With everything else that demands our attention as youth ministers, with all the time that the Core already gives to the ministry, with our priests overbooked and overcommitted – why do a Core retreat? It is a valid question, but the answer is even more vital.
The reason to include a Core retreat as part of your ministry is that it is not YOUR ministry. A retreat helps re-energize, refocus and remind us why we do youth ministry (as well as whom we do it for). If a Core retreat isn’t part of your must-do list, please take some time to read and pray about the following reasons to include this crucial ministry for your Core team.
Fall In Love Again
We need Core teams that are madly in love with Christ and desperately want to share the love of God with young people. Retreats are a great way to get reacquainted with the lover of our souls. A Core retreat takes the team out of the usual business of ministry, sets the agenda and to-do list aside and gives God space to speak, move, heal and transform. As youth ministers, we feel our Core teams give so much time that another retreat is too much to ask. But if our Core team is not fed, how can they feed the teens? How can God lead the ministry if we do not first give Him a chance to lead us? All the Life Night planning in the world is meaningless if not we are not in communication, and in union, with our Lord.
Family on a Mission
Another reason to take your Core team on a retreat is that we do not serve in isolation. The healthiest team is a team that knows one another and trusts one another. Just as we get to know the teens on retreat, a retreat gives your Core team the opportunity to bond and unite as a family. A Core team is a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and experiences; what makes them a family is the common mission of leading teens closer to Christ. A retreat for them should include opportunities to share their stories as well as rally around a common goal and mission.
Check Your Ears and Eyes
Finally, a yearly retreat is a great opportunity for each Core team member to listen to God and re-discern their call to youth ministry. Too often people stay on Core long after God has called them out of the ministry. We need to encourage our Core to actively seek and follow God’s will. If they still feel called to serve as a Core member, a retreat can give them the opportunity to recommit to the ministry and concentrate their efforts, dedication and energy for the coming year.
There is a temptation to turn a retreat weekend into a planning weekend (all in the name of time management!) but then the time quickly becomes about what we need to do rather than what God wants to do through us. There will always be more planning, more “youth ministry work” to be done. By taking time apart to pray and refocus – we make a statement about what is most important. May God bless your efforts to support and minister to your Core team.