Beg, Borrow, and Steal our Retreat!

That’s the goal of our high school ministries Winter retreat.

I’m not talking about a cash neutral event to the youth budget. I’m talking about… we’ve got no money so we need to do this retreat for free. We don’t have budget money and our students literally have no cash to offset expenses.

Here’s what we’re trying to do:

Create a memorable, kinetic, outside-of-our-neighborhood, experience with our high school group. We need this retreat. It’ll be good for the students and it’ll be good for the group.

Here’s how we’re going to do it

Beg: I’m not too proud to beg. Especially when it comes to the faith development of the students in our ministry. Fortunately, when it came to location, I didn’t even have to beg. I just asked a Kingdom-minded friend if we could crash his youth building for 30 hours. When I visited Danny Long earlier this fall and saw his facilities (about 30 minutes from City Heights, but far enough into East County to feel completely separate from the urban environment.) I asked if it might be a possibility to use his building for a retreat. Without flinching he was happy to do it.

Next up, Kathy (our youth pastor) asked her cousin to lead worship. Done. Teaching? I’m pretty sure we’ll split those duties. Now we’re out begging for folks to pick up the tab on our Costco run for food for the retreat.

All that’s left is to beg off some programming elements. One of the tricks I learned from retreat-guru Lars Rood [author of an upcoming YS book on doing ministry for cost-neutral or free] was to not skimp on experience. So we are officially on the lookout to bring something to this retreat that our students from City Heights completely unexpected. (Horseback riding, sledding, paintball, or something along those lines.)

Borrow: We’re going to borrow ideas. Darn near all of them. Why spend all the time thinking up stuff when we can take things people are already offering for free and tweak them to work in our ministry/ From activity ideas to theme to kitchen appliances.

Steal: OK, we’re not going to steal anything. But we are stealing victory from the enemy by doing something we can’t afford for free. We might not be a resource rich ministry, but we are a resourceful group who aren’t ashamed to rely on the Kingdom.

Have you ever done a ministry event like this? If so, leave a comment and share your idea. [So I can steal it.]

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

5 comments

  1. yeah, I did a weekend retreat one time that just so happened to be the same weekend as Planet Wisdom. So our kids thought I had gotten Dutton, Mark and the Skit Guys to do it all for us. It was cool. And guess what I’m planning another retreat weekend again in Feb here in Tulsa – guess who is going to be in town again.

  2. We used to do WorldVision’s 30 hour famine. Last year I asked people in the church to sponsor two hour blocks of time throughout. They could do whatever activity they wanted (I did have to approve it), but they were to do all the planning, recruit their own workers, finance it, etc. I did help if they asked, and a few did.

    I think the adults who got involved appreciated the opportunity to engage the group with their own ideas (and it caused a few volunteers to come out when they normally would not have). The students also seemed to like the engagement as well. We got some good response back from it.

  3. We had a retreat a few weeks ago on a tight budget, I wrote up a booklet …
    http://fusedretreatbooklet.blogspot.com/

    …based on the theme of our retreat (Connect) talking about our connection to God. When we talked about brokeness we found someone with old shower tiles they weren’t going to use and had the kids write their struggles down between sessions on the tiles…then to end the next session each student shattered their tile with a hammer. Then I took and spread the tiles on a table set for communion for the next session symbolizing that He was broken to fix our brokenness. We took communion and just worshiped (I led and played).

    It was cheap, nearly no cost what DID have cost was donated. We held 5 sessions One was a kick off, one was just worship, prayer, and communion and the other three were normal service type settings. Very successful, very cheap.

    Didn’t get free shelter though, but it was cheap…and good. WLD Ranch in Girard, PA if anyone is interested.

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