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Retreat Best Practices

We try to talk about chastity (at least once) with every group we ever work with, 7th grade and up. It’s a critical virtue in such an unchaste world and we’d encourage everyone who has any kind of moral influence over teenagers – parents, educators, youth ministers – to do the same. We cannot talk about chastity enough.

But that can be a tall order… who here received good information from their own parents about love, sex, dating, relationships? Yeah, me neither. So then how can we talk to teenagers about this when it wasn’t modeled well for us? It’s possible. But it requires some courage, some honesty, and some good information.

As a teenager, my friend Mike was at a very low point in his life – seriously considering harming himself in the most permanent way. In that moment, seemingly out of the blue, a friend reached out to him and asked if he wanted to hang out and do something. Mike said yes to his friend, and – looking back – he believes that phone call saved his life.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been to something boring? A meeting, a class, a Church event?

I can’t see you through the screen, but I’m going to guess your hand is up. It is, isn’t it? Mine is, too.

Parents – ever wondered what your kid actually does at youth group?

Youth ministers – ever wondered what your teens tell their parents when they get home from church?

I have experienced the ups and downs of raising teenagers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked one of my kids about school, youth group, a social event, or a retreat that they attended – and the only response I got was “good” or “fine” or “okay.” And despite my attempts to pry deeper by asking questions, I often had no idea what my kids experienced.

As you get ready to speak on any upcoming retreat, I’d encourage you to keep in mind that your talk is the most important talk of the retreat – for at least one person who will be there (and possibly for many others).

If this thought makes you a bit nervous, that’s not a bad thing. As my father-in-law used to say to me, when I asked him for prayers for an upcoming talk, “If you weren’t nervous, I would be.” Being somewhat nervous is a good thing; it’s a sign of humility and an expression of our awareness that we desperately need God’s help, since without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

The Lord has you going on this retreat for a specific reason. You have something unique to offer that only you can bring, and at least one person desperately needs to hear what you have to say.