Spiritual Retreat September 2007

Some years ago my husband and I had the privilege of participating with a mission team who served in Singapore. The purpose of the trip was to assist with a church retreat. We provided some training in leadership prior to the retreat, but the priority of our trip was to assist the congregation with their annual retreat. We had a great experience and there were many lasting impressions and memories from that ten day trip that I will forever treasure.
The large number of church members who participated in the retreat was perhaps the most astounding aspect of that experience for me. Most of the congregations I'm familiar with that offers any type of retreat experience will have few takers. Yet this church annually has one-half to two-thirds of its members take time away from work for a three to four day retreat. They loaded up on a Monday morning and took a large boat (something like a passenger ferry) to a small island about an hours ride away. The retreat was held in what was called a resort. In American standards it would be considered a motel with a restaurant and large meeting room. Activities were provided for each age-group, along with some family as well as personal time. It was a highlight of the church year for those folks. It was a highlight for Ray and me as well.
By telling this story I'm not suggesting that all churches should insist that everyone take an annual retreat; although that's not a bad idea. But I am suggesting that the concept of retreat has been lost or either sorely misrepresented in our time and culture. Perhaps it needs to be resurrected. 
In today's workaday, rush ourselves to death world, retreat is sorely needed. Author Jane E. Vennard states in Be Still: Designing and Leading Contemplative Retreats, "A retreat is about God. A retreat places God and the things of God in the foreground of our attention." Maybe it's time to call our people to retreat in order to help them focus on God. By retreat, I mean a spiritual retreat in which one can truly experience the presence of God. Far too often what is termed as retreat is nothing more than an off-site work meeting, planning session, or training. Those events have their place, but they are not spiritual retreats.   
Yet the lifestyle, the schedule, and the demands many of our folks live with make going away impossible. Would we ever get one half to two thirds of our folks away for a spiritual retreat? Of course not. Does that mean they cannot experience the benefit of a spiritual retreat? Again, of course not. Spiritual retreats can be personal and they can take place in many locations, even within one's home.
In A Vacation with the Lord, author Thomas H. Green outlines the history of spiritual retreats. Green states, "The retreat movement began as a one-to-one experience - one director and one retreatant." As the movement gained popularity, more people desired to experience an annual retreat, not just an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Because of the lack of qualified retreat directors, group retreats came to the forefront. While they allowed more people to experience a retreat, much was lost and depersonalized as many retreats took on a conference or preaching format. As a result, retreats became shorter and shorter. Today, many spiritual seekers desire the original, more personal "vacation with the Lord" type experience.
Maybe the answer for us today lies in both and. Could we not provide and encourage those who can to go away on a group spiritual retreat as well as encourage and assist those who cannot go away to experience a personal retreat at home? In this regard, this and the next issue of SpiritLines will be devoted to spiritual retreats. This issue will address retreats in retreat settings. The October issue will discuss personal retreats while at home or in individual settings of ones' choice.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and experiences about spiritual retreats.
Warmest Regards,
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Flowers in Bowl

Inviting God's Presence DVD and Listening Guide

Inviting God's Presence: Congregational Committees Seeking God DVD and listening guide will assist congregational committees in seeking God's presence, direction, and guidance as they make deliberations and important decisions regarding the life and work of the local church. Power is available through the Spirit.

If you are interested in purchasing this resource, you may order here. 

Transformed by God's Spirit
New DVD Now Available!
Cost: $5.00

This brief DVD features numerous individuals whose lives have been enriched by God's transforming presence. Not only have their personal lives been renewed and energized, also their churches have been renewed as God worked within the hearts and lives of the people.

Appropriate for use with small groups, new Christians, seekers, prospects, church visitors, committees, and individuals. This is a great inexpensive way to share a word of hope in your community. Suggested Reflection Questions are included.

Ordering Information:
Contact Devon Bagwell, 919.459.5513, dbagwell@ncbaptist.org 


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Contact Info

Wendy Minton Edwards

Wendy Minton Edwards
4684 Sheep Pasture Rd.
Spring Hope, NC 27882

Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening
Baptist State Convention of NC

