Why Plan a Retreat for your Church or Group......

Posted by Jess Schload

Jun 14, 2015 9:17:36 AM

Planning a retreat is a tough job. You need to decide to do it, choose a leader, plan marketing to get folks hope_and_rogerto come, set a budget, and price for the retreat, pick a site, take registrations, plan a schedule and more. As one who works at a retreat center, I am always amazed at the folks who take this task on, usually with no training, and pull it off very well.

But, why? Why do you want to even go through all this work? Most retreat leaders I talk to plan retreats for two basic reasons.

  1. They had wonderful experiences at a retreat and want to share that with others.
  2. They want to make a difference in people’s lives. They want to help their church grow in faith.

It is a lot of work to plan a retreat, but it is worth the effort. Think of a time when you saw a change in a person’s life at a camp or retreat. Or a time when you sat in a worship service with a group of folks you just spent a wonderful couple of days with, and knew you were a stronger person, that you would be different when you went home. Remember that time when someone told you how tired they were, burned out on life, work, or God, and a time away in a beautiful space turned them around.

Retreats are what the word implies. They are a time to get away. To remove yourself from the everyday toClick this box to  begin planning your  next retreat or conference be with a group of other like minded people and center on a special topic or theme. To think of nothing but your life with God, or your spouse, or the group you are with. Retreats have many purposes, from training, to spiritual growth, to rest and renewal. However, no matter the purpose, the time apart is valuable and needed by many. In today’s “connected” world, we all need to disconnect once and a while if we are going to be whole.

Why plan a retreat? Because you can make a difference in your and other people’s lives. You can help people grow. You can help your organization or church be stronger. You can have fun with the group who attends. When a military leader yells “retreat!”, the troops leave the heat of the battle for safety. When you offer a retreat, you offer a time to get away from the heat of life. That is why planning a retreat is time well spent. Let us at LEC know if we can help. Check other blogs in this series for ideas. Look for books and websites on retreat planning. Begin today to make a difference. You will not regret it.

Rev. Jess Schload, Director,

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Topics: Spiritual Growth, Retreat and Conference Planning, retreat in Florida, retreat, retreat alone, planning women's retreat

Grace is God's Constant Loving Presence....

Posted by Guest Author Rev. Kevin Witt

Jun 19, 2014 8:04:00 AM

Back in September of 2013, Kevin Witt wrote this blog on the topic of "Grace". I found it very helpful. We have shared some of Kevin's writings before. Learn more about him below. Thanks Kevin for your permission to run this article.


Grace is God’s constant loving presence in our lives actively engaged for the good of all. The Wesleyan spiritual tradition offers three helpful windows into the nature of grace all of which were integral aspects of 1chapel_duwrgympwhat inspired and motivated me as a camper and a growing leader.

Preceding Grace (Prevenient Grace) focuses on the way God showers us with love in many forms and actively works on behalf of our greatest good before we fully recognize that God is involved, before we fully embrace God in various aspects of our lives, and before we have an abiding trust in God’s love as the foundation for our decisions, priorities and actions.  God is present and drawing near to us.  The wideness of this love recognizes that no one is outside the care of God.  We are called to honor the divine spark within ourselves and each person, which draws us all to our Creator.

We never withhold our love and respect until we feel others have earned it, recognized it, or until someone fully conforms to our expectations or theological understandings, because God does not withhold grace.  God loves us first (prevenient means “comes before”) and so we love as a natural response to being loved.  Without a doubt, such a level of acceptance and genuine concern for the good of individuals and the good of all is healing and helps persons experience and identify God’s companionship in their lives.

Accepting Grace (Justifying Grace) is the love of God assuring us that all this is a gift.  Our oneness with God and God’s love for us is not something that depends upon our ability to do the good and right without fail.  Once we recognize the nature of God’s love for us and the world, we begin to understand who we are meant to be and what will give our life its greatest joy and purpose.  We can feel a deep separation from God, however, if we base our relationship with God on our own ability to live flawlessly.
If we make an honest assessment of our lives, we see that we have sometimes done and do things that cause harm to ourselves and to others either by our action or inaction.  We have not always been attentive to loving God either.  The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ speaks definitively about God’s answer in the face of this reality.  Accepting Grace involves our acceptance of God’s acceptance of us, which is a generous, forgiving love.  As teachers and leaders, part of our role is to build people’s faith, trust and confidence in this enormous love and to invite them to embrace God who embraces them as they navigate the ups and downs of life.  As leaders it is our privilege to also extend Accepting Grace to those in our groups on behalf of God and to encourage them to do the same for each other.

