Last week I had the opportunity to share about the ways a well-designed retreat can build the relationships within a church. However, there’s another obvious and possibly more important way that retreats build the church; by creating space for individuals to grow in their personal relationship with God.
Most people live in a perpetual state of busyness. Our lives are a maelstrom of tasks, to-do lists, responsibilities, and expectations. If you’re like me, by the time you hit the couch at the end of the night, your brain is the consistency of a slurpee. And while I personally find satisfaction in being very productive, it comes at a cost.
Busyness is the enemy of so many things that deepen our relationship with God. For many of us, the pace at which we live our lives leaves little space for the things that connect us to our source.
Contemplation. Prayer. Meditation. Rest. Fellowship.
So often we fill our schedules with good things at the expense of vital things. Instead of growing and maturing into disciples of Christ, we are dilettantes; our commitment rarely moves beyond our initial step forward. We need to step back, to take a deep breath, to make some room for the things that will take us deeper than our superficial relationship with God. We need a retreat.
If busyness is our sickness, then slowing down must be the cure. And if even for just one day, a retreat allows you to slow down, to clear your mind and center your vision on what truly matters, it’s hard to quantify the value of that kind of contemplative experience. But when you are gathered with other men or women from your community of faith at a setting designed for spiritual growth for the singular purpose of leaning into a closer walk with God, you’ll understand that a retreat can inspire the type of personal spiritual growth that few other things can.
For me, being with a group of men from my church creates an atmosphere of openness and honesty that I don’t get to experience in my normal life. And from the mutual honesty, I’m able to find encouragement and a sense of acceptance that just can’t be communicated on a Sunday morning. This is why churches who are serious about developing mature believers place a high value on taking retreats. Because even though our society is more connected than it’s ever been, sometimes you have to get away to get closer.