. Back in the spring our entire staff flew to Wisconsin and enjoyed three days in a beautiful log cabin on a lazy river. It was a great opportunity (especially for me as the newest guy on the staff) to get to know one another outside of the office. It was also a time of our senior pastor to cast vision for our church and encourage us in our ministries. We also spent several sessions brainstorming and strategizing ways to effectively reach our community and disciple the people God leads to our church.

The second one was the IT3 Summit. Each spring Group Publishing puts on the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. What I love about this conference is that it’s a conference for youth workers by youth workers. In the fall preceding the conference, I have the privilege of gathering with 50-75 youth workers from around the country for what Group calls “Breathing.” For three days we have times where we inhale (receive ministry through experiential learning and interaction) and exhale (share our thoughts and plan the upcoming conference).

I personally find these kinds of retreats invigorating. Being away with other people who are passionate about Jesus and ministry really inspires me, and being in the think tank gets my creative juices flowing. I love the relationships that are established and the collaboration that happens.

Retreat Week Day 2: Marriage Retreat

Day 2: Marriage Retreat

Purpose: To get away and allow space for God to strengthen our partnership.

Sometimes you have to get creative to build retreat into your life. Last month Adriana and I were scheduled to go to Colorado for a few days of meetings to plan the Simply Youth Ministry Conference with our friends at Group Publishing. Always looking for excuses to get away together, we cleared our calendars a few days before our meetings and planned a little marriage retreat. Once again, nature played an important part in retreat, and we were blessed by a friend and were able to span 3 days fishing, 4-wheeling, talking, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the Rocky Mountains. Being away from the normal stuff of life allowed us to deepen our friendship and talk about things that sometimes get overlooked in the flow of everyday life. This time of heart-to-heart sharing and experiencing things together refreshed us, strengthened our relationship, and gave us fuel for moving forward together as partners in life and ministry.

Retreat Week Day 1: Personal Retreat


This week I am going to share about various kinds of retreats that I seek to participate on an annual (if not more frequent) basis. Some pertain to personal and familial health and growth, and others are ministry-specific.

Day 1: Personal Retreat

Purpose: To get away and allow space for God to minister to my interior person.

A few weeks ago, after a long (and candidly, physically and emotionally draining summer), I recognized I needed a Southwest moment. I needed to get away. So, on a Tuesday morning Adriana drove me out to the eastern end of Long Island and dropped me off at a friend’s cottage with my bike, some groceries, and a backpack with nothing more than a couple of changes of clothes, my Bible, The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle (a book of prayers), The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, and my journal. No computer!

I spent three days simply relaxing, praying, reading, journaling, and enjoying nature. I went kayaking in the bay, collected sea shells, watched an Osprey catch and eat a fish, biked, and went swimming. I truly felt God’s presence as I quieted my heart and listened to His still, small voice. He spoke words of life into my heart and brought much-needed healing and restoration to my soul.

Leading a healthy family and a healthy ministry starts with a healthy individual. A healthy me is centered in God. A healthy me means embracing spiritual disciplines – including the practice of solitude – which keep me connected to Christ. When I create space in my life to get away and be alone with God He heals my heart and forms (and re-forms) me for His service.

How about you? When was the last time you had some dedicated alone-time with God? I’m not talking about daily quiet time (although valuable and important). I’m talking about getting away for an afternoon, a day, a few days – simply to breathe in God’s presence.

What are the challenges to practicing personal retreat?

What can you do to build the rhythm of personal retreat into your life?