Transforming Grace (Sanctifying Grace) is God’s loving empowerment and involvement in our lives that enables us to grow more like Christ. Christian discipleship involves many transformations of thought and action.  Sanctifying grace invites us to open ourselves to be shaped by God so the sacredness of a life of love can infiltrate our way of being.  This is a life-long process.  In contrast to the attempt to be a good person to prove our worth or our ability, we are moved by the Spirit to love out of joy, thankfulness and recognition that we are already cherished in the heart of God, as are all human beings and the entire creation.

New Call-to-Action Loving God, loving ourselves, and loving the world emanates from grateful hearts.  Teachers and leaders can enhance this process by encouraging people to engage in what John Wesley called “Acts of Piety” and “Acts of Mercy”.  Acts of Piety are the habits and practices we incorporate regularly into our lives to help us draw closer and to stay in love with God.   Acts of Mercy include following Christ in a life of doing good and avoiding harm while inviting others to join in.   A servant’s heart, sacrifice and a reordering of priorities are inevitable when following Christ.  Such is a life of grace.
We have a unique and special mission as Christian camp and retreat ministries, which is amazing and beautiful.  It is our privilege and priority to nurture people as disciples of  Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  This is our gift within the overall spectrum of camps and retreats available out there.  If we forget our primary purpose and reason for being, in many ways we become redundant, unnecessary since other types of camps and retreat experiences are already offered.  I think our greatest strength and contribution to the society, not just the Church, hinges on living deeply in our Christian identity.  We may learn from others and expand the type of activities and services we provide, but it is crucially important not to simply mimic other types of camps and retreat centers and thus become generic.
Watering down our purpose to the point where our camp and retreat focus and programs become virtually indistinguishable from other types of camps creates serious difficulties long-term.   Kenda Creasy Dean – Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary – lifts up the essential importance of being inextricably immersed in the grace of God.  Without this, what we do may have the appearance of Christianity but not the power to transform lives or to inspire life-long Christian discipleship.  A hesitancy to actually do what Jesus did often produces a drift into a spectator spirituality focused on meeting our own satisfaction and interests alone, rather than being profoundly shaped by the love of God, the love of others, and a more mature form of self-love. It is the grace of God that transforms us and supplies us inspiration to pursue a meaningful life distinctly different from what a consumer mindset would produce.
Unfortunately, a shallower experience of Christianity is proving to have a widespread impact based on the extensive National Study of Youth and Religion which Kenda Creasy Dean references in her book – “Almost Christian.”  This book provides an eye opening look for leaders and parents.  Many young people fail to observe adults around them being truly guided by and transformed by a relationship with God that actually moves them to take risks to live out their Christian faith.  For a growing number of youth and young adults religion is becoming inconsequential as a result.  It is distressingly true even among a significant number who are actively involved in local churches and extension ministries of the church.  This can change, but only if we are very intentional to hone the experiences we offer to align with our core mission.
Making disciples for the transformation of the world is a grace full undertaking.  I think our camp staff and volunteers will be much more inspired if they can catch a vision of this great movement of God that they are a part of.

Ephesians 2:For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Questions to think about:

  1. How might you begin to build a culture of gratitude and grace?
  2. Which of the three dimensions of grace (preceding, accepting and transforming) is your strength and which do you need to expand so that your guests and participants can more fully experience the fullness of God’s grace?

Rev. Kevin Witt, Certified Camp Director, is the moderator and a primary contributor to the blog (  He has extensive personal and professional experience within camp and retreat ministry.  Kevin currently serves with the Leadership Ministries Division of the GBOD.

He provides workshops, seminars and consultations on many aspects of camp and retreat ministry and serves on planning teams for national trainings and certification studies.

He is the co-author of two books: the Retreat Leader’s Manual and Twists of Faith: Ministry with Youth at the Turning Points of Their Lives.

Kevin has developed many other resources and coordinates a very active Camp and Retreat Leader Network (CRLN) where over 1,000 leaders of faith based camp and retreat ministry share beneficial information and mutual support.

To join this free CRLN network or to contact Kevin –


Topics: Spiritual Growth, retreat, retreat alone, United Methodist Church, Christian grace, grace

A Time of Silence - Personal Retreats

Posted by Jess Schload

May 31, 2014 10:45:00 AM

This is a reprint from an earlier blog post we ran back in 2011. If follows the theme of the last blog by Kevin Witt. We hope you find it meaningful. Personal retreats are special times of growth. Plan a time for yourself soon either at the Life Enrichment Retreat Center in Florida or another special place you choose. Thank you for following LEC and our blog. Let us know if you want a certain topic covered in the future. 


