Return to Reality: Coming Down from the Spiritual Highs of Camps and Retreats

Chris —  July 11, 2013
Spiritual retreats and highs are good and necessary. But be prepared to return to everyday life.

Spiritual retreats and highs are good and necessary. But be prepared to return to everyday life.

Being at camp, or on a spiritual retreat, is like free falling with friends. The rush of “sky-diving” is great. Soon enough, gravity takes over, and we are back on “land.” If the decisions made at camp are to make a lasting difference, we need a strategy for everyday life. Getting together with other believers must be central in that strategy. WITH GOD’S HELP, IT CAN BE DONE!

Many of us enjoy times of refreshment and renewal during the summer months. Times of spiritual renewal and refreshment are good and necessary. But we need to be prepared for what happens after our feet hit the ground again and we have to take everyday steps.

When I was a youth pastor, I enjoyed retreats immensely. It was a chance to see teenagers withdraw from all the distractions of the world and be renewed. So many times we saw teens be convicted about the need to deal with sin in their lives. In our days of cell phones, video games, and other distractions, there has never been a greater need for spiritual retreats.

As much as knew that retreats were necessary for teens,  I also knew as a youth pastor that very soon the sky-dive of camp or a retreat – – -or a vacation – – – was going to be over and that if there was not a strategy, that teens would quickly feel defeated about decisions they made at camp. Without a strategy, sincere decisions flame out by Monday morning.

If decisions we make are to have a lasting impact, then we need not only the time of a decision, but also a strategy for implementation once we return.

In terms of our current context, our church has a number of teens returning from camp on Saturday. They have been at Camp Forest Springs all week – – listening to Greg Speck preach – -I am confident that they will have prayerfully made many sincere decisions.

But this Saturday it is back to reality. And if the decisions that our teens make at camp are going to last longer than the campfires they were made around, they need help going forward. So Sunday night – – before they’ve even rested up from the return – — my wife and I are going to have them in our home to talk about what is next and how they can persevere in their decisions.

The Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, IL - Teens for SH 2013I will be talking to teens and young adults about a number of post-spiritual-high strategies. But none is more important than determining to intentionally get together in an ongoing way for Christ-centered fellowship. Specifically:

  • Be in church. Hear the Word preached. Sing together.
  • Talk about your decisions with one another. Be accountable.
  • Connect with older more mature believers.
  • Memorize Scripture together. Pray together.

If you have the opportunity to be renewed spiritually this summer, you can count on the fact that very soon Satan will whisper in your ear, “It wasn’t real. It was just emotion. It won’t last. You can’t do it.”

Don’t buy that lie. There is nothing more real than being together with other believers, hearing the Word proclaimed without apology, making decisions to be obedient to Christ. You CAN follow through on those decisions. But only if you are committed to being together with other believers when your feet hit the ground again.

If you need a strategy for your return to reality, and you’re within 500 miles of Stillman Valley, IL – – you’re invited to my house on Sunday night.

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5 responses to Return to Reality: Coming Down from the Spiritual Highs of Camps and Retreats

  1. Thank you for this wonderful reminder. I want to be sensitive to a possible “fall” as I have felt many times after returning from a women’s conference. I never really thought about this with my teen and camp. Your article is much appreciated!

  2. If at all possible, encourage yours to be there. We need to follow up right away.

  3. This is great–so glad you are following up with our youth. I actually had this same talk with Lucy when she returned from camp this year, though she is only 10. I remember what it feels like.

  4. Bruce and I can identify with the uplifting role both were for us from very young ages going to camp and later to what were called “youth rally’s” instead of retreats. 🙂 We formed lifetime Christian friends and were later able to watch our kids enjoy the same great experiences. Who can have more fun than joyous Christians!

    PS – I was laughingly entertained one day by a few of Lucy’s camp songs 🙂

  5. Betts, this is great to hear!!