For a lot of youth ministries, the weeks from the Christmas holidays to March break feel like an eternity. At the beginning of the ministry year in the fall, there’s the adrenaline of a new start. Shortly after Thanksgiving comes the move towards Christmas celebrations. After March break signifies a change in weather towards spring, which brings excitement and the focus on Easter. After Easter is the final push towards year-end in June. But those 10 weeks between Christmas and March break can feel like a drag in many youth ministries.
So what do you do?
Find a catalyst! (definition = “a person or thing that precipitates an event or change” from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/catalyst?s=t)
More specifically, what is that one experience that can help propel your youth ministry forward? In many cases, this is where a well-placed retreat can be that catalyst. This is one of the reasons why we host Avalanche and Blizzard. Yes, these events can be wild and crazy at times. Yes, they can feel draining (especially for the youth leader). In some cases, they can be seen as just a “spiritual high” (with sometimes devastating results in the ensuing crash).
If done well, a youth ministry can use such events to help catalyze their group and move forward with the momentum created. This is one of the key reasons why we develop a lead-in and lead-out lesson for each retreat. God’s work isn’t just confined to the 40 hours while at the retreat. His Spirit works well before then and hopes to continue his work well after those weekends. The lessons are designed to assist in that development. The lead-in lesson is meant to plant the seed, to get students thinking about what God is already starting to say to them. The retreat is a space removed away from the routines back home to perhaps hear God in a different, distinct way. The lead-out lesson helps to crystallize what God’s been teaching so far and help to bring those thoughts back into their everyday lives for transformational change.
Whether it’s through Avalanche, Blizzard or another experience, seek how God wants to help your group carry beyond the winter blahs, riding well on his momentum for your ministry.