Back in the 1980’s I had the pleasure of serving a church in Northeastern Indiana. This small church, surrounded by farm land just outside Ashley, Indiana, was a family church with wonderful folks who were _mg_0143 committed to family and to this church – The Pleasant Chapel Church of the Brethren. I could say a lot about the church and the people, but my purpose here is to write about their support for the then young pastor.

With the limited resources of a small country church, they did what they could to support my family, my leadership, and my personal spiritual growth. One way they did that was to encourage me to go on retreat 3-4 times a year. On these times I would pack up my little Ford Escort with some books and a Bible, plus plenty of writing materials (no laptops or pads to take in those days), and I drove to Three Rivers, Michigan. My destination was a silent retreat facility that to this day is truly holy ground for me; The Hermitage.

Everyone handles days of silence differently. This is not something that works for everyone. For me, it was a much needed rest and a Sabbath time for reading, prayer and reflection. But the first day was always thePlan a Personal Retreat same. I would get to my room and rest on the bed and fall asleep. When I arrived at the retreat center, I would realize how tired I was, and at first, I would fight the sleep. As the retreat times continued, the gentleman who was my spiritual director at the Hermitage encouraged me to let the sleep happen. So for a couple of hours I would sleep. Refreshed after my rest, I would then take walks on the wooded paths, sit outside and read or write, and pray. I would also spend a bit of time doing some planning for the church.

I spent two to three days there each time. I always came back renewed and rested, physically and spiritually. I will always look back to that place and those retreats as a key time in my spiritual journey. Ministries like the Hermitage are vital, and in today's “connected” world we should try to “retreat” even more. A reminder for me, and an encouragement for you.

Continue your Journey with Christ!!

Jess Schload, Director


1. Other items on our website that may interest you on this topic include:

2. Learn more about the Hermitage and their ministry at

3. The Life Enrichment Center has a private retreat log unit that is available for your use. Learn more at

4. Pleasant Chapel Church of the Brethren Facebook page is HERE


Topics: Spiritual Growth

The Gift of Pause - The Value of Sabbath

Posted by Jess Schload

May 27, 2014 5:00:00 AM

It is a joy today to share a post from the blog of Kevin Witt (used with permission). His blog can be found at More information about him can be found below.


You are all in my heart as summer moves into full swing and you enter that familiar surge to complete thelec_grounds_6 plethora of preparations necessary to welcome and care for those who are coming.  Lives will be touched and transformed through you and your efforts as you walk with God this summer.  You are disciples of Christ – people of love – servant leaders.  May you be encouraged by the deep meaning within all your doing.  I am so thankful to be colleagues in ministry together.

As persons who give so much of yourselves,  I want to remind you of a very special gift from God to you – one deeply rooted in a gift to the whole creation – the Gift of Pause.

We live in a society that highly values taking action and contributing.   Undoubtedly, we find resonance with this in Christian teachings.

James 2:14-17  What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? … faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Titus 3:8  The saying is sure. I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works; these things are excellent and profitable to everyone.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Can I be honest? Though we are made for good works, good works cannot sustain us.

I once served as the director of a camp and retreat center where I never felt more called or centered.  The ministry grew steadily and we had a wonderful team.  Lives changed because of God’s presence and the deep impact of the shared experiences.  It was exciting and gratifying to invest myself wholeheartedly Growing In Faith With Life Enrichment Center because I felt privileged to be there.   The opportunity to be a part of something that really mattered inspired and energized me.

Despite all this and my genuine desire to be faithful, I ended up depleted, heartbroken due to the realization that I needed to leave this place that meant so much to me.  The  joy and sense of call that initially came so easily submerged into a sense of constant pressure to get things done.  It went beyond what my spirit and body could recover from.  Part of the growth in that situation involved coming to grips with the fact that, to a large degree, the outcome was self-inflicted.  It called into question the essence of my understanding of Christian discipleship and spiritual leadership .  Accolades that come with unceasing effort though well intended are not the same as wisdom.  I excelled at going “full steam”  but not “full circle” in my faith and leadership.

Today, I have a much deeper appreciation for the rhythms of life that our Creator and Sustainer has so graciously woven into the fabric of existence, which were also modeled by Jesus.   Completeness, wholeness and fulfillment never proceeds from totally jamming our time with unending goals and tasks. As strange as it may sound to our modern ears, it is also sacred to cease from creating, to abstain from advancing, and to brave a break.  It is just as holy to stop doing good works sometimes as it is to do good works. This is the sacred tempo of Sabbath, which is a divine gift available to us daily, weekly and annually.

