“I remember pastor preaching and he said if you have been following God, but you haven’t made him the king of your life, come forward. And I was just thinking about it and realized I’ve been relying on myself too much and trying to fix everything myself. I realized I need to rely on God more and form a better relationship. So, I came up and my leader came and prayed for me, and it was just the most relaxed I felt in months, and I felt confident.” *
Some planners can be discouraged by rain-filled retreat days, missing camp t-shirts that didn’t get mailed in time, or when the marshmallows accidentally get dropped in the bonfire and there’s nothing left for s’mores. Or a planner’s scariest fear, low attendance. But God didn’t have to use a bunch of people to change the world. He started it with Adam and Eve. His one son died for all of us. Jesus was followed by 12 disciples. There are plenty of examples where the few can lead to effects on the many.
Instead of looking at the numbers, focus on the connection made amongst the group and with God. When that drives your motivation and planning, there is unlimited potential in the retreat and what can result from it.
- A call to ministry. Many pastors found their call into ministry by going to church camp. They discovered a passion in ministry that they may not have seen otherwise.
- Baptism. All 10 of the Christian Retreats Network properties have hosted impromptu baptisms, some in a lake, others in the indoor pool, even creatively using an outdoor water fountain.
- Renewed relationships. Whether it is spouses, family or friendships, time away is a great bonding mechanism. And that’s not even counting team building exercises. These shared experiences are the building blocks for long-term, Christ-centered relationships.
- Self-improvement. People come back from a retreat feeling like a new person. They are renewed in their faith, relaxed from their busy life, and restored in their mental health.
- Church growth. Retreats provide the ideal opportunity to disciple to those who do not attend on Sundays. Having a meaningful experience at the retreat can provide them with an experience they would normally not have, as well provide a pathway for possible future church attendance.
- Firm foundations. Focusing on the youth to build a foundation for the future of the church is so important. But it all starts with taking care of them now. There are plenty of fun and impactful ways to show youth how important they are, all while growing their faith for a lifetime of trust in God. And youth retreats/camps are where it starts.
Though “the more, the merrier” holds true, be sure to look at the real successes: baptisms, relationships, new members, those who got saved. These are the things that are actually important. And when everyone else hears about the power of your event, they will be the first ones signing up next time.
Christian Retreats Network is your partner in effective off-site ministry. The Network includes 10 retreat centers that offer affordable, all-inclusive packages with everything you need to have a successful event: lodging, meeting, dining, and recreation.
*Student testimony from Illinois Student Ministries’ Breakaway Camp 2021 hosted at Lake Williamson Christian Center (Illinois), a Christian Retreats Network property.