The Various “Hats” of a Retreat Speaker

It’s that time of the year – fall retreat season. This weekend I had the honor of speaking at a weekend retreat for a youth group, next weekend I will speak at a high school D-Now retreat, and in a few weeks I’ll be speaking at a women’s retreat (Yes… I’m a 26 year old single male… what could possibly go wrong?). I really enjoy these opportunities to meet new people and to preach God’s word.

One of the best (and sometimes most challenging) parts of speaking at retreats or camps? All the different roles you are called to play during the weekend or week. As anyone who has spoken itinerantly knows, a retreat or camp speaker is:

– A Speaker
Yes – this is the first and most important reason that I was invited to attend and participate. To open up the Scriptures and to speak God’s word. For those who are called to this vocation, few things are as exciting or life-giving.

– A Camp Counselor
Perhaps this is because I was a former camp counselor, but I’ve always felt some responsibility to help any event run smoothly. Whether it is through having fun with the kids, helping organize people or events, or simply sharing in the atmosphere of enthusiasm, there are usually countless opportunities to enjoy some time in a new community.

– A Spiritual Director
I’m not only a speaker… I’m a pastor. Every retreat or camp is an opportunity to get to know at least a handful of new people in an individual and deep way. My goal at every event is to connect personally with at least a few people so that I may pray for them and give them specific spiritual advice and guidance. These are usually my favorite memories from events.

– A Ministry Coach
Youth pastors, like all ministry leaders, are not always the most supported. Many are burnt out and need prayer, encouragement, and advice. I’m happy to provide all three to those who have invited me to the event and the lay leaders who are helping organize it. Lives are changed through day-to-day ministries much more than through one-off events…. so my ultimate goal in my itinerant ministry is to give an “assist” to those who have committed to walking with the members of the group on a daily basis.

It’s a fun, though sometimes exhausting, calling. I’ll be busy this evening, praying for the students I met this weekend and preparing for the ones I will meet a week from now.
I love it.

Have you ever spoken at a retreat or camp? Can you relate to these various callings?
Do you have a positive memory of a speaker from a retreat or camp experience? What made them so effective and memorable?

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