Genesis 2:2-3 And on the seventh day God finished the work that God had done, and rested on the seventh day from all the work. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation.

Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work… For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

Matthew 11: 28-29Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Mark 6:30-31: The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.  He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming Click to plan a personal retreat and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

One of the most insightful books I have ever read on the  gift of Sabbath and the power of pause is How Firm a Foundation by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein (Paraclete Press: Brewster, Massachusetts, 1997)   ISBN 1557251894

1. Sabbath allows us to be fully present.  It certainly provides a time of rest and renewal, but its primary benefit is not to simply recharge us so we can just go work again.  Sabbath time is a highlight – coming full circle – fulfillment – celebration, rather than just a step toward something else.  Sabbath allows us to appreciate the now by taking a break from planning, creating and worrying so we can truly receive and reflect on how beautiful life already is.  In pausing we can recognize the goodness that is all around us and available now.  Sabbath inspires thankfulness and abiding joy.

2. Sabbath frees us. From a Jewish perspective, we must understand the history of being enslaved that is a major theme in the scriptures.  A regular rhythm of pause prevents us from returning to a self imposed slavery, which God has freed us from.  God desires us to be free not driven.  Sabbath is part of loving ourselves – an act of discipleship as much as loving our neighbor.

3. Sabbath draws us to God.  Sabbath actually strengthens faith – trust in God.  It helps us to more fully recognize that it is God who sustains life not us.  Our constant effort does not make the world go round.  Stopping draws us to our source and to the love of God for us from the birth of time.

So much more could be said, but I can’t say it any better than Abraham Heschel.

“Just to be is a blessing.  Just to live is holy”

Be Good To Yourselves:



Questions to Ponder:

1. People come to camp and on retreat to grow in their faith and their relationship with God.   How would this be enhanced if the camp and retreat center staff and volunteers actually implement a consistent spiritual “Practice of Pause” that we are trying to provide for those who come?

2. How could you collaborate as a ministry team to schedule responsibilities, so all, including yourself, can have the opportunity to receive the Gift of Pause on a daily, weekly and seasonal basis that is seen as an important dimension of spiritual leadership and wholeness?

Need a personal time away? LEC is happy to give you a place to get away. More info at Personal Retreats


Rev. Kevin Witt, Certified Camp Director, is the moderator and a primary contributor to the blog (  He has extensive personal and professional experience within camp and retreat ministry.  Kevin currently serves with the Leadership Ministries Division of the GBOD.

He provides workshops, seminars and consultations on many aspects of camp and retreat ministry and serves on planning teams for national trainings and certification studies.

He is the co-author of two books: the Retreat Leader’s Manual and Twists of Faith: Ministry with Youth at the Turning Points of Their Lives.

Kevin has developed many other resources and coordinates a very active Camp and Retreat Leader Network (CRLN) where over 1,000 leaders of faith based camp and retreat ministry share beneficial information and mutual support.

To join this free CRLN network or to contact Kevin –


Topics: Spiritual Growth

Three Minute Retreat....

Posted by Jess Schload

Jan 26, 2014 10:51:00 AM

This blog post was run in our old blog back in 2011.  I decided to run it again for all of you that need a retreat, but do not have time to come to LEC.  Enjoy and may God bless your retreat time.

What is a retreat? When and how can one take a retreat? We often think of two types of retreat. One is the retreat centered on a community of folks coming together for a purpose. An example would be a group of women from a Sunday School class decides to go to a retreat center for a spiritual growth weekend. They plan, make a reservation at the Center, maybe get a guest speaker, and off they go. It is fun. It is uplifting. They all grow closer together and grow in their faith. And they do this at a special place by a lake, or in the mountains called a retreat center.


Then there is the personal retreat. I have done these many times. You make a reservation at a retreat center and go for an alone time with God. I use to pray, walk, read and think at these retreats. Sometimes I met with a spiritual adviser who helped guide me in my time. Personal retreats can be a very valuable time.

However, you do not need to go to some beautiful place for a retreat (although we would love to have you at LEC sometime soon). You can have a retreat anytime you have a few minutes and set the problems of your daily living aside. Then you can reflect, talk with God, read, and all those other things you do on retreat. Some folks call this devotions. I prefer retreat. The word means to get away from the day – to – day, the pressures of life and to get to safety. To enter the presence of God. If you have 3 minutes, I encourage you to go on a retreat!!

