Congregations in all our churches can benefit from time apart; time apart from hectic schedules; time apart from distractions; and time apart from everyday stressors. A retreat provides that much needed time apart.
What makes a successful retreat? That depends on one’s purpose in retreating. When a retreat is named descriptively, people know what they are signing up for and what to expect from their time away. There are many kinds of retreats that one might experience within a congregation.
A church staff, for instance, may need to retreat to work on team building or planning for the coming year. Often the lay leadership of a church will benefit from time away with the staff to integrate planning needs as well. This time of retreat is not just time away from the church. It should allow time for personal reflection, small group interactions, and worship opportunities.
When a group is retreating, there should be a balance between solitude and community, contemplation and fellowship. Group sharing along the way allows retreat participants to talk about their experiences and to practice listening with compassion to the experiences of others as intentional sharing builds community.
Many times a targeted group will want to take a retreat together such as youth, men, women, parent-child or couples. And a growing concept is to retreat together as families or inter-generationally. These retreats can then focus on specialized issues for each group. Organized groups such as Christian Educators, Clergy Partners, the Orders of Deacons and Elders also seek opportunities to retreat with their colleagues.
A more specialized retreat time apart can be found in a Personal Retreat. This is usually more contemplative in nature, where one is more focused on paying attention to God. The Personal Retreat can be self-led, directed by someone close by, or even at a distant location. The naturally beautiful settings of our camps can provide the perfect backdrop for such a retreat. Schedules can be loose or rigid; followed or deviated from as one is led in other directions.
Consider a retreat today with your congregation, with your church staff, with your Bible study group. It is that time apart wherein you will rediscover yourself, your parishioners and, of the power of God’s great outdoors.