3 types of retreat to lead passion joy leaders

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3 Types of Retreats to Help You Lead with Passion and Joy

Ministry is rewarding and demanding at the same time. As a leader, pastor, or director, you probably move at a fast pace, always working, planning an upcoming event, or implementing a new strategy. At the time of this writing, we are in month five of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the changes in our world, we remain as busy as ever, trying to serve people and rethink ministry in a socially distant time. Let me ask you a question.

What toll is that taking on our souls? 

As someone in ministry who fights alongside you, I want to ask another question.

What are we doing to protect our souls amid modern ministry? 

I believe the greatest weapon we have to fight ministry fatigue and burnout is strategic spiritual retreats. A spiritual retreat is a planned time away from your regular grind where you pause, refuel, listen, reflect, and learn. These restorative moments allow you to explore your soul, look for the healing and loving voice of Jesus, and then prepare to jump back into the race.

Jesus modeled this process of taking time to getaway. Early in the Gospel of Mark, we see this quick passing moment in the ministry of Jesus that provides a framework for our spiritual retreat plans. It goes like this…

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39 ESV)

As we soak in this moment, let’s embrace the reality that Jesus pulled away. Jesus retreats so that he can engage what is next. People were still demanding His time, but Jesus made it clear to Peter there was a new direction to move. We often miss the point of retreat. Spiritual retreat prepares us to be productive and healthy as we advance the Kingdom of God.

If Jesus needed moments of retreat, then we need them, too. You are not so skilled, gifted, or equipped to not desperately need times of refueling. In our culture, we see endurance and effectiveness almost as a badge of ministry honor. When it comes to our need to reflect, rest, and find restoration, we have missed it. Everyone needs scheduled time to retreat.

Let’s explore three types of spiritual retreats and how they can help us lead with more passion and joy.


A weekly or monthly block of time where you step away to be still.

There is nothing more significant than the pause button when you are trying to watch a show at the end of a long day. You know that moment! The kids or the dog demand your attention, so you hit pause to turn away from the show and give them what they need: your attention. In ministry, you are dealing with your soul and not an episode of something on Netflix. Your soul matters, and making time to calendar pause moments allows you to give attention to what matters most. In fact, I believe it is essential.

A pause spiritual retreat is a planned moment in your calendar when you block off time to sit, pray, read, and listen to the Holy Spirit’s leadership. It can be an afternoon, a day, or an hour. It can happen in your office, a local park, or a chapel in a local church. The biggest blessing from a pause retreat is that it can be regular and give your soul time to catch up in the busy world we serve.


Exploring other churches and leaders in time away to listen and learn.

This is one of my favorite types of spiritual retreats because I love learning from other leaders. This retreat is a time away from your regular schedule of responsibilities to connect with and learn from other leaders you respect. This retreat can be at a church across town or meeting with a leader in another state. The range and budget are flexible!

This spiritual retreat merely requires you to reach out to a few leaders, schedule some meetings, and show up ready to ask questions. Drop-in on a Sunday and watch another ministry in action. Take a leader to lunch and ask questions. Explore new ideas while they are in motion at another church. The only requirement is to make sure you add in time to think and pray alone as you process what you have learned.


An extended time away alone to be silent and listen for what is next. It is meant to be alone. 

This retreat may be the most connected to the way Jesus leveraged spiritual retreats. Block out a few days, leave technology out of the plan, and just take some books and a journal to pray, think, and process. I discovered this type of retreat for three days at a monastery where I did not talk to anyone for three days. I took walks, read books, enjoyed guided times of prayer, but I remained silent.

The silent retreat aims to give God more room to rebuild and reconnect our souls to His heart. Silence allows us to:

  • listen and explore what our souls are trying to tell us.
  • hear the voice of God working through Scripture and our emotional health.
  • be okay with not being okay and work on soul repair.

You can leverage a friend’s cabin or find a retreat center that serves pastors with these types of retreats. Give it a few days and see what can happen inside of your soul.

Explore these 3 types of retreats to see how they will help you lead with more passion and joy.

Michael Bayne is a pastor, communicator, and connector that has had the joy of serving churches in four states over the past twenty years. He is a husband to Chelsea and dad to two incredible teenage daughters. Michael currently serves as Lead Pastor of Greenville Community Church in Greenville, SC. You can contact Michael at michael@greenvillecommunitychurch.com.

More on Care for the Soul:

How to Set Boundaries in Ministry

What To Do When You’re Spiritually Empty: 3 Steps to Care for Your Soul

Common Struggles Among Ministry Leaders with Dr. John Delony

How to Care for Your Wounds and Hurts in Ministry


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What To Do When You're Spiritually Empty: 3 Steps to Care for Your Soul