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Every youth ministry in the universe has some kind of retreat during the year. One or two weekends a year geared to get teens away from the normal grind and help them focus on Christ. What if you intentionally designed your retreats to enhance your small groups? Our ministry is a small group based student ministry so our retreats need to do everything possible to enhance the small group experience. You will be amazed when you make group a priority for most of your events. We even believe that if a retreat does not help our small groups we probably don’t need to keep it going. Our fall retreat is called CRAVE and here are some ways we try design the weekend so groups have the chance to grow spiritually and relationally.

  • We take as many small group leaders as possible. // yes I know this is costly but we want the teens to be with their small groups leaders for the weekend, not with college students we bring in for the weekend. Our college leaders help fill holes not replace our weekly leaders at retreat! Yes we pay for our leaders cost of going. We just think it is a great investment when you consider the time leaders give all year.
  • We block off time for small group to happen after every large group session. // We give our groups more time to focus than we do during our weekly gatherings. The extra time gives group leaders time to push harder and listen more.
  • We create time for groups to hang out and make memories. // Small groups eat meals together, go ice skating together, do ridiculous games together, and have time to slow down together. Making memories together leads a kind of small group glue that helps small groups stay connected through the rest of the year.
  • We craft our worship and teaching times to set up small group. // When we program we think group. When our speaker prepares he thinks group. The goal is to set up small group to thrive.

A great retreat for our team is a retreat where small groups thrive. When this is the win for the weekend then our retreat is shaped and designed for small group. Will you be willing to allow your next retreat to set up your small groups to thrive?