By the way, check out this app for your “smart phone” called “3 Minute Retreat”. I use it and find it a great way to take a quick retreat. It is also available online at

Continue on the journey,

Rev. Jess Schload, Director


Topics: Spiritual Growth

A Retreat for the Busy Women

Posted by Guest Author Pam Steiner

Jan 18, 2014 10:50:00 AM

"Be still, and know that I AM God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10


Recently I had the privilege and joy of attending a ladies' retreat at the Life Enrichment Center, specifically The Mary Retreat, a "retreat for women who do too much."  As per the website description:

"This 24-hour time apart is designed to allow those of us who practice discipleship in the active, doing form -- the "Martha" style -- an opportunity to change roles and sit at Jesus' feet like Mary (Luke 10:38-42). The agenda for this retreat is very simple - step away from the frantic pace to spend time resting and reflecting: an opportunity to "BE" instead of "DO."

And that is exactly what I attempted to do ... spend time resting, reflecting, relaxing, reading, writing, time alone with God.

But then I also found myself sharing thoughts and dreams and desires with precious friends who also came in search of the same thing. We gave each other space to spend time alone, and then we also came together to laugh and play and find our "inner child" again:

it is not so easy to just put yourself at the feet of Jesus and expect Him to meet you there. We depend upon being led there by the worship leaders, the pastors and teachers ... or by being the leaders who are expected to "perform" in a certain way at all times so that others may be taught and brought to a place of worship and praise. We sometimes neglect our own personal spiritual growth. We do what we believe we are supposed to do for others and forget that in order to be able to lead others we must also do what we are
supposed to do for ourselves.   


That's what happened to Martha (read Luke 10:38-42). She was so busy tending to the needs of others that she resented her sister Mary, who had discovered the joy of sitting at the feet of Jesus and growing in grace and truth. Martha was a good person, doing what seemed necessary, but her own personal spiritual growth was lagging behind. She was missing out on the joy of serving her Lord because it had become a job...and not an act of worship and love. She became all "knotted up", like this tree; unable to let go of her sense of duty.

Untitled-3She needed this masseuse to knead away the knots in her mind and body andUntitled-5 soul ... like I did: Martha's personal spiritual well was drying up and she was becoming dehydrated. She needed to learn to take time to draw from the fountain of the living water of Jesus...and to become revived, refreshed, and renewed.  That is why I went to this particular retreat. I needed to draw from the well of quiet, peace, and restoration. To sit by the water and be inspired from God's Word as He led me to the verse above, "Be STILL and KNOW that I AM God!"  

All too soon the time came to leave ... and we parted knowing that somehow we were changed inside.  The time of rest was accomplishing its task ... restoring, renewing and refreshing us for the days and tasks ahead. 

The great news is, the Life Enrichment Center is planning another “Mary Retreat” in the Spring of 2014. I know I am planning to attend and perhaps take a few more friends with me. Maybe I’ll see YOU there too!



"Be STILL and KNOW that I AM GOD...."


 To learn more about the upcoming Mary Retreat click HERE

About the author:  

Having spent over thirty years serving alongside her pastor husband, Pam is no stranger to the needs of busy people needing to have a time set apart for rest, recuperation … and retreat! That’s why the ministry of the Life Enrichment Center is very close to her heart. As a matter of fact, Pam’s very first ministry assignment was as a Youth Counselor at the Warren W. Willis Camp! Currently Pam is the Business Administrator for the First Presbyterian Church of Ocala, FL. She also writes an inspirational blog, “Closed Doors, Open Windows," which can be found at


Topics: Spiritual Growth

Are You a Writer???? The Life Enrichment Center Needs You

Posted by Jess Schload

Dec 29, 2013 11:49:53 AM

_MG_1240We at the Life Enrichment Retreat Center want to be a help to your spiritual growth while you are here on a retreat, but also at all times.  We do this with our Facebook Page ( and website.  We also have a dream of providing an outstanding blog that provides important information along with inspiration.  We vision this blog having written and video opportunities for you to grow in your faith.

Here is the problem.  We are a small staff, with too much to do. So, we are reaching out to you, the ones who would like to write for the LEC Blog.  We need folks who will be willing to write devotions, thought provoking articles on faith, church, retreats, life and more.  If you do this and sumbit them, we will review them and publish those we feel would fit for the ministry of the Center.  

If we run your work, we will thank you with an opportunity to spend a couple of nights in our retreat cabin for your own rest and renewal.  

If you are interested, please send us your email at, or comment below and we will get the author guidelines out to you right away.  Think about it.  Pray about it.  Then boot up that computer and start creating.  

Thanks so much!  

Jess Schload, Director


Topics: Spiritual Growth