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fall retreat, youth group retreat, youth ministry, student ministry

How To Lead a Great Fall Retreat

By Doug Franklin October 26, 2021

Fall youth group retreats are often ineffective in discipling students. They can have a “look-what-I-did” kind of feel about them. But what we’re really going for is personal growth and impact in the lives of our students. Weekend retreats should be powerful experiences for students, but what does it take to lead a great fall retreat?

3 ideas to keep in mind to lead a Great Fall Retreat

Clear Purpose

An effective retreat starts with a clear purpose that’s understood by both students and adult volunteers. When you begin planning your weekend retreat, begin by identifying one overarching idea you want to teach students. Some weekends are focused on prayer, personal devotions, or outreach. After you choose your one idea, create every event and experience to focus on this topic. Make sure your adults are equipped with questions to ask students to drive home your purpose. This will also create a conversation that can lead to mentoring between adults and students well after the retreat itself.

Avoid Content Overload

Maybe like me, you’ve found yourself wanting to cram all the latest games and several more teaching points into a short weekend retreat. But by focusing on my singular purpose, I have been able to say “no” to adding extra activities or irrelevant information. During my prep time, I judge every activity, game, and bit of information based on the question: “Does it help me teach the main point?” If the answer is “no,” I throw it out. If the answer is “kind of,” I make adjustments to make it fit or I table it for a later date. If the answer to that question was “yes” and time allows, I schedule it in.

Discipleship with Purpose

While creating a weekend retreat, be sure to challenge students in their personal walk with Christ. Choose a passage that correlates to the overall purpose, and have students study that passage on their own for 45 minutes everyday. At the end of the day, discuss the passage together as a whole group or in small groups. A focus on students engaging with God’s Word allows us the opportunity to grow and develop each student in their daily walk with Christ.

Leading a great fall retreat is no easy task, but put a couple of these tips into practice, and you just might see students leave with way more than a “look-what-I-did” kind of feeling.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More