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.
I 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.