“The experiential reality of perceiving God is unfamiliar territory today. The pace and preoccupation of urbanised, mechanised, collectivised, secularised modern life are such that any sort of inner life is hard to maintain…And if you attempt it, you will certainly seem eccentric to your peers, for nowadays involvement in a stream of activities is decidedly in, and the older idea of a quiet, contemplative life is just as decidedly out…The concept of a Christian life as sanctified rush and bustle still dominates, and as a result the experiential side of Christian holiness remains very much a closed book.”
Why go on a Christian retreat?
As we are reminded in Luke 5:16 “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). Sometimes we need to take time out from our regular routines to reflect on the bigger picture of our lives. When we read the Bible, we never see Jesus frantically rushing around, driven by punishing schedules or complicated agendas. He had time for people and He spent a significant amount of time in His Father’s presence. A disciple of Jesus strives to do the things that Jesus did. Jesus took time out and retreated from the world.
What is the difference between a retreat and a more traditional Bible conference?
Most traditional Bible conferences are heavily programmed, with the central focus on listening to a speaker deliver a set of talks. Bible conferences often provide an encouraging opportunity for growth in our knowledge about God. But the temptation can be to fill our heads with more and more information, rather than actually spending time with God and applying the knowledge we have been learning to our lives. We live in an information saturated Christian culture, with access to seemingly endless books, seminars, conferences, sermons and podcasts. Head knowledge without heart application does not bring about spiritual transformation.
Our heavenly Father says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Unlike traditional Bible conferences, a retreat gives you the opportunity to experience stillness, silence and time to actively seek God through prayer and meditative reflection on His word.
There is a richness to be found in stillness and silence. Experiencing God’s presence changes your life in a way that knowing facts about God can’t. Paying attention to the beauty of creation around us can speak to our souls, teaching us deep truths about God (Jesus spoke frequently about the natural world in His teaching).
What should I expect at a retreat weekend?
Unhurried time. Peace. Time to be still, to rest and reflect on your journey with God. Time to absorb the beauty of God’s creation as you lift your eyes to the hills (Psalm 121:1) or sit quietly under a canopy of stars that “ declare the glory of God and pour forth speech” (Psalm 19:2)
There will be some guided activities as well as morning and evening chapel devotions. The focus of these activities will be on developing a good spiritual rhythm for your life that can be sustained and deepened as you return to the “real” world. Although there will be opportunities to share within the group, much of your time will be spent alone with God.
All retreats will be Christ-centred with the majority of the reflections and activities based on the Bible.
There will be free time to enjoy walks in the surrounding countryside, swim in the pool, doze in the sunshine, sit around a campfire in the evening (weather permitting) or visit the cows up the paddock.
If you choose, a retreat weekend can provide the perfect opportunity to have a technology “detox”! Put away your phone, give Facebook the flick and ignore the television set. There is no WiFi available at the homestead and mobile reception is fairly poor. If necessary, there is a phone and limited internet available at Richard and Kate’s house (200 metres away).
Do I have to attend all the programmed activities?
There is no expectation to participate in anything. If you just need time out to spend quality time with God, that is fine (but you may be better off booking in at a time when there is not a programmed retreat happening). We just ask that you respect the rights of others around you who wish to participate fully in the weekend.
How many participants will there be on a scheduled retreat weekend?
Numbers will be limited to around 10 participants on the scheduled weekends. If you organise a separate weekend at Retreat with your own group, we can comfortably cater to about 15 participants. It is hard to maintain a peaceful environment if we seek to accommodate more than this number of people.
Can children come on retreats?
The scheduled retreats are not suitable for children, and are limited to men and women 18 years and above. However, we would like to encourage families, and we are open to the idea of running separate retreats for larger family groups or reflection times for missionary families home on furlough. Please contact us about this if you are interested.
Are retreats only for super-spiritual Christians?
Retreats are for everyone. Whether you’ve been a Christian for a month or 70 years, you will benefit from putting aside time to deepen your relationship with Jesus as part of a loving Christian community.
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” Hebrews 10:23-25