Fall is the typical time for retreats. Sometimes those retreats are spiritual retreats and others are strategic ministry planning retreats. In the past few weeks, I’ve been in four states leading various retreats across the country. Retreats are one of my most favorite types of experiences to lead. While I do enjoy speaking, webinars, and leading workshops, retreats offer a unique setting like no other.
Retreats call us into both a deeper commitment and deeper spiritual and mental work. Retreats cause us to have to pause our hectic lives for a day or two and dive deep with God. It is in those depths that we often discover newness, shifts, next faithful steps, a deeper awareness, and/or a closer relationship with God. When we are so distracted by our harried lives, we don’t often have the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the time to learn, or the patience to consider. It is often only in a retreat setting that we are still long enough to hear God distinctly.
As profound as people experience retreats to be after attending, it is amazing how resistant people are to committing to and attending retreats. Common pushbacks are:
- 24 hours is too much to ask of people “these” days
- life is too busy to commit that much time to church
- surely we could accomplish the same in five or six hours in our local church fellowship hall instead of taking that much time and adding drive time to another location
When people do actually surrender themselves to a retreat, I believe there is so much opportunity. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit work through people in such beautiful ways when they are open to what is possible. Whether a leader is working on strategic ministry planning or a clergy or lay person is on a spiritual retreat looking to have her/his cup refilled, when they arrive with a surrendered spirit anything is possible.
Retreats are a gift! Often the “gifts” are set before leaders and rejected because they are wrapped in what it will “cost” if they accept the gift. I wonder what could be possible if instead the gifts were received with a heart of gratitude for the pause, the time for reflection, the deep communal time with God doing God’s work, and the potential blessing that unwrapping that gift might offer.
The next time you are presented with the opportunity for a retreat, what lens are you viewing the invitation with? An inconvenience or a gift?