How to Obtain Core Retreat Success

Here are a few questions I tend to ask myself about Core Team Retreats…

Why Should I plan/attend a Core Retreat?


Teens are the ultimate reason I became a youth minister⎯I love being with the teens. However, there’s this other group of people that cannot and should not be neglected for a good ministry program; THE CORE TEAM. Building a culture to sustain successful youth ministry starts with caring for the leadership. I learned the hard way that ministering to the Core Members, not just the teens, is crucial. It’s important to take time away from the ministry and plug into each other’s stories and lives outside of the ministry program.

Do you really think I have time for a Core Retreat?

It may seem daunting to add yet another event to an already busy calendar but do it any way! Think about the five most important things you need in your ministry for all to succeed. Got ‘em? Good. The odds are that your Core Team is on that list. As Youth Ministers, it is our job to protect those five most important things, and thus we are ensuring that the teens get the experience they deserve. I’ve been fearful of adding another event, afraid that the Core Team would be frustrated and then ultimately, that I would be spread thin. Be confident despite the added commitment, you are doing something which will offer almost immediate benefits for your program.

Three Keys to Core Retreat Success

Ok, so you’ve decided that a Core Retreat is a good idea no matter if your Core Team is the Harlem Globetrotters of youth ministry or a group still trying to find their footing. Here are the three keys to a successful Core Retreat.

1. Spiritual: It may be tempting to have a laid back weekend where there is a lot of social time together, but you will be missing a big opportunity. With no one concerned with leading small groups, giving a proclaim, or finding the supplies needed for an activity, it is the perfect time for self-reflection. If we’re going to take time away to be on retreat, it has to be worth it. Last year we started our retreat with a Mass at the house where hosted our retreat; it offered a very cool and unique experience. Another idea would be to invite a speaker from your Diocese or Parish to lead parts of the day.

2. Meaningful: As Core Members and Youth Ministers we are constantly emptying ourselves out to the teens/parents that we serve. Sometimes we are lucky to receive affirmation and thanks from parishioners and teens. Use this as an opportunity for the Core to be filled up again. This retreat offers the chance to remind them why they are part of such an amazing ministry. We can provide that sense of renewal and commitment to being ministers that work along-side Christ to engage teenagers. At our retreat last year I created a video that consisted of former teens, core members, parents, and parish priests that expressed how thankful they were for the Core Team.

3. Fun: Lastly, the retreat should be a bonding experience for the team and the best way to do that is to have fun together. At our last retreat, everyone brought a board game, so with the fire going we put on some music and played games for hours. It was refreshing to spend time laughing together outside of the ministry. And of course, being a retreat, food had to be included in the fun! Maybe take a break from ordering pizza and cook for each other or invite parents to set up a “nicer” dinner for the group. Oh and with any retreat don’t’ forget plenty of snacks!

Taking the time to grow as individuals and as a team can be that breath of fresh air we so desperately need at times while in the trenches of youth ministry. Sit down this week and find a way to commit to a Core Team Retreat – a full weekend, a day long, one overnight – whatever it takes and put it on the calendar. Enjoy your retreat and the success that follows. Prayers for your ministry!

About the Author

Tim Claudin

I am a full-time youth minister in St. Louis. I’ve been blessed to visit missions in Uganda and Haiti. I am married to an amazing woman Michelle and dad to my little girl Connie. I love coffee, sports, superman and quoting The Office. Pizza is my kryptonite. Feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter @timclaudin.

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