PO Box 1107
Cary, NC 27511
Biblical Teaching Regarding Spiritual Retreat
Jesus' Example:
Matthew 14:23 (NAS) -
"And after He had sent the multitudes away, He went up to the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening He was there alone."
Matthew 26:36-39 (NAS) -
"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray.' And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then he said to them, 'My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.' And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.'"
Matthew 26:42 (NAS) -
"He went away again a second time and prayed."
Mark 1:35 (NAS) -
"And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there."
Mark 6:45-46 (NAS) -
"And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away. And after bidding them farewell, he departed to the mountain to pray."
Luke 5:15-16 (NAS) -
"But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and great multitudes were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray."
Luke 6:12 (NAS) -
"And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God."
Luke 9:18 (NAS) -
"And it came about that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, 'Who do the multitudes say that I am?'"
Luke 9:28 (NAS) -
"And some eight days after these saying, it came about that He took along Peter and John and James, and went up to the mountain to pray."
Jesus' Teachings:
Matthew 11:28-29 (NAS) -
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and My load is light."
Mark 6:30 (NAS) -
"Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while."
 The Writers Speak

"Retreating is not withdrawing from life, but instead is finding the ability to plunge into life fearlessly and fully equipped."
He Restores My Soul, Jennifer Kennedy Dean. Nashville: B & H Publishing, 1999, p. 10-11.


"A mind not geared to productivity has the potential to receive revelation, insights, and graces that draw one into union with God."
Be Still: Designing and Leading Contemplative Retreats, Jane E. Vennard. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2000, p.28.


"Going on retreat reminds us that the world runs by forces that have little to do with our little selves and microagendas. Getting away forces the recognition that we are not CEO of the world."
A Place for God: A Guide to Spiritual Retreats and Retreat Centers, Timothy Jones. New York: Random House, Doubleday Books, 2000, p. 42.


"A 2003 survey conducted by a mainline denomination asked pastors, church leaders, and laypeople about their formative faith experiences. Four in ten church members and the majority of pastors reported having a 'significant spiritual experience' within a camp, retreat, or conference setting. The same survey found that 58% of congregations sponsored one or more retreats in the year prior to the survey."
The Retreat Leader's Manual: A Complete Guide to Organizing Meaningful Christian Retreats, Nancy Ferguson and Kevin Witt. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2006, p. 9.


"Retreats might be defined this way: the choice to enter places and times apart from busyness and distraction, in order to develop deeper connections with God and a greater appreciation for life."
The Retreat Leader's Manual: A Complete Guide to Organizing Meaningful Christian Retreats, Nancy Ferguson and Kevin Witt. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2006, p. 15.


"Retreats become the occasion to learn how to allow God to nurture our souls."
The Retreat Leader's Manual: A Complete Guide to Organizing Meaningful Christian Retreats, Nancy Ferguson and Kevin Witt. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2006, p. 19.


"A retreat is about God. A retreat places God and the things of God in the foreground of our attention. A retreat opens the time and the space so that we may hear God's still, small voice. A retreat is about listening and waiting, receiving and being."
Be Still: Designing and Leading Contemplative Retreats, Jane E. Vennard. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2000, p.x.


"Entering that rest - choosing God as our resting place - is more about our hearts and less about our hands. It's what is going on inside far more than what is going on outside."
Resting Place: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreats, Jane Rubietta, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005, p. 22.


"This is the miracle: God's purposes may best be accomplished through our inactivity."
Resting Place: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreats, Jane Rubietta, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005, p. 22.


 Retreat Resources

Angell, Jeanette L. All Ground is Holy: A Guide to Christian Retreat. Harrisburg: PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1993.

Brown, Raymond E. A Retreat with John the Evangelist: That You May Have Life. Cincinnati: Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1998.

DelBene, Ron with Mary and Herb Montgomery. Alone with God: A Guide for Personal Retreats. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1996.

Ferguson, Nancy and Kevin Witt. The Retreat Leaders' Manual: A Complete Guide to Organizing Meaningful Christian Retreats. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2006.

Green, Thomas H. A Vacation with the Lord: A Personal Directed Retreat Based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000.

Griffin, Emilie. Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.

Job, Rueben P. A Guide to Retreat for All God's Shepherds. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994.

Jones, Timothy. A Place for God: A Guide to Spiritual Retreats and Retreat Centers. New York: Image Books, Doubleday Press, 2000.

Kelly, Jack and Marcia. Sanctuaries: The Complete United States, A Guide to Lodgings in Monasteries, Abbeys, and Retreats. New York: Bell Tower, Crown Publishing, 2003 updated version.

Payne, Joseph A. Befriending: A Self-Guided Retreat for Busy People. Mahwah: NJ: Paulist Press, 1992.

Rubietta, Jane. Resting Place: A Personal Guide to Spiritual Retreats. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.

