You’re stressed. You’ve got too much on your plate (and yet you still find time for Netflix). And your biggest retreat of the year is coming up. You have no clue where to begin. What do you do? Do what we did! Make your retreat weekend a flannel weekend (#beflannel).
In November of 2016, we had the most successful High School Retreat weekend to date, and all it took was a little flannel, a lot of creativity, and our students’ openness to the Holy Spirit. God met us in a way that we had been longing for.
We’ve done a lot of the work so you don’t have to! So relax, take a look at what we did, and see if it might work for you.
Start with Organic Promotion
We began promoting our retreat mainly by word of mouth and Instagram. We developed images with flannel (like the graphic) that merely said #beflannel. This created a more organic feel to promotion.
Don’t be afraid to begin wearing flannel in the weeks leading to your retreat. When kids begin asking about your wardrobe and #beflannel, you can tell them about the retreat.
We also promoted the retreat on our website and in emails to parents. I highly encourage you to communicate often and daily about your retreat. There is no such thing as over-communication.
Stripped Down Worship
In the past, our retreats have been huge, with games, loud music, and glow sticks. For Flannel, We had an acoustic band lead worship. We had a few announcements, but we decided to do away with games and gimmicks this year (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Eliminating extraneous things made this retreat all about God (imagine that). The stripped-down nature of this retreat really fit the flannel theme and (I think) helped God meet us more directly and with greater ease.
The spiritual focus of this retreat was centered around Galatians 3:26-28. A main takeaway was the truth that in our lives, we fail to be who we were created to be when we let external things define our internal reality. Our speaker started by talking about what our clothing says about us and the history of flannel, and led us to the idea that when we clothe ourselves with Christ, we stop worrying about the things that people think we should worry about (clothes, technology, etc.) and we focus on Christ. It is then that we can start to see ourselves as God sees us.
After each session we broke up into small groups. We spent time reflecting on what our clothes say about us and the judgment that can come from others. Ultimately, we came back to the idea that we become who we were meant to be when we stop letting external things affect who we are on the inside. If we let God shape us from the inside out, we allow the grace and love of Christ to take hold.
Honestly, the youth staff at Dunwoody UMC was drained of energy and we were running out of time for a retreat theme. I saw a flannel shirt, and I said “Let’s do flannel.” I know you’re not supposed to choose a topic before you choose a Scripture or focus. But it was done. Luckily, Lane Davis (minister at Brentwood UMC) is a talented speaker and creative thinker. So he took flannel and crafted it into something that our students really needed to hear. This retreat was definitely led by the Spirit, and the stripped-down, flannel feeling of it all made it truly special.
We have all of our Flannel small group material, messages, parents letters, and schedules for you in a packet. Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if this is something you think you might be interested in and I will gladly hand over everything we have! Remember, sometimes retreats need to be retreats, so stop worrying about your biggest event of the year (that is coming up this weekend) and #beflannel.