Over the past ten year of serving in various leadership capacities in student ministries - I have noticed there are several “key things” that can help move your student ministry to the next level. Sometimes they are simple but often overlooked.

One for me has been running a leadership retreat. Building a solid leadership team has always been an important goal for me and holding leadership retreats has been a key part of that. In each season of ministry it has looked differently. Sometimes it was meeting for a Saturday morning in a few Sunday school classrooms, to taking groups to an overnight retreat center.  I have served as a volunteer youth leader, part-time youth pastor, and full-time youth pastor - but in each role - no matter the ministry size or budget I put some effort in taking a day or sometimes two to get my leadership team together to be together and grow.

Why are they important 

1.       Allow your leaders to feel VALUED and APPRECIATED: People want to serve somewhere that they feel valued. We think often we have a “volunteer problem” but the truth is we have a “appreciation/motivation problem.”  So taking some time together is a great way to say THANK YOU!

2.       Lets them become SPIRITUALLY RE-ENERGIZED: The week to week task can become draining for everyone. Taking some time together can let you all pray as a team more and take time to grow yourselves.

3.       REFOCUSES them on why you are doing what you do: The daily grind can cause anyone to lose sight of the real reason we do what we do. Take some time to share stories of students lives that have been impacted. Remind your team that what you are doing still has eternal value.

4.       MOTIVATES them towards to a new level: Having a retreat gives you some time to look forward to where you are heading as a team. You can set goals and make a plan to make them happen. Remember - no one wants to feel like they are going nowhere, so use your time together to develop a “map” of where you want to go as a student ministry.

5.       Builds a SOLID TEAM: Your team will run smoother when you have a relationship together. Take time to have fun, get to know each others strengths and weaknesses. Decide which role each person can play.

I could go on with lots of ideas - but I would say a key thing is make it MEMORABLE !

So instead of giving lots of ways to schedule the retreat let me encourage you with this:

1.  Put your WHOLE HEART into it: Share from your heart and walk with Jesus. Let your leaders know they are valued and appreciated. That you couldn’t do what you do without them.

2.  Put your WHOLE HEAD into it: Plan out a few things you want to see in the student ministry and find a way to communicate that to your team.

3.  Put your WHOLE EFFORT into it: I tell our team often, “a little effort goes a long way.” Write out thank you cards to everyone, plan a special field trip, or set up a special prayer time. your effort will communicate to your team they mean something to you.

There is so much more that I could discuss about this whole issue of running a retreat. Know I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to dialogue with you if this is something you want to do in your student ministry. Just send me an email to and I would love to help however possible.

Ashton Peters is the Student Pastor & Director of Signet School of Leadership at Sallisaw First Assembly. He has been married to the love of his life, Stephanie, for five years and they have one daughter, Hadassah. Ashton sees one of his main goals to develop and release young people into the ministry. He strives through "Living Significantly Different" to give his life away in significant ways to make an impact for the cause of Christ. 

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