Retreats for Ministry Leaders


What are you seeking from your retreat experiences?

I recall going on a clergy retreat after Easter several years ago. During a break one colleague asked me, “So, are you getting some rest?” “Oh no!” I exclaimed. “I don’t come to these for rest. If I want that, I go off by myself.” As a participant I find group retreats important and valuable, but interacting with groups of people is not restful – it takes work. My best rest is in solitude or with a very few intimates.

The event was well planned and well led, on the whole. During one session the facilitator invited us to share a struggle we had gone through. When it came my turn, I shared an interpersonal dynamic challenge through which I’d journeyed in the past year. Immediately my colleagues shifted into helping mode, and for the next 45 minutes attempted to diagnose, prescribe and fix whatever was broken. They reminded me of Job’s three friends (Job 4ff). Despite her best efforts the event leader had difficulty bringing the group back to focus – the purpose was never to elicit solutions to problems, but simply to bear witness to one another’s pain and experience the grace and mercy of knowing oneself in the midst of community of shared struggle on life’s journey.

So, I’m wanting to know what you are seeking when you go on retreat. What are the elements of an experience that are most important for you? Paint a picture in your mind of what will nourish you, personally and professionally, in whatever ways are most needed and wanted. What will help you to flourish? Then describe that preferred reality.

  • Renewal? Rest? Relationships? Resources? Reflection?
  • How do retreat and continuing education connect and relate for you?
    What is the overlap or distance between them?
  • Do you seek community or solitude, and in what measures?
  • Do you want an urban or rural setting, or does it matter?
  • What level of physical activity do you seek? (walk, exercise, etc?)
  • What kind of ritual experiences do you seek?
  • What expressions of spirituality do you seek?
  • Do you want to retreat with colleagues and friends, or do you prefer to meet new people and develop new relationships?

Additionally, there are logistical questions:

  • How long do you want / need to be away
  • If different, how much time can you afford to be away?
  • How much money do you have budgeted?
  • How far can / will you travel from home, and how do you prefer to travel (car, bus, train, plane, walking, hang glider, hot air balloon, tardis?

What other factors are important to you in a retreat experience?

I look forward to learning from you and exploring together how best to support ministry leaders through retreats and similar events.

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