Plan a group retreat

Plan a group retreat

Does your small group need a booster shot? A small-group retreat might be what you're looking for. Last spring our small group decided to escape to the mountains for a weekend, along with spouses and children. Some of us camped, others stayed in a motel. Some of us water-skied while others canoed, hiked, fished, and swam. We also spent time in serious discussion. Even though we've studied, prayed, and played together for years, this experience offered us new insights into who we are as families and renewed our appreciation of our unique friendships.

• Choose a destination. Allow people to voice their dislikes, then choose a destination that everyone is willing to try. It's best to choose a setting that offers a variety of accommodations—campsites, cabins, motels, and so on.

• Keep your plans simple. Discuss some activities you'd like to participate in— after all, some of them will require bringing sports equipment, and so on. But allow plenty of time to just hang out together as families and individuals. Don't forget to plan for both good and bad weather.

Try one or two of the following activities to make your retreat memorable:

• Theme for a day. For example, begin the day with a devotional based on the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 17:20-21. Give each person a mustard seed to carry in his pocket during the day. Include mustard in your lunch and dinner menus. In the evening, center your Bible discussion on faith.

• Sunrise worship service. Include a celebration of the Lord's Supper.

• Time capsule. Fill a shoe box with memorabilia from the weekend—the fishing line that pulled in the "big one," a seashell you found on the beach, and so on. Include either a notebook or cassette tape on which you've taken turns recording events of the retreat. Set a date, perhaps in a year, to open the box together and reminisce.

• The blessing game. Try this as your weekend retreat is drawing to a close. In this version of "Spin the Bottle," the person at whom the bottle points shares some blessing received during the weekend. — BETTY JOHNSON