- The Sermon on the Mount begins with him leaving the crowds and going up a mountain. It ends with the crowds surrounding him.
- He tried to get away to grieve the death of his friend, John the Baptist….but the crowds followed him…and he ended up having to feed them all.
- He sent his disciples away so that he could have some private devotion time, only to end up being group lifeguard.
- And when he finally did get away, there was no food service for 40 days, and he was taunted by evil.
Successful or not, the principle still stands: Jesus saw great value in retreating, in getting out into nature, in stepping away.
Recently, I visited a mega-congregation and talked to the leaders. They reinforced the point. This 13,000 member congregation attests their success and growth to their annual summer camp season. In other words they take their members and neighborhood on retreat.
I’m just back from attending the national Lutheran Outdoor Ministry conference. (There are other similar conferences for Presbyterians, Methodists etc.). What a great group of church leaders…and generally undervalued.
- Outdoor ministries do an excellent job of developing young adult leaders,
- Families learn family faith activities at our camps,
- Children, youth and families grow in faith and service while at camp,
- Our camps are incubators for participants to learn to live in Christian community,
- Participants grow in “awe” as they experience God’s creation…and so much more.
Perhaps most significantly, every church camp I’ve ever attended or experienced does the Four Key Faith Practices we teach at VFM. They may not always call them that, but they do them.
Jesus may not have gotten the retreat he wanted, but he certainly never quit trying.
Tell me about your personal plans to include retreating into your life? And tell me how you plan on using a church camp this winter or coming summer to support your ministry?