The sun slowly disappeared, covering the lake with an array of colors. Soaking in the beauty around me, I started to tell God all about what had been going on, what I hoped to accomplish, and how much I wanted to live for Him entirely.
A few minutes passed, but by then I had been dragged back inside the lobby to hang out, talk about the latest guys my friends liked, and distract myself from everything I had been focusing on.
This is how most of my youth group retreats turn out.
Though the idea of presenting Christianity in a fun environment such as a youth retreat can be a great ministry, it can’t impact us if we don’t do our part.
No amount of amazing speakers or Life-changing testimonies can replace our own personal relationship with God.
What we’ve done is taken the ministry of youth retreats and turned them into merely a time for catching up with friends and talking about the latest news.
There have been countless times when I promise myself ‘this weekend will be different’. I vow to focus on God and what He’s teaching me regardless of what other people are doing.
While the Bible has lots of positive things to say about Christian fellowship, it also talks about the need for Christians to deepen their personal relationships with God.
The good news is that attending youth group provides the opportunity for both!
It’s not healthy to make a million promises only to break them and feel guilty the whole weekend. Neither is it healthy to make youth group all us and what we want.
Thankfully, we can enjoy youth retreats and let them make an impact by finding a good balance.
If you plan to attend a youth retreat or even go to any church event, these tips are for you!
1. Talk to God about it first.
Praying seems so simple, yet it can make the biggest difference. Before you attend an event that could impact your faith, it’s always a good idea to talk to God about it first.
Ask Him to open your eyes to anything He wants to teach you, opportunities to serve others, convictions He’s placed in your heart.
Set a firm foundation. That will ultimately determine how retreats and events affect you.
2. Give yourself a challenge.
I find myself saying “I’ll focus on God more this time”. That is a pretty broad goal. It helps a ton if you set up some sort of challenge for yourself.
If you want to grow in prayer, choose a certain time each day to have some personal time with God.
If the attractive guys/girls are getting all your attention, make it an effort to include others!
If you need to work on serving, offer your help to the staff.
Making reachable goals for the weekend/event really do make for a more meaningful and impactful retreat.
3. Ask a friend to join you.
In my experience, it’s quite easy to let your goals fade away when you’re the only one trying to reach them.
Is there someone who might want to join you and take on a challenge for the weekend? You’ll never know if you don’t ask!
Chances are, there are a whole bunch of others who feel the same way you do. They want their youth retreats to be more than just a hang out.
By setting a firm foundation, coming up with a reasonable challenge, and asking a friend to join you, youth group can become an amazing experience to grow closer to God and to the people around you.
What challenge did you pick? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!