Till Christ Be Formed in Every Heart



Posts tagged Retreats
Information or Conversion (part two): Personal Witness

Testimonies As Change-Oriented Talks

In the previous post I talked about a retreat where the enthusiasm of the students pushed me to go deeper with them in my talks. My response was one of two options: either I switch to a more information-dense presentation, or I push them further in conversion. Going with option two, you have to start with testimony, especially your own.

Introduction to Witness: Story Time

There are few things as powerful as a testimony in evangelization. Proclaiming your witness with all of the up's and down's that life has thrown at you, and drawing out those connections to Christ and how He has moved in your life personally has its own gravity. It pulls people in without being preachy or pushy.

Moreover, testimonies are narratives, and everyone loves a good story. People remember stories far more than they do talking points, quotes, jokes, or footnotes. The morals and dangers stand out like billboards. The lessons are felt because they are real. Teachings come alive. Plato used dialogues. Jesus used parables. People love a good story.

But you aren't reading this because you love a good story. You are reading this because you talk to people about Christ

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Information or Conversion (part one): Knowing Your Approach

Understanding and Change was beaten into my head over and over again in my  Catechetics courses at Franciscan University. You can ask any FUS student who took a Catechetics class in the last 15 years and I'm sure they can spout out CT 20 to you in a heartbeat.

After 8 years of ministry, both full time and traveling on the side, I've done about 100 retreats and conferences, and have given over 300 hours of talks. Each talk is crafted to suit the needs of the audience as best as I can know them (hence the importance of relational ministry!). I have become to learn the subtle differences between a talk that is more about information transfer and one that seeks conversion primarily.

Last weekend I did a Confirmation retreat weekend, which is usually time to engage in heavy apologetics and a basic introduction to the Gospel. But not this weekend. The kids were pretty well educated and definitely enthusiastic to be there, which is rare. I realized half way through the opening songs that my original line up of talks would have to be augmented to suit a more prepared audience. My talks would have to change now.

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Retreat Insights - Theme and Tone

So I figured that I have directed, wrote, and/or contributed to at least 50 retreats in the last six years. Some of those retreats were my own babies from top to bottom, and some were those where I was just plugged in to the speaking role of someone else's baby. To say that I love retreats is an understatement. Retreats are beautiful opportunities to tell the world to shut up so that God's voice can resound in your heart. 

I like to tell the teens or young adults that a retreat is a unique time to withdraw from the world in order to hear more clearly three voices: God's voice, your own voice, and the devil's. Too often we confuse the three (usually I think I'm God).

Here are a collection of insights that I came up with for retreat making that I think are pretty important. And most of these are for high school students, which is the majority of retreats that I do. I will post on a variety of topics to keep the blog posts a little bit shorter for your consuming pleasure.

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