The weeks leading up to a retreat can be more than a little crazy. With skit rehearsals, talk preparations, supply lists, getting the whole Core, and teen leadership teams prepped, arranging priests, icebreaker preparations, etc. our retreat to-do list seems endless.

I quite often left one huge thing off of my retreat preparation to-do list: follow up.

Teens are great at opening their hearts and experiencing Christ in a new and powerful way over the course of a weekend retreat. With all authenticity, teens return home wanting to allow Christ to be the Lord of their lives. However, it is likely that without a good community and some continued challenge to pray and dive into the faith that they just don’t know how to do this.  On top of that, after the weekend, a teen who may desire to rearrange priorities is thrust back into their normal routine. Between school, homework, practice, games, rehearsals, and all the busyness that fills up the days of high school students, teens might not know where to begin.  While they may have been committed and genuine in their desire to live for Christ, without follow-up, we aren’t giving the teens the tools they need to succeed.

Here are some ideas that came from youth ministers on ways to walk with teens in a deeper level following a retreat:

  • Four weeks of weekly gatherings following a retreat that include discussions of struggles, prayer, adoration, sharing of experiences of Christ, and specific challenges of scripture readings and prayer routines.
  • Post-retreat small group gatherings. The small groups that met on retreat and became particularly close? They don’t have to end just because you went home. Rather, that can naturally become a discipleship group to meet every few weeks for Bible study or prayer. It has built in adult and teen leaders, and the foundation of relationships already exist.
  • Gathering with teens from the retreat and their parents a week afterwards to show pictures and videos, share glory stories of Christ working in their hearts over the weekend, and a chance to discuss upcoming events. This one seems powerful precisely because parents have the chance to hear their children share how Christ worked – bringing the families of the teens into this new or deeper journey of faith.
  • Not adding programming, but pairing younger teens up with older teens in an almost discipleship sort of way for the retreat. As a part of this, the hope is for a continued relationship following the retreat. This gives first-time retreat participants an accountability partner, and someone to keep inviting younger teens to jump into the Bible studies or prayer groups that are offered.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to follow up and continue to encourage teens to grow in their faith following a retreat in intentional ways.  The important thing is that you intentionally incorporate a way that will set the teens and the ministry up for success long-term.  Pray about it with your Core Team and your teen leaders and come up with the best way for your ministry to support and challenge teens to live out and grow in their faith after a retreat.

What other ways have you seen or can you think of to follow up with teens after a retreat?

About the Author

Joe Chernowski

Joe Chernowski is ridiculously blessed through his wife, Kelly, and family of 6 children. He spends his time dancing, running, playing, laughing, reading, and praying with them all. When he isn't at home with them or when he isn't at Mission District as the Eastern Region Director for Life Teen, he is probably out running. To hear more about his family & ministry shenanigans, check him out on Twitter @LT_joec.