General Ministry
Josh Griffin

One of my favorite traditions we do as a Student Ministries Team here at Saddleback is that we take an annual retreat together. This week I’ve been enjoying a much-needed week away with the team. I needed it for my own soul and refreshment, but our team needs it as well. Here’s why:

We eat/laugh/play together
I laughed last night more than I have in a long time. I laugh a lot, most people even think of me as an easy laugh, but last night was particularly fun. In the “head down” rushing pace of youth ministry sometimes we forget to laugh. Getting away on a retreat let’s you put your guard down. Conversations over meals are the best, and time in the pool or on the tennis courts is super fun.

We share stories together
Last night we had a youth ministry art show – everyone on the team was given a small canvas and asked to create something about youth ministry. It was incredible to see the heart come out and some really unique perspectives on the each others stories and the story of youth ministry.

We make memories together
The more memories, the strong the bond. Staff retreat gives us a chance for spontaneous memories to form and new inside jokes to be created. It helps fill trust reservoirs.

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We head home to do battle with the enemy together
The team that retreats together … advances together. Most of the team heads back tomorrow to immediately dive into the final throes of HSM Summer Camp prep. We’ll jump right into an extremely busy season, but filled and ready to fight again for another year.


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  • Phil Bell says:

    Josh, great plan and I love the idea of building community within the team like you are doing! Can you tell me who is on this team retreat? Is it all paid staff, or is it volunteers too? How could that translate to our student ministry staff who have 3 paid staff? Would love to look at this more!

    Thanks again mate!

  • Jason says:

    I have the same question about the “who”. I have a great team of volunteers and they already take a full week off of work and from families each summer for our camp. I think i could possibly get them for a weekend, but that might be stretching it since there will always be one that cannot make it.

    We do quarterly get togethers that are just hang out times, but nothing that revolves teaching or ministry. Just times for us to hang out with each other and grow our relationships. Until I have paid staff under me, that is the best we can do, but it does work well to maintain an element of personal relationships outside of the ministry we serve.

  • Josh Griffin Josh says:

    Our context is all staff and interns, though in the past we’ve done retreats with key volunteers or even whole volunteer teams. I think an overnight getaway makes a huge statement, if it is possible for a weekend it shows value even more. Some retreats are for planning, strategy and vision – the one I’m talking about here is purely relational and relaxing. JG

  • Kurt says:

    At this retreat,we also include spouses. In fact, the inclusion of spouses is one of the best parts of our time away, in my view. Josh…at dinner tonite I will be sure to let Angela know that you forgot she is here!

  • Phil Bell says:

    Hilarious Kurt! Thanks for the info Josh! This is a brilliant idea!

  • […] – We are away on day two of our regional campus staff retreat. For the past FIFTEEN years, we have taken our entire paid team and their spouses away for a three day retreat in beautiful Palm Springs (a tradition Doug Fields started that we continue)…it’s beautiful in the fall and winter when temperatures are about 80 degrees. In june it’s not so beautiful due to temperatures around 105-110 everyday. Not so beautiful…..but incredibly cheap. We stay in a 5-star resort for about $75 a night! Since we now have an additional 6 youth ministry campuses, with more to come, we decided to start the same tradition among the regionals. So me, Josh Griffin, Katie Edwards and our spouses said farewell to the teams we lead on Wednesday, and greeted the regional leaders. Makes for 5 nights of retreats and loving on our teams. Long, but very much worth the effort. To read some details, check out Josh’s recent post. […]

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