Twelve Creative Programs that Renew and Refresh

Retreats to Go: Twelve Creative Programs that Renew and Refresh by Susan J. Foster is a new book that offers comprehensive resources for planning a retreat. Each Scripture-based theme includes resources for ice breakers, music, quotes, small and large group activities, reflection questions, worship materials, and craft ideas. Designed for those who wish to lead retreats but may not have time for research and planning, this helpful guide offers engaging, easy-to-use programs for adults and older teens.     

         The flexible format can be used for a weekend retreat, a day away, or weekly study group gatherings.

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Questions about Retreats to Go

What does your title Retreats to Go mean?

This book really does provide twelve ready-to-go retreats. I understand that church leaders and volunteers are busy. They might want to lead a retreat, but they just don’t have time to develop a theme and plan all the activities. Each chapter presents a retreat with Scripture passages, quotes, discussion questions, ideas for music, worship resources, and even a craft suggestion. All you have to do is invite people to join you for a time of learning, renewal, and fellowship!

Why do you think retreats are so important?

Everyone is invited to say “yes” to Jesus’ invitation to “come away to a quiet place.” We live in a busy, loud, stressful, 24/7 world. We can be plugged in to electronics every moment of the day if we choose to. A retreat offers a chance to slow down, to quiet our minds, and be reminded of what is always true – that is God is with us. Retreats give us time to learn, reflect, rest, and renew our spirits.

What is your definition of “retreat”?

Traditionally, a retreat is defined as a weekend away at a beautiful location. But that narrow understanding doesn’t fit our 21st century lifestyle. While a weekend retreat can be wonderful, a “retreat” can be any amount of time that is intentionally set aside to listen for God’s voice, become more aware of God’s presence, and be open to learning and growing in faith. That means that a “retreat” could be 24-hour experience or a morning workshop or even an evening series of gatherings. A retreat is a time to get away from distractions so that we can listen to God’s voice of love, hope, and renewal.

When did you go on your first retreat?

I started going on retreats in high school. We had a creative youth minister who led wonderful retreats. They were an important part of my faith formation. The retreats gave me the chance to spend time with friends and deepen friendships while we were also learning and discussing topics that were important to us – all of that helped me realize how vital my faith was to my everyday life. We learned more during a retreat than we could during youth group or Sunday School.

Why do you enjoy leading retreats?

Leading retreats gives me more time both to teach and to learn. As a group, we have more time to explore the Bible stories and talk about what they have to do our lives. It’s exciting to watch people get to know each other on a deeper level and engage in meaningful conversations. We get to learn, listen, and laugh together. There is a special fellowship and a meaningful connection with God that happens during a retreat – and that is very rewarding.

What do readers need to know about leading retreats?

The book can be used by experienced retreat leaders as well as complete beginners. There are very clear directions and suggestions for each retreat theme. My vision is that 100 people could each decide to lead the same retreat theme and the result would be 100 unique retreats. Even though they are all using the same book with the same outline, the leaders brings their own background, education, and personality to their retreat. The book provides a framework for leaders to build upon for a stress-free, enriching experience.

Can you describe some of the retreats in your book?

Some of the retreats are created with specific seasons in mind. There is a retreat about Advent and Epiphany, for example. The retreat about gratitude could be used in connection with Thanksgiving or any time. Some retreats focus on Scripture stories like Joseph, Esther, or Exodus while others concentrate on topics that I consider vital to our faith journey – like prayer, coming through challenging times with God’s help, and Sabbath.


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