Santa, Thomas M. Sacred Refuge: Why & How to Make a Retreat. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Marie Press, 2005.

Silf, Margaret. Going on Retreat: A Beginners Guide to the Christian Retreat Experience. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2002.

Vennard, Jane E. Be Still: Designing and Leading Contemplative Retreats. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 1989.

Whitcomb, Holly W. Practicing Your Path: A Book of Retreats for an Intentional Life. Philadelphia: Innisfree Press, 2002.

Listing is for informational purposes only.  This is not an exhaustive or recommended list.

 Retreat Helps
A Retreat Model
There are many ways to structure a prayer retreat, but all of them amount to the same thing. Take time to pray! I offer here a general outline of what a daylong prayer retreat might look like in a group setting. A few variations follow as well as notes about elements that could be added or deleted. The outline can be tailored to fit whatever time frame you have available (I have done prayer "retreats" that were one hour long!). If you are doing the retreat on your own, simply omit the group activities.
  • Early morning: Worship prayerfully as a group
  • Breakfast
  • Morning: Teach and do a prayer practice
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon:
    • Offer some free time.
    • Teach and do another prayer practice, or repeat the same prayer practice you learned in the morning.
    • Take some time for group reflection and sharing.
  • Supper
  • Evening: Prayerful worship

Other Suggestions:

  • Consider adding silence to all or part of the day.
  • Add a talk on prayer or a scriptural mediation.
  • Consider adding fasting as part of the retreat. Caution is in order regarding this decision. Special dietary needs or eating disorders may affect group members, so evaluate the situation before incorporating this element.
  • Add a group reflection time in the morning.
  • Offer individual spiritual direction as part of the retreat time.
  • If you are in a beautiful setting, encourage people to take walks.
  • If possible, add group work tasks as part of the retreat.  The kitchen or dining hall offers good opportunities for simple tasks like meal preparation or just setting the table.
  • Use a single passage of scripture as the theme for the whole retreat time.
  • Create another type of theme to ground the retreat.
Above all when on retreat, have a wonderful, relaxing time with God!
Creating A Life With God: The Call of Ancient Prayer Practices. Daniel Wolpert. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2003, p. 191-192.
 Why have a retreat? Worksheet
  1. What retreat experiences have you had?
  2. How have those experiences affected your faith formation?
  3. What has made those experiences important to you?
  4. In what ways might retreat experiences differ from or be similar to experiences within the activities of the local congregation?
  5. Why do you think retreat experiences are important for today's Christians?
  6. Write a Purpose Statement for use within your congregation.
The Retreat Leader's Manual: A Complete Guide to Organizing Meaningful Christian Retreats. Nancy Ferguson and Kevin Witt. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2006, p. 83.
 Daily Potential Reflection Questions
Morning Questions to Start the Day
What is my intention for this day?
How do I wish to conduct myself?
How might God be asking me to let go?
Where do I seek God's wisdom and guidance?
Evening Questions to End the Day

What have been my sources of grace for this day?
For what do I give thanks?
For what do I repent?
Practicing Your Path: A Book of Retreats for an Intentional Life. Holly W. Whitcomb. Philadelphia, PA: Innisfree Press, 2002, p. 109.
A Place for God Book Review
Author: Timothy Jones
New York, NY: Image Books (Doubleday Publishing), 2000.
446 pages
Category: Spiritual Disciplines
  "Across the continent, a movement is afoot. People flock to monastery guest houses and retreat centers in record numbers. An estimated 1.2 million Catholics went on retreats at spiritual life centers across the country in 1997. That says nothing of the host of Protestants, members of other faiths, or seekers with no affiliation at all," says author Timothy Jones in A Place For God.
     A Place For God is simply a guidebook for those thinking about or interested in spiritual retreats. Jones devotes the first third of the book to discussing the need for spiritual retreats, planning, preparing, and packing for a spiritual retreat, and what one does on a spiritual retreat. In a simple, easy reading fashion, he does a great job in preparing the reader for the retreat experience.
     Jones then provides a basic introduction to 257 retreat centers, which are divided into six regions within the United States and Canada. The listing includes every state in the US. For each center mentioned, Jones provides address, phone and fax numbers, email address, and other contact info, as well as denominational affiliation. He includes a short description of the center, its' goals and offerings, its' facilities, points of interest in the area, and location directions. 
     Noted author, John Ortberg, describes A Place for God by saying, "This will be a valuable guide to all who take spiritual life and growth seriously. I wish it had existed years ago.  A great gift to the soul."
     An excellent resource for those who take seriously the spiritual journey.
 Upcoming Events
Retreat information is provided for informational purposes only. It does not include endorsements or recommendations.

