«

»

Oct 06

5 reasons why a youth weekend is not an optional extra

Do you ever wonder how you can help your group leap forward in their understanding, their relationships and their walk with God? Wonder no longer, as I am going to share with you what you can do to enable you to leap forward a term’s worth of youth group sessions in one weekend!

youth weekend

5 reasons why a youth weekend is not an optional extra

I have been organising youth weekends for such a long time I have lost count how many times I have been away. Over the summer I was at the Soul Survivor festival in Shepton Mallet, and counted up that I must have spent about 4 months in that field over the years!

Taking your youth group away for a weekend is so important that I would even go so far as to offer that it is essential to your group’s growth and development.

Here are 5 reasons why I feel youth weekends away are so important to help your group leap forward in their development:

 

1. You are away from distractions

One of the many benefits of going away for a weekend is that you are free from the everyday pressures of life. This works for both leaders and young people. You are away from the stresses of daily work and the young people are also away from the pressures of school, family, friends and anything else which may usually fill their time and their weekends. You get that opportunity to focus on a particular spiritual topic, go deeper and still have plenty of time for fun and laughter.

 

2. God has a habit of going deeper

I don’t quite know why but, in my experience, God so often seems to do his deepest work with a young person on a time away. This might be because of the distraction-free environment but also it is probably because people are especially looking forward to being away. The expectation of travelling together to a special location, being isolated from the rest of the world for a short period of time, means that people are ‘up’ for connecting more with God. They are usually more prepared to get involved in activities and discussions and to take significant steps in their faith, if challenged. It is often on a youth weekend away that people make their first decision to commit their lives to follow Jesus. How exciting! There is nothing better! I have noticed this so much, that I try not to run a weekend without having an opportunity for people to listen to God, respond to his Spirit and to encourage them to take a step deeper in their faith journey. I think this delights God too!

 

3. A term’s meetings in one weekend

Think about it practically. If you go away together for a weekend that’s 48 hours, less sleep that’s 34 hours together (being optimistic on how much sleep people get on weekends away!). If you meet for 2 hours each youth group session, that is the equivalent of 17 sessions. Except it isn’t, it is much greater than that because your typical youth group session has to have space for reconnecting and helping people open up. On a weekend away you’re already there.

 

4. Casual chats lead to significant conversations

Going away for a weekend means you can schedule plenty of time for hanging out together, with no fixed agenda or programme. Spending time together builds relationships and trust. I love those moments where you can just chat about life, about how they’re doing and about nothing in particular. As we have these chats, we start to fill up our trust banks with each young person. These banks are really important as they realise that we care, we love them and we want God’s best for them. Sometimes these casual chats turn into significant conversations. I have lost count of how many times a young person has wanted to speak privately on a weekend away about a deep concern or trouble they are experiencing. I have people talk to me about lack of self-esteem, about relationship issues, questions of sexuality, faith and family as well as fears they are facing. What a privilege. So often I come back from such a weekend wondering just when we would have ever had that conversation in our regular week in, week out youth groups. I am not sure we would have necessarily. Take them away for a weekend.

 

5. It creates a deeper sense of community

If those are not enough reasons, going away together is a significant bonding experience. It is a memory maker and these are things people remember from their youth group days as they get older. I love sitting around with young people as they have finished their ‘A’ levels and are moving on to university or work. We reflect together on the youth group time and it inevitably turns to the weekends where they carried out pranks (which they thought were behind the leaders’ backs, but we always know!) and moments of encounters with God. Weekends away join people deeper together and makes our interactions in our regular weekly programme have greater depth.

 

Even if you only have two or three young people in your youth group, take them away for a weekend. Yes, it can be exhausting but it is also exhilarating, and so much fun! Put it on your youth ministry calendar today and get promoting it.

 

What has been your experience of taking your youth group away for a weekend? What do you see are the benefits? What are your top tips for a great weekend? Please leave a comment below.