Immersion Experience Weekend: An Invitation to a Deeper Spiritual Life

September 13-16

Columbia Theological Seminary


Come join us for this feast of the soul. Explore the origins of the Christian Spiritual Tradition. Participants will study the formative elements of Biblical Spirituality, Monastic Spirituality, and Reformed Spirituality. Participants will also have the opportunity for personal reflection through guided meditative journaling, exploring their one unique journey with the living God. Community and practical application of acquired knowledge are also part of this experience. This course is the starting place for the Certificate in Spiritual Formation. Occasional students are welcome.


Leader: John Kloepfer

Program fee: $300

Columbia Theological Seminary, Lifelong Learning

PO Box 520, Decatur, GA 30031

www.ctsnet.edu or 404-687-4587

North Carolina Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation
October 14-19
Trinity Center, Atlantic Beach

The Academy for Spiritual Formation is a disciplined Christian Community emphasizing holistic spirituality - nurturing body, mind and spirit. Intended for both clergy and laypersons who hunger for rich spiritual experiences.

Total cost for the entire week is $650.00, including meals and lodging. After July 1 registration is $670.00.

For more information and registration form, Click here.

Walk as Jesus Walked

Scripture Focus: 1, 2, & 3 John
November 9-11
Presenter: Paul Walker, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove

In John's beloved letters, he encourages believers to walk - walk in the light, walk in the truth, walk in obedience to His commands, and walk in love.  Through this study of the teachings from "the disciple whom Jesus loved," you will find practical application for living out the Gospel in your own life.  Come and develop a more dynamic walk with the Savior.


For more information or to register, call 1-800-950-2092 or 1-828-298-2092 or visit the website, billygraham.org/The Cove.

Becoming a Praying Congregation: The Art of Teaching Spiritual Practice

November 12-14

Presenter: Jane Vennard

Oblate Renewal Center
San Antonio, Texas 
Sponsored by: The Alban Institute

Do you long to be a part of a congregation - or lead a congregation - where prayer is a more comfortable part of what you do and how you talk with one another? Then this workshop is for you. It is designed for people who pray together in worship on Sundays, maybe ask others to pray for those who are in need, or begin meals with prayer, but who do not know how to talk about prayer with one another or how to cultivate the spiritual practice of prayer for themselves, much less for others.


For additional information, contact Tiffani Belk at 800-486-1318, ext. 247, or tbelk@alban.org.





Discerning Forgiveness

April 24-27, 2008


The Christian faith is indelibly and distinctively marked by the imperative both to receive and to offer forgiveness. But Christian voices on the subject differ widely. Some urge forgiveness as a Christian duty under all circumstances, while others argue that certain prior conditions must be met for forgiveness to be meaningful or effective.Some believe forgiveness is the surest route to healing for the offended, while others hold that therapeutic value cannot be the essence of Christian forgiveness. How do we sort through the competing claims and varied interpretations? What is the core nature and role of this powerful divine gift we are called to participate in? Our class will help us attend to several voices in this debate, discern some of the complexities of timing and circumstance, claim a stance with scriptural and theological integrity, and engage in key practices to help us learn the "craft" of forgiveness.


Leader: Marjorie Thompson

Program fee: $250

Columbia Theological Seminary, Lifelong Learning

PO Box 520, Decatur, GA 30031

www.ctsnet.edu or 404-687-4587

Read on about these retreats...

 Prayer Requests
Submit your prayer requests to Devon Bagwell at dbagwell@ncbaptist.org and she will list them.

 Formation Thought to Ponder

"Only in nurturing your own relationship with God can you become the catalyst for others."


Be Still: Designing and Leading Contemplative Retreats, Jane E. Vennard. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 1989, p. xi.


O Lord, sometimes I'm told it is selfish to desire intimate time with you. People make me feel guilty for hungering to experience your presence and peace. But Lord, my need for you in no way negates my concern for others. On the contrary, time with you renews me and ignites my love and concern for people. Your presence and power enables me to live out your love in a world where genuine love is scarce. Your reassuring spirit restores my soul and renews my desire to help others see their need for your love and mercy. Yes Lord, your continuing work within me makes me a more effective witness for you. My attempts in your outward Kingdom growth directly originate with your powerful inward movement. Indeed, it is all through you. Thank you, Holy God.



How are you allowing God to renew your spirit and rekindle your love for others?